29 February 2012

World Book Day


Today is world book day and after being reminded several times by nursery (we forgot once, so shoot me) I asked my son what he wanted to go as.

We got out a few of his favourite books and he decided he wanted to be The Highway Rat, if you haven't read this book then it's very good, from the same fab duo as The Gruffalo.



I have only had my sewing machine for a few weeks but I think made a pretty good job of his outfit, I made a cape and mask and bought a hat which I've adorned with the relevant coloured feathers. He certainly thinks he's the highway rat and that's all that matters ;)

As I have mentioned before on the blog we love reading, I can't imagine not reading to my son before he goes to bed.

We have several books that we read regularly, including some from when I was a child. It's great to see that they never go out of fashion.

Here's to reading and being able to do daft and silly voices to the delight of your child :)
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Do something yummy...

I did mention this fabulous cause on the blog a few weeks ago, but since the lovely people over at  Love All Blogs have asked so nicely for us to share pictures of cake I thought I'd mention it again.

This time with a picture of the yummy Banana Loaf I made a few weeks ago. The recipe is by Holly from the fabulous Recipes of a Normal Mum.

Hope you like, it was very yummy and every single one of my brood enjoyed it :)

Yummy Mummy Week is a week long fundraising event (10-18th March 2012) where mums are being asked to get together with friends and family and do something yummy for CLIC Sargent.
Today ten children in the UK will hear the news they have cancer. By taking a few minutes of your time and posting on your own blog you’ll be  helping to raise awareness and supporting a worthy cause. You can find out what CLIC Sargent does here.
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28 February 2012

Olly the Little White Van Review

We were sent the second series of Olly the Little White Van to review and so far it has been a big hit with my three year old, it even had my one year old dancing.



My son loves it and has been singing the theme tune to us all day, I have watched it too and the characters are fun, endearing and help to promote helping each other.

Olly is voiced by Justin Fletcher (of Mr Tumble fame) and as usual he adds a little excitement to the character that brings him to life.

The cheeky little white van helps to spread the message that helping others is good and that you should always try to help someone, even if you don't always get it right.

The music is catchy and as with most of these types of things you know its good when you find yourself singing it at inappropriate times of the day (i.e. when the kids are in bed).

The website has some great games on it too as well as some useful fact sheets and activities to get your children helping around the home and out and about.

I think the only way the series could be made better is if the episodes were a little longer, at five minutes the children are just getting into it and then it ends.

We, I mean my son, is really looking forward to the third series which is out Summer/Autumn this year and we will be on the look out for the toys and games which are due out after Easter.

Also running on the website at the moment is a competition whereby your child can get on TV with Olly and appear singing/dancing/mucking around at the end of Olly as the credits play out.

Overall it has been a big hit with us and we look forward to seeing more episodes.

Disclosure: We were given a DVD of Series 2 to review; all opinions are honest and my own
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27 February 2012

Spring has Sprung!

I love that the trees have buds on and that the snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils are all starting to find their way out of the ground.

I took this picture in the garden yesterday, just so perfect and beautiful...


My hubby bought me some daffodils and I just love their trumpets, so simple and yet so great...


I loved the daffodils so much they inspired me to make these cupcakes, I love the pale yellow and they certainly made the day that little bit yummier...

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26 February 2012

24 February 2012

Tartiflette Recipe

Now admittedly this is more of a autumn/winter dish but I love it's comfort food qualities, it is pretty simple and as long as you don't consider how many calories are in it then yay.

I first had this in France last year it was amazing and I was determined to learn how to make it at home and it turns out there are a vast array of recipes, but this is what I made up from them all and it tastes so yummy.

Ingredients:

5-6 medium potatoes
1 onion diced
4 rashes of bacon chopped into pieces (or use lardons)
1 ripe reblechon cheese (if you can only find unripe then just leave out of the fridge a few days before you want to use)
Butter
Salt and pepper

Method:

NB: A lot of recipes tell you to boil the potatoes in their skin and then peel, but I have found it easier to peel them and then boil them whole or in half if the potatoes are large. That way you can cut them up straight away without peeling. Some recipes tell you to leave the skins on, I have children who prefer no skin so it is entirely up to you whether you leave on or not!

1. Firstly butter an oven proof dish and pre heat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 5


2. Choose small to medium sized potatoes all roughly the same size, if you have a few larger ones just cut them in half so they are the same size as the smaller ones. Boil the potatoes until they are almost cooked through, you should be able to poke with a fork and the outside break away slightly. (Don't overcook or you'll have mash)

3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking fry off the onion and bacon until the onion is soft and the bacon browned.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked strain and leave to cool slightly so you can handle them, cut into thick slices (if your in a rush then you could put on some rubber gloves to handle, don't rinse them in cold water)


5. Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the dish, scatter the onion and bacon over the potatoes and season with the salt and pepper.

6. Add the remaining potatoes on top of the onions and bacon and then place the reblechon cheese on top, in the middle of the dish.


One rather ripe and squidgy reblechon!
7. Place in the oven and cook until the cheese has melted completely and the potatoes are covered, the cheese should be bubbling (usually about 30-35 minutes).


 8. Once it has finished cooking serve wish fresh crusty bread and a nice side salad, et voilĂ .


Serving with a glass of wine is advised but not necessary ;)
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22 February 2012

Mothers Day Treats

Mothers day is less than a month away and I have been looking for some ideas, so far I have found lots of scrummy things I just wanted to share.

After seeing a recent blog post over on housewife confidential I decided I am going to become a bit of a tea/hand towel addict, it might just be my new thing.

I love these from Sew White, they are really gorgeous and reasonably priced at £3 for two.

These Mummy Birthstone necklace from Poppy Sparkles are just gorgeous, I would love one for myself but also think it would be great to give my mum. - £45



I think anything from More Than Words is brilliant, I love this one for mothers day - £40-115 depending on size/type.


I love cake, my mother in law loves cake and my mum loves cake so this would be perfect for any of us really, I adore the colour and to be honest anything from the white approach would be fine by me - £12



One of my favourite things, something luxurious, that's right hot chocolate....my anytime of the year drink. I had some of this for Christmas and it went within a few weeks. - £5


And finally, if you fancy doing something home made then how about some lovely home made cupcakes

This recipe for Cherry Cupcakes is from the Dairy Diary (I love my diary it takes me back to my youth, mum had a Dairy Diary every year).


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21 February 2012

Pancake Day

I thought I would share my favourite pancake recipe and ideas with you today.

First of all I use my trusty Be-Ro recipe for pancake mix,  adding a little more milk will give you a crepe like consistency if you like them thin and crispy (as I do, but I have to cater for the masses).

Then onto filling, without a doubt my most indulgent, feel like a pig, but oh my it tastes so wonderful is Nutella and Clotted Cream...it is amazing you can literally taste the calories but I don't care it's one day of the year.

I also love them savoury and my favourite recipe for them is Spinach and Ricotta, they can be made super simple by buying the pancakes and sauce ready made, you have to just put everything together. Or you can make from scratch if you have time with a simple tomato pasta sauce.

I also love them simple with just lemon/orange and sugar on, although I never manage to get the juice to sugar ratio and am always disappointed so I tend to now go for Nutella or the other favourites Maple or Golden Syrup!


Mmm whose idea was it to save having the pancakes until tonight, I am now salivating at the thought of them!

I will post some pictures later but for now, happy pancake day :)
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20 February 2012

Buying local tastes great!

I recently bought some braising steak from a local butchers and it was the best I have ever had, without a doubt going to our local butchers is the best.

They offer local, good quality meat and although it is a little more expensive than the supermarket the quality is worth it.

I turned the braising steak I bought into stews and curry, the lamb shoulder into a roast dinner and a tagine and the chicken breasts are so big from there that you only need one to feed two of you.

Beef Stew made with Braising Steak, just melts in your mouth!

My favourite dinner of all time, slow roast lamb with a caper and mint gravy!

The range of sausages are beyond comprehension and with the butchers comes knowledge and extras that you simply don't get from a supermarket.

For instance if we buy a piece of beef for a Sunday roast you can ask for a bit of extra fat to roast on top, this leaves it tasting amazing and juicy.

You can ask for a cut of meat you don't find in supermarkets, for example beef skirt is perfect for fajitas.

I go by the philosophy of buying the most expensive meat we can afford and that the cheap cuts are usually the tasty ones, from neck to skirt to shoulder and braising.

If you can find a recipe that cooks the meat slowly then you are always onto a winner, it's all about the cooking and slow cookers are great for cheap buts of meat as well as being great for busy mums who work.

If you can, try and use local butchers. It makes me sad to see so few of them now days, that goes for bakers and green grocers too. I love the sense of community they offer which can be seen when in places like France, where the local Boulangerie is such a lovely experience, open from early in the morning till late at night and such a sense of community.
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19 February 2012

18 February 2012

Poorly Mummy!

So I have been neglecting my poor blog for the last few days, but it isn't my fault I am genuinely quite poorly :(

I have something called Pleurisy, no it isn't that I can't describe more than one thing but instead a nasty inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest (the pleura)!

It is agony, I can't breath, sneeze or cough without yelping out in pain!

So having not done a Favourite Recipe Friday for a few weeks I thought instead I would just link to some of my current favourite recipes...

We bought some rather yummy braising stake from a local butchers and I have been either doing this spicy plum curry or a gorgeous stew from Jamie Oliver.

I am also loving this gorgeous sounding Banana Loaf from Recipes of a Normal Mum, I have some rather ripe bananas I am going to give it a try with later.

With some strong antibiotics I am hoping my poor pleura will be better soon ;)
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14 February 2012

Tunes on Tuesday!

I love dance music, if I could have it playing in my head all the time I would.

There are a few DJs out there that I would listen to all day if I could and Ferry Corsten is one of them, so this morning we have two songs by him that I have enjoyed many a time and all fit in with today's  'romantic' theme!

The first is called Made with Love...



And he second is called Beautiful, it is a song I listened too a lot after my son was born so makes me smile everytime I hear it :)

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13 February 2012

Valentines Day....not this year!

So my husband has to leave about 6am tomorrow and won't be back until Friday afternoon so I told him Saturday that we should just leave Valentines Day this year!

Doesn't seem much point if he isn't here, even cards seem a bit pointless as he won't be able to see me open mine and then won't be here to see his.

In fact I am not sure I fall for the hype at all any more, to go out for a nice meal is such a rare event with two children that it always feels special.

Our second ever date was on Valentines and we didn't do cards then so why nine years down the line?

Is there a Valentine equivalent of Bah Humbug? To be fair me and my son have made him some cupcakes as I didn't want to feel totally unloving and I have just made him a card (he told me at lunch he had me one already...eek)...being ill I haven't had time to go out and buy one and although I could have done it all online does he really care about it that much?

Anyway to those that are being all romantical tomorrow have a great time and to those who aren't doing anything then yay for us :)
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12 February 2012

9 February 2012

House of germs!

So this week has been a bit quiet on the blog, mainly because we are all full of germs!

Since my daughter started nursery at the beginning of January it has been one sickness after another.

I have felt rough all week and Wednesday couldn't move off the sofa, not sure if it's flu or just a bad cold but now my throat is one fire and the worst thing is I can't take anything for it because I am still breastfeeding my daughter.

Ok, ok so sob story aside I really need to get more vitamins into me and the children so I think I need to start making smoothies and more soups.

Anyone have any smoothie recipes they'd like to share that don't necessarily require a smoothie maker either, I have a food blender and hand blender?
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6 February 2012

As if I didn't have enough to do!

So my mother in law came over yesterday with her old sewing machine.

She gave me a ten minute lesson and that was it.

So today I had a stab at a little tote bag and this was the result....



Not bad to say I have never done anything like it before, only problem is I can now see this taking up much of my time. Time I don't really have to spare!!!!

Aaggghh damned you hobbies!
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4 February 2012

A little book that made me smile...

So I have mentioned a few times about suffering with PND after my son was born with it I lost the ability to see the little things and this book really helped me.

In it are lots of little ideas and things to do that aren't just visits to the park. Little quotes that are uplifting and often had me in tears.

It's probably the reason I just chose to spend time with my daughter and enjoy 'her' rather than trying to make it to baby groups and compare baby poo and how great their baby slept through the night.

Although it is nice going to baby groups and talking to other mums sometimes I would just find myself getting wound up, and with my son around as well it wasn't always possible to take him and it would just become more hassle!

I still made sure I saw my best friend from work once a month and go to the hairdressers to have a wash and cut. If I am out and about I would take time to talk to people who ask about my children rather than being in a rush.

I would go for long walks and sit chatting to her rather than being in a rush to be somewhere on time and then get stressed about it!

So what is this book, it is called things to do now that you're a mum...


A couple of my favourite excerpts are...

'Babies spend a lot of time sky gazing, so join in!. Lie back and relax as you watch the clouds vaporize and float across the sky. See what faces, shapes or animals you can make out in the cloud formations. Teach your baby to find magic in the natural world.'

'On a clear night, wrap yourself and baby up warm and step outside to watch the stars'

'Take an enchanted early morning walk in a dew filled garden. There are some advantages to getting up early with a baby!'

'Even if your child pretends not to care, they do look up to you. So try to 'walk your alk' and be a positive role model in all that you do.'

and my favourite one...

'Take your baby on a 'date'. Dress up and have lunch in a restaurant you've always wanted to go to.'

They are just little things that sometimes with sleepless nights you forget exist or with busy lives you literally don't have time to stop and smell the roses.

I think it would make a great new mum gift or mothers day gift for a new mum as it is lovely, even as a second time mum with a one year old I still find little things in it that I do with my children.
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3 February 2012

Favourite Recipe Friday - Vanilla Biscuits

I love these biscuits they are super easy, tasty and my son loves to help make them!

Ingredients:

150g unsalted butter cut into small pieces
225g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
3-5 tablespoons of milk

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Lightly grease a large baking sheet (or if you'd prefer you can line a tray with baking parchment).

2. Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (if you want to save time you can blitz together in a food processor).

3. Stir in the caster sugar and vanilla essence and then add a tablespoon of milk at a time and mix together until it forms a firm dough (if you need a little more milk just add a bit at a time or if you add too much add a little more flour).


4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 2.5cm/1inch. Stamp out with your desired shape, this would be perfect for valentines day if you had a heart shape but we used a new dinosaur cookie cutter we got for Christmas and stars.


5. Arrange the shapes onto the prepared baking tray.
    6. Put in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. Once cooked transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool. Add decoration or just simply sprinkle with sugar before serving.


    Perfect with a cuppa on a cold afternoon!


    Favourite Recipe Friday
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    2 February 2012

    Dangers in the night!

    Yes I know it's strangers in the night, but for the purpose of this post I mean dangers!

    The sort of danger that would leave me very soggy and distraught!

    Dear men of this world, if you go for a wee in the night and adopt the standing position whilst remembering to lift the seat up! Then please oh please put it down after you (if there is a woman or child in the house anyway).

    Fortunately there was enough light for me to see in the loo this morning, but had I been a bit sleepier there might have been a lot of 3am swearing.

    Obviously if you don't lift the seat up and wee on it then there will probably be some muttering under the breath about how disgusting you are, but no where near as bad!

    Ladies should this ever happen to you or your a prankster like me. I can thoroughly recommend taking all of the loo roll out of the toilet, men aren't very likely to notice these sort of things and are left at your mercy.

    Much love x



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    1 February 2012

    Hardest job in the world?

    Being a mum is hard, it starts from the moment you wake up and doesn't stop till you finally manage to fall asleep that night!

    Sometimes whilst everyone else is asleep you think about mum things, washing, money, dinner, getting up and getting everyone dressed, whether everyone has pants and socks!

    Ok so looks like this is one of those posts with too many exclamation marks!!!!

    I don't mind all of this but it would just be nice to have a little bit of time without a 'have you done the ironing', 'mummy can I have a biscuit', 'mummy this dinner smells like dog poo' (I kid you not that is what my 3 year old said tonight!)

    I tweeted tonight that I was sat on the landing having five minutes to myself whilst I ran the kids a bath, this is just pants!

    I don't get many of these moments, I like to think it's when I am having a shower but then I am thinking about the children and what they are up to, when I am having a wee I have the door open in case someone needs me! I have lost count of the times I have sat talking to a child who has come to see what I am doing whilst sitting on the loo.

    I often sit in the car outside the house if the kids have fallen asleep on the journey home, read my emails, have a look on twitter, it's better than carrying two rather heavy lumps into the house!

    As I walk through the house picking up this, moving that I just long for five minutes to sit and think. To drink a hot drink in peace, now I have gone back to work this is about the only time I get to myself and that is even sadder.

    The hours are long and the money none existent but the love and snuggles makes up for that, I just think that you should get some time off every once in a while.
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