A Mothers Ramblings: February 2014

Friday, 28 February 2014

MAD and Proud

The MADs are open for nominations again (I know, the time flies by right?) and I was lucky enough to receive a nomination from some kind reader or fellow blogger for nominating me in the MAD Blog of the Year. Which is rather cool and to who ever it was thank you very much for enjoying my blog and for having taken the time to nominate me.


I've won an award at the MADs before, actually I've won twice but that's besides the point. The point is, that I blog because I love keeping a record of the things that we get up to as a family.

I blog because I love the community.

I blog because I like to let other people know what I and my family think of new products after all I hardly ever buy something without researching it first and I'd like to know what other people think too.

I blog because I want other people to know that there is someone out there just like them and I want other people to see that even if they feel that they are struggling that life will get better. Mine did.

There are hundreds of other reasons as to why I blog but I think the best reason is this; I blog because I can.

Now, if you want to go and nominate me you can, just head of to The MAD Blog Awards and type in my url (www.amothersramblings.com) into which ever box you think I should be in. And if you do, or even if you don't then just remember that I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for nominating my blog. I want to thank you for being the people inside my computer who cheer me up with emails. I want to thank you for letting me know when I've made a mistake. I want to thank you for being my support system. I want to thank you for caring about my family and our lives but mostly I want to thank you for reading my blog (as you are right now) and know that as much as I hope that I help other people you've helped me that much 100 times over.

Warburtons Pancakes

It seems my life is about Pancakes at the moment. Not that I'm complaining you understand, I mean Pancakes go with just about everything right? Got some bacon and sausages? Add some pancakes to that. Got some chocolate? Add pancakes to that. Got some honey? Add pancakes to that. Got some cheese? Add pancakes to that. Actually I don't know about that last one...

Anyway.

Warburtons asked if they could send me some magic pancakes. I was intrigued. Magic pancakes sound really cool and if you combine magic and pancakes then you're on to a winner right?

Warburtons Magic Pancake Box

What they planned was to send me a rather lovely box, full of little pots of various flavours which thanks to a magic spinny thingy I could combine on the pancakes! The children had other ideas though, and stole a pack of pancakes to have for a breakfast treat (with butter) and left me to my own devices with regards to the other flavours.

I tried them all.

I didn't like them all, but I tried them all, so what I want to know is what is the best flavour combination to go on pancakes? You could tell Warburtons on their Facebook page and win some vouchers! So are you a savoury fan or a sweet fan? And are you as much as a pancake fan this time of year as I am?!

I was sent a magic pancake box. It was yummy!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Lashings of Ginger Beer Pancakes

There are two things I need to say before I start this post properly. The first thing is Daddy absolutely hates that I can toss a pancake perfectly, and by perfectly I mean absolute perfection, like I could go on Britain's Got Talent and toss a pancake and get a standing ovation perfect.

I mean look at this picture below, see the roundness?

Perfect Pancake Tips

I tossed that pancake.

It went in the air, out of the pan somersaulted and landed perfectly back in the pan.

I promise not to mention it again, but I had to get it out there.


The second thing I need to mention, is when I got the email asking if I'd like to take part in the Waitrose ‘World cuisine’ Recipe Challenge (go take a look at the other recipes) I was thrilled. I was hoping to get Mexico, or Italy or Japan and was really excited.

And I got England.

England?! Come on! I mean England may be my home, but what great ideas did it bring to mind? None that's what. So I sat and thought. Eventually I wondered what does England mean to me.

The first thing that popped into my head was Lashings of Ginger Beer, and then I knew what to do.

Lashings of Ginger Beer Pancake with Cherries, Apples and other English things


Lashings of Ginger Beer Pancakes


Ingredients


100g Plain Flour
2 Medium Eggs
275ml of Ginger Beer

Topping


Large Handful of Cherries
1 Apple
1tsp Sugar

Clotted Cream
Devonshire Ice Cream

Method


First things first, get the ice cream out of the freezer, it'll be too hard to scoop otherwise!


Put the flour into a bowl and create a well in the middle to add the eggs. Add a little ginger beer and slowly mix together the flour, eggs and ginger beer.

Once the mixture is starting to get too thick, add more ginger beer. Pour the ginger beer in slowly, or it'll fizz everywhere and you'll have lumps, which you don't want.

The aim is a smooth batter, that is a little thicker than pouring cream.

Leave the batter to one side. My parents always left it for half an hour, but that isn't really necessary apparently although I can't get used to not doing it and also it gives you time to prepare your fruit.



Take your cherries and cut them in half, so you can remove the stone.

Chop an apple in half to remove the core and then slice and dice into bite sized chunks.

Add the cherries and apple along with a teaspoon of sugar to a saucepan and put over a low heat, stirring well. The juice from the cherries will coat the apple and will turn syrupy, but that is fine it's what you want.



Whilst the cherries and apple are on the heat, add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and put on a high heat to cook your pancake in.

Add some mixture and using a circular motion, move the mixture around the pan to create a pancake. I prefer mine to be a little thicker, but you can cook them as you like.

After roughly thirty seconds, the pancake should be good to toss. You can check by lifting up one side of the pancake to see the colour from underneath.

Cook the other side of the pancake again for roughly thirty seconds (if you make a thicker pancake it'll need longer) before serving.



Cover the pancake with some of the fruit mixture, and a scoop or two of Ice cream and Clotted Cream.

Ginger Beer Pancake with Cherries, Apples and English Ice cream

I found that the spice from the ginger in the pancakes worked well with the sweet and tartness of the cherries and apples and the creaminess of the cream and ice-cream and it reminded me of England and Summers of my childhood.

Waitrose, very kindly set me the challenge and gave me a voucher to pay for the ingredients.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

World Book Day Preparation #Review

Top Ender and Big Boy are excited for this years World Book Day (6th March 2014) and so we had a little bit of a fashion show on our last day of half term, using various fancy dress costumes we own, mixing it up with some clothes we have too. This was all so they could decide who it is that they are going to dress up as. and it was the funniest day we've had for ages, with both BB and Tops cracking jokes, throwing some amazing modelling poses and of course pulling the faces that seem to be our families trademark (honestly if you see any pictures of me from blogging events I'm always pulling a face and I have no idea why!).

Top Ender as Dorothy Gale

Big Boy as Ben 10

Top Ender as a Cat


Big Boy as Steve from MinecraftTop Ender the Fireman


Big Boy decided that he is going to be all of the costumes, which is a bit worrying but understandable as I don't like making decisions either.  Thanks to Angels Costume Finder, Top Ender is going to be going as Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Top Ender as Alice

Now, The very important question. What should I go as?

We were sent the Alice costume to review.



Saturday, 22 February 2014

Meal Plans W/C 22/02

I'm ready for the coming week (okay I'm not, but if I keep telling myself I am maybe the week will be fooled right?) and so the meal plans came easily... Daddy is commuting this week, but I'm not cooking for him as such. As it's after 7pm that he'll be in and that's too late for me to eat I'm going to do him some "simple" meals that I can cook quickly and he can eat without me wanting to eat with him.

Saturday - Whatever


Saturdays are really a case of what ever at the minute, Big Boy and Daddy tend to eat together before I get home from shopping with my Mum (BB needs to eat earlyish) and Tops tends to eat with my Mum and then I eat either whatever is leftover in the fridge or something easy like a salad.

Sunday - Sticky Sausage Roast


We've not had a Sausage Roast for a few weeks, and we've not had a sticky one for even longer, so today's roast will be very welcome for everyone in the family.

A Mothers Ramblings Sticky Apple Bacon and Sausage Roast


Monday - Creamy Chicken Penne


Big Boy was reading my new cookbook "Super Chicken! The Best Chicken Recipes" and decided that the picture on page 99 was what he wanted for dinner this week. So I agreed to cook it for him and his sister, most of the recipe is identical to the sort of thing I already make so hopefully it'll be easy to cook so the Top Ender can eat before going to Brownies.

Tuesday - Fish Cakes


We were back to School today, so the children are having "comfort" food of Fish Cakes, Sweetcorn and wedges for tea.

Wednesday - Meatballs with Pasta


I'm making meatballs using Sausage meat, it's quick easy and Big Boy loves helping to make it this way.

Thursday - Tomato Soup


The children both have a thing for tomato soup, I've no idea why, they must get it from their Dad. I've got some soup pasta that I'm going to add to this to make it a little more filling.

Friday - Mild Beef Curry


I've decided the children need to start eating curry again, this will be really mild for them, but the portion I will keep for Daddy will be spicier!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

After The Event

The other week, Big Boy and I hosted a Zack and Quack party at home, that was part of a bigger Twitter party. You might have seen some of the tweets that were sent out, some of the photos or if you've been round my house since, the giant cardboard Tank, that looks surprisingly like a certain elephant with wheels!

The boys tank

The cartoon was a big surprise, the boys (aged between 5 and 7) were all convinced that the show was going to be for babies, and that they being so old wouldn't enjoy it. Not surprisingly, within seconds of the show starting they were all sitting on the floor open mouthed and hooked on the action.

Watching Zack and Quack (with a party tea!)

I learnt two big things about boys from this party.

The first is that boys smell. Seriously, my house smelt of "boy" for ages after the party was over and I'm not a fan of the smell. For me, it's up there with wet dog and chicken manure that they spread on the fields. Actually come to think of it, the smell was a cross of those two...

The other thing I learnt was that Boys love to craft and colour and be creative and I don't think that society lets them do enough of this. Do you think the same or do you have a different experience?

Colouring in at the Zack and Quack party

The boys were amazed at how when they worked together they were able to create a tank in quite a short amount of time, they loved making frogs, colouring in pictures and decorating their treasure boxes. All the parents have commented that they are still wanting to watch Zack and Quack (Fridays at 4:30) and that they are crafting things all over the place.

So what about you? Do you think we should be encouraging boys to be more creative, or do you think that it's equally balanced already?

We were sent the supplies.

Harumika Fun #Review

Last Summer, (Yes, I know that it is now Winter, but... actually I have no excuse) Top Ender invited a few of her friends round for a tea party in the garden. It was the sort of thing that Top Ender would love to do for her Birthday, but seeing as she is a January baby it's a little cold in the garden and if we aren't under rain like we have been this year, there is normally a threat of snow. The girls had a great time, using my best china (I was so scared someone was going to drop it!) and there were plenty of cucumber sandwiches, just like there are when we have our Family Afternoon Tea! The real reason that the girls were at our house though, was because they wanted to be let loose on the Harumika we'd been sent.

Harumika

I've managed to lose the pictures from last Summer as I it was two phones ago, and I can't find them in the online storage areas. It's kind of good though, because two of the girls didn't want to be on the interwebz and now I don't need to remember which ones!

Anyhoo.

Just in case you aren't a fan of Harumika already, it's a great toy (I can't think of a better word for it, can you? If so let me know in the comments) for budding fashion designers. The idea is that the children (or fully grown adults) playing with the Harumika mannequins, can push fabric in to the slot in the back of the body in order to create beautiful designs of various outfits. Then using the website, they can upload the images so others can see and vote, or take inspiration from the designs they see.

I love it because there are no scissors needed and it's so easy to play with, even my Nan has enjoyed a little fashion session as Top Ender took her set to my Nan's a couple of years back and I think my Nan was hoping that Top Ender would leave it with her.

Yesterday we had a sick day, and so Top Ender spent a fair bit of time sitting with me and Big Boy at the table creating some designs. Can you guess who designed which in the photographs below? Leave a comment letting us know who you think designed which outfit, and which outfit you like best!

Harumika Designs

This was our pick what you like as a theme, theme.

Harumika Designs

This was a walk on the beach theme.

Harumika Designs

This was a Mario/Gamer theme.

We were sent dolls last year, which we gave out at the party.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Turbo #Review #TurboFastFun

Yesterday evening, the plan was that along with a few other bloggers and their famlies, Top Ender, Big Boy and I were going to watch Turbo, which we had been sent on Blu-ray. After having checked yesterday that everything was fine, and watching a Blu-ray film on our PS3, we were excited about watching a film together again tonight, especially one that we'd seen at the cinema and had enjoyed!

Turbo


But fate had other plans.

Our PS3 was working, we could hear it loading up, we just couldn't see anything on the TV. So we were a bit stuck. Luckily though, thanks to the genius that is digital copies, we were able to download the film and stream it through the PC to the projector. It was really easy, as I just went to FoxRedeem.com, entered my redemption code and redeemed my movie through my google play account (or I could have chosen Blinkbox, or itunes, or playstation store etc). We got the film up on the projector, and whilst the kids sat on the sofa to watch it, I sneaked off for a long soak in a hot bath because I needed to relax and of course I'm poorly...

Just in case you don't know the story, the film is about a garden snail, Theo (aka Turbo) who wants to be a racer. Yes, that's right a snail wants to be a racer. Thanks to a freak accident that infuses him with the power of super-speed he gets to proved that if you dare to dream big, that no dreamer is too small.

The children loved the film again, and I loved listening to Ryan Reynolds. It is the sort of film, that you can watch again and again, because you root for Theo, he's the loveable underdog that discovers how to play up his own talents in order to get the results that he wants.

Right, now that the children are safely in bed, and Daddy and I have an evening in a hotel room together I think that Daddy and I can cuddle up and watch the film on my tablet, seeing as it's linked to my google play account!

We were given a copy of the film.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Make A Little Birdhouse For Your Soul!

Today Top Ender, Big Boy and I returned to Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands, for our painting birdhouse session.

Birdhouses waiting to be painted

We guessed where to go (the Children's party room) and guessed right, which was lucky as we were running late, thanks to my bad time keeping. The room was fairly busy with several other families also taking part in the craft, but we found some space and settled down, ready to start the activity. The children were given a choice of soft drinks, a bird house each before being handed plastic aprons and a palette of paint. The children were also given a chocolate bird, but they wisely remembered that it was best to put that into my handbag to have later in the day.

Big Boy and Top Ender painting their birdhouses

The children loved the activity and even though I didn't officially have a birdhouse to paint, I did sneakily have a go on the pretence of helping the children. I may have to buy my own birdhouse to paint! Whilst Top Ender claims that she enjoyed our time at the circus last Saturday, I think that the birdhouse painting was just as fun and it is certainly worth the £4.99 (each child).

We were given the tickets for free.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Circus is in Town!

On Saturday, we went to the circus.

The Circus Performers Taking a Bow

Nothing special about that you might think, but actually, for us as a family it was a big event because Daddy had never been to the circus before! We'd been given tickets by Frosts Garden Center, who have some great half term activities for the children planned, at their various stores and we were excited to attend.

Juggler juggling fire

Top Ender, Big Boy and I had seen this circus before and from what we remembered we knew that it was a lot of fun. So after finding some seats, we settled down with popcorn and candy floss (and the children had some Sausage Rolls we'd brought with us) and waited, all the while joking about the Big Top flying away in the wind or telling our favourite jokes about clowns, circuses and jugglers...

What do you do if attacked by a bunch of Circus performers?
Go for the Juggler...
We were right, the circus was brilliant and fun for children of all ages. The tickets are £5.99 per person (no matter the age), so I think that they are good value for a half term treat, and if you are around Milton Keynes this Half Term then book some tickets!

We received four free tickets.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Meal Plans W/C 15/02

It's half term this week, so we have a fair bit of fun planned... well as long as the weather plays along with your plans!

Saturday - Burgers


BB and Daddy are having Burgers tonight, whilst Top Ender eats with my Mum. I've been dieting this week thanks to some encouragement from my sister so I have a lush salad planned!

Sunday - Casserole and Dumplings


The children asked for casserole this week, so Daddy is making dumplings and mash potato to go with it.

Casserole, Dumplings and Mash


Monday - Fish and Chips


The children are big fans of fish and chips, and so our Monday treat is some home made take away.

Tuesday - Pasta


A simple pasta and ragu dish tonight, made by Tops and BB, to celebrate me being their lovely Mum. Oh, okay it's because I've told them to make it!

Wednesday - Restaurant Night


We're with Daddy this evening, so we'll eat out. We're not sure where yet but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for something yummy!

Thursday - Jacket Potatoes


We love slow cooker jacket potatoes, and seeing as we're busy during the day we'll need something good to come home to!

Friday - Gammon and Mash


We're gammon crazy at the moment, we like to slice it up and serve it with vegetables and mash!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Chinese New Year with hungryhouse

I've mentioned before, that if there is an event in the world that I can celebrate, that I'll join in. I love celebrating different cultures and as hungryhouse pointed out when they offered me a Chinese to celebrate the Chinese New Year with, if you can celebrate then it's best to do it with food!

Hungry House Logo


So, knowing that I couldn't celebrate Chinese New Year, with a Chinese meal on the actual day of Chinese New Year (as from previous experience I've discovered that all the good Chinese restaurants are closed thanks to them celebrating Chinese New Year!) we decided to have Chinese a few days later. We couldn't wait too long though and so after shopping with my Mum on Saturday, Daddy and I placed an order on the hungryhouse website and planned for our Chinese meal to be delivered just in time for me to sit down and eat when I got back. The website was easy to navigate, easy to order from and I loved that I got sent an email telling me that my order was going to be late being delivered by about 15 minutes. It worked out well, as Tops and I got back five minutes after it was delivered.

Bowl of Chinese Food with Chopsticks

The Chinese might not have been one of the best we'd had (I say it's because the normal Chef was still on holiday!) but it was enjoyable and I was amazed to see how brilliant Top Ender was at using Chopsticks, (she has obviously picked up this talent from me as Daddy never uses Chopsticks and I'm pretty sure he doesn't know how) as I say this is the only way to eat a Chinese meal!

Top Ender eating her Chinese with Chopsticks

We rounded off the evening playing a few games and watching some TV and had a very enjoyable night together, planning our next Take Away night.

How often do you eat a Take Away and what do you normally go for? If I had my way I'd eat Chinese every time we had a take away and Daddy would have an Indian, or a Kebab and the children would prefer a pizza. Who makes the choices over what take away you have in your house?

We were given a voucher to for the take away and for some entertainment.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Main Meals 9th Feb

We're back to normal this week, with my lovely husband at work all week (from Monday) and eating up in Birmingham (well it's up from here in Milton Keynes!) and the children and I doing things at home. There is a bit of news on Thursday though, so make sure you read that one ;)

Saturday - Daddy's Choice!


I'm going to fast this evening meal, and breakfast tomorrow as it is Fast Sunday and for me that means I don't eat for two consecutive meals. Tops will more than likely eat with my Mum and Daddy and Big Boy will eat together at home, whilst Tops and I are out at my Mums.

Sunday - Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sausage Pie


I was chatting with Big Boy this morning about what he'd like for dinner this week. He came up with a few ideas which I dismissed because they weren't possible, they weren't gluten free options and then I remembered Daddy had asked me to buy him some Genius Gluten Free Puff Pastry and it was brilliant when he made Sausage Rolls. So we decided we'd use it again and make a Sausage Pie for our Sunday lunch.

Sausage Pie


Monday - Meatless Monday - Gnocchi Bake


Tops has Brownies this evening so we have a quick meal of Gnocchi, which I've just discovered how to make at home.

Tuesday - Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas


We have Faith in God tonight, (it has changed to the 2nd Tuesday of the month) so for our main meal today we are going for easy Fish and Chips as the children and I do love a nice bit of fish and I've discovered a brilliant easy to make batter.

Wednesday - Pizza


Despite Big Boy having a major rant the other day about how Pizza is junk food and unhealthy and my promises that home made pizza doesn't count, we're having pizza tonight.

Thursday - McDonalds


Today is a School Disco for both BB and Tops, although thanks to BB having his insulin pump fitted, he'll probably miss most of his disco. Which is okay, we're prepared for that because we hope that the pump is going to make a big difference to Big Boy's life and missing a School Disco is worth that. As a special treat the children are going to have real junk food tonight and have a McDonalds.

Friday - Valentines Day


Daddy should be home around 7:30pm, which will be good as we'll be able to eat together on Valentines Day (even if I do have to break my rule of not eating after 7pm). The children are going to have Macaroni Cheese as it is one of their favourite meals and Daddy and I will probably have Steak. I say probably because I'm not fully decided yet and will buy the ingredients for this meal later in the week.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Wicked on Tour #Review

Last night Top Ender and I went to Milton Keynes Theatre to see Wicked.

A Scene from Wicked

It was AMAZING!

Honestly, I knew that I was going to love the show. I knew that the songs were brilliant (I have a cast recording and have learnt most of the songs by heart) and I knew that the show is regarded by many to be one of the best musicals, possibly even the best musical of this century. Top Ender felt the same, she sat for the most part of the show cuddled into my arm and was enthralled in the performances from the cast.

We knew that we'd got wrapped up in the show when we were crying because of the storyline, and looking around at others sitting near us we knew we weren't the only ones who had got so wrapped up in the story that our emotions had gotten the better of us.

A Scene from Wicked


Now, rather like the sixth sense I don't want to spoil the story for anyone and so I'm not going to talk about major plot points or even minor ones but I will say this. If you love the story of The Wizard of Oz or if you just love musicals get to the Theatre to see this show.

We received free tickets to see the show.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Zack & Quack And The Best Mum Ever #ZackandQuack

This Friday, a new TV series is starting on Nick Jr, and to celebrate the launch and there is a Twitter Party happening. More worryingly I've invited six of Big Boy's school friends round to my house to do some crafting.

It's going to be mayhem, with glue sticks and I think that entitles me to announce myself the best Mum ever.

The new TV series sounds fun, it takes place in a pop-up world (remember the old pop up books you used to read?) where Zack comes up with ingenious and creative ways of solving any issues that come up and I think that it's going to be a great thing to get all children crafting and thinking about ways to craft things together as well as on their own.

Big Boy is excited about the party (fun starts at 3:45pm) and we're going to be tuning in to the UK premiere at 4:30pm on Nick Jr, along with following the Twitter hashtag #ZackandQuack and follow the @UKMumsTV and @NickJr twitter account for a chance to win prizes. That is if I can get him out of the box of items they've sent over for us to craft with!

Big Boy and the Zack and Quack goodies

If you'd like to join in then hunt out some old boxes, empty bottles and other craft items so you can join in too, oh and grab some biscuits, and icing tubes to decorate biscuits to eat whilst watching the TV show!

We've been given items to craft during our Party and some expenses for food.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Being Wicked

This Wednesday, I'm planning on stopping being wicked. You see, ages ago when I was asked if I'd like to put my name down for a press ticket for the musical Wicked, at Milton Keynes theatre I had so many people offering to go with me that I ended up telling everyone who even vaguely suggested I should think about going with them to the show that it was only one ticket that was being offered, instead of the two that I'd been allocated.

Wicked The Musical

I feel guilty about the fib I told, but I planned that I could decide closer to the date who I could take with me.

I would love to share this show with my husband as he really loves the song Defying Gravity and we don't get to spend much time together because of him working away.

Then there is my Mum who loves going with me to the Theatre and I have such a great relationship with her and we love chatting to each other during the drive to the Theatre and in the interval.

And then there is Top Ender, who adores all Musicals and who I think would make a great costume designer if she doesn't go down the fashion route so I love exposing her to

I even thought about going with a friend, having a giggle together and getting to know each other better.

In the end I knew that Top Ender would get the biggest kick out of it and so it is her that I'm taking with me. I haven't told anyone other than my MIL, who is going to babysit Big Boy for an hour or so for me until Daddy gets back from his daily commute.

So, make me feel a bit better and tell what you have done recently that is a little bit wicked.