Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Making It Personal

We moved into our new home almost a year ago and, so far, haven't done any re-decorating..unless you count the garden, where we've done lots. I've decided to make a start in the smallest room, our youngest's bedroom, but I'm planning on re-painting the entire house by the Summer!

Over the weekend we took a trip around some local hardware stores and found some tester pots of colours we liked for the kids bedrooms and a giant tub of magnolia silk paint for general smartening up. Our eldest has chosen the colour for her room (a very pale lilac) and we purchased the pale green that our youngest chose for his bedroom. I started painting Monday morning while they were both having fun at Pre-School and managed to finish it on Tuesday when they were doing the same.

Furnishings from Ikea, wall stickers from Argos

It looks much better. So much brighter and neater and fresher. It's a really nice colour (apple white by Dulux if you're wondering) and works well in his little box room; giving him colour without making the room feel small and dark. He is very happy with it and loves the colour.

I'm hoping to completely redecorate the children's rooms with new furniture and furnishings (apart from their beds). I'm pretty excited about making our home more personal and they seem to be too. Keep an eye out for updates and before-and-after pictures!

The pictures don't do this colour's much fresher and brighter in person

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Newborns On My Newsfeed

My facebook newsfeed is jam-packed with pictures of a completely gorgeous newborn baby boy, his ecstatic parents and lots of adorable pictures of them as a brand new family of three. It is so lovely and I am over-the-moon for them and happy to hear that both their little one and his Mum are happy and healthy after the birth.

But it has set me off a little.

There has been a lot of hurt sitting very heavily on my chest the last few days and I feel so guilty that it's there. But it is always there...even three and half years after my youngest was born.

It shows it's face every time I encounter a birth announcement or a picture of a newborn and their happy parents and it's a sudden punch in the chest, shattering my ribs, forcing the air out of my lungs and crushing my heart in it's grip.

I hate it. I hate that it's there. I hate the subtle anger and jealousy tucked away within the overwhelming sadness. I feel awful feeling it, especially towards new parents. I am happy for them, of course I am, but try as I might I can't block out the hurt, and the guilt of that makes me feel dreadful.

There is still a lot of anger inside about the start our youngest was given and all of the things that were taken away from us. It surprises even me sometimes, just how much is still lurking.

We didn't get to do the lovely newborn bit with him. Instead of posing for pictures as a family, hearts almost bursting with happiness, we spent our first moments with our little boy fighting for his life, me unconscious and hemorrhaging and my Husband pacing the hallways of the ward filled with worry and fear for the both of us.

The first time I saw my little boy's face wasn't when he was gently passed to me by a Midwife, all wrapped in a blanket and then laid gently onto my chest. I was given a photograph, his face obscured with tubes and cables and, at first, unsure if he had won his first battle or not. I was lying in a recovery ward next to a lady with her newborn doing all of the things that I should have been doing with my baby.

The first time I held him wasn't when he was passed to me, barely minutes old. It was over one week later, in a busy NICU, wearing a plastic apron and protective gloves. The first thing I did when he was handed to me wasn't smile, as I should have done, but cry with fear and worry and hurt and anger at the start he had been given and everything he had to come.

Those first precious moments where not as they should have been. They were stolen from us.
They were muddied with terror and overwhelming sadness.

All I wanted to do was shout at someone. Make it somebody else's fault instead of accepting the guilt I was feeling inside for not being able to bring my baby into the world happy and healthy. For failing to do my job of protecting him and helping him to grow. My body failed me. My body failed him. And it is so sodding unfair. And no, I don't care if it sounds like I am throwing my toys out of the pram. It is bloody, ridiculously unfair.

Will this bit ever pass? Or is this something that's going to stick around with me for the rest of my days, knocking me back each and every time? Will it fade over time, become like PTSD has done, where things that should set me off have little to no effect and then something completely unexpected, knocks me clean off my feet?

Is this a natural reaction when you've have a baby almost 3 months too early? Or am I just a mean person?

Crispy Crushed Potatoes

Have you ever had that moment where you've decided on what you're having for dinner but just can't settle on what you're going to serve it with? I get that all the's annoying isn't it?!

How about crispy crushed potatoes? They are a tasty accompaniment to any meal and are so easy to make. To make your own, you will need;

  • New potatoes (salad or baby potatoes will also work)
  • Small amount of oil
  • Salt
  • Mixed herbs

Scrub your potatoes whilst bringing a large pan of water to the boil. Carefully add the potatoes (whole) into the boiling water and cook for around 20 minutes (or until tender).

Drain the water from pan, leaving your potatoes to sit and steam dry for a couple of minutes. Place them on a baking tray then crush them with either a fork, spoon or rolling pin (whatever you find easiest). Drizzle some oil over the potatoes, add a small pinch of salt and a good sprinkling of mixed herbs.

Place in an oven preheated to 220°c (200°c fan) for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and beginning to brown. Serve and tuck in.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Growing Our Own

My two budding gardeners have been outside enjoying the mild weather and helping out with our little patch of green. They made bird feeders earlier in the week, which the birds have been absolutely loving, and this morning they helped to re-pot the peppers and sow seeds. How much have they grown since we planted them back in March?!

So far this month, our main focus has been on growing our own peppers. We had a change in direction this morning and the kids sowed some flower seeds; they chose miniature marigolds, phlox and sunflowers. They filled up some peat trays with compost, poked holes in each segment then sowed their seeds.

All of our re-potted peppers and seeds then received a good watering from the kids. We placed the peppers in our new mini green-house and the seeds have found themselves a sunny spot on the kitchen windowsill. They should begin to flower from June onwards, so hopefully we'll have lots of pretty bedding for our garden by the Summer. Fingers crossed!

Are you growing your own this year? What are you growing?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 25 April 2014

Us. 8 Years Ago.

We were friends at school, ish. We knew each other and we hung out occasionally but you were the year below me and I was the year above you. We had our own circle of friends but we got on well when we talked to each other..even when you were a bit of a pain, like all teenage boys can be.

You disappeared off to College while I stayed on at 6th Form to complete my A-Levels. I thought that was that, I didn't have a number or you added onto my bebo or myspace or whatever awful social networking sites we used back then.

That's when something else stepped in, to make sure we found each other again. A mutual friend of ours (I'm using the term loosely here, I know you're not his greatest fan), started up a band. You were the drummer, but only for a few weeks. I checked out the band's page and listened to a couple of tracks that had been put up. Something urged me to scroll down a bit and there I found your name. A blast from the past. Someone I thought I'd never see again.

I added you on the necessary awful social networking sites and we started chatting, usually over MSN (remember using that??) We flirted, we chatted and we got to know each other a little better.

We arranged to meet up one evening, after I had finished revising for exams and you had finished work. I smiled the instant I saw you, I didn't stop for the whole evening. Our hands slipped into each others and it felt right, normal, as if it had always been that way. Conversation flowed easily. I was nervous but relaxed with you holding my hand.

We went to the local Park, wandered around for a bit and talked some more. We hugged, we walked, we held hands, we smiled. Eventually we kissed. We were under that big tree close to the children's play you remember it? I still smile when we walk past it, 8 years on, married, with our two children. Still holding hands.

It was April 25th 2006 when we 'officially' started dating. Eight whole years ago today, how insane is that?! You've made those years fly past. I love you. Just the same. Always.

Kids Crafts : Bird Feeders

We've been encouraging the birds into our garden recently (have a look here). It worked brilliantly and we've had lots visit for a snack and a look around, much the children's delight, but the greedy little birds have eaten ALL of the fatballs we bought at the beginning of the month and we have nothing left to give them.

The kids and I decided to create our own bird feeders to keep our little visitors happy. All you need to create your own are some pipe-cleaners and some cheerios, or similar multigrain hoop cereal.

We tied a small loop in the end of each pipe-cleaner to stop the cereal from falling off, then started to add our hoops. Once we'd covered the pipe-cleaner we twisted the two ends of the pipe-cleaner together and shaped them into hoops and hearts. We linked our hoops together then added a piece of ribbon or string to hang them in the garden. Whilst I was doing this, the kids finished off the remaining cheerios ;)

We had a wander around our garden and chose the best spots to hang our feeders. The birds have been to have a look and are enjoying them already.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful #R2BC - 05

Reasons To Be Cheerful (#R2BC) is being hosted by the wonderful Ojo at Ojo's World for the month of April; make sure you pop over and say hello.

Today is the last day of the holiday's for my two, they go back to Pre-School tomorrow and I am going to really miss them. We've had a really fun Easter Holiday filled with library trips, crafting, visiting parks, a farm trip, a birthday party, visiting family and lots of time enjoying the good weather outside and our garden. It's flown past!

Tomorrow will mark 8 years since my Husband and I started dating! He has the day off work, the children are at Pre-School all day and we are going to enjoy a late breakfast somewhere, some shopping and a spending some time together, just the two of us...something very rare.

I've written a couple of times about my health and my recovery (I'm considering a post going into a bit more depth about it soon, but I'm not sure..?) and I'm so pleased to finally be able to say that I've reached a point where I'm now well enough to resume regular running! I'm so excited!! I'm planning a 5km race in October and, if I continue to train sensibly and eat well, I have plans for a 10km next year and maybe even a half-marathon a year or so after that. I'm so thrilled to be back running again, I've missed it a great deal the last year and a bit.

UK Mug Swap 2014

The lovely Hannah over at Cupcake Mumma has arranged and hosted a fantastic UK mug swap each year since 2012, and this year I got involved! I'm not a tea or coffee drinker but, as a self-confessed chocoholic, I can't resist a hot chocolate. And sometimes a cup-a-soup. But mainly chocolate.

I was paired up with the wonderful Bex from BusyBeeMummyBex. She blogs about her two beautiful children, including her youngest's journey with Bilateral Talipes (commonly referred to as club foot), their flat pack home adventures and their family life. I've know Bex since 2009, when we joined the same September 2009 online 'Birth Group' and we've stayed in touch since.

We swapped addresses, likes and dislikes and then I set about looking for a mug (and a couple of treats) that I thought she would like. I finally settled on this sweet, patterned bird mug. I found some tasty chocolate rabbits and a cupcake bath bomb that looked good enough to eat in a local, independant craft shop to post with it. As this year's mug swap took place around Easter I thought the birds and treats fitted in quite well too!

Here's what I posted to Bex...

...and here's what arrived for me!

I was very excited to receive my parcel, as were the kids. We opened it up straight away and found my lovely mug wrapped up inside, along with some tasty treats and a keepsake to hang in our home; after much deliberation I settled on a spot in mine & my Husband's room.

A massive thanks to Hannah for organising this, I'll be back next year ;)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Involving Children In The Cooking With Persil

After hearing that 88% of parents avoid cooking with their children because of the mess and feeling a little bit awful, because I could easily be one of them, my Husband and I made the 'Persil Promise' to 'Cook With The Kids' much more often. Our two help out reasonably regularly with small kitchen tasks like buttering bread, adding fillings to their sandwiches, pouring milk on their cereal and making cakes but that's about it - they would both love to do so more and, from now on, I will try to include them in as much cooking as I can.

In fact, that started this morning! Daddy, the kids and I cooked fried eggs on toast for breakfast; giving the kids the opportunity to join in (which they absolutely loved) and me the opportunity to test out Persil's new formula washing-up liquid that can wash 1,400 more plates than it's predecessor! My eldest and I also made some Easter egg nest cakes together in the evening, lots of mess was made but it was very fun.

My little terrors had a great time cooking breakfast and really enjoyed tucking into what they had made. Have you noticed how much more kids enjoy their food when they've made it themselves? And how much more willing they are to try things that they normally wouldn't have wanted to?

We were kindly sent a bottle of Spring Blossom and Orange Crush washing-up liquid to try. Persil's new formula is also available in Pink Blush, Lemon Burst, Apple Fizz and Fresh Mint, which all sound very fresh and lovely. The 500ml bottles retail at just £1 and can be found in all major Supermarket's nationwide. Their new-look bottle has also been designed with the environment in mind and, weighing less than it's predecessor, is estimated to save around 120 tonnes of plastic a year, which can only be a good thing!

I was instantly drawn to the gorgeous pink of the Spring Blossom bottle and it smelt fresh and floral whilst I was using it. The Orange Crush also smelt divine and left my kitchen with a lovely fresh orange smell after I'd finished all of my washing-up. I only needed a small amount of Persil to create plenty of bubbles and, as I usually buy Supermarket own brands, I was rather stunned by just how much easier Persil made the washing-up. It made light work of our greasy dishes, pans and plates, and, later on, the cake covered bowls and tins. There was no need for scrubbing and a quick 5 minute soak in hot water and Persil soon lifted any stubborn grease or cooked on food that didn't want to budge, much better than the 30+ minutes of soaking followed by lots of 'elbow grease' that I usually encounter.

One thing I was a bit worried about was how Persil would treat my hands. They are naturally very dry and prone to eczema breakouts when exposed to overly fragranced soaps and similar. I experienced no reaction at all to the Spring Blossom fragrance but had some itching after using Orange Crush (but Orange is a big 'no go' for me, eating is causing stomach cramps and using it in soap, body wash etc causes a massive eczema itching is pretty good and a rather mild reaction!) My hands felt a little dry afterwards, but that's to be expected after doing lots of washing-up and they were nowhere near as dry as when I've used other brands.

If you want to join in with Persil's new 'Cook With The Kids' campaign and make a move into the 12% of parents that love involving their children in the cooking and getting messy in the kitchen have a little look at the video below. And don't forget to make your own Persil Promise! Doing so will also provide you with a free downloadable 'Cook With the Kids' pack, complete with handy tips for getting the kids involved and lots of child friendly recipes, as well as entering you in a prize draw for the chance to win a kids baking set or, the grand prize, a children's party worth £500!!

Do you involve your kids in the cooking? What kind kind of things do you make together?

Disclaimer : Persil sent me two bottles of 500ml washing-up liquid for review, along with some information on their new 'Cook With The Kids' campaign. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Letters From Granny

My eldest is fascinated with the postal service. Each time we post a letter, which seems to be becoming less frequent in the 'digital age,' she asks all for all of the hows and whys of it; she wants to know what happens next, where the letters go, how they get to the other peoples houses and why we don't post them through their letterboxes ourselves.

Needless to say, she loves receiving post and the both of them can often be found making a dash for the letterbox the instant they see the postman appear at the window. They are usually a little disappointed though as we don't receive much post ourselves and even less that it addressed to them. They enjoy opening the junk mail but we're rather lucky not to receive very much and it's just not the same as opening an envelope with your name on the front, even when you are 4 and 3 years of age.

That's where my Mum, known as Granny to the kids, comes in! My eldest was talking about the letters they both received at Christmas from Santa and how she wished she had more post that was for her. As if by magic, a week or so later, a letter with their names on the front appears in the hallway and they are both beyond excited! On opening it they find a card each with a small note from Granny inside, wishing them a fun week at Pre-School and sending her love. And so, 'letters from Granny' was born.

Now, my Mum lives just around the corner. Literally a 5 minute walk away..if that! But, knowing their fascination with the postal system (especially my eldest) she has gone to the effort and the expense of posting it properly, instead of popping it through the door. Which is just so lovely.

The kids really love receiving their letters from Granny, once every month or so. It's become kind of a 'thing' between the three of them and it is so sweet. Last week they both received their latest post, an Easter card each from Granny that they just can't stop looking at and reading.

Easter Egg Nest Cakes

When I mentioned to my eldest that I was going to make some cakes she was all too keen to come and help out. Her little Brother (and Daddy) was enjoying a nap after a busy Easter weekend so it gave us the perfect opportunity to have some Mummy-Daughter time, something I struggle to fit in as much as I would like to.

We had a think about what sort of Easter cakes we would like to make and eventually settled on decorated cupcakes. My little helper made the cakes all by herself (with just the minimal amount of stirring assistance from me) and then spooned them into her chosen cupcakes cases. We used 100g caster sugar, 100g butter, 100g self-raising flour, 2 eggs, ¼ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp vanilla extract to create our cupcakes.

Whilst the cakes were busy baking in the oven we enjoyed some Easter chocolates and set about creating our nests, which were going to sit on the top of our cakes. We'd found some super sweet, teeny-tiny eggs whilst shopping a few days before and thought they would be perfect. We broke up a small Easter egg to create the nests and stuck 3 mini-eggs onto each piece using an icing pen (easier for little hands, but a bit of royal icing would do the job just as well).

Once the cakes had finished cooking and were suitably cooled, we mixed up some butter-cream and added some green food colouring to it. I piped the green butter-cream using a hair/grass/fur nozzle (see above) to create a grassy effect on our cupcakes and we then placed our little nests in the 'fields.'

As my Daughter was making these cakes for herself and I to enjoy we included some chocolate (something we usually avoid in baking due to my youngest's dairy intolerance). If we had been making these with him we could have used twisted liquorice laces to create a nest (an idea I picked up from Center Parcs helpful tips for making Easter Nests) and used mini marshmallows instead of chocolate eggs.

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 April challenge. If I'm chosen, I would like to visit Elveden Forest.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Kids Crafts : Easter Decorations

The Range opened near us recently, so while we were out shopping for new children's shoes we decided to stop in and see what they had to offer. We found these crafty bits in the children arts & crafts section, costing £1 each and thought they were perfect for some Easter crafting. There were several Easter shaped cardboard decorations to chose from, including eggs, chicks, rabbits and flowers.

The children always enjoy getting messy with paints and today's Easter decorations went down a treat. My eldest chose the tulip flower and my youngest opted for the egg; they both then started to paint them in various colours. Whilst they were painting they were also learning about mixing colours together and were asking about, and experimenting with, what several colours created when they were mixed together.

The results took a while to dry (due to the large amount of paint applied to them both!) but they are now proudly displayed, just in time for Easter. I even had a chance to create one myself to hang in mine and my Husband's room.

#SilentSunday - 05

Friday, 18 April 2014

Watergate Farm Lambing Weekend

This morning we made ourselves a picnic, packed up my camera and few bits for the kids, put our welly-boots on and made our way down to Watergate Farm's lambing weekend. It was a lovely sunny day, although it became a bit cloudy and windy at times, and we had a lot of fun exploring the farm and it's inhabitants.

Watergate Farm is located in Hockliffe, rural Bedfordshire and is a traditional family farm. It has been run by several generations of the Hunt family since it was first established 90 years ago in 1924 and rears mainly sheep and turkeys on it's land. The farm, it's owners and workers, are very keen on conservation and implement a rolling program of tree planting as well as encouraging and caring for any wildlife that may have found a home on it's land.

The price of £4 per adult and £3 per child was a very reasonable entrance fee for what was on offer, which included seeing the sheep, lambs, calves, pigs, chicks and other farm animals, holding/stroking a lamb, sheep shearing and wool spinning, tractor and trailer rides around the farm, a bouncy castle, a picnic area with BBQ and refreshments, some small stalls selling various items, including a 'paint your own' area for the kids, the chance to sit in a tractor and some lovely farmland to enjoy and explore a little.

It was quite busy there due to the Bank Holiday, but there was plenty of space to park and lots to see so, although there was a bit of a queue for the toilets and the BBQ, it wasn't too busy and you could move around the farm easily and visit all of the animals without feeling crowded in and like you were fighting to see things.

First up on the agenda, and the main reason we decided to visit, was having a look at the sheep and their lambs. The children (and us) loved watching the baby lambs frolicking around and cuddling up with their mummies. They were very cute.

After having a good look around outside, enjoying the lovely sunshine, we made our way into the main farm building where there were lots more sheep with their lambs along with some chicks and incubating eggs, calves and pigs. There was an opportunity to hold and stroke a lamb but it was, unfortunately, far too busy for us to have a go this time. We did get a chance to watch some sheep shearing and wool spinning though!

As we made our way around the rest of the farm we came across a couple of tractors parked up, just waiting for the children to climb up and sit in them. The farmhand said they were welcome to have a go and the kids climbed straight in and enjoyed pretending to drive them around the fields.

After we'd had a look around at most of the animals it was fast approaching lunchtime and the kids were starting to make noises about being hungry and wanting a drink. We washed our hands and there were quite a few places to do so which impressed me; a few other farms we've visited didn't have the greatest facilities and it was good not to have to queue for ages just to give our hands a wash. We found a nice spot in the picnic area and enjoyed our lunch. Afterwards we ventured into another farm building to have a look at the various stalls and the children found a small toy each, which they were very happy with.

We discovered a bouncy castle hidden within another building and the kids had a good jump around for a while. Our eldest was then insistent on visiting the chicks again. I think they were, by far, her favourite baby animals on the farm. I couldn't turn down looking at all the adorable lambs for a second time so we made our way back to the building where the majority of the animals were being kept and had another look around.

After we left the farm building, and another hand wash, the weather was getting quite a bit cloudier and windier and the children were starting to get a bit tired. There were tractor and trailer rides around the farm but we decided to give it a miss this time as our littles seemed to be feeling rather cold and tired. I'm sure they would have enjoyed it though..maybe we will come back on a slightly warmer day and take a ride. It took us around 2-3 hours to make our way around the land and try out the majority of the activities; I reckon we could have been there for another hour or so on a slightly warmer day though.

There is still time to visit the farm's lambing weekend! It is running over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend from 10.30-4.00, with the last day of the event being Monday April 21st. I highly recommend visiting the farm. It's in a beautiful location with lots of adorable baby animals, activities for the children, reasonable facilities and good admission prices. It is a great opportunity to veer away from the more commercial (and expensive) farm days and visit a proper working farm and it's inhabitants.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

September, Please Go Away

We received an email on Wednesday confirming that our eldest has been offered a place at her 1st choice school. Fantastic news! But, as much as I know my eldest is going to love and thrive at school, I am so nervous of September coming around. She is such an outgoing, friendly, bubbly and clever little girl and I have no worries that she will have lots of fun and make friends easily..but I do have a few concerns over how big a change this will be for her.

She loves playing with other children and she will play with anybody who approaches her, which is fantastic, but she will be moving from a Pre-School of around 25 children to a much larger setting and I worry about how she will react. Will she loose her confidence a little? Or will she be thrilled at having so many more people to interact with and enjoy the company of?

She will be one of, if not the, eldest in her year when she turns 5 at the end of September. It will help her lots, as will her love of learning and knowledge that has lead her to become such a smarty-pants. She already knows all of her planets for goodness sake! I still struggle to remember them and I'm 26!

It is brilliant but very scary to see her growing up, especially as the months seem to be flying past so quickly. Who will she become as she grows? What will she excel in at school? What will she struggle with? I guess I will find out, in time.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful #R2BC - 04

Reasons To Be Cheerful (#R2BC) is being hosted by the wonderful Ojo at Ojo's World for the month of April; make sure you pop over and say hello.

We've been visiting and exploring our local Library over the last couple of weeks and the children and I are loving it. We've been able to join in with a couple of great activities, including meeting Elmer the elephant, and have enjoyed being able to sit together a read lots of different books. The children chose some books to bring home with them after our visit on Tuesday and it has been brilliant seeing their love for books and stories take centre-stage again.

I've struggled with a few health issues over the last few years and, whilst we've all been under-the-weather with sore throats and a mild cold this week, I am very grateful that is all it is. A few months back we had the same thing and it left me feeling very weak and it wiped me out for a good 5 days. I'm so pleased to see that all the hard work I've been putting into my recovery and into getting myself healthy and well again is finally starting to pay me back a little.

I'm really looking forward to, what I hope will be, a fantastic four day weekend for our little family. My Husband works incredibly hard and, due to lots of development for a new computer system being needed, he hasn't taken a single day's holiday so far this year. We're planning on visiting a lambing event & BBQ at a nearby farm on Friday and enjoying a fun but relaxed weekend and Bank Holiday Monday.

This morning, I set up an Easter hunt around our home for the children. They had a lot of fun and it was brilliant seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces as they raced around solving the clues and looking for their tasty prize.

An Easter Hunt

With Easter just around the corner, and the excitement building in the children, I decided to set up a little Easter hunt for them around our home. I wrote out some clues and stuck them, along with some brilliant stickers that were FREE at the till from Sainsbury's, around our home whilst the children where playing out in the garden. I then prepared a little tasty treat and hid it in the garden after I'd managed to get them inside the house (not an easy task as they love being outside).

The children ran around together, filled with excitement and wide smiles, hunting for the clues. They were very good at it and loved working out where they would find the next clue. It was a lot of fun and they were rather excited to find their yummy Easter treats at the end of it.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

RECIPE : Spicy Mexican Bean Soup

This tasty homemade soup is quick, simple and inexpensive to make and will feed a family of 4 quite happily. With a nod towards chili con carne, it incorporates all the elements of a tasty Mexican dish, with a touch of spice, into a yummy soup perfect for dunking your tortilla chips into.

  • small can of sweetcorn, drained
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1tsp mild chili powder (optional)
  • 2 cartons of chopped tomatoes in chili and herbs (or similar)
  • 2 cans of mixed beans in mild chili
  • 350ml of vegetable stock made with 1 cube
  • pinch of pepper
  • bag of tortilla chips

Warm some oil in a large saucepan; while it's heating chop the garlic cloves and then add them into the pan along with 1 tsp of mild chili powder (if you want a slightly spicier soup). Fry them for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

Add the beans, tomatoes and sweetcorn to the pan then pour over the vegetable stock (for a thinner soup, add more stock). Add a pinch of pepper then bring the pan to the boil. Allow the soup to simmer for 2-3 minutes then serve with tortilla chips and tuck in.

Growing Our Own Vegetables : An Update

Almost one month ago we planted some assorted pepper seeds; barancio, bell and chili. Since then the terrors have been helping me to water the seeds and ensure that they have a nice sunny spot at the kitchen window. They've been enjoying watching them grow...and our tiny seedlings have shot up rather a lot over the past four weeks!

There are some seeds that haven't taken but we have at least one seedling of each variety of pepper and I think (and hope) there will be enough for us to enjoy once they are fully grown. As the seedlings are shooting up rather rapidly now, we'll be moving them into slightly larger containers later in the week but, until they are a little bigger, they will have to enjoy the garden from the kitchen window for a little longer yet.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

For The Love Of Books

Despite being self-confessed book-worms, the children and I only joined and discovered our local Library last Tuesday. Well, we've been back again! There was an Easter craft morning taking place today that we wandered down to; we listened to a couple of Easter bunny stories and were given the chance to take part in some Easter crafts and an egg hunt around the children's section of the Library. The kids had a lot of fun (despite Liam really not wanting to sit and listen to the stories today) and they both loved completing the egg hunt. They were rather good at it and found all 6 eggs with much smiling, jumping, pointing and screaming of "I found it! I found it!"

We are really starting to love our little local Library and, after the Easter activities, the three of us had some time to properly explore the children's books it had to offer. They have a lovely big children's section and an extensive selection of kids books; we read around 10 of them whilst we were there this morning. The children chose three books to take home with us today..something they were delighted to find they could do. My dinosaur mad eldest chose Harry and the Dinosaurs go Wild (Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds) and Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp! (Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe). My little man also liked the look of the dinosaur books but decided to complete our selection with Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell).

I cannot tell you how many times we have read these books this evening as I've completely lost count but I am enjoying their love for books and stories. It's lovely to see them explore a story and add their own elements and ideas to it. We will be taking the books back next week and choosing a few more to bring home with us and explore further but in the meantime I am planning lots of reading of the books and some fun activities that fit with the stories (more on that soon...)

What books have your little ones been enjoying this week?