Saturday, 28 March 2015

Green bean and radish warm salad with Peter Rabbit #Tastytales

I've been invited to take part in the Happy Feaster Blog Tour by Ladybird Books and The Happy Foodie.   We have been asked to take storytelling from the page to the kitchen by creating a Spring recipe inspired by the Tales of Peter Rabbit!  I've decided to create a green bean and radish salad with my little bunnies (Alex 5 and Sam 2). 

For more Spring recipes, inspired by Peter Rabbit and friends, why not head over to The Happy Foodie and discover how celebrity chefs and their children are joining in!

As part of this campaign we were given 3 brilliant Peter rabbit books to inspire our ingredients or ideas behind our recipe. 
Sam and Alex both like this selection of short board books, with brief short stories of the main characters in the Peter Rabbit tales. we love that the reverse of all the books create an image if put in the correct order-we only discovered this a few days after we had first read them!

I love how this is a great decoration/backdrop as well as a short story too.

A special edition for Penguin's 80th anniversary. A really lovely story-we didn't have any Peter Rabbit stories beforehand (I must ask Mum if she kept my collection I had as as a child!) and Alex and Sam have both sat down and listened nicely to the story.

It was the original Peter Rabbit tale where we got our recipe inspiration from:
Peter Rabbit is partial to pinching some of Mr McGregor's radishes after all!

"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes"

Green bean and radish warm salad
A small bag of green beans
1 small red onion (diced finely)
2 cloves of garlic (diced finely)
1 tsp of grainy mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
A small handful of radishes

-Chop the ends off the green beans and put on to boil for 4-5 minutes.
-Slice the other vegetables finely.
-In another pan sweat the onions and garlic for a few minutes, meanwhile mix the oil, mustard, and lemon juice in a small jug, season to taste.
-Add the onions and garlic to the oil dressing.
-Drain the beans and mix with the radishes, toss with the dressing.

This dish will be the perfect side dish to barbecues, we enjoyed it last night with chicken and sautéed potatoes.

If you've enjoyed this then why not stop by Over 40 and a mum to one tomorrow to check out what delicious Easter ideas she has for enjoying with your families. 

Also follow the hashtag #tastytales to see what other people and bloggers have been inspired to make. 

We also did a quick bunny bake last night, now I am sure if you have little ones you would've sung the song 'Peter Rabbit's got a fly upon his nose'...

Well with that in mind we a quick batch of biscuits-with cinnamon cranberries for the fly upon his nose! I don't think the people at Biscuiteers have got anything to worry about as it's not a patch on the surprise Peter Rabbit biscuit we received-we haven't had the heart to eat it yet as it just feels wrong as it looks so good!

Blogger Tricks

Friday, 6 March 2015

Apologies-my blog has been a bit quiet of late, and also apologies to any blogs I normally read too-I just haven't had the time/have been far too tired when I do.

I have been busy trying to get my craft business up and running-even got around to letting the tax man know about me last week (not that I will be making that much from it!).

It is going quite well, slow and steady but I am getting a few orders in and spreading the word (and my work) out there a bit.

In our new house I am lucky enough to have a craftroom, my husband still calls it his office but the desk is usually covered in felt, a glue gun, buttons and papers so I think I win there.

It is so nice to finally have a space where I can a. do any craft I want to and b. be able to leave it all out, exactly as I want and come back to it when I can. I feel very lucky to have this as it is something I have pretty much been dreaming about for years!

The last few weeks have seen me busy with new home makes and Mother's day makes too, I am thankful that my friends have given me a chance in ordering some of my items too.

Here's a little peak at some of my recent makes:

A personalised new home make

Mother's day doesn't have to just be for Mum's :) felt rose heart
This colour card has been popular with my netball friends-Mother's Day card
I must admit the hardest part of having this business on the side is the feeling that I am not really being there for my family as much, far too often the tv has come to keep the kids entertained whilst I have been up stairs making. So time management is something I really have to work on a bit!

I also get a bit anxious when sending out parcels as to whether they will get there ok, I am always worried the glass will break and with the cards I am worried they will get badly bent-but then I always like something to worry about don't I!?

If you like what you see I would be ever so grateful (if you are on facebook) to give my small business a like, just remember when you buy handmade you aren't paying for some fat cat at the top to enjoy a swanky holiday you are helping a small family save for day's out, clothes, or after school activities.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Why can't I play with my boys?

So I have a confession and it really isn't one I am proud of at all.

I suck, really, really suck at being a good Mum who finds time for and plays with my children.

I always wanted to be a fun Mum, making dens, crafting, dressing up and being silly.

Getting involved.

But I am not.

I am a Mum who is always making excuses, always craving 'me time', choosing a house job over playing (despite hating housework) sitting with them but not engaging properly with them, phone in hand usually, or laptop breaks when my mind wanders.

I am sure the words my son's hear most are "in a minute", "later", "we'll do it next day/week..." and how sad is that?

I am more than happy to watch, but I get bored playing the games with them (I am ready for the backlash of that comment as I am sure many people will say how can you), I find it hard to play the same game or push the same cards around over and over.

And yet, as much as I feel guilty I still so nothing about it. What does that say about me?

They are two very happy souls, who are currently playing great together as I type this. Crashing their noisy 4x4 cars into each other and collapsing into giggles, and instead of joining in I am sat watching.

I always had visions of being a fun mum, and I am sure I used to be more of one way back but why can't I be now?

I NEED to snap out of this!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: Gousto meal box

We had the pleasure to review one of Gousto's meal boxes for two last week-and what a treat it was!

Not heard of Gousto? Well they are a brilliant company that deliver food boxes right to your door, similar to veg boxes you can get from other companies however Gousto's boxes include everything you need to make the meals.

Everything was packaged nicely in the printed box. I must admit I was intrigued as to how it would be packaged with such a variety of ingredients! 95% of the packing is recyclable and from renewable resources which I think is a great thing for companies these days, the meat and cheese was kept cold with a couple of large ice packs and everything protected by a bag of wool which also helped with keeping it all cool. The box was in to compartments which stopped the vegetables and fruit from getting bruised. The only slight problems we had were that the spring onion looked a little limp and the vinegars had very slightly leaked from their pots and bags, but to be honest I wouldn't know a better way to package these. 

It was very exciting to have all the ingredients ready to go for the meals, I am very much an 'open the cupboards and see what dinner I can make from it' kind of girl normally! As I said all the ingredients are there, the only things we needed extra for our meals were house essentials such as milk, butter, salt, pepper and oil.    

We had a box which was for 2 people, which included 3 separate meals:
Steak and blue cheese
Pork and braised apple
Sausage and bean mash

Each meal has a menu card, showing clearly the ingredients needed, quantities (as you can get boxes for 4 people too), time, cuisine, and calorie count per portion. What I really liked about these recipe cards is the easy step to step instructions with photos for each stage, now I am relatively ok with cooking but if say my hubby or my brother was cooking a meal they may need these photos a bit more than I did (shh I didn't say that about them)! I also came across a video icon on one stage on the pork and apple meal which lead to a short tutorial

I'd say each meal pretty much took the same amount of time said on the card, I liked that they were all cooked within 15-30mins each, I think I have always been of the thought that tasty meals took ages to prepare and to cook!

All three meals were great, the stilton (which I don't normally like) was delicious, the pork and leek sausages were the best sausages I have eaten in a long time, and I think the pork and apple meal was our favourite out of the 3. 

Gousto box prices are:
  • Meat box for 2 people - £34.99 per week
  • Meat box for 4 people - £49.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 2 people - £33.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 4 people - £47.99 per week 
If you ever need to cancel or pause you can do so, you just need to make sure you do it before noon on a Sunday before the delivery. I have also discovered you can do a monthly delivery from reading on their website 

Now if I am honest we couldn't afford to get one of these boxes weekly at the moment what with having just moved. But having said that if we did have enough money I would definitely be considering it as it takes the stress out of deciding what you want to eat when on the food shop, everything is ready to go and the meat and vegetables were all of a brilliant quality. 

"Our sourcing team channels an unfathomable amount of effort into finding the best possible quality for you. Not that we're complaining, it keeps us in shape! Our smoked fish, for example, comes from a smokehouse in Wiltshire. Our meat is 100% British and always will be. Take our chicken, it’s supplied by a family owned butchery in Lancashire (and they get it from Cumbria). And our eggs? They come from a free-range farmer called Steven Rowbottom – you couldn’t make it up! He’s based a mere 2 miles away from our warehouse, in egg miles that’s less than a stone (or egg’s) throw. And if all that’s not enough, our sourcing team also do their utmost to buy from ethical suppliers like Suma and Mr. Organic, and family-run businesses like Direct Poultry. Phew!"

Also I am not sure about you,but do you end up cooking the same old meals every week or two? Gousto have a nice range of menus and I know from looking at them there are many things I normally wouldn't cook (or even really try as I tend to stick with what I know) so it brings a bit of variety and an eating experience too. They bring out new menus each week for you to choose from so there is always something new and exciting. 

Now what I want to know, is there a pudding option somewhere on the horizon too? (Sorry- ever the sweet tooth)!

We recieved one Gousto Meat box for 2 to review, but all opinions are our own. 



Saturday, 31 January 2015

Finally taking the plunge!

So I said I was going to give it a go like I have pretty much every recent year!

I have finally set up a Facebook page for my hopeful business venture!

Eek very nervous and not quite sure how I will work the ins and outs of it all yet!

But really happy to be giving it a go!

If you would like to take a quick look at a couple of items I have made over the last year or two and like the page itself I would be ever so grateful.

I am mainly for the moment focussing on children's items for the time being I think (at some point if it goes well I may make wedding/anniversary/home items) as need to start slowly as I am not quite sure how I will manage my time.

Do you run a business from home? How do you balance work/life/kids/husband and fit everything in?

If you run a small craft business I would be especially grateful for any tips...I really don't have a clue when it comes to anything business!

Things I may need some help or pointing into the right direction with:

-How is it best to keep on track with orders and money etc?

-How long do you allow for handmade orders?

-Who is best and most reliable to post items out with-especially when said item is a frame so has glass?

-Where is the best place to buy packaging? And what/how do you package up fragile items best?

-Do you need liability insurance or is that just for when you do craft fairs?

AND if there is anything else you can think of that might be handy for me to know I would be ever so grateful as I really am a novice at this!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tiny Tickers- Heart week 2015 (Feb 7th-14th)

There are so many charities about at the moment that sometimes the newer, lesser known ones need a bit of a push to 'get out there' which is why I am helping promote the Tiny Tickers charity this week as it really seems like such a great cause.

I was shocked to read that congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect in the UK responsible for 7.5% of baby deaths, which is a shocking amount in my opinion. Research has proven that the earlier CHD is detected the better the babies chance of survival. Sadly only a 1/3 of 3000 babies are detected with before birth, and a further 1/3 detected after birth which means 1000 babies go home with no one realising they have a life threatening heart defect.

Which is why Tiny Tickers is trying to improve the early detection to ensure the babies have the best start and care they need from day one. This would include CHD screening before birth, testing for CHD in undetected babies, and creating awareness for undetected heart problems in the home and community (think HEART).

Tiny Tickers are promoting 'Heart Week 2015' and there are many ways you can get involved...of course if the 7th-14th of Feb doesn't suit you can fund-raise at any time of the year!

What can you do?
There are many ideas for what you can do to raise vital funds:
Dress down days
How about a Valentine's bake sale-heart shaped cakes for a heart cause
A Tiny Tickers' & Love Hearts 'Guess How Many Sweets in the Jar' game

Their 'Heart Week 2015' tool kit has everything you need to get you started and remember - every penny counts so anything you can raise will be gratefully received. 
To get your free Heart Week pack, including your Love Hearts 'Guess the Number of Sweets' game, register here now!
To set up a Virgin Money Giving page for your Heart Week activity,click here
To read a real life story about why Tiny Tickers needs your help please read Robbie's story 


Swizzels, Love Hearts and the image of the Love Heart sweet are registered trademarks of Swizzels Matlow Limited.

Friday, 16 January 2015

A Lego themed party on a budget!

Now Alex, like many boys loves Lego! It was a no brainer that his party would involve a loosely Lego theme! We booked a hall and had around 20 5 year olds to entertain (thankfully with the help of Mum who is a nursery teacher-phew)!

Lego colouring
As with all parties you don't get everyone turn up at once so we had printed various colouring sheets for the children-these were all found online and there are plenty to choose room. We had a range of the Lego movie characters mainly.

Create a Lego Man
One evening I had a really great time cutting out 20+ Lego figures out of yellow card. I manage to fit 3 on one sheet of A4 to give you a rough size. I had ordered lots of stickers and googly eyes for the children to decorate them with and gave this as an option as well as the colouring. Some of them really came out well and my two are pleased there are plenty left for them to use when we draw and make now.

Lego brick game
This is a twist from a game my Mum plays with nursery children at her school. Have four coloured cards behind your back and 4 coloured blocks in each corner of the hall. I had decorated them to look like Lego bricks by covering boxes in wrapping paper and then super-gluing circles to the top of them (the things we do eh)! Basically when the music is playing the children dance and jump about and when it stops they have to run to corner. I am sure you can guess what is next...when the person holding the cards pulls one out the children on that colour are out. When you get down to 4 children or less they have to run to different coloured blocks rather than being on the same one. The kids really enjoyed this and we played it quite a few times!

Pin the piece of resistance on Emmet
It couldn't be a Lego party without Emmet involoved or of course a pin! I actually drew this the morning of the party in a rush-the boys have since enjoyed colouring it in. I just cut out red paper 'pieces of resistance' and took blue tac with us. This is quite a good game to do whislt someone brings the food out!

Lego head cake
I simply baked egg sponge in a brownie tin I have which is square with rounded edges, and also a 2 egg sponge in a loaf tin. The square shape made the perfect Lego head shape, and I just cut the loaf cake into the right lengths for the top and bottom parts. I spread yellow icing all over (I used butter icing because I suck at rolled icing!) and then cut two circles for the eyes and cut a shape for the mouth out of black rolled icing.

Lego moulds
These were probably the only thing I really spent money on-Lego figure and Lego brick moulds that I bought on eBay. I melted chocolate into the brick moulds (I had tried using food colouring with white chocolate but it didn't work out) and left to set and then used fondant icing to make the coloured Lego figures-bit tricky to get out so if anyone has any tips on that I would be grateful! These would be great if you wanted to use for making your own crayons too.

Lego party cake cups
Now this year I just did not have the money to spend on plastic tat for party bags, neither the money to buy Lego stickers or anything remotely good to give so I decided the main part Alex usually gets excited about is the sweets anyway! So I filled up some normal plastic cups with some sweets and the Lego chocolate bricks and placed a cupcake on top which had yellow icing and a Lego icing man on top too. Wrapped and tied with cellophane and ribbon to make something simple look a bit nicer!

Hope these ideas will be helpful for you, apologies for some iffy photos I forgot to take proper ones on the day as was too busy preparing food and getting everything together!

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