Backseat Babbles – 16th April 2015

For the last few days Bubbles must have been learning all about family members at nursery cause all of the chat has been about him, his brother and other members of the family. This week our chat has been centred around the following and it’s made me laugh so much – if only life was this simple.

Bubbles ‘Mummy, I’ve got a sister!’

Me ‘No honey, you’ve got a brother’

Bubbles ‘But, Mummy I want a sister’

Me ‘Oh honey, that’s not going to happen.’

Bubbles ‘I don’t want a brother any more – can we change him for a sister’

Me ‘No Bubbles, that’s not how it works. Where would you get your sister from anyway?

Bubbles ‘We’d get her at the shops, I want one like, he lists his two twin girlfriends – yes we’ll just have them!’

Me ‘I don’t think your friends’ mummy would like that very much’

Bubbles ‘It’s ok I’d look after them!’

Way too cute, but never going to happen – it’s so funny what they say isn’t it?

What funny things have your little ones said this week?

Life is Better with Cake

Since I was a young child, my Dad’s favourite was Mr Kipling French Fancies, he used to buy them in bulk from the cash n carry when he got stuff for his chemist shops. He used to open them over the weekend when I stayed and I can remember him opening these most weekends! Obviously he believed that prints were better with cake. Buddy is so like my dad & in this picture he enjoys French fancies

Buddy with French Fancy

My boys love cake, one loves the sponge and leaves the icing, the other loves icing and leave the songs. They are the perfect cake testers in partnership.

When trying to do things together, I usually use a treat as the bait to get good behaviour [I have no idea how nurseries manage to get throught the day without cake] we did lots of little things over the holidays as I’ve not been off much, well apart from Bubbles having chicken pox, which was the day I received my cakes from Britmums. I was eternally grateful as that morning I had cried in despair that Bubbles had the pox.

These cakes helped us get through our cabin fever life is definitely #betterwithcake

Bubbles with French Fancy

I had never had Viennese Whirls, I inhaled three, wow they are good. The boys were painting their eggs inbetween having French fancies, they totally loved them.

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (http://bit.ly/betterwithcake), sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at   https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

Balloon Time Helium Kit Celebration

Work in progress

Work in progress

This weekend saw my youngest son have his birthday party with his friends to celebrate him turning 3. As part of this we wanted to celebrate him becoming one year older. Unfortunately just before his birthday he caught chicken pox, or chicken spots as he calls it and we made the call to have the celebrations at home. We wanted those still suffering to be able to come along and celebrate even if they were still all spotty.

Bubbles had chosen Frozen as his theme, when I said to him on the morning of his birthday, ‘I’ve got an amazing outfit for you to wear today’ he beamed and said ‘Mummy is it a princess dress’ aw bless, I’d got him an Olaf outfit

Bubbles as Olaf

As part of the celebration, we had some helium balloons. We couldn’t believe you could just buy this off the shelf in the Supermarket. How exciting.  It was £25 in Tesco and we just picked the box off the shelf and it was really easy to inflate them. Here are some pictures of the boys getting ready for the party.

Balloon TIme Helium Balloons in a box

It was so easy to do that the boys were even blowing up their own balloons.

Buddy Blowing up balloonsAdult Supervising

Even comes with balloons

Even comes with balloons

The children absolutely loved the balloons, here are the boys posing with all the balloons:

Ready to party

Ready to party – Pin the nose on Olaf!

The kids loved the balloons

Pickle loves the balloons

Pickle loves the balloons

Disclaimer: I’m working with BritMums and Balloon Time as part of the “Celebration Club”, highlighting inventive and fun ways of using balloons. I was provided with a Balloon Time helium kit and have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit www.balloontime.com for more information and party inspiration.

Meal Planning Monday – 6th April 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Nearly back to normality, have had to take time out today to look after Buddy as the school holiday club is closed and it works out just fine because Bubbles finishes at 3pm so would have had to have picked him up regardless. It’s gorgeous weather as we start our Easter mini heatwave.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Chicken Curry – We have lots of Chilli Papas sauces and they are fab and really easy to use so we’ll be having this one night this week. They even have a non chilli vindaloo so anyone can try it!

Chilli Baked Potatoes – I’m using my slow cooker to make the Hairy Dieters version of chilli, there will be enough for the boys and two meals for us, so we’ll have the salad and tortilla baskets as per the Hairy Dieters recipe next week.

Mushroom pasta – We are making this with a small tub of double cream as the recipe states it’s better, so we’ll see. It’s dead easy to make and we will use mushrooms that are on offer rather than wild ones. I serve it with pappardelle pasta, so tasty

cheesy beanos – Anyone who went to school with me will recall making this at high school, it’s basically beans on toast with melted cheese on the top. G is at boot camp on Monday and doesn’t want anything too heavy so not only is a budget meal, it’s also quick and easy to make and pretty light after his exercise.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 30th March 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So today sees me off with Bubbles, he was sent home from nursery along with 15 of his friends with chicken pox. Apart from the spots, you would think he was fine. He is hyper as anything, the only thing that’s suffering right now is me, I’ve had two nights no sleep due to him wanting me to be with him and him tossing and turning and itching all night. Still some have crusted over this am so hopefully we are on the mend!

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Chicken pieThis is a simple weeknight meal, I got the idea from a Jamie Oliver recipe and you don’t even need to make a white sauce for it, you just add some flour then creme fraiche and use spring onions instead of white onion and it’s super easy and using up whatever I have in the fridge.

Crispy Chicken A hairy dieters recipe that I love – Grim is away on business this week so I’m having things that I love, this is so simple, chicken dipped in natural yoghurt then parmesan breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. I have it with salad, so super healthy and delicious to boot!

Mushroom pastaI always have this the same week we are doing our chicken pie as between the two recipes we use all of the mushrooms and creme fraiche.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Love Food Hate Waste – My Top 10 Tips

Ever since I worked at Friends of the Earth Scotland, I’ve been very aware of the importance of saving not just our money by not wasting food but also the environment, the amount of food that we waste is staggering.

Every day in UK homes we throw away , equivalent to (approx):
– 5.8 million potatoes
– 1.4 million whole bananas
– 1.5 million tomatoes
– 24 million whole slices of bread
– 1.5 million sausages
– 1.9 million slices of ham
– 1.1 million eggs

I am not going to pretend I don’t throw things out, but I try, as best I can to minimise the waste by following these golden rules:

1. Use glass storage in your fridge, this way you can see exactly what is inside the containers. Always pop lids on things too, this stops the food smells transferring to other food.

Meal Plan Chalkboard2. Meal plan – this is the single biggest way that we have saved, I read a magazine about 4 years ago that had a meal plan for four weeks and what it taught you was to plan this far in advance so that you could double up on things. For example, make the mince beef base, it’s the same for ragu, chilli con carne, mince and tatties, mince tacos and cottage pie. Then freeze it and it not only saves you wasting the mince, but it also give you a half made meal later on in the month. We always meal plan by looking through what we have an making the meal plan from there. We have standard things, like if we are having a creamy based pasta sauce we’ll not need all of the creme fraiche so I make a chicken pie that week too that means we have creme fraiche to make the sauce.

3. When using peppers, I always cut them in half and keep the half in the fridge with the stalk entact, this will last an extra few days for another meal.

4. Use your freezer – Anything that is fresh in my fridge that looks like it might not last, I either cook and freeze or pop in a bag in the freezer, and example of this is my smoothies. I have a breakfast smoothie daily and so I cut up the fruit and veg for this and ensure that I have at least 5 days worth. I don’t even defrost it, I just pop it in my nutribullet, add almond milk and chai seeds, blast it and viola – breakfast shake in minutes. This saves on washing up too as I’m making them in batches in advance! We even freeze our baking, so we make banana bread and then freeze them in individual bags. take them out in the morning and they are defrosted by lunchtime. This also works for sandwiches – if you want to make them up at the weekend for everyone for the week and they will defrost by lunch!

5. Use portions – so for example, for an adult you need about a quarter of a cut of rice per portion, then add double the amount of water – you can also use scales, all of the pack have recommended portion sizes on the pack. THis is not only good for ensuring no waste, but helps you not over eat too!

6. When your bread is getting a bit harder, then either toast it or blitz it up and pop in the freezer, you can use these straight away for coating chicken and fish or adding as a topping to your pasta bake. We also do this with the heels of the bread, cause noone seems to like them!!

7. Passata – I always buy the cheap version of passata, I find it does the job and is an instant tomato base for either pizza or left over puff pastry – I pour the rest into baby storage containers and freeze them. If the boys want pasta or pizza for dinner, it can be defrosted in seconds and it never seems to go off.

8. Be aware that use by dates and best before dates are not the same. You can still use products after their best before date, this date only signifies that the quality is best before this date. Use by dates on the other hand are for safety and you shouldn’t eat something past these dates.

9. Get creative – Have a look in your fridge, I am sure between that and the dry ingredients you have in the cupboard you could make some really tasty things. I love this and have often helped people on social media come up with a plan for their dinner – so please do message me if you need help. Our favourites are fridge soup – anything in your fridge (pretty much!) will go into a soup, so why not make lunches for everyone for the next week. I have a few staples in the cupboard to help, so we have have pasta, stock cubes, potatoes and cans of beans. I also add in left over veg to dishes, so tonight I’m making chilli, but I’m popping in a green pepper that needs used up and some mushrooms, these then add to our 5 a day, don’t get wasted and mean that you need less meat per portion. I bet there will be leftovers to portion up to put in the freezer for next week too!

Here is our pizza that we make easily from things in the fridge, the kids love making them up too. You can use anything from left over passata or pesto for the base or mackerel or half can of tuna sprinkled over the top. Good for using up ends of cheese too!

Homemade fridge pizza

10. Batch cook – If like me, you work full time and find that when you get home, you are absolutely beat, then use your time wisely. I batch cook most sundays, using both my hob and my slow cooker and then freeze in portions. If my husband was doing this the portions would be bigger than what they are, but I try to limit these and add a side salad with the meal or a quick slice of garlic bread and this bulks it up for the people with slightly larger appetites.

Here are a couple of videos of me chatting and showing you some of the tips.

I’ll also blog my favourite left over recipe using puff pastry and left over veg and pop the link in here.

For more information about the campaign and even more tips visit

Disclaimer: we were sent a token to buy some food to reimburse us for this blog. We are part of the Markettiers4DC blogger outreach programme.

Meal Planning Monday – 9th March 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Back to work today, have enjoyed my few days off and made me realise how much I miss the days off to potter in the house and cook & bake.

This week I decided to give Aldi a try – Everyone is raving about it, and I have been before, but I have never done my full shop there. I had my full list and they had everything apart from Bubbles’ goats milk, so that’s not too bad. Normally in Tesco my shop is anything between £60 and £80 and this week it was £38. That was with a few random extras in there, so let’s just say – I’ll be back!!

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Veal schnitzelI got these from the local butcher at Dobbies, Melville

Meatloaf This was an additional at Aldi – I wanted to get something the boys would eat too and they are so fussy – I picked this up for £1.99 and totally looking forward to it

Roast LambThe butcher at my work, Dobbies, is fab, was chatting to him about what to have for a roast, he suggested leg of lamb – totally looking forward to it

The other nights G and I are out at other things, so on those nights it will be chilli pasta or cheese and beans on toast – not very exciting but they are quick and easy and once you’ve been out doing some exercise you don’t feel like a full on meal.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Be an energy shopper

ThermostatNext to my mortgage and my council tax, my monthly energy bill is next in terms of amount it costs me. I used to stay with the same provider thinking that they would do me a good deal, but now I shop around. When looking at shopping around it’s worth looking at some comparison sites, the Be An Energy Shopper is one that Britmums have told me about and it’s really easy to use.

I recently switched my energy provider and I’ve saved £30 a month, this doesn’t sound that much, but when you add it up over the year that’s almost £500 so it’s worth doing. I am saving up my pennies for mine and Grim’s 40th this year – not sure yet what we are going to do….. I now feel that at £100/month I’m getting a better deal, but I will continue to look at this every six months or so just to check!

On recently switching I found it so simple just filling in my details of what I am using, and the rest was done for me.

Everyone is different, it might be that you are interested in green credentials of the company or it might be that you just want to get the best deal. It’s also worth noting that you need to know what you have used over the past year, so look up your old statements to check.

I’ve not just saved money by changing supplier, I also ensure that we turn off stuff that is on standby on a nightly basis and only turn on lights that we need. I also love the fact that the nicer weather is coming, so that I can dry my clothes outside. I did a test a few years back where I checked my energy usage daily and tracked what I was spending. On the days that I didn’t put on my tumble dryer or my dishwasher, I saved much more, so I only use these when I need to now. The other thing that drains your energy is stuff on standby, so where you can, you need to turn these off. So often now, all items go onto standby instead of having an on – off switch – have we really got that lazy.

So folks, I challenge you, to go onto the Be An Energy Shopper and let me know how much you can save. Seriously, it’s so easy, all you need to do is give them your details and they will do the rest.

Dislcaimer: I’m working with BritMums and DECC alongside the #PowertoSwitch campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit www.BeAnEnergyShopper.com