10 ‘Basic’ musts for Autumn!

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I adore Autumn… it is the season that makes my heart sing and is the gateway to the most wonderful time of the year. I don’t know what it is but whenever I picture my childhood, it is always enveloped in a crisp autumn day. Maybe its because I’m an autumn baby? Perhaps its because its filled with celebrations which conjure happy family memories for me.

Whatever the reason- I’m an autumn lover and proud! I love nothing more than the cosy outfits and steaming hot drinks!

Are you like me? Come on, I know you are really…. are you a basic autumn b*tch? (pardon the language!)

Well…. if you don your uggs with pride whilst sipping a red, hot PSL then read on and see how many of these autumnal MUSTS you will be ticking off this year…

  1. Make a beautiful autumn vegetable soup and curl up with a loaf of tiger bread and enjoy!
  2. Get those cosy bed socks on- you know you’ve been waiting all year to get them out or, if you’re honest, you’ve most probably been wearing them since August- I have!
  3. Sit in the garden with a steaming mug of tea and watch the leaves fall from the trees and listen to birds tweeting away to each other- breath it in!
  4. Get those wellies out!!!! It is now the season where it is acceptable to wear your Wellington boots as a fashion statement! Go forth and wear those wellies with pride!
  5. Celebrate the first ‘woolly hat day’ of the season! Get your padded jacket, Uggs and blanket scarf ready, pick out the perfect wooly hat and strut your stuff! For extra ‘Basic’ points, snap a selfie and Insta it!
  6. T’is the season of PSLs, Pumpkin Spice Lattes to those who have been living under a rock, so head to your local coffee shop of choice and grab yourself a mug of the hot nectar of the autumn Gods!
  7. Candles, candle and more candles! Oh, did I mention candles? Light ALL the candles! Fill your home with the sent of ‘conkers’ (WTAF????) and the glow of a thousand tea lights- snuggly, autumn nights rock!
  8. Buy a pumpkin! Ever since I grew up and realised that pumpkins were the way for Halloween lanterns and not turnips (!), I also began to follow the mantra ‘A pumpkin isn’t just for 1 night, its for a whole season!’
  9. Cinnamon it up!!!! Porridge for breakfast? Add a sprinkle of cinnamon! Apple pie for pudding? Add a sprinkle of cinnamon! Ice cream for a treat? Add…. you get the idea!
  10. Got those wellies or Uggs on? Now go forth and kick up some autumnal leaves!!! Who says jumping in leaves and puddles is just for kids? Autumn fun is for everyone!

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I’ve already made a good start on the list- check out my Insta @confessionsofatryhard to keep up with progress and feel free to tag me in your autumnal Instagram snaps too!

I’ll try hard not to indulge in too many PSLs… is that even possible?

Until next time,

Mrs T Xx

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Just when I thought it was going to be one of ‘those’ days…

So today was just a little ‘try’ing to say the least!

I don’t know about you but since I’ve become a mother, I’m more determined to make the most of every day and do things that will make us happy, spend time with the people who matter the most and remember to breath along the way!

This week we’ve had colds and slobbed about in P.J.s a lot so today was the day we were going to break out and enjoy the sunshine!

It started easy enough at 6:30am with a SnapChat selfie of Little Miss T and I…she cried when I nipped to the loo but that’s normal these days….she cried when I turned my back to close the bedroom door, not quite what I was expecting…and she cried when I sat her in her Jumperoo so that I could butter my toast, ONE OF THOSE DAYS! Great!

It was all going to be O.K. though, I’d been mega organised and placed a Saino’s order the night before so I knew I had to look reasonably presentable and I knew I had to give the kitchen a quick wipe over and spray a little air freshener by 9am just incase they rocked up on time- dressed, cleaning and shopping done by 9 BOSH! Killing it! All done with one hand too…remember that baby that cried whenever I breathed? On one hip all.of.the.time!

It was during my prep for the Sainsbury’s delivery that the reality of what a crap day it was going to be really hit home and dreams of a lovingly prepared lunch munched with friends in the sunshine began to fade. I went to move the pram so that the order could be carried to the kitchen but it wasn’t there….neither was the car seat…neither was the baby carrier…how the hell was I going to meet any of the people I had plans with? I’ll let you imagine the swear words that filled the air at this discovery…along with a screaming baby…yeah, stupid me, I’d left the room again!

So, not a problem you might think, just change your plans, people can come to you, you can get the bus…people already had other plans, there is only 1 bus and I had no pram!

Eventually, I sucked it up, wiped my brow and thought ‘What Would Alibongo Do?’. I remembered a spare baby carrier a friend had lent me, scrambled through the shed to find my backpack, sweated (hotter than hell today) and looked up the bus time… I had 20 mins to get our sh*t together!

I spread some tomato puree and chucked some leftover roasted veg onto a pitta bread, topped with cheese and grilled for a minute (I carted the baby in her bouncer into the kitchen to avoid another scream…FML), remembered to grab a change of clothes, nappies and some toys and popped them in the backpack and splodged some suncream onto the baba. Winning at life right here people!

Only one job left…. figure out how to put the bloody carrier on!!!! Is it just me or does anyone else find it like a heat of the Krypton Factor putting one of those things on?!

So, baby safely sun-creamed, sun-hatted and secured in the carrier, door keys found and sanity somewhat restored we trundled to the bus stop…ah… buses cost money! I literally had 2 minutes until the bus arrived and the village Post Office only does cash by counter service…wouldn’t you know it…woman in front had 12 bloody parcels to weigh and post! 12! We just about made it onto the bus and I could have fallen asleep- it was only 11:30am!

Needless to say, we survived, the sun shined, I had a cake and cuppa, friends came, we laughed, Little Miss T loved her pitta pizza and charmed everyone and a lovely afternoon was had by all!

I was close to tears and almost texted people to cancel at several points this morning but I didn’t. I kept going, I tried hard to find solutions to problems and I succeeded…I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere!

Ever had a day like ours? How did you overcome the FFS moments?

Until next time,

Mrs T Xx

Things that boil my blood (and eggs)

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Grab a cuppa….we could be here a while!

I should tell you now that this post includes a recipe for some delicious baked eggs, if you would like to skip my moaning and jump straight to the food (I wouldn’t hold a grudge) then click here to go to the lovely Rachel Khoo’s original recipe.

Now, you know me, I’m not one to moan BUT….!

Having been on a rather long journey towards motherhood I’ve managed to tot up a disturbing number of gripes about the subject before, during and after my eggs have finished baking (tenuous food link!).

So, Mr T and I have been married for 8 years this May and have just welcomed our first little bundle of joy, Little Miss T joined us in October and (just FYI) was conceived completely naturally dispite the fact we have been a child-less, married couple for quite a few years.

This childlessness was partly by design and partly due to nature.

My mother passed away (you will know the details from previous posts) the same year that Mr T and I got married. This left us with a huge amount of healing to do but also with a house to sort (hoarder!) and sell on- it eventually took almost 5 years to get through (the house that is) and was such a tiring  process that the thought of going through it pregnant/ with a young baby was hard to contemplate and so we kept putting starting a family off until the house was sold despite half-heartedly trying from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, if it had happened for us during this time then we would have been over the moon but it just didn’t.

Even once this obstical was out of the way, making the final decsision to whole-hartedly commit to staring a family took us some time. We love holidays and socialising so we spent a while giving it a go and then when it didn’t happen we just went on holiday and thought ‘oh well, at least we can drink and spend whatever we want without a worry’.

This all changed New Year 2015. We were in Las Vegas living the highlife, sipping beer at 9am whilst popping dollars into the BlackJack machines and we both agreed, that whilst living said highlife was mucho fun, we both wanted more and so Little Miss T’s journey into this world began and my long list of annoying comments began to grow! Continue reading

Yep… I disappeared again!

Well, I started 2016 with the best of blogging intentions. I endeavoured to combine my teaching blog with my beloved personal blog, gave it a face lift and then walked away!

You see… I have had a very busy, stressful and tiring 7 months and despite all of my good intentions, I just never got back to my blogging bliss. Let me give you the run down of the last 7 months…..

Work- we started the Spring term with a bang! A new Head Teacher with lots of ideas does not an energetic, relaxed and thumb-twiddling teacher-blogger make! In truth, I was worn out and working my ass off just to keep my head above water- think ‘swan’ metaphor only my cool, calm exterior often slipped!

Then in February we discovered the most amazing news EVER!!!! Mr T and I are expecting the first Mini T to join our team this coming October. We found out quite early and now, at almost 7 months, I feel like it is the longest pregnancy known to woman! Add this news and new found definition of exhausted to the work related changes and you can begin to see why I struggled to keep connected to you guys.

To top this all off, we bought a beautiful, almost 200 year old house last year and whilst planning what decorating we needed to do before Mini T arrives, we discovered we not only needed new double glazing (can you hear the bank account weeping?) but that we have rising damp in most of the downstairs rooms- I wish this news was as funny as the TV show! So, even when I am home, organised, relaxed and feeling like I can possibly stay awake past 7:30pm, my time is taken up inspecting the latest work, cleaning up after said work or prepping for upcoming work! JOY!

Yes, I concede that this post does have a slight air of ‘moaning’ to it but I just wanted to let you know that…

sometimes life gets in the way of even the best of blogging intentions

Continue reading

Half- way to Christmas Day!

We’re half way there guys!! I adore Christmas! It still holds the magic and excitement of my childhood and every year I try to out do the Christmasiness of the last. In previous posts I’ve talked about my nostalgic, sentimental self and my need to hold onto things and I’ve talked about my love of all things home-made and local so in this ‘half- way’ post, I want to share with you some of my favourite home-made and local finds of Christmases past so you can plan ahead for your very own easy peasy home- made Christmas! 

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Orange and Carrot Marmalade

A couple of years ago I ventured, tentatively, into the world of preserves. I blogged all about this yummy carrot and orange chutney here. Unlike ‘real’ marmalade, I needed none of the expensive paraphernalia or experience (or even common sense) to make this scrummy preserve. I decanted it into small Kilner jars and made these cute labels using a Kirsty Allsopp stamp set. I added them to a small wicker basket with some water biscuits and strong, local cheese and gifted them to some co-workers with a nice bottle of red wine.

Pedicure Set

A perfect ‘home enhanced’ gift for my girlie friends was a mini-pedicure set. I popped a sparkly nail varnish, toe spacers and foot scrub inside a jar. I downloaded the ‘For your Mistle Toes’ tags from this website and tied it around the jar- simple, thoughtful and not like all of the other Boots gift sets swimming around at Christmas time, plus I love the humour of the tag!

Sugar Scrub

As you may have guessed, if I can’t totally home make something then I like to, as I term scrub jarsit, home enhance it! A perfect example of this was a pamper set I put together for my aunties one year. Along with locally made and natural soaps and bath oils, I made them each a jar of vanilla and brown sugar body scrub. It was so easy that it felt as though I was cheating! If you would like to have a go then the recipe I used can be found here. I really recommend trying this as a home-made starter project or with children as it is very easy, cheap and effective. It smells yummy and you can add a cute tag to really set it apart from the shop-bought gifts!

Decorations and gift-wrap

When it comes to gift wrap, I’m a brown paper and butchers string kinda gal! Yet, whilst I love the simplicity of brown paper, I also love to add a little christmas cheer to each gift. I often buy tree ornaments which I love but won’t fit with my tree theme to embellish gifts with or wrap the raffia in a fancy style. 

 One year I decided to buy a block of Das clay and cut out stars and tree shapes. I then pushed a little whole in the top of them and used a holly stamp to push a pattern into the Das before leaving it to air-dry. I intended to paint them gold but once they had dried, I decided I like the white and so left them. When I wrapped a gift I simply added a star or tree onto the ribbon. I also cut larger ones out and used a clay tool to scratch the date and my niece and nephew’s names into the back of them so that after their gifts were opened, they could keep them as tree decorations. Simple, cheep and, of course, home made. This is another easy home- made christmas project I recommend doing with little ones.

I love wrapping gifts! Sad I know! I love making simple gifts look special and I adore the way the presents look under the tree but one thing I hate doing is writing gift tags! I always end up scribbling the same boring message on every tag and my handwriting just gets worse as the wrapping goes on! Bring in…..THE STAMP!stamp By far one of THE best things I have ever bought! All I do now is buy brown or cream luggage tags and stamp away! Then on the other side I simply write the name of the recipient. Over at The English Stamp Company website you can choose from a range of predesigns or select a custom option. This is what I did. You can select from 9 fonts and 8 boarders as well as typing your own text. I opted for ‘Ho,ho, ho! Merry Christmas! With love from the ‘Try-hard’ family XxX’ this way, as our family dynamics change, our stamp won’t have to! This simple solution cost about £18ish and lets me add that personal, home- made touch I so love to all of my gifts without getting hand cramp!

Baked Goods

Every Christmas Eve we have an ‘open-house’ where our friends and family pop in for a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. Every year I like to bake a treat for them too. Often it is a little pack of gingerbread men (you can’t beat the smell!) but sometimes I like to whip up some cup-cakes. A lovely friend of mine from secondary school has her own business making printed editable icing sheets and I chose to purchase a set of cake toppers and a whole sheet print from her.icing sheet

They added a festive look to otherwise normal cupcakes and I got to support a smallicing closeup business. I chose to cut  triangles from the full-print sheet and arranged them to look like bunting- I think they look almost too cute to eat! Take a look at Fleur’s huge catalogue of printed icing here.

This Year I am loving this easy- to- home- enhance candle idea from The Suburban Mom  DIY-Christmas-Candles neighbor gifts 001Such a simple yet special gift I am planning on giving this year is the sent of Christmas. You can find the instructions I plan on following here. Danyelle gave them to her neighbours but I’m thinking of having them as my take-home gift at this years open-house.

I’m going to try- hard to be organised this year- good planing and plenty of time are the keys to a home-made Christmas!

Let me know if you try any of the things in this post. Check back in October (and of course before!) for my series of ‘How to’ Christmas posts.

Util next time…

Mrs T Xx

Whole 30 and Me: 2 Fridays down…

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11 days in and I am loving it! I have eaten some awesome meals and haven’t felt bloated, stuffed or sluggish at all. In my last post, you might recall, I said it had taken until day 4 to feel satisfied between meals- the feeling of satisfaction is well and truly here to stay. I’ve felt no real desire to snack between meals and even my break time nuts have been knocked on the head.

In the rest of the post you will find-

1. A run down of my meals from day 5- day 11

2. Links to some recipes I have tweaked and tried

3. Some products which are Whole 30 compliant and available in the U.K.

My Meals

photo 4It was Mr T’s birthday so we had a lazy morning and didn’t sit down for breakfast until 10am- it was worth the wait! It felt like a massive treat but was totally Whole 30 A-OK! Love it! Since we ate late, I didn’t fancy much for lunch and we were going out shopping (for a drill, oh joy!) so I planned ahead and popped a ‘yo,yo’ in my bag along with a drink and some fruit- I will admit that I was ready for my tea when we got in though! Tea was chilli without the kidney beans and sweet potato wedges- scrumptious! I also took advantage of it being the weekend to make some cinnamon bananas- Mr T ate most of them but I had to try one just to check how tasty they were! I discounted the sugar and added a dash of ginger. Fried in coconut oil, these were delicious!photo 2-2I woke up on Sunday morning to no eggs and no bacon- Mr T had scoffed the lot! I resigned myself to a fruit salad in the garden while he headed to to gym and then the shop. I hung on until about 11:30 and could take it no longer so I decided to switch the day around- my parma ham. olive, beetroot and sugar snap pea salad with balsamic dressing was divine!!!! Seriously…..if there is one salad you try during Whole 30- this should be it!!! Ahmazing! I spotted the blueberry omelette on Pinterest and decided to give it a try when Mr T arrived home, in place of my lunch- another tasty treat! The cooked blueberries give of the slightest hint of sweetness which, if you’re having a craving is a perfect way to satisfy it as part of a meal rather than a snack. For tea Mr T made a gorgeous cottage pie with green beans rather than peas and a sweet potato topping.

photo 1-2Monday’s meals were perfect for a busy day- I started off with a delicious spinach and sweet pepper omelette wrapped in ham plus a cup of my new favourite Lady Grey tea. The rest of the day was leftovers- chilli for lunch and cottage pie for tea with extra veg. I’ve been drinking lots of water over the course of my Whole 30 even though I’m not its biggest fan! If you’re like me then why not add a couple of slices of cucumber and mint or strawberries and lime juice to it? I’ve sat in the sunshine with a glass of sparkling water over ice and strawberries and not felt although I was missing out on anything- a total 180 for me!

photo-4Breakfast consisted of the good-old scrambled egg and bacon with some avocado slices followed by a really tasty lunch of beetroot and walnut salad with added olives and homemade French dressing. For tea I branched out and tried something that I wasn’t 100% sure would turn out ok. I mixed almond flour (or ground almonds) with cayenne pepper, paprika and a couple of twists from my smoked chilli and garlic mill. Then I dipped the chicken in egg followed by a dip in the flour mixture and lightly fried in coconut oil until golden. Mr T had his in a tortilla wrap with hot sauce, I had mine on a bed of crisp ice-burgh lettuce leaf, mixed Italian leaves, sweet paper and avocado. This was so filling yet not bloating and was amazingly tasty.

photo 1At this point, remembering to take pictures of my meals is harder than following the plan! I started the day with one of my previous breakfasts of blueberry omelette with sliced avocado and a cup of Lady Grey. Lunch was a bowl of spicy butternut squash soup and mason jar fruit salad (sorry for lack of pic but I’m sure you can imagine a bowl of soup!). Wednesday night was beautiful so I quickly text Mr T to swap our food plan around- it was supposed to be burgers and skewers on friday but we had to take advantage of the sunshine! I nibbled on olives and sipped sparkling water with strawberries and a twist of lime in the sunshine while Mr T grilled away to his hearts content!

photo 2I loved breakfast today- it was the only meal I had planned and had everything for- the inspiration is posted below but I simply mashed a banana, whisked in 2 eggs and added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon then scrambled it in a frying pan before adding a dollop of almond butter and enjoying! I was pushed for time in the morning and had totally overlooked making my lunch the night before! I quickly grabbed a bag of mixed leaves, sliced beetroot, sugarsnap peas and some ham- simple but tasty lunch! Because we decided to make chicken skewers the night before, we had no meat left for tea- Mr T made himself a cheese, bacon and egg wrap- totally not Whole 30! I didn’t panic and just had a nose on Pinterest instead- I tweaked this recipe using things I had in and it was rather tasty ( a little sweet but tasty)

photo 3Today I decided to use up left-overs seeing as it’s the end of the week. I started with a breakfast of bacon and eggs with avocado slices to finish off some open produce. For lunch I took the rest of my sweet potato quiche thing with a side salad and home- made French dressing. I was surprised to find that it was far more tasty cold than warm- I’ll be saving this for picnics in the future. I had a tea of chicken curry and cauliflower rice planned but friends invited us to their house for a BBQ so of course we went. I took some plain chicken drumsticks and steak as I knew most stuff would be in marinades and the burgers would have noncompliant ingredients- I really would rather have stake than a burger anyway! Whilst everyone was drinking, I was sipping ‘The Feel Good Drinks Co.’ lightly sparkling raspberry and passion fruit with a splash of sparkling water- refreshing.

Recipes I’ve tried, tweaked and loved!

Most of these recipes are Paleo but not Whole 30 friendly so beware! I simply took out the noncompliant ingredients and they still worked wonderfully!

Crispy chicken- Tastes of Lizzy Ts

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Cinnamon bananas- Dizzy, Busy and Hungry 

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Blueberry omelette- Stupid, Easy Paleo  

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Banana and egg scramble- Sweet Success

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UK available products

I have found that, unsurprisingly, most of the items listed in recipes are not available here in the UK so I thought I would share with any of my fellow  Pommie Whole 30′ ers a few items I’ve found useful and available here in the UK….

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The ‘Smoked chilli and garlic mill’ is from Marks and Spencer and is really useful for a adding a cheeky kick to a dressing or on top of sweet potatoes. The ‘Coconpure’ oil is now available in Sainsbury’s as is the Meridian almond butter. The coconut oils is great for frying things that you don’t want the taste over powering by EVOO and the almond butter makes a handy good fat source for pre/post work out snacks with sliced apple.

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These products are all available in Asda and handy for picnics or lunch boxes (left picture) or as a time and mess saver (right picture). I used the soup mix to make lunch on Wednesday (day 8) and it was so easy and tasty, plus the packet only cost £1!!!

I’ve also discovered that some of ‘The Feel Good Drinks Co.’ bottles are compliant so if you’re heading to a BBQ this weekend and would like something other than water, these are perfect! This link will take you to the feature page on ASDA’s website for further information- they are currently only 79p!!!

Another tip is that some bottled Nando’s dipping sauces have sunflower oil in them but other than that they are totally Whole 30 compliant so if you’re out and about then Nando’s wouldn’t be the worst place to eat in- just check those ingredients first!

I’ll keep my eyes pealed for other UK alternatives to all of those US items we see so often.

I’m also trying hard not to step on those scales!!! I’ve resisted so far- have you?!

Until next Friday…

Mrs T xXx 

9 months later

No this is not a confession of an impending sprog having been getting in the way of my blogging nor is it the title of my new French film! It is simply a confession that I am a useless blogger who abandons her page and doesn’t even check to see if anyone has read the damn thing for over 9 months!!!

In truth, life has gotten in the way- work has been hard going this past year with lots of staff reshuffling and a visit from the dreaded Ofsted (all good thanks for asking!) and outside of work every spare moment has been taken up with clearing my Mother’s house (remember the hoard?).

The house I grew up in and which holds a sentimental tether to the memories of me and mum has now sold (STC)- yep it’s been hard but I know that the people who are due to move in will create many, many more and fill the house with love and laughter again.

Me? Well…I am trying hard to look forward and make many more memories to live alongside those of the past. Nostalgia is a funny thing isn’t it? Take Christmas for example- we spend years harking back to the cosy glow of ‘what we always did at Christmas’ when in reality we are thinking back to that fuzzy time of about 5 years between the start of our living memory and the discovery that Father Christmas isn’t real (What?! Says who?).

So, whilst I have been boxing up my history and nostalgia from the attic (Popple, Star Wars figures, 3rd Birthday cards) I have also been putting a lot of thought into my future. I am 32 (That’s not old I hear you gasp!), rapidly approaching 33 and seriously planning my own future as a parent. It seems to me that there has been a shift amongst my generation towards becoming first time parents in your 30s.  I realise I am commenting on my own zone of proximity here but, whilst my Mother was classed as ‘geriatric’ when having me at 32, this now seems the norm. Don’t get me wrong, I know many, many wonderful people who became parents much younger and I am in no way passing judgement here but simply making an observation. I overheard a conversation in Saino’s the other day where 2 girls, well…women of about my age (yes, I know I’m not 16 anymore!) were chatting about someone who had just had their first child at 23 and they were horrified ‘Oh you haven’t even had a life at 23!’ one of them exclaimed and it got me thinking- is this the reason people are waiting until their 30s to become parents? Is there some measure of how much ‘life’ we have to of had before children come along and have I fulfilled the quota yet?

Realistically, I do wonder if the down turn in the economy and the realisation of the cost of living has something to do with people waiting to become parents although, I would guess, that like myself and Mr T, for many it is the lure of  Long Haul, adult only holiday destinations and establishing grown person carers to pay off our student debts that are more than likely responsible.

Surely there is no set amount of ‘life’ you must live before having children (taking life to mean hangover inducing nights out, backpacking across numerous countries and passing judgement on those with children in the way only childless people can) before parenthood descends? Certainly if I base my thinking on my mothers rather soppy musings that becoming a parent is when your ‘life’ really truly begins (hey she did have the wonderful Me to be thankful for!) then the 23 year old girl who was the topic of convo in the bread aisle is going to of ‘had a life’ far sooner than her 2 so called friends.

When the time comes for Mr T and I to become parents, I would like to think that we will still do the wonderful things we do now and that they will be all the more amazing for the little one at our side- just like my lovely Alibongo has managed with her gorgeous little froggy and that we will be living a life that is all the more richer for having created one.

Of course I am not naive and totes understand what to 2 women were meaning but…

What are your thoughts?

Does having children mean your life is over?

Did you cram in life before having children?

Do you live life with children?

Or both?

Much love

Mrs T x