25 articles Tag Winter

How to Cope with Winter Illness

This time of year seems to be the prime time for illness. The weather is still cold and most of us would rather stay indoors and wrapped up even when we’re well, let alone when we’re poorly, but for most of us, that level of hibernation just isn’t an option! Being the only driver in the house and living as far from Sausage’s school as we do, I’m all too aware of the “make do and mend” approach that most of us mums have to take when we’re struck down, so I thought I’d put together a list of things that you should be doing when illness strikes.

1. REST

I know its easier said than done for most of us, but rest is so important when you’re ill, and it’s so much harder to recover if you’re on the go all the time. The key to resting is picking your battles – school runs, cooking and other vitals obviously still need to be done, but things like hoovering and washing can usually wait for a day or two. Leave these until you’re feeling up to it – we promise, the world won’t end if you don’t vacuum!

2. Get Some Advice

Most of us know the difference between feeling under the weather and being truly ill, but sometimes we’d like a little bit of medical advice and if you can’t get an appointment with your GP, you’re left in the dark. The Independent Pharmacy has an online doctor who can help to advise you if you feel you need medical attention and can suggest over-the-counter medications which might help you to feel better.

3. Accept Help

As a Mum, I know how easy it is to be stubborn and brush off offers of help even when you really need it. Now is the time to swallow your pride and accept that you need help. Call in favours from fellow Mums to see if they can do school pick ups for you, or let your Mum/Mother in Law make a fuss of you – they love to do it really and you can repay favours when you’re felling 100% again.

4. Exercise

If you exercise regularly and don’t want to let it slide, the usual rule of thumb is “if you’re ill from the shoulders up, exercise. If you’re ill from the shoulders down, don’t!”. If it’s a head cold, going for a light jog might help blow the cobwebs away and speed up your recovery, but if it’s anything else, refer to point number one and REST!

5. Dose Up

Dosing yourself up with paracetamol, anti-inflammatories or decongestants might be enough to allow you to get on with everything you need to do if you really can’t bear to take a day off. There are loads of magic potions which are available over the counter which can make a cold of virus seem like to big thing and although we’d prefer it if you sat at home in your PJs, watching Netflix and drinking tea, we also know that sometimes that’s just not possible. Our one bit of advice would be to check that none of your medicines make you drowsy if you intend on driving anywhere.

Get well soon!

Alternatives to a Winter Coat

Alternatives to a Winter CoatOkay, so let it be said that I’m no fashionista – if it’s clean and it fits me, it’ll usually do and co-ordination be damned! However, at this time of year, one thing that I find tricky is outdoor wear, particularly big coats. I spend quite a lot of time driving and I hate feeling bunched up in thick layers, unable to move my arms properly, but I also hate being cold more than almost anything. I’ve been thinking lately about alternatives to a winter coat and thought I’d share some of them with you here:

Ponchos

Ponchos are actually super on-trend at the moment and come in a million different styles, from full-on South American print to sporty or feminine. One of my favourite ways to wear a poncho is with a roll-neck jumper, jeans and long boots, which works as a look for just about any casual occasion and can be easily glammed up with the right jewellery.

Merino Layers

Wearing lots of thick layers might keep you warm but it can feel very restrictive, so thinking about the types of materials that you layer can really help. Opting for a material like merino wool, which is light, very warm and breatheable will allow you to add more layers without feeling like the Michelin man, and merino is also very trendy right now.

Cardigans

On days when it’s not wet, chucking a chunky knit on top of your clothes can sometimes be enough to keep you warm and will usually allow you to still move around unencumbered. Cardigans come in all shapes, sizes and colours and go with just about anything but remember that the looser the knit, the less likely it will be to keep out the wind!

Rain Mac

Global warming means that our winters are seeming less chilly, which means that sometimes you can get away without wearing a coat, although with this being Britain the threat of rain is always real! There are some really funky rain macs around which can fold up to pretty much the size of a purse and can be kept in a bag or pocket in case the heavens open.

Gilet/Bodywarmer

This is the one that I opt for the most, as I have a decent quilted bodywarmer with a fur-lined hood which allows me to move my arms whilst driving but still keep my body warm. I tend to layer it over a fleece, and wear a t-shirt beneath which keeps me super warm on even the coldest days.

Do you have an alternative to a thick winter coat that you swear by? I’d love to hear your suggestions so please do leave me a comment below.

 

 

Surviving Winter in the Countryside

winter countrysideThis will be our second winter living in the countryside and I like to think that we’ve learned a few things since last year. Obviously, we’re not exactly living inside the Arctic Circle, but we are far enough away from civilisation to have to think about certain things in advance. Here, I look at our top five things that we need now that we live off the beaten track:

Cardboard and Paper

Last year, I wrote a post about The Art of Lighting a Fire, talking about how it’s far more difficult to light and maintain a fire than I ever realised, so this summer has been spent stockpiling newspapers, egg cartons, old boxes and other things which make excellent tinder. We’re dab-hands at getting the fire going now and our stash will only make it easier!

Decent Coats

Our house is surrounded by farmland and is basically open to the elements from all angles which means that even when doing simple things we’re at the mercy of the wind. This has taught us that having a decent coat is an absolute must and also that kid’s coats are often more style than function. Opting for a proper outdoor brand like Regatta or Barbour means they get nice looking coats which actually keep out the cold and wet!

Outdoor Walking Gear

If all else were to fail, Husband could make his way across the fields to the nearest shop if we were to get completely snowed in, he just might need some trekking poles for stability!

Candles and Torches

Seriously, since we’ve lived here I’ve expereinced more power cuts that at any other time in my adult life. Just last week, I posted a photo on Instagram of us all plunged into darkness, relying on my candle collection to give us a little bit of light. Since then, I’ve decided to invest in some good, rechargable lanterns so that we don’t have to scrabble around in the dark next time it happens!

Long-Life Milk

Here’s the scenario: it’s 10pm on your main work day and you’re still not finished writing, you’re desperate for a cup of coffee to keep you going but you remember that the last of the milk got used up earlier and the nearest shop is a 15 minute drive away. BUT IT’S OKAY! You have cartons of long-life milk stashed away at the back of the cupboard! Again, I’m aware that we aren’t living off the grid or anything and that, worst comes to worst the nearest supermarket is open 24 hours, but having long-life milk to hand can really be a life-saver…or at the very least a deadline-saver!

A Good Shovel

When you live in the sticks, the council doesn’t come and clear the roads. If you’re lucky, a very benevolent farmer will come along and scatter salt with his tractor, but having a good shovel can make all the difference between being stranded at home or being able to actually leave the house. Your neighbours will also love you forever if you help them too, especially if they’re elderly.

Keeping Kids Germ Free During Cold and Flu Season

cold and fluYesterday, I was talking to a friend about Burrito Baby, explaining how my tactile almost-three-year-old doesn’t LOOK with her eyes, she looks with her hands. When BB says “Mummy, can I look at that please?” she doesn’t mean can she cast an eye over it, she means “can I touch it?” – I’m fairly certain that’s normal for a kid of her age but it does make me chuckle that she’s such a feeler and it also made this video by The Global Hygiene Council about cold and flu prevention ring absolutely true:

I’m ENTIRELY unsurprised to hear that kids are 25% more likely to catch colds and flu, which is exactly why both of mine will be having their flu jab this year. Many people seem to underestimate just how poorly flu can actually make you and often liken it to a simple cold but proper flu can be absolutely debilitating, especially for someone with asthma like Sausage, the young, old or people with a compromised immune system.

We had ‘proper’ flu in 2008 on Sausage’s first Christmas and honestly, it’s one of the occasions during my adult life when I can say that I felt more ill than almost any other time. Sausage’s temperature skyrocketed and she actually ended up in hospital on Christmas Day night because we were so worried about her. I was the next to come down with it, followed by Husband and between us we were basically bedridden for a week – not easy to deal with when you have a five month old baby and two sick adults.

Sausage has pretty good habits when it comes to cold and flu prevention, like flushing her tissues once they’ve been used and keeping her hands clean, but it’s not so easy with BB. She hasn’t had a dummy for ages but she still has a bit of an oral fixation, which means that we have to constantly remind her to get her hands out of her mouth and I’ve lost count of the amount of times that she’s sweetly caressed my face…with a SOAKING wet hand!

We find it really handy to keep disinfectant wipes around for keeping surfaces clean. They are so easy to use and don’t require a sponge or cloth to be kept on hand at all times, and they’re perfect for using on hard plastic toys which, quite frankly, are little germ farms if one of the kids has a cold.

How do you ensure that the spread of germs is kept to a minimum? Are you hot on hand-washing and a disinfecting diva? I’d love to hear any little tips and tricks that you use at this time of year to keep germs at bay, so do leave me a comment below.

Kids Autumn/Winter with Petit Bateau

Something that I love about shopping online is that I can source things which are a little bit different to what you’d normally find on the High Street. This is especially great for finding clothes for Sausage and Burrito Baby as I do love dressing them to accentuate their unique personalities, which is why I was happy when Petit Bateau asked me to put together an outfit for each of them from their new Autumn/Winter range.

Sausage is pushing boundaries with her fashion choices at the moment. She loves to be a little bit different (hence the pink hair during the holidays!) and relishes bucking against what girls in her class would be wearing. BB likes to wear things that look “pweety” (yep, that’s how she says it!) but which also allow her to charge around and don’t impede her running/climbing/dog riding. Here’s what I chose for them:

 

Petit Bateau

 

Petit Bateau by jayne-crammond on Polyvore

Grey is one of my favourite colours for clothing at the moment and I think the grey jeans make such a nice alternative to blue or black, which is what you see on most people. Sausage and BB both look amazing in most colours, but Sausage looks especially fantastic in autumn/winter palates because of her wild red hair, while BB looks great in more neautral shades because of her blond locks and pink cheeks.

I actually wnjoy shopping for the girls SO much more than shopping for myself, so spending an afternoon scouring a site and choosing things for them is a real treat! Have you shopped with Petit Bateau before? Do you enjoy shopping for your kids? What would you choose from the Petit Bateau ranges? Leave me a comment below!

A Good Winter Coat

Sausage has had a real growth spurt recently, as I keep discovering when I give her clothes to put on and she comes back wearing what looks like a crop top and 3/4 length leggings! This means that we’ve had to replace a lot of things, not least of all her winter coat; I was hoping to get a few months out of her old one but it just wasn’t cutting it anymore! We opted for this one, from Regatta:

44849090_xxl

The coat itself is super warm and waterproof. which means that even in the horrible weather we’ve been having lately, she’s been well protected from the elements. The hood is HUGE and has a fabric peak which pulls out to give extra shelter when it’s raining, as well as the lush fur lining around the hood. The front has a zip but also a button-down flap which gives total protection from wind and rain and means that I don’t have to worry about her being cold in the playground.

Husband and I have always tried to make sure that Sausage has the best quality clothes we can afford, especially with her outdoor gear as it’s so important to stay warm and dry. A hood is a must because of her reoccurring ear infections – it’s probably an old wives tale, but we like to make sure she doesn’t get the wind in her ears! Also, the coat seems pretty popular amongst the other kids – I’ve seen two other girls wearing at Sausage’s school this winter!

Now that we live in the county, it’s even more vital for us all to have excellent outdoor clothing. We often go for long walks with Chuck, our dog, and as we’re surrounded by farmland and river coastline, we have to make sure that we have things in which we can get wrapped up warmly. Sausage’s Regatta coat is the perfect thing for her to wear and it’s breathable too, which means that she doesn’t overheat or get too sweaty!

All in all, we’d definitely recommend this coat, and Regatta as a whole, for the high quality clothing they make.

The Art of Lighting a Fire

I discovered something about myself this week. I found out that I don’t cope very well when I find out I’m not good at something. You’d think, after 31 and a third years of life, this would be something I’d know but it has literally only just dawned on me.

Okay, so it’s not even lunchtime but…

A photo posted by Mum’s the Word (@mumstheword84) on


It started because of the log burner in our new living room.

It seems, dear readers, that lighting a fire is a lot harder than it looks. You’d think, given all these house fires and spontaneous combustions we hear about all the time (alright, I mean, not ALL the time…) that making something go on fire would be pretty easy, but it’s not. And do you know who I blame? Husband, that’s who I blame. He made it look soooooo easy. One flick of a lighter and WHOOSH, we’re all basking on the orange glow of his manliness, toasty warm and cosy as you like. (Take a look at fireprotectiononline.co.uk for everything you need to keep your fire safe)

However, when it came round to my turn to get the fire going…pffft. I am, as Jen from the IT Crowd would say, a damp squid. Sure, I’d get an initial burn but nothing past that, it would fizzle out to nothing and I’d be left with a log burner full of half-charred newspaper and not much else. This would not do. The fact that I was failing HAUNTED me. I am not the sort of person to accept that I can’t do something, so I made it my mission to get that baby burning.

I consider myself a fairly independent type of person; I don’t really like asking for help with things that I should be able to do myself and I take personal failure pretty hard. There is NO bigger critic of me than myself. Having said that, it’s not all bad – being tough on myself in this way often drives me to MAKE myself more capable, just so that I don’t have to turn to someone else for help.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m any kind of expert, but using the knowledge that I managed to leech off of Husband about his elite-level wood-burning skills, I have managed to become pretty proficient at making a decent fire. The most important thing, perhaps quite obviously, is heat. If you try to stick a massive log on the fire before it’s hot enough, you’re going to murder it. I use the following method:

  1. Clean your grate and ensure you have about 1cm of ash left in there from the previous fire for insulation.
  2. Place around 5-6 pieces of balled-up newspaper (making sure it’s super dry) at the bottom – this is your tinder and it what takes the initial flame. (Egg boxes, loo rolls and dryer lint are also EXCELLENT for use as tinder)
  3. Take 3 or 4 pieces of wood, small pieces which feel light and papery, as these will be very dry and will burn easily, and stack them like a teepee around your tinder – this is your kindling and are what you use to build heat before you add your main fuel.
  4. Light the paper at the bottom and push the door of your burner so that it’s ‘to’ but not clamped shut.
  5. As the tinder lights and burns the kindling and the flames build, add more pieces of kindling.
  6. Once you start to feel heat coming from the burning kindling (probably after adding about 6 pieces), add your fuel. Choose a log which feels super dry – lighter logs will catch better as there’s air between the laters of wood, whilst heavier denser pieces will burn for longer but may take longer to catch.
  7. Keep an eye on your flames and open the oxygen vent if they look like they’re dying down too much. Once your log has really caught light, close your door as this will make your fuel burn slower and give you a more sustained heat.
  8. Add fuel for as long as you want to keep a fire going – bear in mind that a piece around 7-inches thick will probably burn for over an hour, so if you’re planning to go to bed any time soon, don’t add too much more wood as you’ll be left waiting for the embers to die out before you can sleep!

And there you have it. The art of building a fire. I’m sure I’ve got something wrong somewhere along the line, and I still keep wondering if it was a total fluke every time I see the logs actually catching fire, but it’s worked a few times now so I must be doing something right!

Do you have a fire in your house? Do you ever struggle to light it? Come on, tell me it’s not just me!

Ultimate Autumn Comfort Foods

I always thought of myself as a summer baby. I was born in June, I adore the sunshine and am never happier than when I can be outside with the sun on my face. However, I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but these days, autumn seems to be my favourite season. I love the changes which are happening all around us and there’s something about the changing seasons which seems to spark my creativity each year.

The combined factors of being surrounded by nature in our new, rural cottage and having a lovely wood-burning stove in our lounge has made all thoughts turn to those warming comfort foods which I look forward to every time the weather gets cooler, and although we’re enjoying some unseasonably good weather, I’m still going down the ‘hearty’ route with our dinners.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some recipes from my favourite bloggers who’ve written about the foods which are perfect for when you want to snuggle down and fill your tummy with something wholesome and substantial.

SOUPS

If you like a bit of heat, this spicy tomato soup from Blue Bear Wood looks absolutely delish – I think I’d have to indulge in a huge chunk of buttered crusty bread for dipping.

Spicy-Roast-Tomato-Soup

I’ve never actually attempted to make French Onion Soup, even though I’ve always thought it looked like something I’d really enjoy, and this recipe from Keeper of the Kitchen has given me even more of a want to give it a go.

French Onion Soup

Veggie Options

Despite being a firmly confirmed meat-lover, I do occasionally make a veggie dinner as I think it’s good for us to have a few days meat-free, so this meat-free pie alternative with yummy veggie sides from The Brick Castle would be perfect.

Dinner

Another recipe from Blue Bear Wood is this vegetarian Bolognese. It’s such a great way to get veg into the kids without them making a fuss because, let’s face it, everyone loves a good Spag Bol!

Vegetarian-Bolognaise-Sauce

Hotpots, Stews and Other Mains

Daisies and Pie has shared this wonderful recipe for a Lancashire Hotpot, which is something that I’ve never actually attempted to cook before, although I’m not quite sure why as it looks like something that my family would absolutely love.

lancashire-hotpot-recipe

We’re huge fans of chicken casserole here in the Mum’s the Word house, although I do usually cheat and use a packet mix of seasoning, so this comforting chicken casserole from Munchies and Munchkins  has inspired me to do it without the use of a sachet next time!

Chicken Casserole

Chilli is another family favourite, and I shared a recipe that one of my mothers-in-law gave me last year HERE, but this slow-cooker version from Jibber Jabber UK would be perfect for us at the moment as I could put it on before the long commute to collect Sausage from school and have a warming meal ready for us when we get home.

Chilli

Nellie PomPoms has also written a post full of comfort food ideas, from cheese on toast to a simple but super tasty Aubergine bake (which my Husband would LOVE!).

Sweet Treats

Once the dinner is done, there’s nothing nicer than following it up with a sweet treat. As much as I love a summery fruit salad, winter is a great excuse for richer, thicker puddings which fill you up and make you feel like you’re getting a huge cuddle!

Fab Food 4 All has shared a Nutella Brioche Pudding, which is something that would be ANIHILLATED by my family in seconds as we’re huge fans of brioche and often eat the for breakfast or a supper treat with hot chocolate.

Nutella Brioche Pudding

Apple crumble is one of my favourite desserts ever and these Bramley Apple Crumble Slices from The Crazy Kitchen would be perfect to eat by the fire – preferably accompanied by a dollop of hot custard! Apple Crumble Slices

 Baileys. Chocolate. Sponge. Does is get any better or more comforting than that? I think not, which is why I’ve decided to finish with this Luxurious Baileys Triple Chocolate Trifle from A Mummy Too. Just looking at it is making my mouth water!

Baileys-Triple-Chocolate-Trifle

Which horse rug is right for your horse during Winter?

Shires Winter Highlander ComboSelecting the correct rug for ones horse during the winter can be very important. A horse rug will allow the horse to stay warm in the winter as well as provide other protection that he may need. You may be asking yourself which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? Choosing the correct size is one of the most important details to keep in mind. A properly fitting horse rug will cover the horse from his chest to his tail. A rug with straps around the girth as well as the back legs will help to keep the rug securely in place as well as still allow freedom of movement for him.

A Shivering Horse Is A Cold Horse 

If a horse is shivering during the winter months, it means that he is cold and a quality horse rug will allow him to stay warmer and more comfortable. Horses get cold and shiver just as people do so this is a great sign to watch for. If a horse spends time in the pasture or field during winter months a warm rug can be a great way to help protect him.

Older or Weaker Horses May Require A Rug

Horses again can be like people and the older they get the colder they get. Making sure that they have access to a warm rug can provide a great deal of protection to them. Horses that are experiencing illness should also be fitted with a rug for winter. Protecting him with a warm rug can help to prevent illness or keep him warm while he is recovering from an illness.

More Reasons For Warm Rugs

Wondering which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? Consider the age of the horse, a young horse can also find cold winter months difficult and a good rug can help him to experience a more comfortable winter. A horse that has been clipped can also enjoy the benefits of a warm rug as well. A horse that is lacking in a good winter coat can also be protected with a rug. Perhaps a warm rug for a show horse is a great idea as well, not only will it keep him warm but it can also provide a great deal of protection to his coat while helping to keep him clean.

Consider All Winter Elements

There is more to winter than just cold, with the cold comes snow and freezing rain and having a good rug for a horse can help him to be healthier during these types of extreme weather. If the days are warm but the nights are cold the rug can be used during the night and removed during the day for his comfort. Cheap Horse Rugs

Which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? The rug that fits, provides protection from the elements and is comfortable for the horse to wear. Ride 4 Less offers a great selection of horse rugs that are not only affordable but that also protect the horse during the long cold winter months. A large variety of styles as well as thicknesses will allow all horse owners to care for their horses in the best way possible. Shopping is easy and convenient and winter can be more bearable for the horses. Rugs that fit a bit more loosely will provide the maximum comfort for the horse. Protect horses for the harsh winter weather in your area with the most quality rugs available for them.

Sausage Tests Mini Boden

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely people from Boden got in touch and asked if Sausage would like to choose some clothes from the Mini Boden autumn/winter range to try out, and obviously we said a big fat YES! Here’s what she chose:

Mini Boden

Sausage actually has great taste when it comes to clothes, although everything on the Mini Boden site is absolutely gorgeous, so it wasn’t difficult for her to make excellent choices. The coral appliqué t-shirt is stunning, Sausage calls it her ‘Royal Pigeon’ shirt – the material is thick and cosy and is great for layering on days when the weather is unpredictable. The colour looks amazing on her, too.

The knitted woodland dress is so cute and funky and looks amazing when worn with colourful woolly tights and chunky boots – exactly what Sausage wore when we all went to the cinema at the weekend. It’s comfy and warm and makes a great ‘Sunday chic’ outfit.

The pyjamas are probably my favourite item of all – the soft, brushed cotton is so perfect for winter nights and the pony pattern is unique and pretty, ideal for my pony-mad little lady. In fact, I almost wish they made them in adult sizes!

I was really pleased when Sausage chose the bootleg cords. Her selection was mainly based on the fact that they’re bright pink, but I think cords are such a good choice for kids in winter; they’re warm and comfortable whilst having enough give in them so that her movement isn’t restricted like it might be in jeans. The bootleg cut means they can be worn with boots on colder days, or Converse when it’s slightly drier.

On a practical note, all of the clothes have washed really well and haven’t succumbed to the dreaded bobbling that cheaper items might. Sausage’s haul came to £106, but there’s actually a sale on at Boden at the moment, which means that you can get your hands on everything above for £93, including delivery, which I think is pretty awesome. Mini Boden is officially my new go-to place when looking for clothes for Sausage and I can’t wait until we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl tomorrow, so that I can look at the baby clothes too!

Thanks to Boden for supplying Sausage with such a great haul.