Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Clarks Maple Syrup

Pancakes on special days is a bit of a tradition in this house, both birthdays and Christmas call for a pile of pancakes and toppings for breakfast.So when i was contacted asking if i wanted to try out some Clarks Maple Syrup as a topping for my pancakes i said yes of course!

 Clarks is a family firm using quality ingredients to create delicious syrups and not only is maple syrup yummy, it's lower in calories then honey or sugar and has been labelled a superfood!

I was sent a rather lovely package complete with some pancakes and 2 different Clarks syrups, Pure Canadian  No.1 and Vanilla to try out.
To keep it festive i cut my pancakes into Christmas tree shapes before drizzling with Pure Canadian syrup which is considered in Canada to be the real maple syrup.  Sweet and delicious the syrup makes a lovely topping for the pancakes and i can imagine it being gorgeous with some crispy bacon too. Seb loved it and quickly wolfed his down and has since has it with bananas and strawberries. 
Although i haven't really cooked with maple syrup before they are really versatile and i can see myself using them in various other dishes; family favourites such as porridge or eggy bread and also to glaze meat and vegetables(in my beloved slow cooker) and while baking. There are so many delicious sounding dishes out there to try so i'm sure they will become a store cupboard staple.

For more information and recipes check out the Clarks website

**We were kindly sent these products to try but all words and opinions are my own**

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Turning 30

A few days before Christmas i turned 30. 
When i was younger 30 always seemed like such a huge number and so old but to be honest now i've reached it i realise that it really isn't, and that the older i get the more confident i become in myself and the less i worry about what others think of me and thats actually pretty nice. Do you find you get more confident as you get older?
I never really set goals of things i would have acheived by this age but i did think i would have completed my family a subject which has been on my mind quite alot recently and while i am so blessed to have my  beautiful boys i think a third baby would make our family complete so perhaps we'll start working on that one soon.

 I didn't want much fuss, my partying days seem to have been left behind now so Phil arranged for the boys to stay out the night before my birthday so that we could have a quiet night with a takeaway and dvds and then i got a lie in and breakfast in bed on my birthday. We slept until 11am, i can't remember the last time we did that! When the boys came home we went took them to a local family pub for the afternoon. So it was a very quiet affair but really nice and relaxing too.
 My favourite present was this lovely bangle which says So... there's this boy whole stole my heart and changed my name to mummy which i just love, so very true! I also love my new floral striped dress from ASOS which has been worn loads over the festive period.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Peppermint Creams

Peppermint creams are delicious and really easy to make even with small people and they would make a cute present.
They usually contain raw egg which of course isn't ideal for toddlers or condensed milk which i didn't have in so i did some googling looking at various recipes and had a go at making no egg, no milk peppermint creams and it worked just fine.
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons of melted margarine
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • a few drops of green food colouring
  • some chocolate of your choice(i used Dairy Milk
Mix your icing sugar, peppermint extract, margarine, water and food colouring in a large bowl until it forms a firm dough, add extra water or icing sugar if needed. Knead the dough on a surface dusted with icing sugar and roll it out until around half a cm thick, then cut out your sweets, i used a small heart cutter but you can use anything you like really, with this cutter i made around 20 sweets. Place your sweets onto some greaseproof paper and leave somewhere cool to dry out, i made mine in the morning and left for around 4 hours turning halfway which worked fine.

Melt your chocolate and use to decorate your sweets, i used about 50g of chocolate to do the effect shown, if you want to coat them in chocolate of course you would need more. Leave to set in the fridge.

This weeks meal plan

After the excess of Christmas, it's time to get back to normal this week(though we still have ridiculous amounts of food left)

Tonight-Chicken and Chorizo in a tomato sauce with rice
Sunday- Slow cooked vegtable casserole with mash
Monday-Leftover casserole for the boys, pasta with spicy tomato sauce for us(Phil is working late)
Tuesday- Cheese and tomato potato bake
Wednesday-Fish pie
Thursday- Ham and cheese pasta bake

What will you be eating this week?

Festive fun

I have been slacking a little on the blog front recently, life gets in the way sometimes,  but i am now back and have some fab posts lined up. Did you have a good Christmas?  Ours has been lovely, Seb really got it this year and my favourite part of the whole thing was the little noise he made when he came downstairs and saw that Father Christmas had been, it is amazing to see it through your childs eyes and to be the one creating the magic.
 I really enjoy Christmas and appreciate spending time with those we love most. I tried really hard not to go overboard with gifts for the boys this year which i have done in the past, however they both received many lovely things both from us and others which i am sure will appear on future posts.

I hope you all continue enjoying the festive season in style

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sprout Sensory!

I don't like sprouts but when i saw a big bag on offer for 50p at the supermarket i picked them up thinking i would do something with them. 
That something turned out to be a little bit of sensory play and some painting. 
 I chucked them into a big bowl and encouraged the boys to have a play. We teach little ones not to play with their food but really it's great fun and safe for babies to take part in.
 Alex really enjoyed this and he really explored the sprouts, feeling, smelling, tasting and peeling them. He really concentrated on them for quite a while and it was interesting to see him using his fine motor skills.
I had an empty Amazon box lying around so we did some sprout painting, which was the same as the conker painting we did a while back, rolling painted sprouts around in a box with a piece of paper in the bottom leaving us with some cool pictures.
A simple and (kind of) festive way to spend an hour!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Giovanni Rana Pasta

Like most households, pasta is always a hit in this house and we eat it at least twice a week. 
As Phil works late nights, i like quick, easy meals that i can make when he gets home and fresh pasta is perfect for those nights.
Giovanni Rana Pasta is Italy's most loved fresh pasta and it's now available to buy across Europe. 
I was sent some of their delicious fresh filled pastas to try.
First up, from the Simply Italian Tortelloni range, i tried Italian Cured Ham and Cheese. It was simple to cook, simply pop into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, drain and then serve with butter and a little cheese.  I then tried the Gorgonzola PDO Cheese and Walnuts Ravioli from the Italian Indulgence range, again just a few minutes in some boiling water and it was cooked. 
The pasta was well filled and tasty, it couldn't have been simpler or faster to cook and while i served mine the simple way with a little butter and cheese you can also add a fresh sauce or use some of the delicious recipes on the Giovanni Rana website.

Friday, 13 December 2013

This weeks meal plan

We've been doing quite well sticking to our meal plan, it helps to have the odd takeaway planned in as a treat i think. I've ordered our food shopping with Sainsbury's this week as they sent me a £15 off discount code as i've not shopped with them in a while, i like shopping around as all the supermarkets have bits that i like. Phil has the weekend off this week so that means i could plan some nice meals for us to eat along with some quick and easy ones for the evenings he works late. 

Homemade pizza and garlic bread
Tomato pasta bake
Slow cooked spag bol
Chicken Korma with rice and naan
Garlic chicken with chips and veg
Pasta and Pesto

The last meal is undecided as it's my birthday next week, so we'll either go out for food or order in. 

What's on your meal plan?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Easy tree decorations for toddlers

Everyone loves to get crafty with their little ones at this time of year and easy salt dough decorations are the perfect excuse to get the paint and glitter out, plus they make lovely gifts and keepsakes.
Making salt dough is simple and quick enough to keep a toddlers attention. Take a cup of plain flour and add half a cup of salt then gradually add half a cup of water and knead until you get a nice ball of dough. Add more flour or water if the dough is too wet or dry. Then simply roll out and use festive cutters to make decorations. If you want to hang your decorations, remember to put a hole in them at this point, a straw makes the perfect sized hole.
To harden you can either bake in an oven on the lowest heat for a few hours or leave to air dry. I do a mix of both and pop them on the radiator for a few days to get them really solid. 

Once dried out the decorating fun starts. You can use various paints but we used normal children's poster paints plus some tubes of glitter of course! Allow to dry, add some twine and hang on your tree.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Building with Duplo and learning with Leapfrog

I'm pretty sure we all have memories of leafing through the Argos catalogue imagining the gifts we might find under the tree on Christmas morning. Even now as a parent nothing beats browsing that big old book looking at potential gifts for the smalls.

The boys were recently lucky enough to be given the chance to review some toys from Argos. They were sent something each to try and we've had lots of fun testing them out!
Seb was sent some Lego Duplo to try. Between them these sets contain various bricks plus some animals, plants and people.
Everyone loves Lego and Seb is no exception. Duplo is the perfect size for his hands and building with it is brilliant for both his fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. He loves to use his imagination with it, both while building and while playing with the figures. It holds his concentration for a long time which is no mean feat for a 3 year old! Duplo sets are aimed at toddlers aged 18 months-5 years and is a brilliant starting place for toddlers and young children who love to build and will almost certainly lead to a lifelong love for Lego. There is a vast range of sets to buy from fire stations to zoos and everything between. It's a huge thumbs up from us!!

 Alex was sent a LeapFrog Lettersaurus Dinosaur Learning Toy. 
 Aimed at 12 months plus, this cute little dinosaur has been a huge hit with both boys. He is the perfect size for toddlers with easy to push buttons(excellent for developing those fine motor skills!) . He helps in learning letters, colours and countless songs and you can personalise him to recognise the first letter of your childs name.
 Alex likes listening to him singing and talking and he loves to carry him around, I'm pretty sure it won't be too long before he is copying the letter sounds. Seb particularly loves the songs and we've been teaching him all of the familiar songs on there like "London Bridge is falling down".  It's also pretty sturdy and has easily withstood the inevitable bashings when in the hands of 2 small boys. I think this toy is a bit of a bargain to be honest, it also comes with batteries(very important to know!). 

 Find LEGO at Argos there is sure to be something perfect for the little ones in your family.

**We were kindly sent these products from Argos to review, but all words and opinions are my own**

Friday, 6 December 2013

Eggy Bread

A current favourite for Seb is Eggy Bread. Easy to make with ingrediants you usually have in the house anyway, it makes an nice alternative to toast. 

2 eggs
a dash of milk
2 slices of bread 
a little oil or butter
sugar and cinnamon

Beat your eggs and milk together and pour into a shallow dish. Quarter the bread and soak in the egg mixture. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the soaked bread pieces, fry for several minutes until golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over the top while still hot and serve!

Duck Tape: Review and Giveaway

You all know that i love a bit of crafty fun so i was really excited to be given the chance to try out Duck Tape recently.

Duck Tape is a hugely popular product in the USA and it has now made it's way over here. A super strong tape available in many colours and prints it can be used for practical tasks such as repairing a leaking hosepipe or removing lint from clothes or for crafting.

I was sent various tapes to try out for myself. Having never used a product like this before i was curious to see what i could do with it, so i had a good browse online and found that it has endless uses! 

I decided my first task would be to make some Christmas bunting with the tape, i had some twine anyway so i simply cut pieces of the red and the green tape of equal size and folded them over the twine at equal distances, and snipped into triangles. Instant bunting that looks great on display in the playroom. My mum loves this bunting and so i am going to do some for her too.
 I then decided to make some more(slightly smaller bunting) to go on the tree in the playroom but this time i used the penguin print tape.
My next project is going to be revamping some photo frames for the playroom.
There is so much that this tape can be used for and it is so easy to work with, it really doesn't surprise me that it's become so popular. The Duck Tape site has plenty of ideas including some fab Christmas crafts!

The lovely people at Duck Tape are offering one lucky reader the chance to try some of this magical tape themselves. To win a selection of tape, simply fill in the rafflecopter below.  

**We were sent this product to review but all words and opinions are my own**

This weeks meal plan

This weeks meal plan is a bit of a mishmash of meals using up bits we have in the cupboard/freezer.

  • Tuna Pasta Bake
  • Sausage, chips and beans (Phils choice!)
  • Homemade Pizza and Garlic Bread
  • Enchiladas
  • Chicken Korma (My choice)
  • Freezer dinner
  • Cannelloni

What will you be eating this week?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Leeds German Market

On Monday we went to Leeds German Market. It is becoming a little tradition, taking the boys along, eat some lovely food and picking up a couple of new tree decorations. 
 We stayed until it got dark and then we got to see all the Christmas lights which Seb loved.
 Of course we had some Germans sausage, some of the amazing garlic bread, pretzels, chocolate marshmallows and cake(all the healthy stuff!)
 Do you visit the German markets??

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A third birthday in pictures

Celebrating Seb's third birthday was pretty lovely, he understood so much more this year and was super excited about everything. On his birthday we had a family day and then on Sunday we had his party. I haven't posted photos from his party as of course there are other little ones in them but Seb had a great time so it was worth the stress!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dear Sebastian

Dear Sebastian

Happy 3rd birthday to you!

I know i say it every year but wow the time has flown. It doesn't seem 3 years ago that you were a tiny wriggling newborn and now you have become a little boy.

You've grown up so much in the last year but you're still my little ray of sunshine. Looking back, the terrible 2's actually haven't been that terrible, laughter has definately outweighed tears. Of course you have awkward moments and your certainly know your own mind now but thats a positive thing and yet another step towards becoming independant.

You amaze me every single day with your desire to learn from telling me that baby birds come from eggs in nests to taking those first steps in learning to read. You take everything we say in and have so many questions for us, your enthusiasm is so infectious. You chatter non stop and we have some hilarious conversations although sometimes they are rather random!

I relish the mornings where you sneak into bed with me and we have cuddles and the evenings where we have raves in the kitchen while cooking dinner, the times where you demonstrate what a big cuddle, medium cuddles and tiny cuddles look like and the times where i sneakily watch you playing with your toys, making up voices for the different characters and acting out stories with them. It's important to remember these times as i know they don't last forever.

I am so proud of you and the boy that you are becoming. I can't wait to see what our fourth year togther brings.

Love Mummy xxx

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