Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Have I mentioned that we've got two chickens?

I'd love to be one of those bloggers who keeps chickens, grows their own veg, has tons of children and home-schools them all from their beautiful house which is organised and full of hand-crafted pieces... but I'm not (though I DO love reading blogs like that <3 ).

Our two chickens are the only things in that list that we do and then it's because we wanted a pet that was outdoor but manageable and cute, not because of the eggs.

The girls love the chickens and they don't even mind cleaning them out:

This is E, half in the coop, she had a brush and dustpan and she's sweeping the sawdust up and putting it into the bucket ready to be binned. And she did a REALLY thorough job of it too!

Our fluffy friends are called Martha and Margaret. They are both lavender pekins, Martha is a frizzle (backwards growing feathers) and Margaret is a smooth (normal feathers). Here is a picture of the lovely ladies:

Gorgeous aren't they! And they are friendly, the girls can easily catch and cuddle them, they live in their coop and run during the day but we let them out in the garden when we can!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Why I shop online...

Today I was reminded why I have RULES for shopping.

1. Don't go shopping with children.
2. If you must ignore rule 1 then only take one child with you.
3. If you must ignore rule 2 then do not take out children who are tired, hungry, grouchy etc
4. If you are silly enough to ignore rule 3 then ensure you have a stiff drink ready for when you get home.

I broke all the rules today (except the drink one, I'm now drinking a Baileys, it's cheaper than therapy).
I heard that Tesco had a sale on children's clothing, and that there were things for bargainous prices so I mentioned it to Hubby who said we should go once we'd picked F up from nursery (maybe I should blame him). It did not go well.

The girls screamed to be in the trolley or walking or carried, they dragged clothes off of rails, un-stuck stickers, added random things to the trolley, whined, screamed that they hated whatever it was that I had in my hands - I was trying to get them involved and interested. F threw herself on the floor screaming on more than one occasion. Now I know she was tired but still. We did buy a fair bit in the end, when tops are £0.50 or £1.00 each how can you not!? That is the girls kitted out for a while. I got myself a top too, I tried a few on first, would have tried a few more on but the screaming from outside the changing room was a little embarrassing.

Now my little angels *cough* are tucked up in bed I feel a lot less stressed and I don't have any plans to break the rules again. Ever.

P.S Just to remind me why I forgive them for days like today <3

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Comfort food and comfort crochet

We had toad-in-the-hole for dinner. It was delicious, even if I do say so myself! There is something comforting about it I think, slightly stodgy yorkshire pudding, yummy sausages and MASH. I love mash. I am a comfort eater, I eat far too much far too often just because that's how I deal with stress, sadness, excitement, most things really. We had icecream afterwards too. Yum.

Comfort crochet comes in the form of the blanket that I've now started using the Stylecraft DK that arrived the other day.

Project blanket currently looks like this:

12 rows, I started at about 11pm last night after arguing with myself about what stitch to do and whether to go with a pattern or just random colours and stripes. I still haven't completely decided if there will be any regularity to it. I'd like to say that there won't be but I have an inexplicable need to plan everything, so it might be a planned random blanket, if there is such a thing! It's comforting because it is so SIMPLE. And the colours make me happy.

I'm trying new ways of joining in a colour and of crocheting in the ends as I go, and I'm not tying any knots. It scares me, I have a fear that the blanket will go through the wash and come out as a ball of wool.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

We do like to be beside the seaside

Today was so sunny and it seemed a real shame to stay indoors. I casually mentioned the idea of going to the beach to the girls and suddenly they were going crazy with excitement. You wouldn't think that we live so close to the sea with their reaction! 

The first thing little E did was run and get a beach blanket - I hadn't even remembered we had one! We took buckets and spades and a ball as requested. We chose the touristy beach a little further from our home so that if we froze we could seek shelter and a warm drink. The beach seemed to have a fair few other people with the same idea of us, quite a few little kiddies toddling around on the sand all wrapped up.

I won't lie. It was cold. Sitting down wasn't an option unless you wanted to freeze, so we kicked the ball around and collected stones. In the end F decided she was cold and so we headed to the cafe attached to the Sealife Centre and shared some chips to thaw us out a bit.

We do so love the seaside!

P.S I still haven't taken decent photos of my finished ripple blanket, but I will soon. My new wool arrived today so I hope to be crocheting the evening away :D

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

BBQ ribs and crochet. Not together.

Yesterday I did bbq ribs in the slow cooker. I might have cheated in the sense that I used bbq sauce from a bottle... but it was still a new meal that I'd not cooked before so it does count. I normally order ribs at restaurants. And they were gooooood! I used a lot of bbq sauce mixed with a lot of ketchup mixed with a little worcester sauce and covered the ribs in it, rubbed it into the ribs and stuck them in the slow cooker. They were on high from 11am - 6pm then on low until we were ready to eat. They were so cooked that a lot of the meat came out separately from the bones. But that was definitely a plus for me!

Tomorrow night I'm going for a chinese meal with my friend. I do love chinese and this particular place is all you can eat - but not a buffet and still pretty food. Yum.

I've meal planned for next week and managed to get this weeks shopping for £38.35 delivered. I'm quite impressed as that also includes about £5 unnecessarily spent on icecream. Not bad at all. I've got moussaka as my new meal to cook next week. Until a few weeks ago I didn't even know what it was, let alone how to cook it. I was reliably informed that it is similar to a lasagne but usually made with lamb mince and layered with aubergine and potato rather than pasta. I'm going to use beef mince but I have put an aubergine on my shopping. No idea what to serve with it though? Salad? Garlic bread?

Now crochet:

This is my lovely ripple blanket. Bad photo though (really must work on that!). It's Rowan 100% cotton and is lovely to work with. I'm going to edge it in the same colour that each end is. The photo doesn't show the colours properly - the bottom colour is red and each other colour is divided by a grey. I'll take better photos once the edging is done. I'll block it too as it's not as raggedy as the photo makes out.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I Love You (poem that made me smile)

I've seen this poem around Pinterest and Facebook and I really like it. It makes me smile and it makes me think about the crazy thing that parenthood is. I sometimes feel that I'm hurtling through being a Mummy without having a single clue what I'm doing. But I guess that doesn't really matter does it?!

I am your parent,
You are my child.
I am your quiet place,
You are my wild.

I am your calm face,
You are my giggle.
I am your wait,
You are my wiggle.

I am your dinner,
You are my chocolate cake.
I am your bedtime,
You are my wide awake.

I am your lullaby,
You are my peekaboo.
I am your goodnight kiss,
You are my I love you.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Following on from my pork post this one is also about food.

Last night I made stuffed peppers for me, my Mum and my niece. And they were YUM!

Of course I completely forgot to take a photo, I was too busy stuffing my face.

Vague recipe/method:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius 

  • Cut the tops off some peppers and scoop out the inside.
  • Pop the peppers in a big pan of boiling water on the hob and par-boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Put the peppers upside down on some kitchen roll to dry.
  • Make a bolognese mix (whatever you like) or cheat like me and reheat a frozen portion.
  • Put bolognese mix into peppers and put them on a tray or baking dish or whatever you've got that they will stand in.
  • Bake them for 25 minutes.

Serve with whatever you like, the jacket potatoes we had went well!

And then eat. Lots. 

On a different note, Hubby has manflu. Also known as 'spend all the time in bed' flu. Not much fun for anyone really. Otherwise life is plodding along as normal. Back to nursery next week for my eldest (and my littlest for a few hours once a week). I'm a bit sad about that, I love having both girls around together, even if it is a bit crazy round here!

P.S There will be more food talk next week. I have a date with some ribs, some bbq sauce and a slow cooker. Gulp.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Pork loin steaks with apple and cider

Today I did some cooking as part of my resolution to try and cook new foods and try new things. I don't often eat pork steaks, rarely buy it and have NEVER cooked it. Ever. That seemed like a good place to start. I remembered my mother-in-law having done a pork type casserole with cider in it and so I had a google and found a recipe that didn't sound too complicated or involve too many ingredients.

I did take a photo. It's not a great photo, I'd already started eating, it's brown food so it never looks appetising and I am not in the LEAST bit chef-y.

The recipe is from BBC food. I changed a few things, nothing major.

I did 3 pork steaks rather than 2 and so I put a bit more of everything else in (150ml of cider instead of 100ml etc). I left out the sage and used single rather than double cream (Hubby picked up the wrong one) I completely ignored the mash side of it. I love normal mash so we just had that. I was a little indulgent and added cream to it. Yum.

Verdict? It was nice, had a good taste, pork was cooked nicely and not too chewy. Plates were cleared.

I'm going to rate the meals I try out of 10 so that I can look back and compile my favourites. I'm giving this one a 7/10. It was yummy and I'd eat it again but it didn't blow my socks off and leave me begging for more. Which is what a 10 would do. 

Cost: £4.40 (served 3)

Cider £0.25
Pork £2.40 (based on 2 out of 3 of the whole pack of 5 steaks which were on offer)
Mash £0.60
Peas £0.15
Broccoli and Cauliflower £0.25
Salt, pepper, olive oil £0.10 (approx)
Cream £0.65

Monday, 13 February 2012

Money-free Valentine's Gift

Hubby and I decided that we wouldn't spend any money on each other for Valentine's Day - I added the rule that we should get each other a card and a present of some sort - but without spending money (and without stealing too, obviously).

I managed to get some free credit for an online card company so I solved that one.

For the main gift I've been busy creating a little something called... '52 reasons why I love you'

Can you see from this picture what the reasons are on? What about in this picture...

Yup, playing cards :D

I typed up my 52 reasons into rectangular boxes on the laptop and printed them out and cut them out. I used   2 joker cards sandwiched together (so you couldn't see the joker part) for the title card and then the 52 cards of the pack have a reason each on the back of the card so that the reverse of the reason is the side of the card with the number and suit on.

I then hole punched them all in the same place and threaded string through to make a little book!

Do you like?

Sunday, 12 February 2012


I don't like devoting a whole post to it. I'd quite like it if it did itself and I didn't even have to think about it.

I'm a list-writer by nature. I like lists, I like notebooks and I like pens. I don't even particularly mind housework when I get to write lists. But housework in the company of a 2 and a 3 year old just doesn't work. As I tidy things away they get them out, as I wash sinks they wash themselves and the floor and whatever else they can. As I sort cupboards things get mysteriously taken and turn up later, usually under the sofa.

Now where am I going with this? Well my house is a MESS. Not a chronic mess but cluttered and grubby, and full of washing. Full to bursting point with washing. The washing machine fixer person is due tomorrow between 8am and 6pm and once it's fixed (if it isn't I'll sob) then I'm going to beat the guiness world record for the most laundry done in one day.

So tomorrow will be devoted to scrubbing and cleaning and sorting and neatening. In the company of 2 kiddies who will be armed with a pack of wetwipes, probably dressed in strange clothes (due to the washing problem).

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Rainbow layer cake - tutorial and recipe!

I LOVE rainbows, I've made a few of rainbow layer cakes and I always get asked for the recipe/method so I've finally written it down, including the recipe for the sponge and frosting - which is really yummy (so I'm told)

The pictures below are from 2 different ones I've made so that's why they don't quite match!

Rainbow cake

Ingredients for sponge:

560g caster sugar
480g plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 eggs
280ml milk
160g unsalted butter (at room temp – softish)
1 tsp vanilla extract – or a bit of vanilla paste
Food colour gels/pastes – the concentrated ones, these can be found in Asda in separate pots or in other cake shops.

Ingredients for frosting:

750g icing sugar
240g unsalted butter (at room temp –softish)
75ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract – or a bit of vanilla paste

Cake method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (less if fan assisted)
2. Put flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt into a bowl, mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs – this can be done by hand or by using a hand mixer, just beware of the flour flying everywhere!
3. In a separate bowl or jug whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
4. Add ¾ of the wet mix to the dry mix, mix together until just smooth, add the rest of the liquid and mix until incorporated –it’s important not to mix too much!
5. Divide the mix into bowls (depending on how many colours you are doing, 6 or 7 is about right for the mix ). I weigh mine because I'm anal like that!
6. Colour each bowl of mix a different colour.
7. Grease and flour 6 inch circle sandwich tins (I cook 2 at once).
8. Pour one colour into each tin.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes – checking each time that it is cooked all the way through.
10. Allow them to cool slightly before turning them out onto a plate to cool completely

Frosting method:
1. Mix all ingredients together with a spoon until the icing sugar is near enough incorporated.
2. Using a mixer mix beat it for as long as you can bare! I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer so my frosting gets 10 minutes on high and 5 on low, the longer you can manage the fluffier your frosting will be.

Once this is all done layer your cake putting some frosting in between each layer and then coat the whole of the outside of the cake with frosting  - then decorate with smarties etc if you wish. 

N.B I do what is called a 'crumb coat' (3rd picture down) where a very thin layer of frosting is spread all around to stick the crumbs to the cake - then the cake is put in the fridge for the frosting to harden (20 minutes ish). This makes it easier to get a smooth finish that doesn't have crumbs stuck in it. I also used straws to strengthen the cake as it was so tall it wobbled - I just poked them in so that they couldn't be seen, 4 per cake. This isn't essential!

Friday, 10 February 2012

I'm baccckkkkkkkkk


I think I need another holiday to get over the holiday! I think holidays with young children are always going to be a lot of effort. It was good effort and we had a lovely time and a lot of fun but we didn't really relax. In fact I feel a lot more relaxed now I'm home sat on my sofa!

This is what Center Parcs looked like as we left:

Beautiful isn't it, that's the lake there in the middle - frozen and covered in snow! It was -6 most of the time we were there. Face-freezing weather but dry and oh so beautiful.

This dear little creature (see what I did there) came to visit our back door, along with a plethora of squirrels and ducks. The girls loved it!

I did get a little bit of relaxing in...

Everyone else was either out or asleep so I took a few minutes to sit down and breeaaaatttheeeee. I had a flask of tea because the villa's cups were very small and I was too lazy to be getting up and down to get more tea. And tea is essential. I read the rest of a book on my kindle, ate some chocolate and a few biscuits and did a little crochet. In peace. Bliss.

Back to reality now. I've about 6 loads of washing. My washing machine is still BROKEN. It's being fixed Monday, that'll be 5 weeks to the day since it broke. You know it's bad when you are looking forward to doing washing. Sigh.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow - it's what everybody is talking about after all!

Snow is the hot (cold?) topic of conversation at the moment and facebook is filled with people's children playing in the snow and the snowmen that they've built.

I think snow is a bit like marmite...

I LOVE IT. But I don't like being too cold. I like walking through snow and I love the way it makes everything look softer and clean and more rounded.

I don't like slush, slippery roads or wet feet. Where I live it is mainly flat, lucky really as our car struggled to get up the teeny tiny slope that leads up by our house, we had wheel spin and a tiny bit of rolling backwards but we managed, just. The slush on the more used roads has sprayed up everywhere so the pavements are muddy and sloppy :( but the gardens still look pretty.

A Christmas present from my lovely husband kept me from the wet feet issue

Cath Kidston wellies. I love them. I even purchased some welly socks earlier. Red fleece ones with a knitted wool top that you turn over the top of the welly. My feet will be toasty, and they were a bargain at £3!

The kids (and a few grown-ups) built Tooty-Fruity, so called because we didn't have much in our fridge so most of his decoration is fruit related - note the grape mouth!

We go on holiday tomorrow to Center Parcs, last time we went the lake was frozen and it was snowing (was December 2010) so it must be a requirement for holidaying there. I'm hoping the roads will be clear enough for the journey, it's only an hour and a half away so not too bad! I've still not mastered blogging on the mobile so I don't know when I'll next update, we will have wifi and Hubby is taking his mini laptop with him but I'm going to try and not use it as I think I spend a bit too much time glued to mine!

Off to do some more packing. I'm packing everything, if I could move the kitchen sink I'd pack that too. Better to be over-prepared (even if it means being packed like sardines into the car).


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cupcakes - some of my baking

I love making cakes. I really love making cakes. I'm going to put a tutorial on here once I'm back from my holiday with some tips for piping. I'm not an expert but I've learn a few things along the way.

Here are a few that I've made:

I like baking other things too, my recent addiction is macaroons (as you'll know from a previous post) but I like trying things like breads and pies and quiches and pastries too. I'm teaching myself bit by bit and it is my favourite way to relax, well, crochet is too though the crochet is what I do when I don't have the energy to cook!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Party! (warning, very picture heavy!)

I love throwing birthday parties for my girls and I was trying to think of a theme for E who was going to be 2. She wasn't quite old enough to choose her own theme and she wasn't into anything specific - so we decided to go with her first love - chocolate! And so the Willy Wonka theme was born!

The girls had the film and liked watching it and it gave me a lot of scope for the party.

My first step was invitations - the golden ticket was the obvious choice but we went a step further (maybe a little too far but we enjoyed it!)

We created our very own chocolate bar using a tesco (value) 100g bar of chocolate, we re-wrapped them in tin foil (with a golden ticket inside) and then printed wrappers for the outside using a wonka style font. The two little dots on either side are purple sticky gemstones. It sounds like a lot of work but it was actually quite quick to do!

This is what the inside of the bar looked like, I've blanked out the address details but you get the idea, the gold paper was from a local craft shop and it printed fine through our normal printer, it just took a little longer to dry!

I cut out big circles from cardboard and decorated them like colourful lollipops, these were then taped to thick wooden dowl to make the sticks of the lollies. The bunting was from Tesco, it came with letter stickers to spell out E's name. The tablecloths were bright disposable paper ones.

I printed out song lyrics from Willy Wonka and stuck them up around the hall.

We had a big paddling pool filled with play balls and balloons, the balloons were an ebay purchase, bought because they look like gumballs! Plus every party needs balloons!

I baked and frosted cupcakes in all colours of the rainbow - even the sponge was coloured!

Instead of party bags we had a sweetie table with paper bags to put your sweets in. 
I used food colouring to colour some toothpaste which I decanted into little pots, and I bought lots of toothbrushes too so that everyone who took sweets could take a toothbrush and paste too.

We had lots of the usual party foods and lots of sweet treats too, including a little chocolate fountain and some chocolate topped marshmallows!

We had a small table covered with paper and with crayons and stickers on for the kiddies to do some drawing and we played the usual party games.

My lovely sister-in-law made the main cake, which was rainbow inside!

The party was SO much fun and I loved every second of organising it! My eldest is 4 in June and she has been asking for a princess party, I'm already plotting and planning ideas for it!

I'll leave this extremely long blog post with a photo of me and E :D

Odd socks and stinking nappies...

That's what it feels like my days are full of! I do LOVE being at home with the girls but some days do feel so long and repetitive.

Does anyone else have a sock thief in the house? I think there must be a little elf that likes to eat kiddies socks. E, my littlest, loves socks. She has to wear them at night - on her feet AND her hands. And sometimes they go through their drawers pulling the pairs of socks apart and then I can only ever find one. Every now and then I find a stash of single socks, but then I can't find the pairs to them either.

We actually have an odd sock drawer. I found no less than 8 random socks in the girl's room today. Yet I cleared it of socks yesterday too. And there were 4 in the lounge. Not many of them matched anything either. Sigh.

As for the nappies, well, let's just say that between the girls I had to deal with 7 eye watering ones today. 7, in one day. That's just mean.

P.S I'm going to post up the posts that I got ready for the New Year plus another that I wrote the other day but never pressed publish on. Doh.

Basket-weave crochet...

Have you heard of it?
I hadn't but I stumbled across a picture that at first I thought was knitting but then I looked again and realised it was in fact crochet. Crochet that looks like a basket weave. Clever.

I'm not good with crochet patterns, I can follow basics but not anything complicated and I prefer it written in words rather than just a list of abbreviations. So I looked around for a video and found a good video tutorial for the basketweave AND it doesn't look too hard.

I'll be trying it later and will show you the results. I might even try a picture tutorial if I can get it right. If.

P.S It's snowing here, and settling, the girls are very excited and have requested the blinds open, we have a huge front window in the lounge and you can see right in with the blinds open. I'm still in my dressing gown too, but hey, it's snowing so who cares!