A Mothers Ramblings: May 2013

Friday, 31 May 2013

Evening Meals (W/C 01/06)

This is the last week of the six week diet that I put the family on... well technically just Daddy and I as Top Ender and Big Boy got more calorific dense food at lunch and puddings so that they were having the right amount for them as growing children. Anyway Next Saturday I'll be able to weigh myself again, so that'll be good!

Saturday - Chinese Duck with Noodles


We really enjoyed this the other week. I have to admit that Duck is one of my favourite meats and despite what everyone thinks about it being a terribly fatty meat I say that just means they aren't preparing it right!

Sunday - Roast Chicken


Daddy is so great at cooking the Sunday Roast now, I'm not sure what is going to happen next year when I'm at Church in the morning and could take over preparing it again!

Monday - Meatless Monday - Baked Potato


We're serving this with beans and a little cheese and a side salad. I think that if we only ate a jacket potato once every six weeks that Daddy would be quite happy. I'll do the potatoes in the slow cooker as I do love having them slow cooked as they are so easy to do!

Tuesday - Grilled Chicken Breast


I'm having mine with potatoes and sweetcorn and peas as I do love a colourful mix on my plate, and I still believe that if you eat more colours you feel more satisfied.

Wednesday - Tagliatelle with Meatballs


The children love meatballs and I think that this meal is going to be a big winner with them as it combines not only pasta but the aforementioned meatballs. At only 475 calories per portion, I think that it's a good evening meal too. There will of course be plenty of Salad to eat with the meal, but I think only Daddy and I will be eating it.

Thursday - Chicken and Ham Potato pie


We're serving this with carrots and greens as of course the pie is rather carb loaded having a potato topping. The sauce it is in is a mushroom and garlic sauce, so there will be plenty of flavour and mushrooms for the children to complain about.

Friday - Salmon Fishcakes


The recipe that I have and will follow for the most part is 417 calories per serving, which along with a salad will be very welcome on a Friday evening. I'm hoping that it might be warm so we can eat in the garden... especially as I'll be having a weigh in tomorrow morning and will want to know if I've lost a stone in the last six weeks!

So that is this weeks meal plan, what are you planning on having?

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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Butter Free, Chocolate Cake

Daddy has been making a lot of Cake in the last few weeks, he has come across a method, which for him is producing rather marvellous cakes and so knowing that a lot of the friends of my blog are also living gluten free I thought you'd like to have a copy of the recipe too. This is similar to the Gluten Free Chocolate cake that Daddy used to make, but this one tastes a lot nicer according to him.

Ingredients


180g Vegetable Oil
40g Milk
2tsp Vanilla Essence
200g Caster Sugar
3tbsp Cocoa Powder
4 tsps of No Egg dissolved in 2tbsp Water
200g Self Raising Flour (Doves Farm mix is what we use)
1tsp Bicarb of Soda
1tsp Baking Powder

Filling (Not Butter Free)


60g Butter (softened)
80g Icing Sugar
1tbsp Cocoa Powder

Topping (Not Butter Free)


50g Chopped Chocolate (High Cocoa Solid content to allow to set)
30g Butter
1tbsp Golden Syrup

Method


Instead of using butter, this cake uses Vegetable Oil and Milk and is done by weight, so don't try measuring it out!

Mix together the oil, Vanilla and Milk before stirring in the sugar. Add the Cocoa Powder and mix well to ensure that the mixture is... well mixed!

Fold in the No Egg before folding in the flour, the bicarb and the baking powder.

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Butter Free, Chocolate Cake

Lightly grease two 7" baking pans, before distributing the cake mix between the two pans and cooking in a preheated oven at gas mark 5 (375 degree F) for thirty minutes.

Allow the cakes to cool by first leaving them in their tins for 10 minutes first, before cooling for thirty minutes on a wire rack.

Make the filling by mixing the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder, before spreading on one of the cakes and sandwiching them together.

Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in the microwave (short bursts) and mix them together, before spreading over the top and sprinkling Chocolate drops on top (if you have them in the cupboard!) to make it even more decadent.

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Butter Free, Chocolate Cake

As you can see the cake look delicious and are very nice with a glass of milk and perfect for satisfying late night chocolate cravings!

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Busy Doing Nothing

I read a news article this week that said something along the lines that time doesn't fly when you're having fun, that you are just more likely to remember what you do when you have fun in detail and subsequently over estimate the time it took. I'm not sure if this is true, but I do know that this Bank Holiday Weekend seemed to pass in the blink of an eye whilst we were busy doing nothing.

Spending time with family is one of mine and Daddy's top priorities. We make sure that even though we have chores and jobs and other responsibilities that we spend time with the children. We do this so that we can let them know that we put them first, that we think they are important and to show them that we love them, after all it's by our actions that we show love, not just by words.

Family Fun being busy doing nothing

In the future, it's going to be these short moments that we spend time together that Top Ender and Big Boy are going to remember. It is what they are going to base their own parenting moments on (either to do the exact opposite or just the same) and how they remember Daddy and I after we have died.

So during this week of School Holiday, Tops, Big Boy, Daddy and I are going to be busy doing nothing. Creating memories full of love and happy times and hopefully teaching each other that we are the most important things in each others lives.

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bow Brickhill Woods

I think I've said it several times before, but it isn't going to stop me saying it again. Milton Keynes is a great place to live and a great place to bring up your family. One of the many wonderful things that makes it so great is that it is a city (okay so we don't have official city status yet, but the Queen and I have been in talks and I'm sure she'll bestow it upon my town soon) in the middle of the countryside. We have great views, just a few minutes from our doorstep and Bow Brickhill Woods is one of those fantastic views. In fact from the Children's bedrooms we can see the woods... well sort of. You'd have to know just where to look, but you can see the tops of a few of the trees!

Tree Tops at Bow Brickhill Woods

On the last Bank Holiday Monday in May the weather remained glorious here in Milton Keynes (if not a little blowy, but hey this is the UK we can't have everything) and so we headed off for a walk around the Bow Brickhill woods. I spent most of my time, admiring the views instead of taking photographs, but the circular walk that we went on was a pleasant stroll for the four of us, even though we had to dodge a few boggy parts. We started off at All Saints Church, which is a little hidden in the woods now but once was a lot more visible. The only fact I know about the Church is that a Hymn was written in honour of it by Sydney Nicholson and I heard it once.

The Parish Church of All Saints Bow Brickhill

We found some swings hiding in amongst the trees, which Top Ender was only too pleased to clamber up on although Big Boy decided that the safer plan was to just watch. As Top Ender could only just get on the swings (and not off again) we did think about leaving her stuck on the swing until the end of our walk, but we're not that evil. Not this time anyway.

Top Ender on a Tree Swing

We took our monoculars with us, so we were able to spy lots of different birds and butterflies. Big Boy was particularly pleased with his, and took it upon himself to warn us all of the dangers of looking at the sun through monoculars as in his words;

"YOU MIGHT GO BLIND BY LOOKING AT THE SUN, SO DON'T LOOK AT IT EVER! OKAY?"

Big Boy and Top Ender looking through their Monoculars

I'm glad that he has at least paid attention to one thing I've told him in the past. 

The whole woods is home to several different plants and trees, thanks to past use of the land but there weren't that many flowers about. We saw a few bluebells although nothing like we saw in Bluebell woods and the odd golfer (FOUR!), a few joggers with dogs and Daddy didn't try to kill us all by getting us to walk up an incredibly steep hill... oh wait HE DID! I swear, my husband has no sense of direction, he really should let me be in charge of our walks rather than relying on a map on his phone.

Bluebells

We were able to stick to the paths for the most part by following the right of way signs (the yellow arrows) and some circular walk signs too. There are blue bridleway signs, but we didn't see any and despite seeing plenty of no bike signs we did see several Mountain Bikers, but at least they were polite about us having to get out of their way or else be run over by them.

Right of Way Signs at Bow Brickhill Woods

There are some more photos of our walk on the A Mother's Ramblings Facebook page, and we'll be up in the woods again (although not for a few weeks as with it raining again we want the ground to dry before we start walking up there again) to find some geocaching sites that are allegedly up there (forums are saying they might have gone) and to hopefully confuse the children into going on the six mile walk.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Rushmere Country Park Stockgrove Entrance

With it starting to get warmer again (honestly, we've turned the heating off it must be getting warmer) we're back off on our family walks in the evenings. We're just going to have to work out how to make sure that we get Big Boy fed at the right times so that we can keep his blood sugars steady and not be eating dinner at the time he is normally going to bed! A couple of weeks ago we went to a country park that I used to go to a lot as a child with my family, although it's changed a lot since I was last there. When I was last there it was called Stockgrove Country Park, but despite the name change it's still as beautiful and as fun to walk around as it was when I was young.

Sign post at Rushmere Country Park Stockgrove Entrance

The park is on Brickhill Road in Heath & Reach and there is a £2 parking fee, which you pay as you leave the car park. During the Summer months you'll find a lot of cars parked on the grass verges outside the park, so from memory the best times to go are either late in the day or very early as all you'll meet then are the Dog walkers of the Leighton Buzzard area. The other option of course is to go to the Rushmere Park entrance as it is set up to handle more visitors, but I'll post about that park in the next couple of weeks!

Map at Rushmere Country Park Stockgrove Entrance

There are plenty of signs giving you directions to different interest points in the park, and we decided to head off down to the Lake as we knew that there were Koi Karp in the Lake and thought that the Children would enjoy it. On our way down to the lake we passed several signs that gave us information about what was going on in the park

Signs at Rushmere Country ParkSigns at Rushmere Country Park

Signs at Rushmere Country ParkSigns at Rushmere Country Park

The Children got to sit on benches that I used to sit on and look at trees that I had seen when I was their age (well Top Ender's age as we moved to the area when I was seven). They got to run around and see Squirrels and birds and flowers, and fish and insects and people walking dogs who were polite and said Hello.

Children at Rushmere Country Park

Squirrel in a tree

After our walk round the lake, we headed up to the Stockgrove Sundial, where the Children had great fun trying to work out what the time was and climbing on the markers. They have decided that they would like one in our garden, but I'm not so sure that it would work. For a start our cats would probably end up staking it as their own.

How to read the Stockgrove Sundial SignChildren on the Stockgrove Sundial

As I mentioned, the area is suitable for Dog Walkers and there are plenty of signs saying where the dogs are allowed off the lead, on the lead and not allowed at all. There were plenty of walkers when we were there and we saw all of them being responsible and picking up their dog mess, so we felt comfortable letting the children run ahead without having to warn them to look out for poo... although there was a lot of rabbit poo around!

Dogs Welcome sign

Dogs Welcome on a lead signFamily Area No Dogs Allowed

It's a pleasant walk around the park, and it's easy to forget how close you are to "civilisation" despite being so close to major routes. We'll be back to the park, hopefully several times over the next few weeks, but of course the weather will have to really warm up first!

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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Half Term Lunches (W/C 25/5)

I love half term weeks and this week coming is, for us half term. This means that lunches may be swapped around depending on what we are doing and where we are, but also based on how much the Children moan at me that they want something different!

Saturday - Sausage Rolls


Last year, Top Ender and I went for a day out together where we had Sausage Rolls from a greasy spoon type cafe. These were, according to Top Ender, the best Sausages that she has ever had. So as today I'm not doing my Mum's shopping with her, Tops and I are going to go and have a girlie lunch out.

Sunday - Salad and Ham Rolls


Well Daddy and I will be having the Salad, the Children will probably ignore the green bits and just eat the ham roll.

Monday - Carrot and Cheese Sandwiches


Grated Carrot and Cheddar

I don't think that we are going anywhere special today, but just in case I'm going to plan Sandwiches, as that way if we do go out they are easy to pack up as a picnic.

Tuesday - Chicken Wraps


It seems to be the thing to have on a Tuesday, but they are lovely and the Children do love them!

Wednesday - Cheese and Cucumber Pittas


Big Boy has asked for these this week, he loves how they are self contained little packets and I'm pretty sure that the fact that they remind him of Kebabs is another reason he loves them.

Thursday - Noodles


We love noodles, it doesn't matter if they are Ponyo noodles or Super Noodles, as long as they are noodles we don't mind! I am going to do Ponyo noodles though!

Friday - Top Ender's Friday Lunch And Big Boy's too!


Top Ender's Friday Lunch And Big Boy's too! logo

It's a repeat of a lunch we've had before, but Tops and Big Boy are going to be making this weeks special Friday lunch... maybe they'll make one for me!

So these are our lunches for the week, served with plenty of fruit and veg and more than likely swapped for something else in the house when the children complain!

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Snail Rolls - Top Ender's Friday Lunch And Big Boy's Too!

It's been a while since I've explained how to make a Friday lunch, mainly because my Friday lunches have been a bit rubbish of late! Today however we have Snail Rolls for lunch for national escargot day (it's American don't worry you've not missed something huge happening to the British) and they turned out fairly lovely!

Top Ender's Friday Lunch and Big Boy's Too! Logo

To make the rolls, I simple used the play-doh method and made a sausage out of my dough and then wrapped one end round into a spiral to imitate the shell on the Snails back. Simple enough, but has already generated some conversation with some friends who saw the pictures first thing this morning... I guess it was early and they were confused.

Snail Roll

I split the buns in half, and placed a slice of ham inside the spiral, leaving the snails head attached to help the roll keep it's shape. The lunch is accompanied by a Snail Cucumber and in the orange pot (it used to hold lollies, but I have re-purposed it!) is one of the Cocoa Meringues that I made yesterday (recipe and instructions on our Facebook page which is where the link goes).

Snail Lunch

I think the Children are going to love their lunch and you can see more pictures in our Facebook Snail Rolls album!

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Dinner Plans (W/C 25/05)

I've found that working from a set of meals so much easier to meal plan, I know that I asked a few weeks back about what people thought about set meals for a family on a monthly or weekly basis, but I think that I really am going to have to investigate this! Anyway, this is week five of the diet, so not long until I can weigh myself and see how well it has worked!

Saturday - Chicken Satay


We love Chicken Satay! I haven't made it for ages though so I'm looking forward to making it tonight with rice and salad.

Sunday - Roast Chicken


I do love a Sunday Roast and it is still a highlight of the week, even though we've got some great meals planned this week too!

Monday - Meatless Monday Curry and Mac and Cheese


Daddy and I are going to have the leftover curry again tonight (it's all gone now) and the Children are going to have Mac and Cheese as it is one of their favourite dishes.

Tuesday - Lamb Moussaka


It was Daddy who first introduced me to Lamb Moussaka, and I'm pleased to say that not only do I love it but that I'm pretty sure that the children will too because it is so similar to Lasagne (well in my mind).

Wednesday - Baked Fish


The meal plan suggests a breaded fish fillet and whilst that is fine for the children and I, Daddy won't be able to eat it... so I'm not quite sure what he is going to eat but I do know that it will be fish! I've been thinking about making something with red onion and tomatoes so hopefully something tasty will come of it!

Thursday - Cheesy Gammon Pasta


We really enjoyed the gammon pasta a couple of weeks back, so we've got it again tonight. As it is easy to make, the Children are going to help make it tonight.

Friday - Jambalaya


I'm pretty sure that I've never made or eaten Jambalaya before, but this Friday we're trying it out for the first time! The recipe looks fairly simple and I hope that it will taste great as I can imagine that the flavours will mix well together.

What are you eating this week?

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Hullabazoo at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Whenever we go to my Mums we get to see Whipsnade Zoo, or rather the Lion on the Hill at Whipsnade Zoo. It cheers us up no end on sunny days and we always want to go and visit, and yesterday we got to go to go to the VIP launch of a brand new outdoor adventure play area which officially opens on the 25th May 2013.

Hullabazoo at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The park has been designed around animal movement, which is great for talking to the Children about what animals move like and why and also for letting them burn off a bit of excess energy before going to see one of the shows (the Birds and the Sea Lions were the two we went to) or to warm up on a cold day... Top Ender was rather pleased to be the first child into the park (that we know of) and loved the different areas. She was climbing and sliding and jumping within seconds of walking through the gate and you can see all our photos from the day in our Facebook album. Here are just a selection of the 100 or so that we took.

Top Ender at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Top Ender at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Newly turned Five Year Old Big Boy preferred the area for younger Children, mainly because it was his size, but also because he was a little over whelmed by the larger pieces of equipment.

Big Boy at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Big Boy at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Daddy and I were just amazed at the dexterity that the Children were showing on the play equipment and the rest of the day as we walked around the park, we were able to talk about how the Children had seen examples of how the animals moved and it was a great learning tool.

Big Boy at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Top Ender at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


I'm just wondering how long it will be before, Big Boy asks for something similar in the back garden...

Big Boy at Hullabazoo Outdoor Play Area at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

We received free admission to Whipsnade Zoo.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Evita - A Review

I don't think there is anyone who doesn't know at least one or two lines from at least one song from Evita, which is why I was really excited about going to see it at Milton Keynes Theatre because I know all the words, lines and songs from Evita.

Evita

The other benefit, for my Mum in particular, was that Marti Pellow is in the show as she has always had a little bit of a thing for him. I chose not to mention that I had seen him in Blood Brothers a few months back or she might not have brought me an ice-cream in the interval!

Marti Pellow

The great thing about the show, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, isn't that it is so well known thanks to the film that came out a few years ago, or that it has Marti Pellow in, or even that it is based on the real life of Eva Peron but that the actors are all comfortable in their roles and work well together. I could hear other audience members around me talking about the chemistry between al the actors and I got lost in the musical and the relationships that were unfolding on stage.

The show is in Milton Keynes until the 1st of June 2013 and if you're up for a night out then make sure you book tickets soon!

We were given two press tickets, to review the show.

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Parental Guilt

I'm feeling guilty at the moment.

For Top Ender's Ninth Birthday, I had planned on having a small meal for her with her friends at a restaurant. I'd be there as a parent, but I wouldn't sit at the table with them and they could basically have a lovely "grown up" evening together.

Then with one thing and another it didn't happen. In fact Top's didn't even get a birthday cake.

She got gifts of course, and a lot of money, and a lot of love and she even took over the Facebook page for the day (which she loved) and we did eventually make a cake that we said was to make up for her not having a birthday cake.

Top Ender's Late Birthday Cake

Top Ender is so adorably forgiving though, she didn't care that she didn't have a party with friends. She didn't care that she didn't have a cake. She just loved that we love her and that we were with her on her birthday.

I'm still feeling guilty though.

So next week I'm taking Top Ender out for a special meal out.

I'll let her have a mocktail or two, I'll let her have what ever it is she wants from the menu including a starter, a main meal and a pudding, if that is what she wants. I'll spend the time with just her, no talk of Daddy or Big Boy (unless she wants to), no mobile phones or tablets (her distractions of choice) and we'll talk and giggle and flirt with the waiter (she is a right flirt) and have fun together.

Maybe then I'll start feeling less guilty.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

I always make time 2 play

When we come out of School, one of the first questions that I ask Big Boy is What did you do today? Normally Big Boy answers "Just Playing!" and hopes I will leave it at that. Some parents might, but I know that "Just Playing" is actually code for learning when you're five and so I ask some more leading questions about what sort of things he played. It is because I know the importance of play that I was pleased to be a part of the Make Time 2 Play Campaign with the British Toy and Hobby Association’s Make Time 2 Play Campaign.

Make time 2 Play Badge

I was lucky as a child, my Mum knew that playing wasn't a reward or a waste of time, but it was a way that my Sister and I learnt best. I've tried to carry it on the way she taught and the way that experts have discovered to be the best way to help Children learn too. Research shows that if you incorporate themes into children's learning it makes the experience more memorable for them and less scary and then they will be more willing to do it again and again. And with the children being more willing to learn in a setting like this it helps them to develop skills such as problem solving and develop their attention span, social development and their creativity.

Of course we also do it at home too, but the next time you hear a child saying that all they did at School was play remember that what they actually mean is they were learning... they just didn't realise it!

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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Déjeuners of the Week

This week I'm planning on having Salads, I've done a couple of weeks of Chicken and a week of Prawns but I think that this week would be rather nice with lots of added vegetables in the salad... although I have no idea how that is going to work.


Saturday - Picnic



We're out at Whipsnade Zoo today, so we're having a picnic. The great thing about this is that we have sandwiches, a few sausages, crisps, fruit, some home made cakes and even a salad! Now if we can all keep our fingers crossed for Sun instead of the rain that is forecasted it will all be good!


Sunday - Meatball Subs



For some reason I've had a bit of a meatball craving, so I've decided to do meatball subs for everyone, although I'm not going to do a footlong one as I once had one from Subway and nearly died eating it! I'm out for most of the morning with Tops at Church, so I'm hoping that if I put the meatballs in my slow cooker that by the time I'm home they'll be ready.


Monday - Meatless Monday - Bagels



The lunch for the Children today is a Cream Cheese Bagel. I'm hoping that Big Boy's aversion to cheese at the moment doesn't extend to things like Dairylea!

Bagel in a Lunch box


Tuesday - Chicken and Sweetcorn Pittas



I'm hoping that the pittas today with a touch of sweetcorn will help both the children to have an extra portion of vegetable without them noticing, but also will allow them to have a bit of variety from the usual Chicken Wrap on a Tuesday.


Wednesday - Pizza Wraps



I think that the Children like these as much as I do. They are so simple and fun to make that they often help me, and I think that is a great way to get ready for the day when they will be making pack lunches for themselves or possibly their own children.


Thursday - Hot Dogs



I was looking through some of the lunches that I have done for the children over the last two years and the Hot Dog Rolls jumped out at me as something we hadn't had for a while. I might be using proper sausages instead of Hot Dogs though, as I do love the 100% Beef Sausages that we found a while back.


Friday - Top Ender's Friday Lunch and Big Boy's Too!



Top Ender's Friday Lunch And Big Boy's Too!

According to the wonderful calender my SMIL made for me for Christmas, today is USA Escargot Day. I'm not saying a single thing about how she would know such a thing as that, but I will say that it has helped with today's theme!


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Friday, 17 May 2013

Evening Meals (W/C 18/05)

Week Four of the diet. I'm sticking firm to my decision not to weigh myself until the end of week six, so I can't really say if it's having the right influence on me but my clothes are feeling a little looser!

Saturday - Gammon


Every time we eat Gammon we wonder why we don't eat it more often, and I'm sure that tomorrow won't be that different! We're serving it grilled with new potatoes, broad beans and pineapple.

Sunday - Roast Chicken


I'm getting used to only eating a small amount of dinner compared to what I was eating, but I don't understand how the portion sizes of the food made during the week are so big compared to this one which is so small!

Monday - Meatless Monday Pizza or Curry


When I made the Aubergine and Lentil Curry in week one, there was so much left over that I froze it for a night such as this. I'm off out this evening to the Theatre with my Mum, so I needed something quick to  for dinner. The Children are having pizza because they really weren't that keen on the Curry!

Tuesday - Fish Fingers, Chips and Peas


When we had this for our Saturday meal I was surprised at how tasty it was. I think that I just don't really think about such a simple meal as being so tasty and satisfying and filling!

Wednesday - Veggie Burgers


I'm going to make the burgers myself because the veggie burgers that you can buy on the UK market are not gluten free, but this has the additional benefit of me knowing exactly what goes in them. We had a brilliant veggie burger at Camp Bestival a few years back and so I'm hoping that mine will be as good if not better!

Thursday - Tuna Kedgeree (minus the egg!)


I'm really missing different kinds of fish, but the menu plans that we are following from the book tend to stick to tuna. I'm guessing that this is because it is an easy to get to fish, as in everyone can buy a can of Tuna and also because it's relatively inexpensive.


Friday - Turkey and Mushroom Pie


I'm really rubbish at making gluten free pastry, so I'm going to cheat and buy some of the frozen stuff, but this pie with broccoli and potatoes as a side will still count as being home made right?!

So that's the meal plan for this next week, what do you think? I still don't think it looks like a diet meal plan do you?!

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

How To Be Happy

I was looking at some of my most popular Facebook posts on my personal Facebook page the other day and I saw that in recent times it hasn't been the questions about food (all those who know me on Facebook love the questions about food!) or getting to laugh at me but the post where I said I was grateful for my life.


I wondered why this was the most popular and I realised it's because that's the one thing that all of us have in common. We all want to be happy, to be grateful for the life that we have and sometimes it takes one of us going through a rather bad situation to make all the rest of us realise that we actually lead for the most part a pretty brilliant life. Rather like my Rules for a Good Family Life, I thought I'd set out some rules I think that need to be applied to be happy.

Make Today A New Start

Let go of the past, of yesterday if needs be and start moving forward today. It doesn't matter if yesterday was terrible, the situation will change if you let it.

Situations Will Change Post it note



Love (Part One)

Love your family and friends and let them know. Send them letters (proper written ones from time to time), leave them notes, phone them, send them the occasional gift (doesn't have to be expensive) and pretty soon you'll realise just how much you have to be happy about.



Love (Part Two)

Find something you love to do. It might be singing, so join a choir or sing in the shower. It might be painting or gardening, or exercise or listening to music, but whatever it is make sure you schedule time for you to do it.


Make Friends

Find people you can share with, it might be that you find someone online who has the same taste in wallpaper, loves the same TV shows and hates slugs like you or it might be that you see a parent in the same playground every week. Happier people have more friends and people with more friends are more likely to be happy.



Trust in yourself

You can make the changes you want in your life and you can be who you want to be. It is never too late to change, you just have to make a start!


Exercise

Honestly, exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise releases endorphins which make you happy, and even if when you first start you hear a little voice telling you that you'd be better off on the sofa ignore it. After a couple of weeks of daily exercise you'll feel better, look better and be happier.


Eat

Eat a Rainbow as who can resist being happy when they are eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables? Don't forget to try new dishes when you can, I didn't try Mussels until I was 33 and  I missed out on 33 years of loving them!

Rainbow of Food Salad


Expand your mind 

Learn new things and find that not only if you are in a class will you make friends with similar interests and maybe discover a talent you never knew you had but it will help you feel more fulfilled and of course this will lead to being happier too. It doesn't even have to be a class, read a book or seven and you'll find your mind expanding.


Laugh

Find someone to share jokes with, or find a tv show that makes you laugh or a website that never fails to make you giggle. If you can do this regularly you'll find yourself smiling in anticipation.


Look Forward to stuff

To a holiday, or a day out, or a day off or a meal or anything that is coming up that you'll enjoy. Spend a few moments daydreaming about what you'll do or how it will turn out and cheer yourself up immediately!


Get Outside

Have some fresh air, even if it is 15 below and six foot of snow. The fact that you are outside probably indicates you are going to get some form of exercise and the fresh air will give you a new found energy.


Serve

Serve others, it doesn't matter if that means you volunteer at a local Charity shop, or on the School PTA, or at a Nursing Home or anywhere else. Just help others when you can and do so willingly and you will find yourself being happier as you are giving to others.


Keep yourself grounded

When I'm starting to feel down, I find that a quick walk in the garden helps me buck up and find that inner happiness. Just being out there (even when it was all over grown) made me feel more like me. Find what keeps you feeling you and make sure you do it often.

A Tidy Garden


Talk

I love talking to my husband and friends. Sometimes we will have deep meaningful conversations and other times we will talk about the randomness that pops into my brain (come on you've all seen my Facebook and Twitter questions haven't you?!), just having that connection with someone though enables you to feel happier and to discuss some of the issues that are weighing you down, and if you want to then add me as a friend on Facebook and I'll be that person you talk to.


Smile

I smile all the time to all the people and animals, and plants, and teddies and cars and lamp posts and trees and anything else that falls into my eye line. I find that smiling all the time makes me feel happier, it's like my face tricks my brain into forgetting all the rubbish that goes on.


Pray

I love to pray, I mean of course I do as I look at it as a way to talk to my Heavenly Father, but it's a good way for me to be Spiritual. For you it might be easier to meditate or sit quiet and think of nothing (which is basically what meditation is right?!) but having this time to relax is one of the most important things in allowing me to be happy.


It's about a choice when you get down to it though. Do you want to be happy or do you want to wallow? Make the choice to be happy, and find that you live your life instead of dread it.

Want to know what really makes me happy though? People commenting on my blog posts and following me on Twitter and Facebook...


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Ella's Kitchen The Red One - A Review by Big Boy

When I was off School sick with the Chicken Pox, Mummy said that I could do some cooking with her if I wanted. I didn't want to, but I did like looking in the cook books that Mummy has, as they have nice pictures of food and the food that Mummy makes never looks that good! The book I liked the most was the Red one which is a cook book that Mummy got sent by Ella's Dad.

Ella's Kitchen The Cook Book The Red One

Mum says that the recipes in the cook book look good and easy to make and some of them are really tasty looking. I liked looking through at the different pictures and I found lots of different dishes that I would like for Mummy and Daddy to make with me or Top Ender.

Big Boy looking at Puddings in Ella's Kitchen The Cook Book The Red One

The best things in the book are the puddings and Mummy has said that we can make lots of them and that it's on the condition that I eat some of the other recipes. She says that would be fair, but I said that it wasn't fair and so she said it was Life. I really don't understand Mummy at times.

The cook book has some stickers and some bits to colour in too, but Mummy has said I'm not allowed to do them yet (I have issues over colouring in, it's like Play-Doh. DON'T MIX THE COLOURS UP!) but that as soon as she stops being so meticulous that I can.

Big Boy Reading Ella's Kitchen The Cook Book The Red One

If you want to buy the book it costs £14.99 and will make you want to cook vegetables.

We were sent the Ella's Kitchen The Cook Book The Red One to review.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Big Boy is Five!

Today is Big Boy's Fifth birthday.

It seems unbelievable to me that he has been around for only five years, not because it feels much longer, but because I just can't remember what life was like without him and Tops. So here, instead of a letter to him, are my some highlights of his life so far.

His Birth


I guess I have to start with his birth because it was his first appearance in the world, I mean I know that he was around for nine months before that and that he could hear me and he could let me know when he was pleased or not (honestly though he didn't kick that hard!) but seeing him, using his name, holding him, feeding him and knowing that we belonged to each other was definitely a highlight.

His First Steps


It was a last minute substitution. Top Ender's teachers asked if Big Boy and I would mind talking with Top Ender's class about babies. We weren't supposed to be there, and yet we were, and Big Boy took his first steps.

Big Boy taking his first steps

We all saw them together, this special moment in my Child's life.

His First YouTube Channel


Big Boy loves playing Minecraft so much and he loves watching videos that other people put online so much that he decided that he wanted to do the same and so he created a youtube channel. Just seeing his face when his saw his first video online was enough to make me understand that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

His First Cake Face Smash




It was a birthday for Big Cousin and we did this to Big Boy. I'm still not sure why, but it was funny.

And that are some of the moments that we remember looking back over the last five years. I can't wait to find out what the next year will bring!

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Big Boy's Fifth Birthday

Big Boy woke up this morning and was heard by Daddy and I to be talking to his Teddies about how it was his Fifth Birthday;

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ME!

Daddy and I were so excited, here was Big Boy a five year old. He knew that today was his birthday and that he was going to spend the day celebrating and we wanted him to be like that. Just last night Big Boy had been so excited that going to bed seemed to be the last thing on his mind. In fact when I got back from a meeting roughly two hours after bed time, he was still awake and wanting to talk about his Birthday and the things he was looking forward to. 

Birthday Pillow CoverBig Boy asleep on the Birthday Pillow


Luckily he did go to sleep and as he did I went to work. Wrapping up gifts, writing birthday cards, hunting out the cards and gifts already delivered by long distance family, changing his pillow case, putting up a banner and doing this to his bedroom door.

Crepe Paper Birthday Door

When Big Boy got out of bed to come and see Daddy and I in our room (tradition says the birthday person comes to our room to open cards and gifts) he exclaimed;

"OH COME ON!"

Big Boy at the Crepe Paper Birthday Door

Big Boy then decided that in order to get out of his bedroom, he wouldn't burst through the strips, but instead would climb underneath... Honestly the one time I'm letting him make a mess and he chooses not to?!

We had five year old birthday kisses and hugs, we opened gifts and cards and sang Happy Birthday and tried on the new gifts for size.

Big Boy opening Gifts

We played slam dunk with the wrapping paper and made up packed lunches before getting ready for School and heading off to expand the Children's minds.

Big Boy's 5th Birthday Lunch

And now it's nearly the end of the School day and I'm getting ready to get Big Boy and Top Ender home from School and we're going to play and dance and eat cake and do all the things that a boy on his birthday likes to do... Heaven help me!

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