30 April 2012

I rename thee the Royal Fail!

If you follow me on twitter you may have seen me moaning about the Royal Mail earlier and with good reason. I ordered a bag last week, it was posted on Monday 1st class and still it has not arrived.

It's not the first time though. Last year I ordered a toy for my son, it never arrived and so the company we bought it from had to send out a replacement.

Earlier this year I ordered a comforter for my daughter, a week later it arrived with not even a sorry!

No other company could carry on like this, inflating prices and yet providing an ever poorer service.

It's never consistent, I remember the time when you could set your watch by the postman now they come at various times throughout the day, if at all some days!

It really grinds my gears as a small business owner that they are the only cheap(ish) service around to get small packets and letters anywhere.

In fact if someone else could come up with a similar idea and just actually get post where it is supposed to go on time then they would be onto a winner.

Somewhere someone has a lovely new bag that they haven't paid for, I have lost out on owning it for a week and the poor small business I bought it from has now lost out too (have you seen the form you have to fill out for lost items and they have had to pay to ship another out).

If I were the queen I would be asking for my head to be removed from the stamps. Surely it can't be considered Royal anymore, there is nothing about it that is Royal, it is a total mess.

Sadly I have no choice but to continue to use them and I must therefore grin and bear it but it does put me off purchasing online...not good when I own an online business.

Thank goodness for understanding business owners who don't accuse me of trying to cheat them out of goods, but how long before that does happen? Grrrr. Rant over, as you were!




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28 April 2012

Worried for my children!

Yesterday after dropping my husband off in town I had to drive past a local pub that last weekend was the scene of a murder! A young 19 year old was shot and later died!

This pub we have been to on several occasions before having our children and is so close to where we live!

It isn't the first incident in recent weeks either with stabbings and murders going on all over the county!

What kind of world have I bought my children into?!?! I know, I know you can't think like that but I am and I do!

I worry for them growing up and only hope that this so called 'broken Britain' can be fixed for their sake and that of their children!


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27 April 2012

Favourite Recipe Friday - Beef Stuffed Peppers with Cous Cous

Mince is always a staple in our freezer, mainly because it is usually on offer at the butchers.

I'm always trying to find tasty recipes to make with it and this one is no different, the soft peppers were perfect for when my daughter just started eating and it is still a favourite now.

You can find the recipe for stuffed peppers on the Simply Beef & Lamb website and we just serve with cous cous (the kids love cous cous).



Favourite Recipe Friday
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25 April 2012

Rainy Day Activity - Cornflake Cakes

There is nothing more satisfying in the world than melting chocolate, it's consistency is so lovely and I have no doubt I am not the only one who looks forward to licking the bowl!

Making cornflake cakes is a perfect rainy day activity to do with your children and this morning we did just that.

This is great fun for toddlers and preschoolers and brightens up the gloomiest of days.

I haven't put the amounts down as you can do them with as little or as much chocolate as you like and I never make them with weighed ingredients just however much looks like enough ;) Just add cornflakes a bit at a time and you can't go wrong.

In a bowl over a pan of hot water, melt some chocolate.

Be careful not to get any water in as this upsets chocolate
Once all melted carefully take off the heat
Add some cornflakes and stir (children are especially helpful at this bit)


Ensure the chocolate coats the cornflakes and add more cornflakes if it looks to chocolatey
Another child friendly part of making them, get them to put the cake cases into tins

Spoon the mixture into the cases and pop in the fridge to cool

Once cooled eat....
 We added some raisins to ours but you could also add nuts, marshmallows or anything else you fancy really.
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23 April 2012

Kiddy Infinity Pro Car Seat

I have intended to write a little review of our car seat for some time. Then I received some great customer service from the Kiddy team, which prompted me to get on and write it.

When my son had grown out of his first seat, about two and a half years ago, we spent several long weeks debating which car seat to buy.

After reading the Which reviews and watching several videos, we decided on the Kiddy Infinity Pro, it seemed to tick the boxes for safety and was very reasonably priced too!

I don't want to go on about other car seats, but for us the way in which the Kiddy car seats worked, with the impact shield instead of straps, won us over. The ergonomic leg rests, adjustable headrest and the fact you could recline the seat were all great touches as well and finally the high performance cushioning seemed to offer the best protection in case of an accident.

I wanted to keep my son in a rear facing car seat as long as possible but he hated the straps so this also made sense as I knew it wouldn't bother him.

It is very easy to get him in and out, even more so when he is having a bad half hour and doesn't want to get in the seat. I never feel like he isn't in properly, it does take a little getting used too and when grandparents use it they can struggle but after a few times it's a breeze.

You don't have to worry about straps being pulled to tight or not tight enough you and you can put them in quite easily when they are asleep.

Some of the extras for the Kiddy range are great too, you can get this aqua paint cover and a climate control seat cover for keeping them cool or warm.

And as for customer service, when the reclining section broke a year ago we took it back to Bristols Early Days where we bought it from and they replaced it for us and when last week my son stuck some stickers to it and it pulled the wipeable coating off (not sure what kind of strong stickers they were) I tweeted Kiddy and they have hunted down a replacement that they are sending to me.


We will be buying the next one up in the Kiddy range for our son when he has finished with this one and passing it on to our daughter, as we love them so much.

We have recommended it to several friends who have gone on to buy them for the very same reasons we did.

It is light so easy to move between cars and so far has fitted in most of the cars we have tried (only a couple we have test driven has it been a struggle with).

What more can you say really, it has won many great awards here and a abroad, this video shows just what I mean.


We purchased the Kiddy Infinity Pro ourselves and this review is written solely because we love the car seat, we have not received anything in return for it.
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20 April 2012

Favourite Recipe Friday - Cupcakes

So in the past few months I must have made a batch of cupcakes every few weeks and so I thought it only appropriate this be my favourite recipe this week.

I use an all in one method, it is simple and easy and my son loves helping to measure out the ingredients and set the cases out into the tins.

The key is to make sure everything is at room temperature, I keep my eggs in the fridge as we don't have space anywhere else so always get them out a few hours before.

Ingredients:

100g Self Raising Flour
100g Caster Sugar (I always use caster sugar in my baking as it makes for fluffier cakes!)
100g Stork Margarine (I always use Stork as it makes them super fluffy too!)
2 x Eggs (I use large but medium are fine)

Method:

Place all of the ingredients in a food mixer/processor and blitz until smooth, you may need stop and scrape the sides using a spatula and then spin again to mix in.

Once it has reached a smooth consistency, spoon into your cake cases, this mix usually does about 14-16 but it depends on your cake case size.

Bake in a 160c oven for 15 minutes or until the cakes are a nice golden colour and spongy to the touch, you can also poke a skewer into the middle and it should come out clean.



Once cooled, decorate as required. Our favourite is some yummy butter cream and sprinkles, you can go mad with different colours, tastes and themes :)


Favourite Recipe Friday
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19 April 2012

My not so baby boy!

Today my little boy turned four!

This time four years ago my life changed forever. A piece of my heart forever existing outside my body.

With it came love, tiredness, heartache, depression, wonder and so many more ups and downs!!!

Here is to my baby boy, my sweet beautiful little man who makes me smile everyday.

To so many happy moments, for being my ray of sunshine, always finding the good in everything.

Happy 4th Birthday to you :)
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16 April 2012

Our almost fatal trip to the park!

I have just got back from taking the kids to the new park I found just down the road and it was almost our last trip out!

Thankfully the driver in me is always keeping an eye on the road and this time it could have saved our lives.

We were stood waiting for the green man at the traffic lights, nothing was coming but we still waited for it. When the man eventually turned green I started to cross with the children, it had been green for a few seconds so I started to rally my son across but then noticed a van wasn't stopping!

As I pulled my son back and got my daughter out of the road (the perils of a pushchair) the idiot in the van screeched to a stop...whilst looking as white as a sheet!

I proceeded to swear quite loudly and angrily, how could someone be so blind....it was a straight road with nothing else around.

If he hadn't of stopped in time or I hadn't seen he wasn't stopping and got my children out of the road we very well could have been dead, how would that phone call have gone to my husband in Las Vegas!!!!

To be honest the driver looked tired and like he wasn't concentrating, it was a rental so maybe he wasn't used to driving something so big and wasn't concentrating on the road?

Anyway, we still enjoyed our trip to the new park, it was fab and I can't believe that after nearly six years of living here I have only just found it. It has a community centre, outdoor gym, huge park and field and my favourite thing a special area just for dogs so hopefully I don't have to worry about poop on the grass (that is another story).


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13 April 2012

Today I need music!

Today the tears keep secretly falling, it’s a bad day I guess! Thankfully these days are few and far between, since my daughter was born a hole was filled and both her and my son make me smile both inside and out every day.

But today we found out my son didn’t get in at our preferred schools, adding to that my daughter being poorly, my husband going away for a week and  being up since 4.45 things could be better.

I feel weepy, in fact I just want to stand up shout f’ it, walk out of the office and listen to obscenely loud music in the car. But I won’t as that isn’t going to solve anything.

When I suffered with PND after my son these days became weeks, it was hideous and I know for my children’s sake I have to get up, shake myself off and deal with this stuff. After all I am the only parent for a week, I have wine and chocolate and crap on the telly, I can get through this. I have my beautiful babies to take out and spend time with I can be strong.

I also have music, my one thing for the bad days is music and I have said this so many times before. If I need empowering, cheering up, anger releasing there is always a song I can find to do it too.

For example I love ‘Run the World (Girls)’ by Beyonce it’s a great song if you need to feel empowered, Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit is my go to angry song and any Trance music is my, make me happy and dance like no one is watching music.

I love music, if I could have it playing in my head all day I would! One day eh ;)

PS. There will be no Favourite Recipe this Friday just me babbling on, however there is still an opportunity to win a recipe books on last weeks if you’d like to enter….. http://www.themummydiary.co.uk/2012/04/favourite-recipe-friday-and-recipe-book.html
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12 April 2012

Flying solo!

Tomorrow at stupid o'clock my husband is going to Las Vegas for a week, I will be left here in a rather cold and soggy UK flying solo once more.

It's OK though I'm not too bitter *clenches teeth*. It means I get a nice tidy house for a week, the whole bed to myself and can watch my 'crap' on the telly.

And it's not the first time, he went last year too leaving me with a three year old and two month old so I'm used to it....not!

So, if you see any ranty tweets, stressed tweets you know why. If my blog all of a sudden becomes quiet it's because I am tearing my hair out instead or maybe it will be better because I have no one else to distract me.

Who knows, watch this space ;)




Image: Paul Martin Eldridge / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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11 April 2012

My little French Fancy!

We took our children to France for the first time last year, we stayed in a little Gite just outside Reims and it was great.

Something we bought for breakfast on the first day and became a firm favourite with us and the children were Madeleines.

A small French cake that is perfect dipped in chocolat chaud!

I bought a mould from Sew White a few weeks ago and finally got round to using it at the weekend.

I was a little unsure about silicone as I have some other silicone cake moulds and sometimes the cakes  stick, however these worked perfectly.

There were so many recipes to choose from but I eventually settled on this one from Waitrose, I made half vanilla and half orange.

The resulting Madeleines were very yummy and lasted all of a day, I only ate a few of them honest!

Came out of the mould really easily!

They look so pretty!

Sitting beautifully in my dish from The White Approach.
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10 April 2012

Born in the 80s!

Today I saw a little girl picking a dandelion, that got me thinking about the old wives tale of wetting the bed if you picked them.

This led me on to thinking about dandelion and burdock, do they even still make it?

We then went to do a little charity shopping and I found these two books, although they aren't vintage I do have these exact ones at my mum and dads from the 80s. I think they might even be worth something now, I loved them so much I have bought these for my son (don't want him manhandling the vintage ones).


I do enjoy reminiscing about my youth, I'm lucky enough I remember it. My husband seems to have forgotten everything that happened in his!

I love my old school toys and stuff, after a visit to Wonder Years in Bude a few years ago I sought out this Fisher Price Activity Centre which dates back to late 70s.


I also have a couple of Keypers and my old Silver Cross dolls pram for my daughter when she is a bit older. I love that all of these things don't require any batteries, now days there is nothing more sad than the sound of a toy that's batteries are running out!


What do you remember from your childhood? Have you bought something because you had it?
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6 April 2012

Favourite Recipe Friday and Recipe Book Competition - Slow Cooked Shredded Barbeque Beef

Today's favourite recipe is not an old one but in the last few weeks we have had it three times after buying some brisket on offer at the local farm shop!

It is super tasty and really easy and can be served in so many ways...we had it with roasted herby new potatoes and peas one day and pittas and salad another.

In the recipe I substituted the chilli with two teaspoons of chilli flakes so I didn't have to buy chilli's just for this recipe, but if you have them great.

You don't need a slow cooker for this either, although it is perfect if you have as you just bung it all in the cooker in the morning and serve in the evening.

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/popular-dishes/slow-cooker/slow-cooked-shredded-barbecue-beef-recipe


Also on today's Favourite Recipe Friday I have a recipe book to giveaway to one lucky person, all you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below to win this fab book containing loads of simple, easy and classic recipes.

Favourite Recipe Friday


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5 April 2012

Easter Activites

So Easter is finally upon us and with the weather not looking so great I have been looking at fun things to do with the children....

First on the agenda we have an Easter egg hunt, this is great for indoors or outdoors really and is super simple. I have some little chicks that are going to be guarding the eggs, my son just has to spot these to find his eggs (little chocolate eggs at each chick).

To decorate the house I have found these gorgeous garlands that you can print out at home and hang up around the house http://www.printablepaperproducts.com/printable-crafts/easter-bunny-garland or http://www.thesweetestoccasion.com/2011/04/easter-bunny-bunting/



I also found some masks in Hobbycraft that you can colour in and decorate, these are really great for toddlers and I will be using at my sons birthday party in a few weeks, but for now the bunny ones are great for Easter.

Next we will be baking some more Easter cakes, we had a test run last weekend and produced these beauties it is just a standard victoria sponge mix for the cakes and then a super yummy chocolate icing from the Hummingbird Bakery book on top, topped with some Easter treats.

Kids love to help decorate cupcakes

I have also bought some chocolate moulds from  Sew White, we have had a go with them already but will make some more at the weekend if it doesn't brighten up. My son really loved helping make them and the chocolates we made haven't lasted long either so they are big hit.

Posh chocolate button anyone?

Chocolate dinosaurs!

I think for breakfast tomorrow we will be having Madeleines, again using a new mould I bought from Sew White and then we'll be having Mutton for tea.

Should it brighten up there is an open day at a local Animal Shelter so we will probably venture to that, you get to see some animals whilst supporting the charity :)

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4 April 2012

Pasta, what's your favourite type?

We normally have Penne pasta, but the other day whilst shopping with my son I asked him what he'd like and he chose Fusilli.

This got me thinking, we only ever eat Penne and yet there are so many other types of pasta out there, should we be more adventurous?

So my question to you is what other pasta do you use and how? We often have pasta with sauces or pasta bake or I have it cold with left over chicken and sweetcorn. Can you use any shape or type and do they taste any different?

A quick google of pasta and a look on Wikipedia tells me I am missing out on sooooo many different types and really, I am a pasta virgin.

So tell me about your favourite pasta or better still recipes that contain them...please :)


Which pasta is your favourite?

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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3 April 2012

Our visit to Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre

Last week we went to the seaside for the day, we went to Mablethorpe on the east coast and whilst it was a little cooler we decided to visit the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre.

I am so glad we did as it was a lovely warm spot behind the dunes. They had some wonderful animals there and my sons favourite things in the whole wide world, Dinosaurs. Obviously not real ones that would be to Jurassic Park, but some fossils and a walk through, explaining all about the different types of dinosaurs and why they are extinct.



Sadly this is all too true and a little saddening!

Most of the animals there are ones that have been injured and are being looked after because they can't be let back into the wild. This particularly friendly fellow with his piercing blue eyes was so tame...


The meercats (who seem to be popping up everywhere) were a particular favourite...


Quite a few feathered friends who had obviously come out worse when trying to say hello to a car!

Stretching out in the sun!
 


And finally our seal friends, there weren't too many of these chaps, but that's because they are treated and then released back. Only if things are really bad are they kept there.

Pretty sure he's smiling!
Soaking up the sun!

Popeye who was very poorly when he came in years ago is a long term resident! Just gorgeous :)
 


There is a vegetarian cafe and space to sit outside, it is a really lovely place and not too expensive either. It is wheelchair and pushchair friendly too so perfect for those with smaller children.

So I leave you with this cheeky fella and if you happen to be over that way this summer, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to support the wonderful work they do.


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