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Stir Up Sunday | We Made a Christmas Pudding!

Saturday, 25 November 2017
Maisy Meow Blog Family Lifestyle Parenting Blog Christmas pudding recipe

I'm a big fan of the festive period and I'm also a big fan of keeping up traditions, so when Nature's Finest got in touch and asked if I wanted to start a new family tradition and bake a Christmas pudding on #StirupSunday, I was in. (It just so happens, I'm a big fan of puddings too. Win, win.)

Stir Up Sunday is an old tradition where, on the last Sunday before December, families would all get together and make the Christmas pudding. Christmas puddings are said to get better with time, so traditionally they would be made a few weeks before Christmas and then re-heated on the big day. Stir-up Sunday has a bit of magic in it too - each family member is supposed to take a turn of stirring the mixture while making a wish. As a Christmas tradition, I love that there's a bit of magic included on this day too. 

Now I have to start by saying that although I'm a big fan of puddings, I've never made one. I don't bake often and when I do, it's usually when I'm with my mum or sister and I'm more likely to be 'sampling' the food or scraping the condensed milk from the tin rather than doing the skilled work. I considered asking for help on this one, but I really did want this to be our own little family tradition so I had to get my chef's hat on and get started. 

Preparation time was minimal, easy and once I'd got everything weighed and my baking paper organised, it took no longer than 15 minutes to get the pudding ready to go (not including the five minutes we stopped to get cute photos of Oliver stirring the bowl - I'm almost certain he wished for a tv remote). 

Maisy Meow Blog Family Lifestyle Parenting Blog Christmas pudding recipe

Here's the recipe we followed:(source: Natures Finest Christmas Pudding recipe*) 

· 2 x 400g Nature’s Finest Pitted Prunes in juice, drained
· Butter for greasing
· 150mls dark rum (I didn't include this as I don't like alcohol in puddings!)
· Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
· 75g vegetarian suet
· 75g dark brown sugar
· 75g plain flour
· 2 tsp mixed spice
· 2 tsp ground cinnamon
· 50g white breadcrumbs
· 50g Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
· 1 large egg 

· 200g mixed dried fruit

1. Lightly grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin and line the base with disc of baking paper.
2. Cut a 38cm square of baking paper and place it on top of square of foil of the same size. Use butter to grease a circle about 18cm wide in the centre of the baking paper then fold a 5cm pleat down the centre.
3. Place 1 pot of prunes in a blender and puree until smooth. Roughly chop the second pot of prunes. Transfer prunes to a mixing bowl, add all the remaining ingredient and mix well
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared bowl. Place the square of foil and baking paper, greased side down on top of the pudding, with the pleat down the middle. Tie a long piece of string around the rim of the bowl, then loop string over and under the bowl to take a handle.
5. Sit the pudding on a heatproof saucer in a large deep pan, then pour in enough hot water to come half way up the bowl. Cover and simmer for 4 hours topping up water as necessary. Remove and cool store in cool place until required.
6. To reheat steam in a pan for 1 hour or remove foil and baking paper, cover with cling film and microwave for 5-10 minutes or until hot through.

This isn't a quick recipe by any means but once you've got the pan simmering away, you don't really need to do much other than top the water up every hour or so. We put the pudding on just after breakfast and it was ready just after 2pm which was pretty good timing - just as we were looking for a little tea break! 

Maisy Meow Blog Family Lifestyle Parenting Blog Christmas pudding recipe
Maisy Meow Blog Family Lifestyle Parenting Blog Christmas pudding recipe

I was over the moon when I saw how well our Christmas pudding turned out. It looked great, it tasted great and to make things even better, the whole house smelled like spices and fruit - I just wish we'd had our Christmas tree up too. (Note to self - this would have been the perfect day to put our tree up! I'll remember that for next year.) 

We had our stir-up Sunday slightly early this year in order to give you all a head up beforehand, but we had such a lovely time doing it that I'm sure it's a family tradition to stay. I can imagine, in years to come, it will be a really fun morning or afternoon activity for the family when Oliver (and maybe his brothers or sisters!) all get involved. For now, he was happy to chew the wooden spoon!

Do any of you take part in Stir Up Sunday? What's your favourite Christmas traditions? 

*This post is sponsored by Nature's Finest

Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Is it Really That Bad?

Sunday, 15 October 2017
So it happened. After 11 months of maternity leave, I went back to work. I spent so long dreading it. I finished work in October last year and it only took a few months before I started counting down to the day that I'd have to leave my baby. It felt so unfair. I felt like Oliver needed me, and it just didn't feel natural to leave him for so long every day. It didn't feel right that I might miss his first steps, or that he might start to rely on someone else as much as he relied on me. The thought of going back to work made me feel sick and it hung over me like a dark cloud throughout my maternity leave.

With that being said, I can't really say that I loved maternity leave. I loved being with Oliver every day but maternity leave means maternity pay, which essentially means you've got all this free time and no money to do anything. I didn't spend my days going out for lunch or shopping for cute baby clothes like I thought I would have and there's only so many walks you can go on before it starts to become a bit like groundhog day. By the second half of my maternity leave, I was getting cabin fever. I was getting out and about with Oliver, but we'd ran out of 'new' places to go and it just felt like we had so much time to kill and not enough money, or company, to go and make the most of it.


In the final weeks before I went back, I had equal feelings of dread and excitement. I was excited to be doing something different because, as bad as it sounds, I was bored of maternity leave. I wanted to enjoy being off with Oliver and to get rid of the feeling that we're 'killing time' because we've just got so much of it. I wanted to chat to different people every day and I wanted to have money again, so we could do fun things together. But I also knew it was the end of an era, and I knew I'd miss this time when I went back. I also knew that any time I'd left Oliver for an afternoon at my mums, I'd rush home to see him because I missed him so much, so how was I going to cope with a full 8 hours a day? 

So in August, the day finally came. I started back at work and do you know what? It was fine. 

I got to catch up with old colleagues, drink hot tea and chill out on my lunch break (or look at photos of Oliver, let's be honest). Oliver gets watched by his gran and papa when I'm at work, so I know he's in safe hands and I loved getting photos of him throughout the day. I was so excited to see him at 5pm, and he was so pleased to see me too. Every minute until bed time was cherished.


Working again and having limited time in the mornings and evenings has forced me to be super organised and to make the most of every minute we have. I know that I've got half an hour to play with Oliver in the morning before we have to get ready and leave, so I give him my full attention for that time and give him an extra big cuddle before I leave in the morning. After work, I'm so excited to give him his bath and play before bed time rather than being exhausted. And I've finally shook off that feeling of constant cabin fever. 

I'm working part-time now and even though I look forward to my days off so much, I actually don't miss maternity leave. I value my time off more than ever now. I make the most of it, we do fun things together (because we can afford to) and it's given me back that independence that I'd lost. We still go on long walks, but now I appreciate them because it's something I've been looking forward to when I've been working on the other days.


Returning to work is just another stage in the process of having a baby. First there's the pregnancy, the newborn days, the maternity leave and then the return to work. It's returning to real life, really, and it's kind of exciting to go through a new stage and see how your baby slots in to that world. 

It turns out that returning to work, and returning to 'life' was just what I needed.

How did you feel returning to work after maternity leave?

p.s I've filmed our morning routine before work on my youtube channel, watch it here

Recycle Week 2017 | So how did I do?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Last Monday, I posted about Recycle Week UK with Zero Waste Scotland and my plans to take on the challenge of doubling what I recycle in a week. In my area, we have all the facilities for recycling. We have separate bins for paper, glass, food and plastic that are collected weekly, but I still found myself using the black bin way more than necessary.

Agreeing to do this challenge made me think about what was stopping me from making recycling a normal part of my everyday life. We have a small kitchen (and a small house in general), with a tiny bin that fills quickly and we simply don’t have the space to have more than one bin for different types of rubbish. With a little one running around, I can’t nip outside to the main bins every time I have a piece of rubbish either. 

So how did I get around those obstacles?

Zero Waste Scotland Recycle Week Waste Warriors

We started by thinking about what we put in our bins the most. It was food waste, empty cartons of juice and milk and boxes. We couldn’t stop the food wastage (most of it is down to a baby who likes to throw food on the floor) and we couldn’t stop amazon from sending huge boxes for tiny items, but we did realise we could get rid of those bulky milk cartons. We’d been offered a milk delivery service the week before and realised that this was the perfect way to get rid of those big plastic bottles. We started having our milk delivered in glass bottles three times a week, and once they’re finished we can leave them on the door step for the milkman to collect the next morning.

When it came to food waste, we knew we had to make it as easy as possible to keep it separate from the rest. Previously, our main bin was a tiny black bin on the inside of a cupboard door and in all honesty, it wasn’t really fit for purpose. It filled so quickly that we’d often have to have a separate bag hanging on the door for the big items, so we changed how we used it and it became the food waste bin.

Since we don’t have space to have several bins indoors for plastic, glass and paper, I moved our big recycling wheelie bins to just outside our back door. This meant I could put the big items like paper and bottles straight out and into the right bin once we’d used them. Most of our rubbish comes from the kitchen, so it’s easy enough to open the door and put bottles or boxes straight into the big bin. For other rubbish around the home, we have smaller bins in each room which I sort into the wheelie bins every couple of days when they need emptied.  

Recycling was always something that I thought would be a huge inconvenience but, actually, it only took half an hour or so to implement. Once I’d taken that time to think and organise how recycling would work for our household, it was easy to maintain every day. Our main bin won’t be overflowing by the end of week one anymore, and we won’t have to do the undignified task of cramming the last few bags in before the fortnightly black bin collection. More importantly, we’re setting a good example and teaching good habits for Oliver. 

Do you think you could change how you recycle too?

*collaborative post

Westerwood Hotel and Spa Review with SpaSeekers

Monday, 2 October 2017
Westerwood hotel and spa afternoon tea spaseekers review

Spa days are one of those things that usually come to mind when I'm at my peak of stressful day, or when I'm staring at my to-do list and wondering what I could bump off in favour of a massage and facial. I've been saying that I wanted a spa day since I was pregnant and craving that menthol sauna smell, so when I received an invitation from SpaSeekers to the Westerwood Hotel and Golf Resort for a spa day with some blogger friends, I realised the universe was clearly begging me to go. 

The Westerwood Hotel is a beautiful old hotel in north Glasgow, with a huge golf course and spa resort. The spa has recently had some refurbishments and the first thing I noticed was how clean and tidy everything was, the place was absolutely gleaming and it was such a calm environment from the moment I arrived. I was given a robe, slippers and a card for my afternoon tea when I arrived and was shown around the place.

Spa days in glasgow reviews

Our spa day started with afternoon tea in the restaurant where I met with the other bloggers, Suzy and Lis. There was so much to chose from - sandwiches, little rolls, brownies, cakes, scones with tea, coffee and a mocktail too. I consider myself a seasoned pro when it comes to afternoon tea (aka I just love cake) and I really did think that was one of the best ones I've had. 

spa days in glasgow reviews

We had our treatments booked in for 2pm, and we'd arrived at 12.30pm. That gave us a good hour of cake, chatter and tea before we had to make our way to the treatment areas so if you're going in the afternoon, I'd definitely recommend aiming for that kind of timescale. I had booked in for an ESPA facial and a back, neck and shoulder massage -  you can either have one longer treatment or two shorter treatments and since I couldn't decide, I thought it made sense to try both. 

My treatments were done by Patricia, who was absolutely amazing. My massage was so relaxing, my facial was perfect and the ESPA products are seriously some of the nicest smelling products out there. Patricia gave me some really good tips for my skin too and we were given an ESPA gift set with some smaller products to try when we got home too. 

After the treatments, I met with the girls again through in the relaxation room. This is a dark, quiet room with loungers and chilled music playing and it's where you can go to chill, read, sleep or just hang out after your treatments. The room has water bottles and tea that you can help yourself to. After a massage, you're so chilled that a lounger in a dark room is exactly what's needed. 

spa days in glasgow review

After hanging out in the relaxation room, we decided to head through to the swimming area. I'm not much of a swimmer, but I do normally like to use the jacuzzi and steam rooms so we wanted to check them out before heading home. The swimming and sauna area is accessible through the spa, but it's part of the main hotel so the hotel guests use the pool too. I did feel like the spa atmosphere was lost a bit when we went into the swimming area, as there were kids playing and it was definitely a lot louder than what we'd came from but the jacuzzi and sauna area was still really nice. The pool had loungers all around the side, a large jacuzzi and a sauna/steam room too. 

At the end of the day, I left feeling so relaxed, chilled out and re-charged. It really was exactly what I needed. Since having my spa day at the Westerwood, I've been making plans for another and I've realised that it's so important to make time for myself like that every now and then. 

I'd definitely recommend checking out the Westerwood hotel if you're looking for a spa day for yourself or with some friends. You can check for the best deals on SpaSeekers or if you're not in the area, you can use that site to find the best deals near you. 

How do you guys like to unwind? 

Recycle Week 2017 | The Challenge

Monday, 25 September 2017
Today marks the start of Recycle Week 2017 the annual UK-wide campaign to raise awareness of the vital importance of recycling. During the campaign, which runs from Monday 26th September until Sunday 1 October, Zero Waste Scotland will be encouraging people from all over the country to join in and become 'waste warriors'.

I've agreed to take the challenge, which is to double the amount I recycle in a week. As someone who doesn't recycle enough, I'm looking forward to the challenge of changing my bad habits, learning a bit more about why it's so important and of course, seeing the benefits (hopefully, a wheelie bin that doesn't overflow!). 

In recent years, recycling has become the norm in a lot of homes across the UK. In my area, we have fortnightly collections for our normal bins but our recycling bins are collected every week. With only one large black bin to last us the fortnight, we really need to recycle to make sure it doesn't fill up too quickly. We're family of three (with a baby in nappies) and it can be difficult to manage without using the recycling bins for all our recyclable waste.

I have to say though, there are times when I only begin recycling once I've noticed our large bin getting full. The main reason, admittedly, is that it's far easier to throw it all in the one bin and take it outside at the end of the day than it is to split our rubbish into the four separate bins. I'm often home alone with my little one, and will go for the simplest option that takes the least amount of time!

recycling challenge

As a blogger and an online shopper, we have a lot of paper waste (we all know those online companies that send the smallest items in the biggest boxes), so I'm expecting to see a big difference when I make the effort to recycle all my paper waste. We also go through a lot of plastic bottles and empties and recycling them will save tons of space in our big wheelie bin.

If you'd like to read a bit more about Recycle Week, head over to Zero Waste Scotland website to find out how you can sign up, or follow the Recycle for Scotland facebook page for fun updates and activities throughout the week.

I'll be posting an update at the end of the week to let you know how things have went. Wish me luck! 

How do you all feel about recycling? 
Do you think you do it enough? 

*collaborative post

Review: Pacapod Mirano Changing Bag

Thursday, 31 August 2017
I had a changing bag on my 'must-have' list when I was pregnant but in all honesty, it wasn't something I gave much thought at all. In the end, I picked up one from the reduced section in the pram centre and thought it was plain enough to go unnoticed on the back of my pram. How it looked was probably the most thought I gave it and even then, I picked one that I didn't want to be seen. I'll be carrying my own nice handbag anyway, I thought. Oh, the naivety! 

As a first time mum, I had no idea about the significance of a changing bag. I had no idea that a changing bag becomes your handbag. I had no idea that within a few weeks, I'd grow to hate that plain, boring bag hanging on the back of my pram and how completely unpractical it was. It had no organisation inside and I'd find myself emptying the full thing just to find some wipes and nappies.

I needed a good changing bag, and then along came the Pacapod Mirano Changing bag.*

Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger

This Mirano is the style that I'd wished for and the Pacapod system has all the organisation I need. 

The Pacapod bags aren't just beautiful luxury changing bags, they have a unique pod system which lets you organise different areas of your bag and keep everything separate. The front section of the bag opens out to allow access to two pods - one cool bag for milk and food supplies, and one changing pod for nappies, wipes etc. The pods can be removed and have their own clips which means that if you're pushed for space, or if you're taking your own handbag for everything else, you can just take the pods out and either put them under your pram or attach them to the handle using the hooks.

Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger
Pacapod changing bag review mirano pewter photos uk family mummy vlogger

The best thing about the pod system, I've found, is how easy it is to organise. Before I leave the house, I pack each pod individually and it helps me to mentally tick off the list of things I need to pack. Each area of the bag has it's own requirement and I work my way around the bag packing each thing until we're ready to go. And when we're out and about, it's so much easier to find what I'm looking for when everything already has it's own place.

I love that if we're going out for a short walk, I can carry light and just take one of the food pods with me and it fits neatly under the pram. This was a god send when we were on holiday, and could fit the pods into our larger beach bag so we didn't have multiple things to carry at once!

There are so many beautiful styles of bag from the Pacapod brand. I went for the Mirano in 'pewter' because I wanted something reasonably spacious (so it can double up as a handbag), something neutral that looks good on my pram and one that's not too feminine so that Andy loves it out too. There are so many beautiful styles on the website, I totally struggled to chose but when it arrived, I knew I'd made the right decision - it's absolutely beautiful! 

This changing bag is everything I wanted and needed, I only wish I'd discovered it earlier! It's totally changed how organised I am when I'm getting ready and when I'm out of the house. The bag is so well made, and the high quality means I know it'll last a long time. It's a bit more pricey than my bargain bin changing bag, but for something that I use every single day for a couple of years at least, it's worth every penny.

Have any of you tried the pacapod?

*this bag was kindly sent to us to review. 

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