A Mothers Ramblings: October 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011

Spooky Fishcakes - Fish is the Dish!

The other week I went off up to Scotland to meet up with some Bloggers (Mum in the Mad House, Transatlantic Blonde, Frugal FamilyOff the Eaten Track, Mediocre Mum and Susan K Mann) and the good people who are part of Seafish. It was a great time and I learnt a lot about the fish industry, the history of fishing in the UK, a lot about fish packaging for supermarkets (which was actually very interesting), I ate more fish in two days than I think I had done in the entire month previously and I also found out that there is a small chance that Transatlantic Blonde's in laws and my Mum know each other after growing up in the same Scottish village. To give you some idea of the fun we had, take a look at this little video because I think it rocks and also I think that the tune should be my new theme tune that you all hum when you see me...

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/UMuDL322IB0)

So why did I go to meet these Bloggers and Seafish? Well, it was the start of the new campaign to get everyone eating more fish, it is a brain food after all. They aren't trying to push one type of fish or even a brand but just trying to get people to see that fish is easy to cook and after our day in the kitchen making Pate, Soup and baked fish I have to say I agree with them! Even filleting a fish is easy, we were shown how to do it (and I kind of rocked at this by winning the little contest between us all) and when I got home I showed Top Ender and Big Boy how to do it too. That's right my seven year old and three year old can fillet fish.

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/5afmfj2g2mk)

Last Friday Seafish sent me some Haddock Fillets to make some fishcakes with and the additional challenge that they had to be spooky. It was with thanks to my Mum that I came up with the idea of making them Ghost shaped,

Spooky Ghost Fish Cakes

 but that didn't really work and so I gave them to Top Ender in her lunch today as spooky eye balls, with a little bit of food colouring making the pupils!

Bento Halloween Lunch

The fish cakes were delicious and the recipe that I worked from is found on Mummy's Knee I just used five haddock fillets and 5 spring onions instead of the Salmon the recipe originally called for. I guessed at how much potato to use, and Daddy was pleased as the fish cakes weren't overly fishy but had more than enough fish in them to count as a portion. They were a little time consuming to make, but they were worth the effort and I have frozen some of the excess so that it will take less time the next time we have the fish cakes. And if you want to watch me make the fish cakes you can...

You can also find lots of recipes on the Fish is the Dish website, but right now I have to go and eat my leftover fish cakes for lunch too.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sainsbury's Puff Pastry Review

We were sent a Sainsbury's giftcard to buy Puff Pastry and Sausages with. I had enough change to buy some Vampire teeth.

One of the things I love about Sainsbury's is how they have helped families see that they can feed their families nice and healthy food on a relatively small budget, the Live Well For Less name is an accurate description of what they are doing! The latest 5 Evening Meals for £20 has just been revealed too and there are a few meals there that I will add to the A Mothers Ramblings menu in the next few weeks. Some of our old favourites still haven't made it on to the Sainsbury's meal plans though, which is a shame because some of the by Sainsbury's products are absolutely perfect for them and so when we were asked if we would like to try out some of the range we thought we could try to persuade Sainsbury's to add Sausage Pie to a future meal plan by making that with two of the products.

I have talked about how easy it is to make Sausage Pie before, you just brown some sausages in this case the Cumberland Sausages from the by Sainsbury's range, before placing them in an oven proof dish and covering with gravy. I like Cumberland Sausages, although sometimes Tops and BB find them too spicy with the black pepper seasoning but these were nice, they weren't too heavily seasoned and smelt lovely as they were browning. They are £1.99 a pack (and until November 1st part of a buy 2 for £3 range) and went great with the rolled puff pastry.

The puff pastry was good, it unrolled easily and I was able to add it to my dish and use the excess to create some roses around the top of the pie which is one of my favourite additions! The puff pastry costs £1.25 and there was enough for my pie, decorations and some of the Halloween Sausage rolls that I made for Top Ender's lunch the other week which I think is a lot of pastry for one pack. 

I didn't have time to take a picture of the Sausage pie that I made, because as soon as it was out the oven Top Ender and Big Boy were singing a "We Want Dinner" chant very loudly and I thought it best to feed them before the neighbours came round to see me taking pictures of their dinner (the children's dinner not my neighbours) rather than feeding them!

They say you eat with your eyes and I think that this is true because the pie looked tasty when I took it out of the oven. It was all golden and crisp looking and there weren't any leftovers for us to eat the next day at lunch as they were all eaten that evening. If you haven't ever made a Sausage Pie then pop out and buy the ingredients this week I promise you will love it and then together we can tell Sainsbury's to add it to their meal plans!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Amy's Kitchen Frozen Foods Review

We were sent some vouchers to buy some of the Amy's Kitchen Range.

Since finding out that Daddy is coeliac there have been a few meals which he has missed because they can't be made without wheat (or at least I can't make them and you can't buy wheat free versions) and so he has had to put up with seeing adverts or new products that he would really like to try but he knows he can't eat. Then the lovely team at Amy's Kitchen approached me to let me know that they have wheat and gluten free products and sent me some vouchers to buy some of the range.

Daddy went to Sainsburys (they are also stocked in Asda and Waitrose, but Sainsburys was closest!) and brought the Vegetable Lasagne, the Mac and Cheese and two Burritos as they were all gluten free. The products are found in the frozen foods aisle, but have a home cooked taste about them. It was the home cooked taste that the founders of the company were looking for when they created the products when their own daughter was small and they were short on time.

Amy's Kitchen Gluten Free Burrito

The meals were eaten over the next week as Daddy had a few late nights at work and getting home he wanted something quick and tasty. I managed to sneak a mouthful here and there and despite being designed for children they are very flavoursome and a good size too. The products are great to keep in the freezer for nights when we are running late or when Daddy decides that he wants a late night snack.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Splasha Towelling Wraps

We were sent two Splasha Towelling wraps to review.

When we were at the Lego Duplo event the other week we went swimming with Jen and Maxi and Mini. It was great fun and both Big Boy and Top Ender were exhausted after having swam and splashed around for so long. When we got out the pool Daddy and I wrapped them up in new Splasha Towelling Wraps that we had been sent by Morrck and went back to our hotel room with two very cuddly children!
Top Ender and Big Boy wearing Splasha Towelling Wraps

The Splasha Towelling Wraps are really soft and very absorbent but as they are more like dressing gowns they are really easy to wear. There are two patterns for the towels and Top Enders favourite was the spotty pattern in shades of pink and Big Boy loved the stripey shades of blue which was lucky really seeing as how the sizes we were sent gave them each their favourite option! The handy pocket at the front is perfect for putting hair bands and combs in and they were perfect for holding googles in on our way back from the swimming pool to the Hotel room.

I have found that they wash and dry really well, although I had to check if they could be tumble dried after having found them in the tumble dryer when Daddy transferred the washing from the machine to the Tumble Dryer without checking what he was moving! My Mum even said (after putting them away when she was babysitting for us) that they were still really soft after a few washes and that she wished they made them in her size!

I really think that the towels are great and Top Ender and Big Boy love them and ask if they can have them when they get out of the bath, when we go swimming and we shall take them with us when we go to Nanny B's! The Splasha towelling wraps are £19.95 each and are available from the Morrck website.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The A to Z of me Meme.

I was in the toilet earlier today (stick with me, it gets less disgusting in a minute) when I thought it had been a while since I had been tagged in a meme. Obviously my toilet is magic because a few hours later and the lovely Susan tags me in a meme. So here is the A to X of me! Just in case you didn't already know enough about me...

ANORAK…Do you have a sad side? Yes, of course I do. I like to make lists and I have to eat peas in multiples of two and... actually better not tell you about that particular habit.

BODY…What physical attribute would you most like to change? My weight. I'm working on it, but wish it was easier.

CELEBRITY…Which one would you most like to date and why? David Tennant and Alan Rickman. I can't choose and you can't make me.

DEBUT …Tell us about your first ever blog post. What made you start blogging?
The first ever ever ever? Okay I'm not telling you where it is though. It was about my life when I was in my late teens. I am pretty sure it went something along the lines of;
"Saw a cute guy at work today. Wondered if he would need my help. He didn't."
I started blogging again properly when Tops misunderstood me when I said Goodnight Sweetie Pie" and thought I was going to eat a pie of sweets.

ERROR …What’s been your biggest regret? Sorry, can't tell you my biggest regret! My next biggest though was not keeping up with my studies.

FUNNY – who’s making you laugh? Right now? Big Boy is pretending to be Curious George. I'm listening to Dave Gorman's new audio book at night which makes me laugh and of course I love listening to Bleak Expectations, the Radio 4 Comedy series.

GRAND…If we gave you one right now what would you spend it on? An ipad each for Big Boy, Top Ender and me.

HOLIDAY… What’s your favourite destination? I loved Italy. Would have to go back there I think.

A Mothers Ramblings in Italy
That's us in Italy that is!

IRRITATE… What’s your most annoying habit? My most annoying habit? I don't have annoying habits. 
Well apart from being perfect of course...JOKER…Whats your favourite joke {the one that makes you laugh everytime you hear it}?I don't think I have one! Yup thinking on it, I can't think of one.

KENNEL… Do you have any pets?  Three Cats (Moses, Tabbitha, Willow), two invisible dogs (Cassie and Ezra), an invisible Gorilla (Fred) and several hundred invisible monkeys

LOVE…Are you single, married, engaged, living with a long term partner? Married!

MEAL… Whats your ultimate starter, main and dessert?
Oh erm. I don't know! Maybe Baked Brie with Rare Steak with vegetables and garlic potatoes and for pudding proper chocolate cake

NOW…If you could be anywhere right now where would you be and who with? In my Mansion throwing a party for a few hundred closest friends and family members.

OFF DUTY…What do you do in your spare time? Spare time? Remind me what that is again? Oh right. In that case play on Facebook, watch Movies and read books!

PROUD MOMENTS …What are you most proud of? I was in Joseph in the West End when I was 13, I still grin about that.

QUEASY …What turns your stomach? You know Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons? I can't watch it as they make me feel sick. The violence just makes me feel sick even though it is a cartoon.

RELAX…How do you relax? By playing on Facebook, watching movies and reading books!

Reading books, eating chocolate
You read and eat chocolate to relax too right?
SONG…Whats your favourite song of all time? I don't have one favourite song, I have lots. Dean Friedman and Joshua Kadison are two of my favourite singers though.

TIME …If you could go back in time and relive it again, when would you choose? Jeepers there are a lot of times that I would like to relive but I think that I would be too tempted to change them and then I wouldn't be me!

UNKNOWN…Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows? I failed A Level History. Like ungraded failed.

VOCAL…. Who is your favourite artist? Oh that's Dean Friedman and Joshua Kadison!

WORK….. What is your dream job, and are you doing it now? Erm, I think being a presenter on TV or Radio. Not quite yet no...

XRAY…Any broken bones? Nope, once crushed the bones in my arm with a roller skate so got to wear a plaster cast but never broken any.

YIKES…What’s been your most embarrassing moment?  I fell over in the snow next to a row of cars waiting at a set of traffic lights. They all saw me struggle to stay upright and then struggle to get up out of the snow.

ZOO…. If you were an animal, which one would you be? I think I would have to be a Cat because they are smart, clean and can jump really high!

So now I am tagging Vic and Emma because I haven't seen enough of them recently, and Kathryn because she gives great advice and Kat because she cracks me up.

Faces - The Gallery

I was glad that we had extra time for The Gallery this week. I really wanted to take part because I loved the theme (and I rather like the idea of the Kodak Pulse but that is another story) and I wanted to find the right photograph or take the right photograph that would show just what I see when I look at the faces of those around me.

Take my Grans face for example.
Nanny Maw

That face and smile says so much to me. Her skin was always so smooth and soft, I mean really soft. You know your favourite soft blanket or jumper? Softer than that. I think she must have bathed in milk or something to get her skin so soft. She didn't have wrinkles or spots or dry patches just a great complexion, which I like to think I have inherited. Her eyes always had a twinkle that showed her true spirit, she loved a joke and even when she was pretending to be disgusted with a rude joke we had told her, you could see her eyes laughing along with you. She was a wise woman that even now I imagine myself talking to to get the answers to what ever problem I am facing. Just looking at this photograph I can hear her laugh. Oh my goodness you would never forget it if you had seen her laugh, her whole face would turn into the broadest smile as she would laugh with delight. She could laugh for ages and it was the sort of laugh that would just make everyone join in with her even if they didn't know what was funny to start with. If you looked close you could see her face told the story of her life. A hard life, but a life full of love and laughter.

Then there is my Nan.

Nanny B

This is another face that I keep in my memory to recall when I can because I don't get to see her as often as I would like. A face that has browned in the sun and has a few wrinkles here and there, but is beautiful just the same. There are lines around her eyes that tell of a million smiles and probably a million tears and they help to keep the knowledge of the ages contained inside. This is the woman who has stayed strong to her beliefs, who knows what she feels and isn't afraid to say things are right or wrong as she sees it. The face is open and honest just as she is with everything she does. Nothing is sugar coated, maybe omitted but never because she wants to deceive you only because she wants to protect you. I don't think I could count the number of times I have looked at this face or this face has looked at me and everything has been made better, made to sting less. A different face, but one that tells a story just the same.

I see stories when I look at peoples faces. The story of their lives, the story of their loves and losses, the stories of what they mean to me, of what they mean to others around them and whilst I'm not the best photographer in the world I hope that my pictures will show this to others.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Jacket Potato Mice - Wordless Wednesday

Turns out it isn't just fun to turn Sandwiches into works of art...
Jacket Potato Mice - a bit of family fun at Dinner!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Privacy, Playground Gossip and Me

Twice today I've been asked about Privacy in blogging. It's not something that I really think twice about I mean I choose to blog, that means I am putting my life out there for someone else to read about. It could be my neighbour (Hello Neighbours), my family (hello Sister of mine), someone from my past (Hello Tor), someone from my husbands work (Hello K!) or someone from the School Playground. I'm not ashamed of my blog, and will tell everyone I meet about it if it is appropriate! I mean I'm on Three Counties Radio every Saturday morning talking about what we have done this week and I was in one of my local papers after I won the MAD Award for Family Fun so it's not like I'm quiet about it.
A Mothers Ramblings Top Mummy Blogger in the Paper
Nice picture of me right?
Then there are things that I am quiet about. I don't discuss my husbands job or work for example (He develops entertainment systems for the hospitality industry. Which is boring compared to what I was told in the playground his job was!). I don't talk about my sex life (it's rather fantastic thanks), I don't talk about how Bedfordshire County Council annoy me with stupid policies (I will one day though), I don't talk about what I think about people who endanger children's lives by parking on the corner of a junction just so they don't have to walk an extra 100 yards and I don't discuss the private business of those around me. I think most importantly though I don't discuss people I barely know's business and I like to think that I am above the kind of childish behaviour that some of the playground Mums have been indulging in.

That's right, good old playground gossip is doing the rounds again. The thing is it isn't just about me, but about a friend, someone I care a lot about (You know who you are). The gossip that they have been spreading is about something that hasn't been put out there in the public realm. It's something which is personal, something which they don't know about and are discussing without thinking of what damage they could be doing by spreading half truths in their quest for something to pass along to others. Then there is the bit about me. Something which is so untrue it is funny and flattering at the same time and something else that makes me think that I'm being physically attacked because they said something about my blog.

Part of me wants to stand up and shout that I know they are talking about me and my friend and that if they want to know anything all they have to do is ask us. We might not tell them what they want to hear but we would be open and honest. Part of me wants to march up to them and practice my kick boxing on a real person instead of the punch bag in the garage I would even give them the name of a great plastic surgeon so they could have their broken nose fixed afterwards. A little too violent for me maybe.

Most of all a part of me feels sorry for them if all they have to talk about is me and my friend. I mean I know I am fantastic and amazing and all but really I'm the fodder for gossip? It's been suggested that they are jealous. Are they jealous of my incredibly strong marriage? Are they jealous that I have fun with my family? Are they jealous of my two very clever children? Do they wish that they had a blog? Are they jealous of the money I earn through my blog?  Are they jealous of the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes I have? Are they jealous of the things I get sent for free? Then again maybe they are just bored housewives who sit around gossiping for something to do between watching Jeremy Kyle and hating their lives for being so boring.

Still I think that Oscar Wilde said it best.

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Top Ender Giggles - Love is Blind

When we were watching the last Doctor Who of the series Top Ender was a little confused over how Amy saw Rory as so muscular and strong jawed in her mind when Rory is a little more scrawny in real life, well real TV life.

I looked at her and explained

"When you are in love with someone you see them as the most handsome or beautiful person in the world and other people might look at them and not see them as handsome or beautiful but it doesn't matter because you do. Just like when I look at your Daddy I see the most handsome man I have ever seen."
The start of Family Fun for A Mothers Ramblings when Daddy and I were married

Top Ender paused for a second thinking over what I had said then she slowly looked her Daddy up and down and started laughing.

Guess she doesn't see it then.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Caption It Monday! #8

I'd be lying if I said that last weeks was the best Caption It Monday so far. I'd also be lying if I didn't put the blame at my own feet as I kind of forgot to pimp it during the week to get people to spot it for commenting on. Still onwards and upwards and this weeks picture keeps making me giggle with stupid comments that seem to caption the picture.

Top Ender and Big Boy drawing together

And now for last week!

Top Ender on the computer

And the winner from last week was;


TopEnder was delighted to have discovered the "Baby's Guide to the Internet Site" from Ramblings of a Suburban Mummy

Don't forget the winner and the runners up will get a link in next Monday's post!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Silent Sunday

Super Big Boy
I so LOVE this Boy.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Toy Review Round up

All the toys mentioned had been sent to us to review and I've been naughty and not done them... until now.

Over the last few weeks Top Ender and Big Boy have been playing together with some great new toys. It has been great seeing them develop the bond of brother and sister more fully and also to see just how clever they are as they work out how to play with the toys together. I haven't got a look in with these toys, (it's been quite a disappointment with some of them) and so I have had to sneak a play when the children have gone to bed, which has earned me some funny looks from Daddy!

One of the favourite toys sent out was a doll from the Bratz™ All Glammed Up range which was sent for Top Ender to play with because she loves the Bratz cartoons and films (we own all the films and there are a lot). Top Ender played with it a lot, using the accessories as they were designed (to style the dollz hair) and because she wants to be a fashion designer when she is older she loves that the Bratz dollz are about passion for fashion and being BFF's. Big Boy has also loved playing with the doll and the accessories, although he has been trying to curl , crimp and straighten the cats fur. Luckily our cats are wiser than they look and have avoided Big Boy's hairdressing salon thus far...
Bratz All Glammed Up

One thing that is worth noting is that Big Boy playing with the toy hasn't broken the toy and he isn't exactly delicate so the doll and accessories are fairly robust. They are £19.99 each, suitable for ages 6 and up (although BB is 3) and are a good quality fashion doll.

Big Boy loves to watch our DVD of Angelina Ballerina and will often ask me to read him Top Enders books  of her old style adventures. The newer Angelina Ballerina adventures are also appreciated by Big Boy and Top Ender but the Dance and Sing Angelina Doll is something which Big Boy has claimed as his own. The doll has two small buttons located on either side of her waist and so when it is squeezed you can make it either sing or repeat a preprogrammed phrase and if you push it again you can make her do some ballet moves. The doll has an RRP of £25 and is suitable for ages 4 and up (again BB is 3 but plays with it well!).
Angelina Ballerina ToyAngelina Ballerina Toy Cheeseshop

The Angelina Ballerina Chipping Cheddar Sweets and Dance Shop Mini Playset has also had a good outing, with Big Boy playing out scenes from his imagination and using the mini figures to enhance his scenes and of course dressing and undressing the mini figures and swapping their clothes about. Seems that Big Boy is also looking into a career in fashion! The playset has an RRP of £20 and the mini figures have an RRP of £6 and both are suitable for ages 4 and up, although smart 3 year olds will have no problem it seems!

Old Friends, A Playtpus, A Randy Squirrel and Me

When I was pregnant with Top Ender I was excited and nervous in equal measure. As it was my first pregnancy I had no idea if some of the things I was experiencing were normal or if this was something I should be asking for an emergency Doctors appointment for and so I turned to the internet. In fact I joined a community on ivillage for Mums like me who were due between October and December 2003. There I met a group of women who were my support system. Women who would share jokes, the milestones in pregnancy and their lives. These strangers became friends and some eight years later I still keep in touch with them thanks to the magic of Facebook, although I hadn't actually met any of them in "real" life.

Last week whilst I was coming home from Edinburgh one of these friends (Elizabeth) contacted me via twitter to let me know that one of our other friends (Hameeda) was trying to get hold of me. Hameeda is the sort of woman that everyone needs to know, you know the one that can do anything if she puts her mind to it?  That's Hameeda. She also makes a mean Samosa. Anyway, Hameeda had applied to Super Savvy Me to be filmed with some friends sharing tips and due to some last minute issues wondered if I would be available to be part of it too. I said yes, not because of the filming (I'm getting old hat at that now!) but because it would be a chance to meet three of the women who have meant so much to me.
Tony from Super Savvy Me Filming Team pretending to do some filming so I could take a picture

The filming was fantastic fun, chatting with these women in the flesh was amazing (and it only seemed a little weird that I wasn't typing my replies to them) and I tried really hard not to be Blogger Pippa (even though she is a lot better at handling these sort of social situations) but fell at the last hurdle (I'll tell you more about that in a few days) and the video of our coffee morning will be live today on the Super Savvy Me Facebook page. There might be mentions of a randy squirrel, a drawing which looks something like a platypus (Rachel claims everything she draws looks like a platypus), a lot of laughing and cream cakes being eaten in our video as well as our tips. In fact there is a sort of little competition on who has the best tip going to be going on, so if you could all pop along and vote for me I would appreciate it... there is a bar of chocolate riding on the outcome!

I don't think that I have actually ever told any of this group of friends how much I appreciated them or even how much I appreciate them now. So before I go I just want to say thank you to them for being there for me and each other.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

#FishIsTheDish - #WordlessWednesday

Last week I was in Edinburgh learning all about fish, when I took this picture of Ken Welch a local Fishmonger. His knife skills were amazing, and you can tell he loves what he does.

Halloween Decorating

I love Halloween almost as much as Christmas, you get to not brush your hair and claim you are getting your hair the right level of rats nest look to compliment your costume of a witch, you get to eat chocolate that your neighbours give you after threatening them, you get to make fun lunches of bats and ghosts and cut off fingers, you don't have to dust or wipe cobwebs away (as you are going for the gothic spooky look) and of course you can do wonderful things with pumpkins.
Halloween Pumpkin

My Mum would decorate the house on Halloween so that the children that would come to knock would have a sort of haunted house to go in. I really loved that and so every October we decorate our house too. Really we just do the driveway and the front window and I'm not sure that anyone has ever noticed the time and effort that has gone into the decorations but to us it doesn't matter. We like doing the decorating and the making of the decorations is good quality family fun time.

Crashed Witch in a hedge

One of the best benefits I can think of about decorating for Halloween is that it allows Trick or Treaters know if you are open to them knocking or not. It can be as easy as trailing a few candles down your path such as the teenage daughter of our next door neighbour does, or just putting a few plastic bats and spiders on the outside of your front door. Watch here next week though for some great Halloween decorating ideas that you can make at home during half term!

Decorating for Halloween is just on the cusp of becoming more popular here in the UK, it's easy these days to walk into a Supermarket and find aisles dedicated to Halloween decorations and I could spend ages looking at them (as I did in Asda this past weekend) and even Andrex has gotten in on the act with the smallest room in the house being able to be decorated easily with special Halloween Toilet Rolls. They are available from the middle of this month (that is about now right?) in selected Tesco stores  and I can't wait to buy some. (No, really we have run out of toilet paper this afternoon so I need to buy some!)

Halloween Toilet Roll From Andrex

Heinz Squeeze and Stir Review

We got two packers of Heinz Squeeze and Stir Soup and a mug sent to us.

When I was at University, I lived on soup. I had a kettle in my room and about a million powdered soup packets on the top shelf of my wardrobe. I liked them because they were quick and easy, didn't need a fridge (and therefore didn't require me to walk upstairs to the spooky, cold and normally dirty kitchen) and were tasty. The problem now is that I am a little older (and possibly a little wiser, but that is debatable) and have a more refined palette and most of the powdered soups taste just like that. Powdered soup. When the new Heinz range of Squeeze and Stir soups landed on my doorstep I was hoping that a shot of concentrated soup like this might change the future of instant soup!

I made the Minestrone soup for me because the Vegetable soup was gluten free and so Daddy could try the soup too. I found it to be thicker than other types of instant soup and as it was just a case of squeeze tube into mug and add hot water I found it easier than powdered instant soup as I didn't have to worry about making sure there were any pockets of unstirred powder.

Heinz Squeeze and Stir Soup

The soup was normal tasting, as in it tasted like soup. It was certainly richer than powdered soup and it would be nice to keep in a work drawer or University wardrobe but it wasn't as good as either tinned soup or home made soup.

Heinz Squeeze and Stir Soup

Daddy too thought it was nice, but was more interested in the conversation with one of  his colleagues about what eating the concentrated soup would be like (I managed to persuade them both that this wasn't a good idea). Seeing as the packs are only 59p each though I don't think it will be long before they are trying out some form of concentrated Soup shots dare game!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Caption It Monday! #7

I was watching Big Boy using the computer at the weekend and started thinking about how when I was three I had no idea what a computer was let alone how to turn it on, navigate to my favourite website, find my favourite game and then play it! I assume it was because we have always let Top Ender and Big Boy have a go on the computers in our home, we have sat them on our knee whilst we have surfed or watched videos, sent emails or even blogged and as such they have confidence in their own use of technology. It did remind me of a picture of Top Ender from when she was nearly a year old and I thought that it might be fun to caption!
Top Ender on the computer

And before you ask, No I don't know what website it is that she is looking at!

Last weeks picture was of me wearing a face mask, as I was preparing for The MAD's and had to look beautiful as I was going to be in a room with a lot of other women. You took this picture and added the captions I knew it deserved so bravo to you all! Here however are the Runner Up's and Winner

Pips tried very hard not to smile and crack her face...

Runner Up

"Aaarrrrgh It's the creature from the Blue Lagoon!!" from Ramblings of a Suburban Mummy

"Pippa wasn't sure that this new foundation was quite her colour!" from Deals for Mums


"Pips tried very hard not to smile and crack her face..." from Vic

I hope that you had fun insulting me as I sure had fun reading the comments and I hope that this weeks gives you something to chew over!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Stop Sending Me Emails Or I Will Be Angry ~ :-(

A few weeks back I was sitting at the PC working when I got an email from someone who subscribes by email to my blog. This isn't unusual, I get a couple of emails a week from a few readers asking questions about something I have written or updating me on a situation we have spoken about before and I love it. It means so much to me to get feedback or to know that the friendship isn't one sided.

This email was different though.
Email from a reader cartoon aggression style
I've taken out the name and email address of the other party. I'm not that evil.

I was confused for a moment after reading the email because I don't send emails out to random people (I think that is the definition of spam!), I only send them to people who sign up to receive my posts by email and even then it is automated with a nice link at the bottom stating that if you wish to unsubscribe now you can. I was also confused over the use of the "Steaming Mad" and "Punch" smilies. Are they only going to get Cartoon angry about me emailing them on a daily basis? Or were they to confirm that is what the levels of anger to follow would be? Was I being threatened?

I jumped over to feedburner which manages my email list for me. I searched for the email address and found that the person who had sent this email had signed up on the 12th August 2010. I had written a great review of a film that day, so I can't blame them for having signed up to have my blog posts sent to them everyday. I mean, you don't want to miss any of my posts do you? That is why you have all subscribed to have them emailed to you, or to have the RSS feed in your reader isn't it?

I clicked a button to stop this reader from getting any future emails and then sent a quick email just to confirm that I had done this (hoping not to anger them further, I don't want to be the cause of steam coming out of anyone's ears!) and that they could have done it at any point in the previous 391 days that they had been receiving my blog posts via email.

So what have I learnt from this experience? I'm not sure really. Maybe it's "You can't please all the people all the time" or maybe "Cartoon violence is deemed acceptable when threatening someone" or maybe it's "If you want people to sign up to get your blog posts delivered by email you should write a film review".

All I know for sure is you still love me. You do right?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Discovery Mexican Independence Day Celebration

Discovery foods contributed to my travel and brought me and my family lunch.

A couple of weekends ago Discovery Foods invited me, Emma and Vic (and our families) down to Brighton for the day to take part in the Mexican Independence Day Celebrations as part of the Brighton Food Festival. Now I didn't know much about Mexican Independence Day, (I actually thought that was what Cinco De Mayo was about), and so I turned to my friend Google to tell me all about it. When Emma, Vic and I met up in Brighton and I started explaining about the revolution their eyes glazed over and it wasn't because of the delicious smells coming from the Discovery Foods stand. So to save you the trouble of asking Google and keeping it brief so you don't all start looking like a Zombie (Zombies have glazed eyes right?) a Priest (Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) started the revolution and it took ages (like 11 years).

Best Blogging Friends

And because I know you don't really want me to talk about how lovely the food was here are some pictures of us enjoying it. We use Discovery Food ingredients a lot at home, mainly because the Taco's are gluten free (and that pleases Daddy a lot) and because they make tray taco's which in my mind are a lot easier to handle. As you can see Daddy polished off his (and Big Boy's) in a matter of seconds.

Daddy eating a Taco

Top Ender holding a fajita

Top Ender and I opted for a Chicken fajita's, which was lovely. Top Ender left the smallest piece of hers (Yes I did eat it) which I was surprised about as I expected it to be spicier and so for her to leave a lot more. She loved it so much that the next time we were in the Supermarket, she threw some Fajita's into the trolley when she thought I wasn't looking.

The only problem I knew would be Big Boy who is going through a slight vegetarian phase (for some reason between the ages of 2 and 4 my children stop eating hot meat unless it is a chicken goujon) and so in honour of Mexican Indpendence Day I knocked up a few chilli shaped cucumber and cheese sandwiches for him.

Chilli Shaped Sandwiches

They went down really well with Top Ender helping him as I made 28 of the mini sandwiches which was probably 14 too many!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Making Chores Fun - Cleaning A Bedroom

There were chores when I was young that I hated, unlike going shopping which was something that was over before I knew it (seriously shopping never took long when I was young) there was the what seemed like daily "TIDY YOUR ROOM" growl from my mother.

She actually gave up when I was about 14 asking me to tidy my room and it is a long running joke that when I changed religion aged 17 that I had found God in the mess that was my bedroom. I understand now what my mum went through every time she looked into my bedroom and saw the tip that was my room and I am determined that it won't be the same for me... if I can make tidying up fun!

Making Chores Fun - Cleaning A Bedroom

Thanks to generous family members, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, toys to review, one of the problems that we have is that Top Ender and Big Boy have too much stuff. Even when their bedrooms are perfectly tidy they look cluttered and messy because of the sheer amount. We will quite regularly go through clothes, toys, books and take it to Charity shops or offer it to other people we know. 

I think it is important that the children are taught how to sort through their things to find things that they can give to others as this way they will hopefully understand when they are older and won't be hoarders like me!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Colour - The Gallery

It was my wedding anniversary last week, and Daddy knew that he was getting a gift of tin can candle holders and he wanted to give me something too. With the children he worked on something and presented me with a tissue wrapped photo frame with this photo inside.
Warhol inspired Family Portrait of A Mothers Ramblings
(The only picture Daddy could find of himself with a plain background was this moody shot)
When I saw the theme for this weeks Gallery, I knew I had to join in and share this picture because it means so much and has a lot of hidden memories, which I thought I would explain.

The picture of Big Boy is coloured Green because as Big Boy says "I LOVE GREEN!" It's true his favourite colour is green, with him trying to wear at least one green thing a day. I'm making him a superhero costume for Christmas and as you can guess it is going to be Green!

The picture of Top Ender is coloured Purple because Top Ender's favourite colours are purple, lilac and violet. I personally think that they are the same colour, just different shades but Top Ender assures me that I am wrong.

The picture of me is coloured Red because Big Boy said it should be. It's funny because I wore red to The MADs last week and was complimented on it being my colour. Just looking round, the main colour over here on A Mothers Ramblings is red and it is the main colour in my living room too!

The picture of Daddy is coloured Blue because Big Boy decided on that too. I always think of blue when I think of Daddy, his toothbrush is blue, the deodorant he uses has a blue label, he had a blue car and one of my favourite jumpers that he wears is blue too.

I'm thinking maybe Tara and Daddy were in cahoots on this... what do you think?

Top Ender's Self-Portraits - Wordless Wednesday

At the weekend we went to a Lego Duplo event at the Lego store in Westfield London, Top Ender was a little bored and so grabbed my camera and took photos of the things she wanted for Christmas. I found these self-portraits of her with a giant Lego brick in amongst her shots. I so love this girl.

Top Ender with a Giant Lego Block

Top Ender with a Giant Lego Block

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Walk Round Ashland Lake Milton Keynes

One of the fantastic things about Milton Keynes that I will never stop going on about is the number of parks and lakes that there is to walk around. After a trip to the Shopping Centre Daddy decided to go home a different way. Due to the grid road system it almost doesn't matter what road you take, as long as you head in the same general direction of your house you will eventually get there! We started driving towards a newish estate, that was built on land that was previously occupied by the Greyhound track. You can see this new estate from the A5 and it has a large fountain that the children take great delight in looking at, and as the houses look rather nice I like to look at the estate too. Somehow I managed to convince Daddy that parking near the park that edges this estate was a good idea and that going for a walk up to the fountain was even better. It was a bit of a grey day, but Daddy with his very clever phone took a fantastic bright and sunny picture of the view that greeted us.
Ashland Milton Keynes

Walking across the stones isn't probably what you are supposed to do, but when they are there and they look so inviting you kind of have to right?!

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/kmvgM-CxYwI)

We walked up and along to the fountain and admired the houses with roof top gardens and proper back gardens and vowed to look up the area on some local Estate Agents websites so we could see inside the houses (WOW!) before heading home for toast and hot chocolate for supper.
The Fountain at Ashland Milton Keynes

I've started thinking about walking around the other housing estates and not just in Milton Keynes to see what other hidden treasures we can find! Is there anywhere you would recommend?!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Little Dish Chicken and Two Veg Pasta Review

I've said before that Top Ender and Big Boy like the Little Dish range, they are the sort of prepared meals that I find to be consistently of a high standard and something which my children eat as if it was something that was home made. And that's why I really like them, they taste like something I would make, they are the right portion size for my children and they smell nice! So when Little Dish asked if we would like to try the new Chicken & Two Veg Pasta that isn't for sale until October 5th I didn't even worry if the children would want to eat it but said yes please!

The lovely courier knows me well now, and arrived before the school run. Big Boy recognised the logo on the lunch box and  sneaked a look inside at the package and excitedly headed up to School to tell Top Ender that dinner was a new Little Dish!

Little Dish Chicken and Two Veg Pasta

Daddy was working late and so Top Ender and Big Boy helped me to put the meals in the microwave so they could cook whilst we set the table. I took a quick picture when they came out of the microwave and transferred the pots to plates for the children to eat from (they like it to stay in the plastic dish).

Little Dish Chicken and Two Veg Pasta

Big Boy has a bit of a thing with Broccoli and so I got to eat all the Broccoli from his meal, there was a lot but it was nicely balanced with the amount of chicken and pasta and Top Ender thought it was lovely even though she isn't keen on Broccoli either. Pasta is a big favourite in our house so I think that we will get the Chicken & Two Veg Pasta meal again, and with the meal costing £2.49 it's the sort of take away that isn't going to break the bank!

Caption It Monday! #6

Wow, what a weekend I have had. Out of the last three nights I have spent two of them in two hotels, I have been to the MAD Blog Awards, (where I won the MAD Blog Award for Family Fun for the second year running thanks to you voting for me again so Thank you!) a Lego Duplo Event where I got to see some of the new Duplo coming out in 2012 (I can't tell you what the products were, but I can say YAY! and COOL! and DUPLO ROCKS!), had dinner with friends twice, been swimming and got lost in London. Twice.

Just like the Caption photo from the MAD Blog Awards feed this is a photo of me to caption! Yes, that was me that you were captioning. I took it a few days ago when I was preparing for The MADS, you know the sort of thing we ladies do whenever we are going to be around other ladies! Anyway here is the picture to caption this week.
Pippa with a Face Mask on

And the photo from last weeks Caption it Monday! was of Big Boy having had his face painted with a dinosaur...

Big Boy with a dinosaur face paint

Runner Up

"Do I have something on my face? Oh yeah it's the new mole, dinosaur mole. Cool right?" From Katherine

"Never smile at a Crocodile...!!!" From Fiona

"you've got a little something on...no, never mind. :-)" from Harveys Furniture store

Psst over here! I've heard there's a crocodile hiding out near here from Mummy Matters

"A dinosaur?! I asked for a dog's paw!" from Him, Me & Three


"This is going to wash off Mummy?" from Multiple Mumma

Thanks everyone and I hope you had fun!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Top Enders Lunch

I know that it's not a Friday, but I had to do something special for Top Ender's lunch tomorrow seeing as how we won The MADS Blog award for best blog for family fun this past weekend. Tops means so much to me (as you might have guessed from my post about her earlier today) and so I did this;
Top Enders Winning Lunch
Top Enders Winning Lunch

I promise to stop gloating soon. Honest.

Top Ender - The Fashionable One

Top Ender is going to be a fashion designer when she is older. Yes, there are a hundred other things that she is going to do at the same time (Sweet Shop Owner, Author, Singer, Actress, Model) but the one thing that remains a constant is fashion designer. Tops is always sketching outfit ideas, putting together outfits on her Harumika, in games that she finds on websites and of course her own outfits. We have decided that this year we will get her a sewing machine for Christmas or her birthday (there is only a couple of weeks between them), nothing too fancy just something that she can learn to sew on and that will help whip up a few outfits a lot quicker than relying on me to hand stitch the seams.

Anyway I saw a picture on Pinterest the other week of a rather funky hairstyle. I showed it to Top Ender and the next thing I knew, she had made her hair up just like the picture. She had known how to create the hairstyle that we both had fallen in love with. I mean look at that, it's so bohemian and so Top Ender.
Top Ender with Bohemian Hair from Pinterest

And then the other weekend whilst trimming the ends of her hair Top Ender asked for a fringe. She wanted a change, something to set her apart from the younger her.

Top Enders new fringe

Quite fashionable right? Only problem is now her hair is too short for the boho look she sported in the first picture. Anyone any ideas on how to make her hair grow quicker?!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Shopping for Christmas - Snacks!

We were sent two packets of Branston Peanuts & Crackers

We love Christmas here, as anyone who has seen my Christmas Tree video can confirm! As it is such a big event in our calender I like everyone to have a good time who pops into my house and so seeing as it is the start of October, it's time for me to start thinking about Christmas snacks! As we celebrate from the last week of November (that's when we put up our tree so it is ready for the first day of December) right up to New Year I like to spread the cost of Christmas food and drink by buying a few pieces each time I go shopping. I also like to see my storage cupboard fill up with Christmas treats and know that if a Neighbour or friend were to drop by unexpectedly that I could easily pull out a few snacks to show that I was a fantastic hostess...

The one thing I do have to still work out though is a menu for the big day itself, and of course I need to work on the Drinks menu for the season too. We tend to have several starters, one that Top Ender and Big Boy have chosen, one that Daddy has chosen and if I don't fancy either of theirs one that I have chosen too, add this to the million vegetables that I think you have to have in a Christmas Meal and it's a pretty big menu!

Starting today gives me twelve weeks until Christmas (technically 13, but who wants to shop the week before Christmas) and that means I can make 12 batches of holiday biscuits for the freezer (Try my mixed Spice Biscuit recipe, it freezes well) and I can make 12 batches of biscuits for the children to decorate (My Decorating Biscuits taste nice) and I can make 12 batches of Mince Pies as well as my Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding...

Christmas Pudding Mix

There are also 12 weeks for me to buy extra bottles of Dr Pepper for me, Pepsi for Daddy, J20 for Top Ender and Big Boy. Not forgetting the Shloer, Sparkling Water, Flavoured Water and cordials that we like to share at Family events too! A couple of extra items a week means that I won't notice them on my weekly shopping budget!

And of course it gives me 12 weeks to add extra snacks to my weekly shopping, such as the Branston Peanuts and Crackers that we were sent to try and I actually quite liked, but was the only one out of my extended family who did. 

Branston Crackers and Nuts

I guess it is an acquired taste, just like Marmite is! They are available in Aldi, ASDA, Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose stores with an RRP of £1.49 for a 90g bag.

I will be adding a selection of Gluten free snacks for Daddy and I am thinking that seeing as I am doing quite well with my Diet that I should probably look into some nice healthy Christmas Snacks too... Anyone any suggestions?!