A Mothers Ramblings: August 2015

Monday, 31 August 2015

Science 4 You Candle Factory #Review

Top Ender is rather like me, especially when it comes to Candles. In fact I'm pretty sure that Top Ender has spent almost as much money in Ikea on Candles as I have. We both like to have a scented candle burning when we are working or relaxing and of course we both like to watch flames... Tops just doesn't have the same desire to burn things in Fire Pits!

Science 4 you Candle Factory - Scientific, Educational and Fun!

When we were asked if we'd like to review the Science 4 You Candle Factory, we thought it would be a great Bank Holiday Monday activity so whilst Daddy and Big Boy set up the Scalextric, Top Ender and I went off to make a candle or two. Top Ender really wanted to make the Heart Candle, so we read the instructions several times, checked over what we needed, gathered what wasn't included in the box and then set about making the Candle. Top Ender was a bit annoyed because the instructions told us that an adult had to do the bits that involved heat and being the good girls that we are we decided that we had to follow these instructions.

Candle Factory Science 4 You - Scientific and Educational Toys

We started by melting Paraffin Wax. Top Ender got all excited because she was pretty sure this was the same way that they were making Meringues in The Great British Bake Off the other week and she was sure that we were going to end up having a cake instead of a candle! Eventually the paraffin wax was melted enough that we could add the colouring and scent. Top Ender decided to pick a purple colour for the Candle and Apple for the Scent, both of which were typical choices by Top Ender and could have been predicted.

It was actually really easy, and Top Ender with a little supervision is more than old enough to do this herself in the future, I don't think however she will do it on her own because it was so much fun doing it together and the questions Top Ender asked were brilliant and showed that she really was paying attention to the process of making a candle.

Making a candle using Science 4 you Candle Factory Set

Whilst we waited for the Candle to set, we decided to have a go at making an Emergency Candle using a glass jar, a sheet of Kitchen paper and some Cooking Oil. I never realised how easy it was and Top Ender and I spent our time watching the flame thinking about how we could use this in a lesson about the parable of The Ten Virgins. I guess I just need permission from a proper grown up to do this in Church!

An Emergency Candle. Scientific and educational fun from Science 4 you!

Eventually Top Ender got bored and wandered away and I was left sat reading the booklet (36 pages and a lot of educational material in there and ways for Children to have to answer questions by experimenting) comes with the Candle Factory set. There are a few scientific experiments for Tops and I to undertake when we've made a few more candles and I think now we understand what we are doing we'll be making Candles all the time and for everyone!

The booklet is brilliant and I think that I'll keep it somewhere accessible, even when we've used up all the materials in the box and then we'll either buy another set (£19.99) or buy more materials (probably not as I think it would be cheaper to buy a 2nd set as the £19.99 is really reasonable) as I really loved the questions that Top Ender came up with whilst we were making the Candle and the fun we had.

Top Ender's candle, wasn't all that good if I'm honest, BUT it was a learning curve that we can build on and it worked out well because, look it doesn't matter how bad the candle is, the wax will still burn and provide light and that is all Top Ender and I were after really!

Top Ender's Candle made from the Science 4 you scientific and educational toys Candle Factory set

We loved the set and Top Ender even said she thinks that this is the sort of set that could really spark an interest in a hobby for many Children and an understanding of some basic Science principles, which is good, as that is exactly what I would want from a product like this!

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.


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Philadelphia Deliciously Whipped Pots #Review

Since Top Ender has realised that she likes Curry, and both the children know that they like to share a Chinese meal with us the sanctity of the Take Away once the Children are in bed has been destroyed and no longer exists. Now, we have Family Takeaways, which is still fun, but sometimes Daddy and I like to have something a little more grown up, a little more special, a little more, dare I say it? Yes I do, a little more alone time.

So what to do? Obviously we could eat a bar of Chocolate, but I'm allergic to Chocolate (I break out in fat if I eat too much ROFL) and I'm not keen on Olives like Daddy is and there are only so many Sundried Tomatoes or slices of Parma ham I can eat. And then Philadephia asked if I wouldn't mind terribly, if they sent me a voucher, to review their new Deliciously Whipped range.

At first trying to find these little pots was really hard, it seemed every other person in my local area had decided to go shopping for them and they weren't available. Well, the Olive one was but as I said and at the risk of sounding a little whiny, I don't like Olives and so didn't really just want to get that one.

Eventually however, I managed to find all three pots, unfortunately for me not at the shop I had the voucher for. So I used the voucher to buy a bottle of Soda for Daddy and I to share whilst trying out the Deliciously Whipped range!

Philadelphia Deliciously Whipped Range

Daddy and I had a date night to try out the pots. Between us we had a bottle of Shloer, some Pitta sticks (Gluten Free Crackers for Daddy) and various Vegetable Crudities, which were more for me than they were for Daddy. Once the Children had gone to bed, we sat out on the Patio underneath their windows (so we could hear them if they needed us) and started on the Philadelphia Deliciously Whipped pots.

Gosh, they were delicious.

My favourite, was the Garlic and Herb pot.

Philadelphia Deliciously Whipped


It really was tasty and I ended up eating most of the pot on my own. I did of course let Daddy try it, but he preferred my least favourite, which unsurprisingly knowing my dislike of Olives, was the Deliciously Whipped with Olives!

Deliciously Whipped Olive Philadelphia

Daddy however, loved it. There were flecks of Green and Black Olives in the whipped Philadelphia and he thought this to be brilliant as it showed that there were real Olives being used and not just some fake flavouring.

Deliciously Whipped Philadelphia

The last pot was the traditional, Philadelphia. It was the great taste of Philadelphia, but having been whipped it was lighter and airy and well, it was just great for dipping crackers, pitta bread sticks and vegetable sticks in!

All of the Pots were amazing and I will be buying them again, although if I'm perfectly honest I might not be sharing them with Daddy again and will instead buy him his own Olive pot and have the other pots with my friends on one of our non Coffee, Coffee mornings.

I was sent a voucher to pay for the Pots.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

What We Are Eating This Week W/C 29 August

Yes, this is a day late. Yes, I am including the food we ate yesterday. No, I don't care.

The thing is, the last few days we've been out and about doing our favourite family thing, being together and enjoying the Countryside and well everything else got pushed to one side. This means that I didn't make a shopping list, we ran out of milk and even worse WE'VE RUN OUT OF CHOCOLATE!

Saturday - Takeaway


We were back late from our family day out and so I decided that we should have a take away, the only issue was what should we have?

Kebab was out because I always feel like I have a hangover after eating one, the usual Fast Food places like Burger King and McDonalds were just not tempting enough, Pizza is just too much carbs before bed and I really wasn't hankering after a Chinese.

In the end Daddy, Top Ender and I shared a couple of Curries whilst BB had a McDonald's (he isn't that keen on the Curries still). It was one of the nicest meals we've had in ages!

Sunday - Roast


We have Sausages, a Chicken joint and even some chops available to us. I'm not sure what we'll end up having but we'll have one of them and if Daddy can be persuaded to make some Yorkshire Puddings the Children won't care what we have vegetable wise.

Monday - BBQ or Junk Food


We have a tradition at the Church I go to, well the Ward I belong to. Every August bank holiday we get together and have a Picnic type thing. This year we're having a BBQ and yes, I know it is going to be raining but we have an indoor space that we have access too, there is a Bouncy Castle arranged, everyone will bring a dish or two and we'll have BBQ food and it'll just be time together with friends and people we worship with whom we love and appreciate.

BBQ Chicken on a Plate

And if it really is pouring with rain then as a family we might be tempted to just close the curtains, lock the doors and survive on junk food until it's time to go to bed!

Tuesday - Fish Pie


The Fish Pie with the Cauliflower Mash Top went down quite well last week, so much so that I've decided to do it again. Just remember, don't tell the Children that it has a Cauliflower top because they don't know and if they did I don't think they would allow me to get away with half the vegetables I stuff them with!

Wednesday - Sausage Pie


Today is our "last" meal before Top Ender starts Senior School, BB isn't back to School until Friday, but we figure we can still celebrate this last day of freedom together. I did ask the Children what their favourite meal was, but it was too high in carbs for so late at night (Lasagne) and so I took it upon myself to decide that we would have Sausage Pie.

Yes, it does have a bit of high carbs with regards to the Puff Pastry Pie Topping but the Children love this pie and so do I. Especially when it is accompanied with Carrots and Green Beans!

Sausage Pie with Carrots and Green Beans


Thursday - Chicken Kebabs


BB has plans for Daddy and I today (Daddy has today off so he can see Top Ender off on her first day of School) and I figure that we'll be able to have Chicken Kebabs. I'm planning on thread Chicken cubes with tomatoes, slices of peppers and maybe even pineapple as I know my childrens love for the stuff! I'll probably add Mushrooms instead of Pineapple on mine.

This will be served with a side salad, which Top Ender can just pick at!

Friday - Breakfast


I figure a good old Full English Breakfast, of Sausages, Bacon, Eggs, Hash Browns, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, possibly some Baked Beans along with hopefully some Black Pudding and of course all our other favourite Breakfast foods will have us all having a great start to a good weekend!


So that's what we're eating this week, how about you?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Strand Bands Designer Set #Review

Last night whilst browsing Facebook, I saw an image someone had shared that said something along the lines of "I didn't think my daughter had any of my traits, then she fell over her own feet and I was like Oh! There I am!". Luckily I no longer trip up over my own feet and even more lucky, Top Ender doesn't seem to have inherited that particular trait from me but she has inherited a love of crafting and not actually being that good at it... So when we were asked to review Strand Bands I said yes! Forgetting that we'd be rubbish at it and just thinking that maybe, just maybe we'd finally find a craft we could do.

Strand Bands Designer Set #Review

The idea of the set is to make bracelets, anklets, keychains or even rings using elastic-y bands in fun fashion colours. It is of course going to be huge this Christmas and with an age range of eight plus it's not just the Teen market that is going to be clamouring for it.

The first thing Top Ender and I did was to unwind one of the bands, she had picked a turquoise type colour (it's her favourite colour at the moment, just like mine was when I was her age) and to try to work out what the instructions were saying. Yup, yet again I couldn't understand the instructions.

Instructions for Strand Bands Designer Set

The main problem was, when you unwind the band you are after you end up with a very long band. Are you supposed to cut this? The packaging says that you can make up to 15 bracelets, with five colours that means each band needs to be cut into three... but it doesn't say anything about cutting the bands or making them wrist sized or anything. So, we took to youtube and eventually found a couple of tutorials that we decided to copy. They seemed to have had smaller bands, so we risked it and cut the long band into thirds and then ended up cutting one of the thirds in half. I have no idea if this is right, but this is what we did.

Tops then followed the instructions on how to make a bracelet using a sort of under through over knot type thing. It was confusing, but I think that's just because Tops only has two hands and not four and I think that's how many you really need!

Strand Bands Designer Set in Action

Eventually Tops got into a rhythm and even added some bead embellishments. She was concentrating so hard that I almost forgot to take a picture, but we staged one as she didn't want you to see her biting her lip and looking pensive!

Top Ender using the Strand Bands Designer Set

So, Top Ender finished her bracelet and because we hadn't followed the instructions on the piece of paper we basically bodged a knot for it on the underside of Top Enders wrist. Don't ask to see it, it looks terrible and Top Ender is under strict instructions not to show anyone because it looks so bad.

Top Ender wearing her bracelet

I had a go afterwards, I still didn't understand the whole thing, but I did find it much easier to do than Top Ender had and quickly made a simple bracelet, but again I've had to bodge the slip knot part of it as again I didn't follow the instructions!

The set we had, Strands Bands Designer Set, has a RRP of £19.99 and despite Top Ender and I being utterly rubbish at it is actually pretty fun.

We were sent the set to review. Tops and I were rubbish at it, but there are some great tutorials on youtube to make some really pretty things and I'm sure once we can hire an eight year old to teach us what to do we'll be great at it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Maybe The Only Reason I Want A Fire Pit - Wordless Wednesday #Linky

A Toasty Marshmallow

When we went Camping, one of the best things was having a Fire Pit. It may be the only reason I want one, but don't let my Husband know that. As far as he's concerned it's because we'll be able to use it to keep warm on Cooler evenings.


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Visit To Monkey World #Review

When we camping in Dorset, we decided to go to Monkey World. I'd heard of Monkey World a few times in the past, thanks to the TV shows that have featured the Primate residents and the Staff and I thought we'd spend a couple of hours in the sanctuary, before heading back to Camp and then off to the Beach. Actually, I was a little worried before arriving at the sanctuary that we'd even be able to spend an hour there, we ended up spending just over five!

Top Ender and Big Boy at Monkey World

Upon arriving at the site, we were directed to park the car with all the other early morning visitors. The parking was good, it was dry so we didn't have to worry that it was a grass field rather than a tarmac surface, which I normally hate driving on. One warning, there were no markers telling you where you were parked, so some people had issues when they were leaving the park as they couldn't remember where they had left their car. Just try to remember the general direction you went towards the entrance gate and head back in that direction!

Prices at Monkey World

We were soon in the park after having purchased a single Parent Family Ticket (one Parent, two Children) although look out for offers, for example this Bank Holiday weekend a child taking a Banana for the Primates gets free entry. The price of the ticket for the three of us was £26 and I also got a guide book for £1, the guide book was really great full of lots of interesting articles and the Children enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

As we entered the park, I decided that we should try to head to the back of the park, where a large play park for over eights is situated as quickly as possible. This was strategic, I'm the sort of person who walks an Amusement Park backwards or turns left instead of right and also I thought that if the Children got to do something they wanted they might be more open to the walking I knew they were going to be doing for the rest of the day.

Big Boy showing his Creeper to a Golden Cheeked Gibbon

On the way to the Park, we went past several of the habitats for the Primates and by several I mean almost all of them. We then played at the park, before heading back to the start... and it was at this point we realised how busy the Sanctuary had become. The park was so busy, one person claimed to have been queuing for ice-creams and teas for an hour and a half. I have to be honest, the Ice-Cream was good, so I might have queued the same amount of time too. Talking of queues, we popped into the Gift shop, the tills weren't that busy but the shop was HEAVING. Luckily the children are small and able to squeeze in and out of small gaps and Top Ender and Big Boy both soon picked a cuddly toy. The prices did seem really high on several items, but there were a few bits here and there that were acceptable to my budget.

The time we spent at Monkey World was brilliant fun. We learnt a lot about different Primates, we had a good giggle and got to eat some really, really, really good ice-cream!

Would I recommend you go? Actually, yes. Make sure you have some Ice-Cream, try to get there for opening and I'd take a picnic rather than buying from the restaurants on site (everything looked fried and again I thought it was a little expensive for what it was). Remember you can get your hand stamped in the gift shop to return back to the park if you need to pick up your picnic from the car.

I didn't receive a free ticket, I wasn't asked to provide this review and err that's about it!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

What We Are Eating This Week - W/C 22 August

Hello Everyone! It feels like I've been away for so long, which is so stupid because as you all know I was only away from home for one whole day really but I think so much happened in the three days that we were away (like you know driving and exploring and putting up and taking down a tent) that it just seemed like we were away for longer!

So, here's this weeks meal plan!

Saturday - Nachos and Popcorn


Big Boy and I were chatting this week about what we'd like as our Saturday meal. BB decided that what he really wanted was Nachos! So, that's what we're having tonight. The popcorn was because we were planning on watching a film, but BB has said that he no longer wants to! I shall have to find a way to persuade him to join us.

Sunday - Chicken Roast


I can't wait for our Roast this week, as I'm going to get a Chicken and ensure that Daddy has the right ingredients for his Gluten Free stuffing, as we haven't had it for AGES. Might even get some Chipolatas and Bacon as an additional extra too, especially as BB isn't that keen on Chicken!

Chicken Roast

Monday - Frittata


The other night, BB had the highest blood sugars overnight. It was ridiculous, we just couldn't get his sugars down and so we've decided to go a few evening meals with low or next to no carbs. Our higher carb meals will be either breakfast or lunch, as that way BB has a good few hours to get those complex carbs broken down and used up.

At least that's the plan.

Tuesday  - Vegetable Spaghetti and Bolognese


I'm not sure if I'll do Carrot Spaghetti or Courgette Spaghetti, but either way it'll be fun trying to get the Children to eat it! I think that I'll tell them that it is coloured Spaghetti and see if that works and failing that I think that if I just tell them that if they don't eat it that I'll ban them from playing on the consoles until the end of the Summer!

Wednesday  - Ikea


We're off out with my Mum today, well saying that it might be yesterday and so today we'll have what we were supposed to have yesterday... Are you confused yet? I am too, but that means nothing really.

Thursday - Gammon Steaks


Whilst we were away Daddy had Gammon Steaks for his evening meal one night, he sent me a picture and well, I was jealous to put it bluntly. So we have it this week, so that we can all share in the meal and hopefully I won't be jealous any more!

Friday - Fish Pie with Cauliflower Cheese Topping


I was always told that if you wanted to have a meal that looked good it should have a variety of colour, which is why my original idea of Cauliflower Cheese with Chicken breasts was scratched off the menu and I've added Salmon and some other Fish as the protein and and a Cauliflower cheese as the topping and I'll probably serve it with some peas too.



So that is what we are eating, what are you planning on eating this coming week?

Big Days: Small Feet – Big Steps Whilst Camping!

Whilst we were away, I figured it was the perfect time for the Children to try out their new Gore-Tex shoes. We've been asked to be an Ambassador family, and the Children are really excited about it and the idea of going on lots of trips together so they can give their shoes a good work out! We figured on day two of Camping holiday, that as we were going to be on our feet for a fair few hours that some comfy shoes were going to be important, the last thing you want when on holiday is sore feet!

Big Boy and Top Ender love their Goretex Shoes

The lace up shoes Top Ender had been sent reminded me of Bowling Shoes and they weren't the pair I'd pick if I'm honest, but Top Ender loved them. She thought that they were retro looking, she also loved that they were light and sturdy whilst she was walking over uneven ground, or rather climbing over trees in the Woods. Big Boy's shoes were super cute and exactly what I would pick for him. He loved that they were so easy to slip on and off, that they were again super light and sturdy for the same tree climbing as Top Ender and BB also loved the shoe box with it's printed measurer inside!

So we headed off to Monkey World, the Children were troopers, especially as my fitbit registered that we'd taken 10,000 steps before Noon and the Children didn't complain once about either the heat or the amount of walking that we'd been doing. 

Big Boy and Top Ender love their Shoes!

After we'd been to Monkey World, we headed off to the beach at Swanage, but the Children soon kicked off their shoes in favour of bare feet on the sand. Of course this gave me more than enough time to take photographs of the shoes without the Children's feet in them!

Gore-Tex Big Days Out Shoe Review

I really loved the shoes, despite having been worn whilst the Children had been clambering around in the woods that morning, all around Monkey World where the Children walked and played on various pieces of playground equipment, ran over that bark that some parks have, plenty of grassy areas and of course a short walk across a semi crowded beach, the shoes were still clean.

The children love the shoes, and we can't wait to put them through their paces again over the Summer... what would you like to see us do to test them out?

Big Days: Small Feet - Big Steps 2015 Logo

Friday, 21 August 2015

Camping With The Children - Day Two

The second day of Camping started with me slightly panicking after someone shone a torch in our tent. It was only a few minutes after I'd got into bed and the Children were both semi awake, which of course as soon as the torch shone into our Tent meant they were both wide awake. I told the Children a story and they went back to sleep, leaving me laying in the tent not feeling sleepy! I was just dozing off when suddenly there was a really weird noise outside the tent. It was like a Screech, the sort of noise you would hear if a Murderer wanted to freak you out before using his knife to tear before open the canvas of your tent and then skin you alive so he could wear you like a coat.

And I'd make a great coat.

Sleep eventually came to me, and despite hearing the noise several times more luckily the Murderer did not make an appearance.

Then, the Sun rose and I woke up thanks to my sleep mask having fallen off and me slowly realising that I was rather cold and by rather cold I mean actually I was FREEZING. I was tempted to get dressed in my sleeping bag, but in the end just froze getting dressed in the middle of the tent and then sat outside the Tent, watching the Sun rise over the trees.

The Sun Rising Above The Trees at our Camping Site

Then I had to wait for the Children to wake up.

They took ages.

Eventually they did and they got dressed in their sleeping bags before having breakfast and then heading off into the Woods again. When they got back, I'd sorted out the Tent, refilled our water bottles, made lunch, packed our Cooler and had even been for a quick walk around the camp site.

We headed off to Monkey World and got there for 10am, which is just when the attraction opened.

Top Ender and Big Boy at Monkey World

I paid for my Single Parent Family entrance (One parent, two children) and we headed off into the park. A word of advice, in the future if you visit the attraction get there for opening, it gets busy quickly but see my review next week for more details.

After visiting all the enclosures and spending some time at the Playground we realised we'd been there for three hours and so we had some lunch! It was at one of the enclosures, that we heard the strange Screeching murderer noise again. I'd been so stupid and had forgotten that our Camp Site practically backed on to the Monkey World site and it was one of the residents I'd heard several times throughout the night!

After a quick trip to the ice cream stand and gift shop, we left to go back to our tent to pick up our Beach toys and Swimming Costumes. We drove to Swanage, which Daddy assured me I'd been to before, found a parking space (which I parallel parked in!) and headed down to the Beach. It was a bit overcast and the beach had a few die hard British Families on it and the Children and I found a space, set ourselves up a camp before they ran off to the Sea for a paddle.

Top Ender and Big Boy at the Beach

The Children spent ages playing whilst I watched them and then Big Boy and I had a Sandcastle building competition, whilst Tops had a swim in the sea. Eventually Tops came back and helped BB build his Sandcastle and had a dig in the Sand herself.

Of course it wasn't long before other families started to drift away back to their holiday homes, hotels and probably even tents and the Children made the most of this by heading back into the Sea. I gave them an hour, imagining hat they'd be bored well before then, but they really loved the splashing and paddling and it was all I could do to get them dried and changed into warmer clothes than the shorts they were originally wearing  when it was getting rather late and most certainly time for our evening meal! After putting everything back into the car we headed off to find a Fish and Chip shop, which seeing as how we were in a Seaside resort we soon stumbled upon.

Fish and Chips at Swanage

We sat outside the Chip Shop looking out to sea with our Fish and Chips supper before catching up with Daddy and eventually heading back to our tent. Two very exhausted children, changed into pyjamas without being asked and BB declined a Marshmallow, so Top Ender and I sat watching the flames in the fire pit, before heading to bed ourselves.

There had been no arguments or bickering during the day, we'd had fun together and we were due to go home the next day and hopefully before it rained too... I have to say that maybe Camping isn't so bad after all.

Camping With The Children

The first day of our Camping Trip started with a mixture of nerves and excitement. The Children were excited and I was nervous. The Children couldn't understand why I was nervous, even when I explained that it was just because this was the first time I was doing something alone, well with them of course, but without Daddy. I mean I was a Child and then I was married, I moved from my Mother and Father helping me make choices to being a Wife and my Husband helping me make choices. I've never really been just me now I come to think of it.

After a prayer for a good journey  the Children and I set off on our adventure a few minutes later than we had planned, mainly because I was trying to hit my Swagbuck target for the day before we went, but that's another story. We made good time, chatting for the first hour of our journey, listening to and singing along to Top Ender's mix CD for the second hour, trying to work out which lane of traffic was moving faster for the third hour and of course a mixture of sighing, chanting about how much we needed a wee and trying to find our camp site for the fourth hour.

Setting off on our Camping Trip

And then we were there.

Now, as I have publicly said several times I am NOT a fan of camping, therefore I have no experience in finding a good camping spot. I had decided before hand that what I needed was a flat bit of ground, near an edge and most importantly nearish the toilets. So I picked an area of the site that I liked and as I had already paid, started pitching the tent.

An hour later the tent was up and we were eating lunch. 

Sitting In The Tent

A quick trip to a local Tesco because we couldn't get one of our Air Beds to inflate and then the Children were off into the Woods exploring and adventuring and having fun, just as I hoped that they would. I spent the time cooking a meal for the Children and I and eventually when they returned (just at the point that I was getting worried) we sat down together and ate.

A Camp Fire Meal of Spaghetti, Sausages and Jacket Potatoes

It was amazing. Never has Tinned Spaghetti, Jacket Potatoes and Sausages tasted so good.

We toasted a few Marshmallows and then the Children decided it was time to turn in. Top Ender spent her evening reading, BB played on his tablet and I sat watching the Children, reading, writing and just being amazed at how fabulous the Children were being.  Around 10pm all the other campers started putting out their fires and turning in for the night and I sat watching the fire, listening to the silence of the countryside and trying to see the stars.

Toasting Marshmallows over The Fire Pit

It was the perfect first day of our camping trip, with all the essentials of a romanticised camping trip. Toasted marshmallows over a camp fire, good books, star gazing, the Children running free and a whole lot of love.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Not Quite A Health Drink - What You Want To Read

A few days ago, I asked my friends on Facebook if they were to read a blog post written by me, what would they like it to be about? This is one of the posts, based on those suggestions.

Not Quite A Health Drink - What You Want To Read


The one drink that I love more than water, is Dr Pepper. I have been known to "accidentally" drink a whole bottle in a day before, but that's not really very healthy and so the less said about it the better right?

So.

Dr Pepper and me. We have lots of good memories!

Several of my friends also love Dr Pepper, and as you can tell from the preamble to this blog post, one of them wanted me to find a healthier alternative to Dr Pepper, that tasted just as good. Which is almost impossible.

Almost.

For me, I had to find something I enjoyed as much as Dr Pepper, but not something that tasted just like Dr Pepper because that's impossible.

I walked up and down the drinks aisle looking at various drinks. Looking to see what caught my eye and what flavours were available. Who knew that there were so many? I ended up picking up a few bottles of cordials and various different fruit juices as well as various mixers and a few other fizzy drinks just in case I needed them because my experiments didn't work. My sister also persuaded me to give various fruit teas a try, claiming that I'd like them if I only gave them a chance and so I spent a small fortune buying various varieties that again caught my eye and that I thought that I might enjoy.

I started with the teas. I tried a lot of different flavours and wouldn't you know my Sister was right. I do love my fruit teas, in fact I found out that there are some flavours that taste great both hot and cold! I must admit to occasionally adding some sweetener to sweeten some flavours up, but it's more a case of enhancing them... honestly!

With regards to my soft drinks I tried a lot of different mixes. Some worked, some didn't and some drinks have become the sort of things I would serve at parties, or put into a large drinks dispenser and drink on a nice warm day at a BBQ in the garden. I guess in the end I found several replacement drinks for Dr Pepper, none that match Dr P to be fair, but several that are enough to keep me away from the Dr P!

So, what are they?

I found a really lovely Cherry Cordial which when mixed with Soda Water and Mint, has become my drink of choice and my number one replacement for Dr Pepper, but it can be expensive so I try to ration it out with other drinks.

Flavoured water is a big hit with everyone in our house, Lemon Slices, Lime Slices, Cucumber Slices, Sprigs of Mint, quartered Oranges and handfuls of Raspberries and Strawberries and even honeydew melon or one of my very favourites Rosemary Lemon water, especially as the Rosemary is picked fresh from my garden! I'll add some recipes soon because I hope you'll like them as much as I do.

I love to drink Fruit Juices mixed with Soda Water or Tonic Water and occasionally with Lemonade... Which actually leads me to the main reason for writing this blog post now.

The past week, BB and I have been having a bit of a Watermelon thing. We've made ice lollies, fruit salad, fruit lollies, fruit shavings and even a Watermelon Cooler, our favourite drink of the moment!

Watermelon Cooler in a Watermelon

BB and I cut the top of the Watermelon off, we used a hand blender to mush up the inside of the watermelon and then I poured it into a jug so we could make sure it was really smooth and blended. I'm not going to say anything about the mess we made, but let's just say I had to clean up the ceiling!

We added some lemonade to the Watermelon mixture and poured it back into the Watermelon. It was amazing and even Top Ender who doesn't like fizzy drinks enjoyed a glass.

And so in summary I guess what I'm saying is I don't think I'll ever find a drink that will replace Dr Pepper in my heart, but until I do find a replacement, I'm having plenty of fun trying out all the new drinks!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

What We Are Eating (W/C 15 Aug)

This coming week is a good week, well at least I think it will be. The Children and I have decided to go camping, which is good right? Even though I hate camping...

Fried breakfast - Not on the meal plan but still yummy!

The point is, we are looking forward to some family time and after hours of research I've even come up with a few meal ideas for us to have whilst we are away and when we are back home too.

Saturday - BBQ Chicken


We love our BBQ Chicken Breasts, but we haven't had them for ages so we'll marinade some breasts and grill them before serving in bread rolls with a side salad and even some fries as the Children and Daddy do love fries!

Sunday - Lamb Chops and Roast Potatoes


Last Sunday, we had Lamb Chops for our evening meal and it was amazing. Daddy hadn't had lamb for a while and so he really enjoyed the change. I decided that we should have them again this week, because I had picked up double the amount I needed last week and well who can say no to Lamb Chops?!

Apart from a vegetarian or vegan that is.

Monday - Sausages and Jacket Potatoes


I was trying to think of something that was easy to cook on a gas fire/BBQ and decided that Jacket Potatoes and Sausages was the best idea. I'm going to wrap Jacket Potatoes in tin foil and nest in the coals to cook, whilst I use the gas fire to cook the sausages.

Once we're done, we'll use the coals to heat up Giant Marshmallows and make them squishy before smooshing between digestive biscuits and pieces of chocolate for lovely yummy S'mores.

Tuesday - Fish and Chips


There is a rule that if you are near the seaside, you have to have Fish and Chips. You have to eat it from the paper, whilst looking out to sea and you have to eat it with your fingers which will get all greasy and you have permission to wipe it your hands on your trousers.

Now we just need to find a local Fish and Chip Shop.

Wednesday - Mac and Cheese


We're back home today, well at some point anyway! I figure I'm going to want an easy meal to cook so we're going to have home made Mac and Cheese. It only takes ten minutes to make from scratch and there is something so calming about making a cheese sauce.

Melt butter, stir in flour, gently drizzle milk so that the buttery flour mixture slowly increases in size and becomes smooth and glossy. Add the grated cheese and stir and stir and stir and stir until the sauce is ready and the pasta is ready to mix in and then it's ready and creamy and cheesy and perfect for eating bowlfuls of along with hunks of French Stick or Tiger Bread!

Thursday - Ponyo Noodles


The Children love Ponyo Noodles and I love making them as we get to watch the film too. If you don't know the noodle dish, it's Noodles with Ham, Boiled Egg and Spring Onion. The noodles that I make are cooked in a broth to give them a little flavour and they sit in a dish, with a plate covering them. A little magic goes on, whilst the Children close their eyes for a few minutes and then I whip away the plate to the dishes to gasps of delight, just like in the film!

Friday - Honey Mustard Chicken


One of my favourite meals is Honey Mustard Chicken. I discovered Honey Mustard sauce when in Boston when I was about 17 and since then will eat it on anything. Normally Salads, but Chicken is a firm favourite too!

I thought having Honey Mustard Chicken would be a good family meal for the end of the week. I'm not sure what to serve it with Mashed Potato or Roast Potatoes.



So that's what we're having, what are you planning on eating?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Chocolate and Caramel Oreo Cake

I have received product from Oreo for this post. It is an entry to the Foodies100 Wonderfilled recipe challenge sponsored by Oreo, which marks the launch of two exciting new flavours: Peanut Butter and Golden. The delicious new flavours are available in all major supermarkets at an RRP of £1.08. To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/oreo

Have you ever agreed to do something thinking,

"ahh that'll be easy!"

only then to work out that actually it isn't that easy?

Well, my Oreo Wonderfilled recipe fits into that thinking.

Peanut Butter and golden Oreo's

When I was asked if I could come up with a recipe using one of the new flavours I was positive I could come up with something funky and exciting and then when it came to actually thinking of something I found out that it wasn't that easy.

So I decided to make a cake with bashed up Oreo's in it.

Chocolate and Caramel Oreo Cake

It looks okay right? Yeah, well it tasted horrid! Okay, so it didn't really, but it wasn't anything that was totally spectacular, like I was hoping for. Big Boy was particularly taken with the cream inside the cake and loved the little flecks of Oreo's. As he did with the flecks of Peanut Butter Oreo's in the chocolate sponge.

Whilst I was at it, I also made some little cupcakes, with Oreo's hidden inside of them. They look funky right?

A cooling cupcakeAn Oreo filled cupcakeCan you see the Oreo in the Cupcake?

I thought they were a little dry and so added some cream (flavoured with Caramel and Golden Oreo's) on top. That was nice, but again I need to tinker some more!

Harrumph.

So here is the recipe for the large cake.

Ingredients


4oz Self Raising Flour
4oz Sugar
4oz Butter
2 Eggs
2oz Cocoa Powder
4oz Peanut Butter Oreo's

Method


Cream together the Butter and Sugar, gently sift in the Flour and Cocoa Powder and mix in the two beaten eggs. If the mixture seems a little dry, I find a tablespoon of HOT water works well in Chocolate Sponge, it makes everything seem a little more decadent,

Beat the Oreo's until they are broken and then fold them into the cake mixture.

Chocolate Cake Mixture with Oreo's about to be folded in

Grease and line two cake pans, divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and bake in an oven for 15-20 minutes at gas mark 4.

You can either insert a skewer into the cake, or when you touch the top if it bounces back they are ready.

Sponge Cake Nice and soft and very bouncy

Turn them out and leave to cool.

Whilst they are cooling you can make the cream filling.

Ingredients


300ml Whipped Cream
1/2 can Carnation Caramel
Golden Oreo's

Method


Stir a tablespoon or two of the Caramel into the Whipped Cream.

Whip the cream. It will take some time because of the Caramel, but it does happen! You might want to fold in more Caramel after the Cream is whipped depending on the depth of taste you are after and I would fold in the broken Golden Oreo's at this point too. You have to do this carefully because this can cause the cream to collapse on itself and not be in peaks any more, but if I can manage it trust me you can too.

Pile the Cream into the middle of a cake, then sandwich together.

Melt some chocolate (I use the Chocolate setting on my Microwave, but you can use the double bowl method) and use it to coat the top of the Cake with a Chocolate disc. Let the Cake set, I find the fridge best, before cutting.

It might be sensible to cut the entire cake into slices without removing any slices because the cream can "bulge" out and so you need to be careful as the cream is lovely!


So that's my cake. What do you think?

You've Got This

One of my friends will often comment on my Facebook posts about what a great Mum I am.

The first few times that she put something like that as a comment, I would often wonder what it was that she saw in me that I didn't see in myself. What did she see in the snapshots of life that I posted online that made me seem a great Mum.

Big Boy and Top Ender

That's right seem.

I'm under no illusion, I'm not always a great Mum.

There is a lot of talk about Facebook just being snapshots in time, with only the best moments being shown and I honestly try not to be like that. I want people to know that I'm "normal", that I lose my temper and I forget to make an evening meal and I stay up way too late pinning or playing games on Facebook...

Anyway, like I was saying I'm not always a great Mum.

This particular friend is older, she has children around my age and she is the very definition of a great Mum. If there was anyone that deserves comments on her Facebook posts saying what a great mum she is, it's her.

Every time she posts on my Facebook however, it's like a little mini pep-talk for me. It's like she's saying to me;

You've Got This.

And maybe that's what she means to do.

Maybe she remembers back to when her children were small and when she questioned her own parenting skills someone she loved and respected and admired told her that she was doing a great job. And suddenly I realised.

We all question what we are doing.
We all wonder if we are making unforgivable mistakes.
We all wonder if we are the kind of parent our children deserve.

We've all got this.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sticky Popcorn - Wordless Wednesday #Linky

When Big Boy and I had a treat last week, we decided to have Sticky Popcorn. Okay, so I decided to have Sticky Popcorn and Big Boy decided that I had picked a winning treat!

Sticky Popcorn

To make this popcorn, all I did was pop some corn and then whilst the pan was warm, I threw in some Marshmallows (I added more than a handful but less than two) and gently heated the two ingredients, gently stirring them together until they combined.

Simple right?

What's your favourite way to top Popcorn?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The First Week Of August

Wow, August is flying by! This past week I had Big Boy all to myself as Top Ender and Daddy were off camping, they had a fab week, find out what they were up to on Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four and as a special bonus find out what Daddy and Big Boy got up to on Day Five!

The First Week Of August


The weekend was brilliant, when very early Saturday morning Daddy, Top Ender, Big Boy and I headed up to Campbell Park to watch the Sunrise before spending the day getting ready for Top Ender and Daddy's camping trip, going shopping, not falling asleep and ending the day watching the sunset at Dunstable Downs!

Sunrise in Campbell Park, Milton Keynes

It was brilliant and even Daddy who wasn't originally going to join us for the Sunrise, seeing as how it was so early, enjoyed it and I think that he might be a convert to watching the sunrise! Of course Daddy already loves watching the Sunset, even if he doesn't want to join us in a mug of Hot Chocolate!

Hot Chocolate at Sunset

On Sunday, we went to Church (well it is Sunday!) and as it's the Summer Holidays, just looked as half our Ward was away! We were so small that we ended up combining our lower and upper Primary for Sharing Time and Singing Time. I was doing Sharing Time and talking about Miracles and used an attention activity of getting the children to fish!

It was a blast, and even several adults wanted to have a go at the fishing because it was just so fun.

It was so fun that the next day when Tops and Daddy had disappeared off camping for the week and Big Boy and I were looking after his Cousin we decided to play the game. BB's Cousin (she's 3) adored it as much as everyone had the day before.

Go Fish!

Tuesday, Big Boy decided that we were going to stay in our PJ's all day and not do much at all. I did almost have to fight a burglar, but I've already covered that story!

Wednesday, BB and I decided to sort out his bedroom. Well, not really I kinda told him that we had to! The good thing was that BB tried on all the clothes I asked him to, got rid of things that he decided he didn't need (or want any more) and voluntarily reduced some of his toys too! As a reward and also because we had planned it, BB and I headed up to the City Centre so that we could spend some time at the beach.

Big Boy at the Beach

We had an amazing time and it was honestly our best day.

Thursday had BB and I having some more fun, but I had to do a little bit of cleaning up to do... well lets just say that BB and I lived like SLOBS for the week and we didn't want Daddy and Top Ender to know! Luckily we got done really early as Daddy and Top Ender got home early!

Friday, after a visit to the dentist (I need a wisdom tooth out and it's going to be £80. Yay! Not.) Big Boy and Daddy headed off for their day out whilst Top Ender and I tackled her bedroom... We had a blast even managing to get Top Ender to agree to get rid of some of her clothes that no longer fit! My two just hate getting rid of their favourite clothing!

We managed to fit in some fun during the day and even walked into Town to buy a few things for Top Ender going up to Secondary School. We weren't intending to, but you know we saw the things and thought we'd kill two birds with one stone!

The week was a brilliant week and now that Top Ender is finally back with us and apart from Daddy we're all together we can actually get a start on this Family Summer Holiday!

So this was our week. What happened in your week?