A Mothers Ramblings: September 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Low Carb Meal Plans - W/C 28/09

It's official. I have to give Big Boy low carb meals in the evenings otherwise it's throwing his sugars up too high, making him crash in the middle of the night (which then causes him to be high in the morning and you know it starts again) and it's just not fair on him, on his body and it can cause bigger issues in the future. Soooooo.

Organic Roast


Saturday - Chicken Drumsticks with Salad


Big Boy is at a party in the afternoon, so we're expecting issues in the evening with his blood sugars anyway but we're going to have Chicken Drumsticks with Salad. The Chicken is no carbs as it's all protein (I'm going to roast or possibly grill them) and the parts of the salad that BB will eat combined with the amount that he'll eat adds up to a whole 2 or 3 grams.

Sunday - Roast


I've been trying to think how I can make the meal low carb and have been struggling. In the end I realised that what I need to do is reduce the portion size! Big Boy will eat nearly carb free for the rest of the day so when his Roast comes to 35g of carbs, we should breathe a sigh of relief.

Monday - Cauliflower Cheese with Hot Dogs


I'm going to steam some cauliflower, mix it up with some sliced Hot Dogs and sprinkle cheese on top. I figure the children will be bribed into eating the cauliflower with the sprinkled cheese and the mixed in hot dogs. This should be around 6 or 7 grams of carbs.

I'll make up some low sugar jelly for pudding and cross my fingers that the Children eat!

Tuesday - Birdseye Chicken Space Shapes, Wonderous Waffles, Planet Peas (and Orange Peas)


Big Boy and Top Ender are having friends round for tea tonight and so we're breaking our new low carb meal plan... but this time only okay?! Birdseye have given us some vouchers to try the new Chicken Space Shapes, so we thought we'd have some friends round and make a party of it!

I was talking with one of the little girls after School one night last week and she said that she doesn't like green peas, but she does like orange ones. Luckily her one was able to work out she meant Baked Beans!

Wednesday - Baked Salmon


I'm going to get some Salmon, I'm going to bake it in the oven with a little lemon, a little bit of seasoning and serve it with carrots and peas. This should be around 7g of carbs.

Thursday - Lasagne. Without the Pasta


I'm going to make what I want to call an Italian Casserole. I'm going to basically combine the mince, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and top it with a cheesy creamy thing and bake in the oven until it's cooked. This should work out as about 5g of carbs.

Friday - Omelette


It's an easy meal this Friday, mainly because I'll be exhausted as I'm running around the place this week and hoping to get some bits and pieces sorted before the WEEKEND! Still, I'm sure we'll enjoy our meal, which will have sweetcorn smuggled in!


So pretend you are on a low carb diet, what would you be making?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Middle Class Aspirations

Big Boy has middle class aspirations, I'm fairly sure of it.

No, he hasn't started only wearing Boden, demanding Couscous and listening to Radio 4.

He's started swearing.

Don't think I don't I hear you questioning me, over swearing being middle class! It is the way that Big Boy is doing it, that makes it middle class.

"JOHN H LEWIS!" Big Boy exclaims when he's annoyed at his character having died during a game he's playing.

"JOHN H LEWIS!" Big Boy mutters when he's stubbed his toe.

"JOHN H LEWIS!" Big Boy moans when his denied something he wants.

Seriously isn't "John H Lewis" the most middle class swear word you've ever heard?

Big Boy driving round Disney Land Paris

Saturday, 21 September 2013

This Weeks Meal Plan W/C 21/09

I've got into the habit of making meal plans from the food I have in the fridge rather than shopping with my own meal plan in mind and it's a little confusing for me this week!

Kitchen Cupboard


Saturday - Sloppy Joes Pizza Bread


As a family we love Baked Sloppy Joes and when I found a recipe for Sloppy Joes Pizza Bread on the Good Food website I knew I had to make it to add to our Sloppy Joe collection.

Sunday - Roast Sausages


Last week our casserole was so lovely, I mean honestly I've never made a casserole that tasted this good before, that we've decided that we'll have a Casserole instead of a roast once a month or when the weather calls for it. This week though we're back to our Sausage Roasts!

Monday - Buttermilk Chicken for the adults Mini Meatloaves for the Children


Tops has an after School club (Dodgeball) tonight and then Brownies so we have a very small window of eating opportunity for the children before it gets too late for BB to eat (if he eats too late the carbs play havoc with his blood sugars overnight) and as such tonight they are going to have Mini Meatloaves and veggies (probably cabbage).

I'm actually quite excited about the Buttermilk Chicken, as it's part of a cookalong with Gordon Ramsay and Tesco Books on Twitter! Follow along from 7pm and if you want you can join in too, you can see what ingredients you need on the Tesco books blog post written by Gordon himself.

Tuesday - Tomato Soup


I think that Tomato soup is one of Top Ender's favourite meals (other than Lasagne and Macaroni Cheese that is!) so I'm going to attempt to make some.

Wednesday - Spaghetti Carbonara


We didn't have spaghetti carbonara when we should have last weekend. I'm pretty sure it was because we were ill or something but I can't remember so we're having it tonight.

Thursday - Poached Haddock


I've decided to do poached Haddock, as we've not had fish for a bit and I miss it!

Friday - Sausage and Bean Casserole


I've got a Morphy Richards Intellichef Multicooker to review and when I was reading through the accompanying booklet this was the only recipe all the family could agree on! So I'm making a Sausage and Bean Casserole but will be using the multicooker through the week with various other bits and pieces to test it all out.

So that's the meal plan for this week. What's everyone else having?

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Organic Challenge - #ThriftyOrganic

We're almost half way through the Organic Naturally Different Challenge, that the Foodies 100, and BLAH set me. I have another delivery of food coming ready for meals this weekend and looking at the items coming has me thinking about why it is that I don't buy organic on a more regular basis. As Sally pointed out in the comments of my admission post, that I don't normally use Organic products, if you look at the prices they are really like for like.

The meals this week, were normal meals.

An Organic Casserole

What I mean is, if I'd thought of buying these ingredients and making these meals then this is what I would have cooked. These are normal meals, for a normal family and nothing special about them... apart from almost everything was Organic. It's led on to playground discussions about what we eat, how we eat and what we do and don't buy that's organic. I guess a lot of people are actually like me, and don't know what questions to ask about their food, where it comes from and how it is produced to know what the point is of buying organic.

Like we were always told at School though, if you have a question raise your hand and ask it, as there is always going to be someone else who also wants the same question answered. So for the sake of everyone else who doesn't want to raise their hand to ask what they think is a daft question, here we go. I'm raising my hand and then researching on the Internet!

So what is Organic exactly?

From what I've read Organic food is basically any food product that is grown in organically certified land without the use of any chemical treatments. That's from fertilizers and from pesticides. Therefore anything put onto the plants, or the ground is from a natural source.

What can I buy Organic?

A quick look at the shopping I've had delivered over the last couple of weeks, and through the supermarket shelves has shown me that almost EVERYTHING can be brought as an Organic product. I've even found organic make up and clothes...

What are the benefits of buying Organic products?

Well, this is where people start to differ.

I could say, as several people have, that it's about the taste benefits, and I must admit the organic meat we've eaten did taste really nice, but others say there is no taste difference and that there are no additional nutritional benefits.

According to research, there aren't extra nutrients or vitamins in the organic food, but what there is with the organic foods is a lack of pesticides and reserachers did find that there were higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk and chicken.

Then again you might say that because of the higher animal welfare and because of the benefits to nature that is reason enough to buy organic.

What's an easy way to start buying Organic?

Well, this is my humble opinion, but I think the best way is to simply start with buying fruit and vegetables with the organic label. Yes, there can be an additional cost (I'll cover that in a minute) but if you are buying in season then you'll find the cost slightly lower!

Of course you could also try swapping one or two items a week from non organic to organic or even slowly restocking your pantry with organic items.

After my two week full immersion into the world or organic produce, I've already re-written the way I spend my budget to ensure that I can buy organic meat, fruit and vegetables (I'll work on the rest later) and as long as I remember to plan my meals around seasonal foods and using up leftovers I shouldn't spend that much more than I do currently.

Why do more people not already buy Organic?

Again, this is my humble opinion, but I think that it's mainly cost and secondly lack of knowledge. When you're in the Supermarket comparing the prices of two packs of Cherries (for example) you're after the best price. And if the two packs look identical, you're going to go for the cheaper price, but they aren't identical products and that's the key.

After some research, now that I know what goes into growing the fruit and vegetables and rearing the animals I understand why it's slightly more expensive and also why if more people chose organic produce the prices would most likely come down.

Why is Organic more expensive?

It's partly supply and demand as I touched on above, it's also partly that it costs more to produce in some cases.

What stops Farmers saying their food is Organic when it isn't?

Here in the UK, I found that DEFRA and the other control bodies ensure that all the standards of the producers claiming to produce organic products are met. They are inspected at least annually, but can have spot inspections to make sure they are complying fully all the time AND they have a license too, which will show on the label of the product.

So, that's what I found out. I hope you found it as useful as me and if you have any other questions, you can either ask me in the comments and I'll try to find out or you can ask the Organic UK Food team on Twitter or Facebook who I'm sure will be pleased to help!

As I've explained in a couple of posts, I was supplied with organic produce for two weeks to make meals from.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

What's Better? Reading Comics Or Not Reading At All? #Review

This week Big Boy has been being a bit of a rebel when he's at home with me, you see Big Boy has stopped enjoying reading and has claimed that he no longer wants to read or learn to read either. To a book work like me that is terrible news, I couldn't imagine my childhood without the constant companions I found in books and worse because I was such a book worm I have no idea on how to get BB to enjoy reading.

In School he's been fine. He hasn't denied requests to read, he hasn't mentioned that he doesn't want to read and he's showing enthusiasm for reading in group and one on one settings. This isn't good enough for me though, I want Big Boy to enjoy being read to, to enjoy reading and to want to do it at home too. I spoke with my friends on the School playground, I read articles on the internet, I spoke with BB's teachers and out of the many suggestions that they came up with the one I thought would work best for us would be giving Big Boy comics to read.

We were actually sent the new DC Super Friends Comic aimed at young children (yes the promotional information says boys, but the comic can be for girls too, don't get caught up in the sexism of it) and I thought this would be a good comic for Big Boy to start reading, as like his friends he's very into Super Heroes.

DC Super Friends Magazine

It's working.

Big Boy has read this comic and and instead of just listening to the stories I'm reading him and Top Ender he's picking out words and reading them too. He purposely sat down this afternoon to read some more of his comic and he's asked if we can read some other stories together too. I guess that reading comics is like a gateway drug to reading books and I'm willing to work with that.

The DC Super Friends Comic is out today (19th September 2013) and is aimed at children aged between 2 and 5 and can be found in Supermarkets and Newsagents.

We were sent the comic to review.

Lego Lunch Boxes - #Review

It seems that as well as being known for making fun lunches for my children, my love of lunch boxes and napkins is also becoming well known. So when Store asked if I'd like two Lego lunch boxes for Top Ender and Big Boy, all I had to do was ask the children which colour they'd like. Top Ender decided to go for Light Pink and Big Boy decided to go for Red.

Lego Lunch Box

I personally really like the lunch boxes, I think that they are a good size for a healthy lunch and just the right shape for a wrap and some fruit... which is what I had in Top Ender's the first time I used the lunch box. My excuse was that I needed a lunch box and hers was closest, but really I just wanted to have a fun lunch like the children.

Wrap in Lego Lunch Box

Top Ender and Big Boy love the Lego lunch boxes and are busy saving up to buy the water bottles that go with them.

Sausage Wrap in Lego Lunch Box

Now, I just need to come up with a great Lego themed lunch that I haven't already done.

Lego Duplo Themed Lunch

The lunch boxes are available in nine different colours and cost just £6.30

We were sent two lunch boxes to review.

How Best To Greet Daddy - #Review

When Daddy came home from work last night, he came home to a dark house.

As he stepped in the door, he heard a strange noise. A noise that sounded like a cat being strangled, or someone doing a rather bad impression of a ghost... as his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could make out a glowing face on the stairs.

Glowing Face in the dark

Backing away from the glowing face he stepped into the living room, where the noises had stopped and he could see nothing but blackness and then suddenly three neon lights attacked him!

Glowing Neon Lightsticks

That's right. Top Ender, Big Boy and I had decided to dress in black and hide in the dark to frighten Daddy when he got home.

Daddy was even more frightened when he turned on the lights to find Big Boy and Tom standing there dressed as skeletons!

Big Boy and Tom dressed as skeletons

We've promised not to frighten Daddy like that again... at least not until he's forgotten about it!

The glowsticks and halloween costume that Big Boy is modelling will be available from October 3rd in Aldi stores, with other Halloween treats and costumes available too. Just try not to give anyone a heart attack if you jump out on them in the dark...

Aldi sent us the glowsticks and Big Boy's Halloween costume to review.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Have You Met Ted? #Review

My sister is not going to forgive me for the title of this post, but I couldn't resist. Sorry Kitty.

This is Teddy, the newest addition to my extended family.

Baby Teddy

Yes, he is adorable and yes you are allowed to coo for a few moments over him, after all every time I see him I "steal" him off my sister and sit there cuddling him soaking in his adorable new babyness and marvelling at how tiny he is.

We wanted to mark Teddy's arrival as a family, and when I saw that the brilliant Penwizzard have a lovely Me To You Tatty Teddy Baby Book ready to be personalised with a baby's name we knew it was fate. 

Me To You Tatty Teddy New Baby Book


Tatty Teddy and Teddy are meant to be together, they are the cutest in the whole wide world!


Inside the Me To You Tatty Teddy New Baby Book

My sister loved the book, as did Teddy when I read it to him, (okay so what I mean is that he didn't cry, throw up on me or fill his nappy whilst I read it to him) and I'm sure that this little book will be treasured for many years to come.

The book is £9.99 and with an area to put a personal message, a photo of the new baby and a couple of extra "personal" touches hidden in the book, it's well worth the price.

We were given the book to review, but I would have said it was adorable anyway!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Tom's Adventures - #Review

This is Tom.

Tom in my pocket

As you can see Tom is a bear and he belongs to Big Boy. When Big Boy got him, he knew what he wanted to happen, Tom was to go on an adventure like Pom Bear sometimes does.

So today, Tom and I have had some fun and as requested by Big Boy here is the blog post of the adventures that Tom got up to today.

Tom watching TV

Tom started off watching a bit of Telly, but with me having the Radio on he soon turned it off.

Tom in a Halloween Costume

Tom decided, he'd try and frighten me by wearing Big Boy's Halloween costume. It did give me a bit of a fright, but nothing as big as the one in my story from last Friday.

Tom in a Build A Bear Workshop Box

Exploring the laundry basket of things to go upstairs was next on Tom's list, although he was disappointed that Libby wasn't in the Bear House still.

Tom counting needles

Tom helped me to check out the box of needles at the top of the stairs, as we weren't sure if we needed to get some more for Big Boy's middle of the night injections.

Tom smelling the flowers

And Tom loved the flowers on Big Boy's windowsill

Tom doing the dishes

I did the dishes, and Tom decided he should sit with the drying cups rather than risk getting wet in the sink.

Tom and The Washing Machine

Tom remembered that I wanted to wash Big Boy's grey coat, so he kept an eye on it for me.

Tom at Asda

Tom helped me with the shopping I needed.

Tom and Ralph the Scotch Magic Tape Dispenser Dog

And then Tom helped me to test out Ralph the new Scotch Magic Tape Dispenser Dog (link is to the facebook page). Tom however, doesn't seem to understand that he isn't supposed to cover himself in tape.

I believe from what I've found on the internet that Ralph has an rrp of £8.99 and is available from Staples and Tesco, but if I find out different I'll let you know!

We were sent Ralph to review, he's currently sitting in our photo display area looking cute.

A Very Tasty Casserole - #Recipe #ThriftyOrganic

My Nan makes the best casserole, honestly if you've ever had a good casserole times it by a hundred million, add a touch of love and you'll have a casserole that is only a tenth as good as my Nan's. I always try to emulate her when making the casseroles that I make, and never have I made a casserole anywhere as nice as the ones she makes.

Until this Sunday.

I can't comment on if it was the ingredients (everything was organic), the time that I spent or the love that I gave each component of the meal but it was the best darn casserole ever and because I was sending pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram I had a few comments where I was asked for the recipe in order so they could make the most awesome casserole too.

With Casserole this good, how could I refuse to share?

Ingredients


One Onion
One Leek
Two Sticks Celery
Two Carrots
1/2 Butternut Squash
3 Cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
500g Diced Beef (you can use a cheap cut as it will "soften" during cooking)
2 Tablespoons Flour
750g Mushrooms (you can use 400g or less, but I like a mushroomy casserole)
2 Tablespoons Tomato Puree
Dash of Worcester Sauce
500ml of Beef Stock
400ml Beef Gravy (thick)
Salt and Pepper

Method


Diced OnionSliced Leek

Finely dice the Onion and the Leek. I know it sounds a lot of onion type flavours, but it's not honest.

Chopped Celery and diced CarrotButternut Squash with scattered crushed garlic

Dice two sticks of Celery and a couple of Carrots. Dice the Butternut Squash and crush the cloves of Garlic.

Gently pan fry the Vegetables and Garlic in a bit of Olive Oil for ten minutes. This isn't to brown them, but to start the flavouring process and also to soften the vegetables up a bit.

Whilst the vegetables are cooking, place the meat in a bowl, place two table spoons of flour over the top of the meat, season with salt and pepper and then mix. It's best to use your hands and if you come across any large pieces, cut them to smaller chunks.

Put the vegetables into the pot that you are going to put into the oven. Turn the Oven on to Gas Mark 5, or like me as high as it goes to warm it up faster.

Browning Floured BeefSliced Mushrooms

Gently pan fry the meat in a little more olive oil, this time to brown. 

Whilst the meat is browning finely slice your mushrooms.

After the meat has browned cook the mushrooms in the pan, to absorb the flavour and to absorb any flour in the pan.

Tomato Puree on top of CasseroleA Cooking Casserole

Add the meat to the vegetables, the Tomato puree and a dash of Worcester Sauce. 

Add the now cooked mushrooms and season again if you wish.

Add the Beef Stock and the Beef Gravy and stir well.

Place in the oven, with a lid for one hour at Gas Mark 5. 

After one hour, take the lid off cook for a further ten minutes whilst you bash your mash or butter your bread, make children wash their hands and lay the table and remember to put drinks on the table.

Stir the casserole well and serve.


If you make the casserole, don't forget to let me know and send me a picture or two too!

The ingredients were provided to me as part of the Organic Challenge, I'm taking part in.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The 2nd Stretchy Organic Meal Plan (W/C 14/09)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm already thinking more about Organic products and about how I'd be able to include them in my normal meal plans, with the added benefit of this being a stretchy meal plan, using leftovers to the best effect I'm finding that I'm thinking a lot more carefully about what we're eating and how I can best use everything that we get delivered.

Organic Food Shop

There wasn't something that I could say was the "main" meal this shop, there wasn't anything that I could use as our Sunday roast so I was lost as to what I could make and then walking home from School Friday lunchtime it hit me.

Saturday - Spaghetti Carbonara


On Saturday, we might have the missionaries eating with us, so I figure a nice batch of Spaghetti Carbonara will keep them going and the rest of my family too. If we haven't got the Missionaries over then there'll be Spaghetti left over!

Sunday - Casserole


We had a substitute in our shopping, instead of having Beef Mince, we got Diced Beef, so added to some leeks, tomatoes and various other veggies that we have hiding in the fridge and freezer and of course this delivery I'll make a casserole, which I'll serve with mashed potato and plenty of buttered french stick, just like my Nan always would.

When ever my Nan would make casserole, there would never be a lot left so I'm assuming the same will happen with this meal and will make me a nice lunch tomorrow. If you'd like the recipe, see the Tasty Casserole Recipe post!

Monday - Home Made Baked Beans on Toast


We have bread, actually we have a lot of bread at home. So we'll have home made baked beans on toast for dinner tonight, mainly because it's a Meatless Monday but also because when I was listening to Simon Mayo on Radio Two last week he had Posh Beans on Toast cooked by Nigel Barden and my home made baked beans on toast is always a winner!

Tuesday - Shepard's Pie


The Shepard's pie we have this week is the recipe that Daddy created/stole/modified many years ago and is still one of the best family dishes we have on a semi-regular basis. If we hadn't have had Spaghetti Carbonara on Saturday I would have made this into Baked Sloppy Joes, which is our other favourite semi-regular family meal!

Wednesday - Sweetcorn Fritters


I love Sweetcorn, and so does Top Ender. Big Boy isn't convinced but will eat it and Daddy? Well, Daddy isn't home until late so he can eat leftovers from yesterday!

I'll try to follow a few different recipes, the Channel 4 one and the BBC one and the Good to Know one. Mainly because I want bacon and salsa and cheese with my fritters!

Thursday - Stuffed Peppers


This is just for Daddy and I. The children will refuse, I know they will so they can have Omelette with lots of veggies, or Couscous or leftovers or something, but I'm making stuffed peppers for Daddy and I.

Friday - Erm


I actually honestly have no idea what we will eat tonight. I have potatoes left so we could have Jacket potatoes or any variation of something and potatoes. I should have a bit of bacon left (and if not I have some in the freezer), I have four portions of last week's soup left. I have rice and couscous and risotto rice and hundreds of other things, but I just have no clue.

Someone put me out of my misery and suggest something. Just don't make it cabbage soup, not even I want to eat cabbage soup.

The food we are eating this week (in the top picture) was sent to us so I could talk about Organic produce.

Friday, 13 September 2013

A Little Story For You

Happy Friday Everyone!

This is a little story, that I shared on Facebook earlier today, that I thought deserved to be shared here too.


I was doing the hoovering, thinking that I needed to use the bathroom, when the postman knocked on the door. 

My postman is rather like an excited Labrador puppy, he's always excited to see me and loves handing over parcels and likes to guess what is inside.

This in turn makes me excited about opening the parcel, so once I had said goodbye to the puppy postman hybrid I forgot all about needing the bathroom and opened the parcel.


A Halloween Mask In a Jiffy Bag Made Me Wet Myself

I no longer need the bathroom.


Thanks to Aldi, who have sent Big Boy a Halloween Dressing up Costume to review.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sports and Me and the Children - #Review

I was a runner at School, actually scratch that, I became a runner at Senior School. I discovered that I liked long distance running, cross country and Orienteering and I'm sure if I lived in a more mountainous area I would have been into trail running too. As is the way with most children though, when I stopped going to School I stopped running.

I don't want that to happen with the children and after a fairly inactive Summer Holidays I wanted to get us all back into sport and being active. I'm hoping that they will have a love of being active as part of them and that when they leave School they keep up the activities!

Big Boy is fairly active, he understands more than most children his age about food intake and it's relation to energy and that not all calories are created equal, because of his Diabetes. BB is fairly sporty, he likes to run and to ride a bike, he loves kicking a ball about, he's rather naff at Tennis but enjoys it and he is currently trying to work up to doing ten sit ups in a row. It's quite funny to see how active he is, and if only I had half of his energy I'd be half my size in a week!

Top Ender is more like Daddy and I. She knows that exercise is important, but other than Handball and Dodgeball she's not really that into anything. Like me she is often best working alone, and so when SportsShoes asked if we'd like a pair of trainers for Top Ender I knew I had the perfect excuse of getting Tops a little more active.

Top Ender wearing her new Trainers

Top Ender has found that with her trainers on she's a lot more comfortable when walking and running around the garden and on our walks in the local area. She's been with me to the local permanent Orienteering courses in a few of the local parks and we've jogged round together... and even better we've found that since going back to School Top Ender has started being more active voluntarily!

How do you keep your children and you active? Is there something you all do together or do you get the children to go to activities or am I just worrying over nothing?!

We were sent a pair of trainers from SportsShoes.com so we could talk about being active and the website.

Monday, 9 September 2013

When The Weather Turns Cool - #Review

I blogged before about putting the heating on and with the weather having turned cooler today, it's made me think about when we'll need to put the heating on again. For us it's a test of hardiness as well as a cost cutting measure, plus with my Summer habit of leaving the back door and bedroom windows open to let fresh air into the whole of the house, I get used to the freshness rather than the stuffiness of the central heating and prefer not to turn it on, even when I'm cold! Last year it was too cold too quickly for us and we ended up turning on the central heating sooner than we expected and turning it off later than we hoped. Towards the start of the winter I brought an electric blanket for Daddy and I.

It was a treat and I was pleased to find out that since I had last had one, that you were able to leave them on all night, on a special low setting. Having the blanket on the bed was the best things about going to bed, as it was all warm and snugly as soon as we got into the bed instead of doing that silly leg wiggle dance that everyone does to make the bed warm up faster, (Let me know in the comments if you do or don't do that!). The only problem was after a few days, Top Ender climbed into the bed with me one morning and could feel how warm and snugly the bed was and realised that this wasn't a normal warm bed. She managed to keep the secret for a few weeks, but eventually she let it slip to Daddy that she too wanted an electric blanket for her bed.

Silentnight Climate Control Electric Blanket

The Bedding Company stepped in this last week and sent Top Ender a Silentnight Climate Control Electric Blanket, just like mine but this time instead of being a double, it's a single and perfect for her bed! Of course Top Ender has yet to try it out, the summer has been lovely and warm and today is the first day that the weather has been anywhere near to being cool enough for her to use it, so I'm sure there'll be a few tweets from Top Ender tonight about how fantastic it is.

Top Enders Room

What do you do to keep warm when the weather turns cooler and you are trying to keep the bills low?

We were sent the Silentnight Climate Control Electric Blanket, which is £17.99, by The Bedding Company so we could write this review, which was according to Top Ender rather "cool" of them, but I think she meant hot or warm or she doesn't know what an electric blanket really does. Which is worrying seeing as how she wanted one.

The Deadline For Complaints Was Yesterday

The Deadline For Complaints Was Yesterday

No, it was really.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bored In Bed

Today I've been stuck in bed. ALL DAY.

Daddy and I have worked out that I had food poisoning, which kind of serves me right for having a take away when I could have had a lovely bowl of Potato soup made with the Organic vegetables sent to me. If I had got up just twenty minutes earlier and not left my potato peeler at Church last Tuesday, I could have had soup...

Still. What's done is done and can't be undone.

I've spent most of the day sleeping, trying not to be sick and rushing to the bathroom.

I don't recommend it.

My lovely husband stepped up and made sure the children ate, had fresh air, had a bath, had clean uniforms for School tomorrow, and helped me when I was little overcome with it all.

An Organic Roast


So I'm bored in bed and I've just realised that this is probably going to get a million hits for people looking for advice about a different sort of boredom in bed... but it's too late now!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Organic Stretchy Meal Plan (W/C 7/9) - #Review

So as I said yesterday this week we're working with mainly organic ingredients, I wasn't sure exactly what I should make, especially as part of the challenge is to make proper recipes and to try to stretch the food as far as possible.

In the end I started with the dish I knew we had to have, every Sunday we have a roast and so I have to do the Chicken for that and then I worked out the rest of the week around that and what we were doing with regards to after school clubs, working late and the like.

Organic Shopping Meal Plan


Saturday - Potato Soup


We're out today in London with the lovely folks at Vosene, so I'll throw some Potato Soup into the slow cooker and we can eat that when we are back from all the other things we do. The one thing I will add to it, is some Bacon which I purposefully went and got from the Organic Butchers in one of the villages on the outskirts of Milton Keynes.

My Potato Soup Recipe

Peel and dice 5 large potatoes, one onion and 5 sticks of celery.

Add the diced vegetables to 2 pints of milk, with a little salt and pepper and then cook on low until we're ready to eat it about 6 or 7 hours later.

I'll then grill some bacon and cup into little fiddly bits to sprinkle on top of the soup with grated cheese.


There will be some leftover which I'll have for my lunch this week/ as a snack when I'm starving.

Sunday - Chicken Roast


For the Roast we'll use the potatoes (for roast potatoes) the egg, milk and flour to make Yorkshire Puddings, the carrots for some veggies and an onion with the Chicken to make the Roast Chicken!

I'll make a Plum Clafoutis for pudding to use up some Plums!

Monday - Garlic Mushrooms and Potato wedges and maybe onion rings


The garlic mushrooms are more for Daddy and I than the children and I'll only make onion rings if I can make Daddy's batter as thick as he does other wise the onions end up as some sort of gloopy gluten free mess!

This is a good meal to have for a nice Meatless Monday, with poached apples or plums as a pudding or maybe some leftover Clafoutis.

Top Ender is also off to Brownies tonight, so wish her luck!

Tuesday - Chicken and Mushroom Pie


I do love a Chicken and Mushroom Pie and whilst the children might not agree (they aren't Mushroom fans) I'm sure my plan for mash with a twist to go with it will have them asking for this more often.


So what haven't we used up yet? The Butternut Squash, the Chicken carcass (which I will have already turned into Stock and frozen) sausages, an egg, a few carrots, two can of tomatoes, some cream, some cheddar cheese, a pack of coucous, the pasta and the apples. 

There are technically plums left, but as they will be going out date quite quickly I'll prepare them for pies and jams and cakes at the start of the week and make them ready during the week, keep an eye out on Instagram for pictures of the various pies and cakes etc.

Right. In that case lets move on to the rest of the week.


Wednesday - Sausage Meatballs and Pasta


The sausages unfortunately aren't gluten free, and so whilst Daddy is travelling home from work today the children and I will have Sausage Meatballs and Pasta. It's easy to do you just snip open the skin of the sausage, turn the sausage meat into balls and gently fry with some onion, some canned tomatoes and hopefully I'll have a can of beans in the cupboard to bulk it out.

Served with Pasta and some sneakily added herbs the children won't know this isn't their usual favourite dish and I'll get some gluten free sausages to make meatballs for Daddy.

Thursday - Roast Buttenut Squash Soup with Tomatoes and Bread


I made Butternut soup before and it's lovely, this time though I'll add half a can of tomatoes (the rest is for tomorrow) and after I've served the children I'll add in some Harrisa paste with some cream for Daddy and I.

Roast Buttenut Squash Soup with Bread


Friday - Sausage & Veg Couscous


The couscous isn't gluten free because it's basically made of wheat so with the sausages and an onion and some bits of carrot and butternut squash, the leftover tomatoes and some of the Chicken Stock, I'll make a tasty mix of ingredients for the children and I.

I reserve some of the vegetables to one side, use some of the gluten free sausages from Wednesday and add to the left over pasta for Daddy to eat when he gets home.


I'm not sure I'll have enough potatoes to last the week, so I may have to get some more (unless I have some in the house already) and the apples will be featuring in something somewhere.... I hope!

The food we are eating this week (in the top picture) was sent to us so I could talk about Organic produce.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Organic Confession

Hello Everyone, My name is Pippa and I don't buy Organic.

There I said it and now I've got that out the way I can tell you all about my latest foodie challenge. I've been challenged to make a meal plan for the family for the week using Organic products by the Organic. Naturally different campaign.

Ah.

So, why don't I use Organic ingredients normally?

Well, they cost more right?

I'd love to use Organic, but I'm on a limited budget and trying to make it stretch as far as possible. Yes, I know that Organic is better for nature and that there are higher animal welfare standards, that there are less pesticide residues and that the food is natural and great tasting but the cost...

Organic Shopping

Hang on I got all that for just £56.15?

I could make loads of meals from that.

I could make;

Chicken Roast with Roast Potatoes and Carrots
Chicken Pie with Gluten Free Pastry
Chicken Pasta Bake
Tomato Pasta with grated Cheese
Potato Gratin
Sausages and Aligot
Meatball Pasta in Tomato Sauce
Garlic Mushrooms with Dip
Chips
Baked Potatoes
Stuffed Butternut Squash
Frittata (apple and cheese anyone?)
Pancakes
Omelettes
Potato Skins
Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

And that's not even looking at the fruit for crumbles or thinking hard or even bulking it out with what I also have in my cupboards. So this week I'm going to make a meal plan for my family based on the food above and making it budget friendly (you know cook once, eat twice or making full use of leftovers sort of thing).

My personal goal is to see how maybe I could take another look at organic food products and see how I could include them in my regular food shop and I'd like to know more about what organic food actually is, I mean are the potatoes I've grown in my garden organic? What about the eggs my neighbour sells from the chickens in her garden?

I'm also rather interested in seeing how I can combine cooking gluten and egg free for Daddy with using Organic products... Oh I do like a challenge!

I was sent the hamper of food, in order to use it and make a meal plan.



Thursday, 5 September 2013

That'll Teach Me To Be So Smug

I've got this parenting thing down was what I thought as I walked home after taking the children to School on Tuesday morning. Top Ender and Big Boy had lunchboxes, water bottles, had been given a wipe of sun cream, had rain macs in their bags (just in case) hats on, labelled uniform and shoes and I remembered not only to take Big Boy's bag full of Diabetes kit but also my house keys.

Top Ender and Big Boy on the way to School

It was the first time I had done a solo morning school run in ages, and with Daddy at his new job and having left the house at 6am I had already cleaned the bathroom, folded the washing and cleaned the kitchen and had a nice long list of chores I wanted to attend to that day. I crossed every single thing on the list off before lunch. That's how good at the parenting thing I am.

I collected the children on time, spoke to friends, arranged to go out to lunch next week, arranged two play dates and accepted a birthday invite. I signed two permission slips, made dinner and did the dishes. I sent Top Ender to Faith in God (it's a Church programme if you couldn't guess), I played a game with Big Boy, collected Top Ender and two friends, took them home and then came home with my children. That's how good at the parenting thing I am.

We all went to bed, ready to repeat it all again the next day. At least that's what I expected.

Big Boy had a low blood sugar in the night, and before breakfast and after lunch at School and after PE and wouldn't get to a safe level until two and a half hours later. A spanner in my some what perfect parenting run, but it was okay. We coped.

Big Boy thought he might have a tummy ache, I thought it was probably because he needed a poo. Which he did and so I felt smug,  I was right. I have this parenting thing down.

The children went to School, the dishes were done, the house tidied, the garden weeded, the washing washed and then came the call. Big Boy had been sick at School, so I went to get him. As we walked home, he threw up in the playground. In front of all the children who had just finished their lunch after having seen him already throw up in the dining area.

I couldn't help it, my hands full of my sons vomit I laughed.

The children laughed, the staff laughed.

Big Boy threw up again.

One of the other children threw up and I laughed some more.

I couldn't help it, I was just imagining every single child being sent home because they had been sick after seeing Big Boy throw up.

So Big Boy is currently on the sofa, sipping juice and doing a good impression of someone who is ill.

Maybe we'll try going back to School after the Summer Holidays next week huh?

Litter Picking - Family Home Evening

We're a lucky family, sure sometimes we might not have all that others have and sometimes that might make us feel less appreciative of what we do have so I thought that it might be worthwhile doing a chore for our local neighbourhood to remind us just how lucky we are.

I thought about what we could do for a few days.

At first I thought we could weed some of our neighbours gardens, but I find it hard enough keeping my garden weeded and looking tidy. I thought we could bake cakes for our neighbours, but with so many different food allergies and intolerances in my family I know that our neighbours could suffer the same and so thought we'd have to think of something else. Then I remembered on our walks recently there has been a fair amount of rubbish in hedges and along the paths.

So, we decided to go for a walk wearing gloves and carrying bin bags.

I had warned the children before we set off that they shouldn't pick up glass or anything dodgy looking and if they saw it they should tell me and that we'd just pick up the obvious pieces of rubbish, we weren't going to be crawling through bushes!

We were really pleased as we had a great walk and we picked up a the rubbish that otherwise would have spoilt the view for someone else having a walk.

Rubbish on Our Walk

When we got home the children were thrilled with the difference they had made to the community. We talked about why people litter, why people shouldn't litter and what they should do if they had litter to dispose of and there was no bin near by.

I hope that this family home evening has helped my children just a little bit to be better citizens and maybe like me they won't be a litter bug.