Friday, 30 May 2014

This weeks meal plan

This week we did well with our meal plan, my favourite was probably the pork and apple burgers, they were so good! 
I went through a couple of the kitchen cupboards this week to see what we had in and that is what my meal plan is based around this week along with a couple of recipes out of books.
This weeks meals are

  • Slow cooked pork with apple and herbs with mash and veg
  • Meatball pasta bake
  • Garlic, herb and cheese coated chicken with herby sweet and white potato cubes and veg
  • Sausage casserole with mash and yorkshire puddings
  • Quiche with salad and wedges
  • Chicken kievs with chips and peas
  • Pasta and pesto

Mirror, mirror

A few days ago I saw a post shared on Facebook that reminded me i had some mirrors stashed away for the boys. As it has been such a rainy few days I decided to get them out to play. 

On the mirrors I placed  feathers, pom poms and jewels(on Sebs) and then let the boys play. 
Alex loves mirrors and can often be found looking at and kissing himself in our full length one. He enjoyed lifting up the feathers and pom poms and looking at the reflections both from a distance and up close. 
Seb made patterns and grouped things by colour on his mirror and of course took a peek at himself! 
I really like the idea of using these outside so we can see the clouds and trees reflected while we play. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

We have butterflies!

And boy are they beautiful!
A couple of weeks ago I posted about our caterpillars, I ended that post with the huge caterpillars about to form chrysalides. Well they did exactly that and within a couple of days of that post we had 5 of them.
 Once they were ready we transferred them into our butterfly house and watched and waited for our butterflies to emerge. I'll be honest this stage was a bit boring, it took about 10 days and I did worry they wouldn't emerge.
 But we noticed that they were going dark meaning they would soon emerge so we made up some nectar for them and sprinkled it over fresh flowers and popped them into the enclosure.
 The next morning we came down to discover that we had 1 butterfly, the excitement from Seb made the whole thing worthwhile and he couldn't stop looking at the butterfly.
Later that day another one emerged and we soon had a whole host of butterflies. They are pretty messy as they emerge, leaving meconium (just like a newborn) behind but it is pretty amazing. Sadly we missed them actually emerging(it must happen fast!) but it was quite exciting all the same. They have all settled on the side of the house occasionally fluttering their wings or climbing or venturing to their food.
I am like a mum with her newborn, i can't stop staring and checking on them. Next up is the release which we hope to do this weekend, I'm hoping I can take some nice photos of them when we let them go. 

The butterfly house we have is by InsectLore, I ordered mine from Amazon but they are available elsewhere too, 

Easy Corned Beef Hash

 This is a simple and cheap meal that both Phil and the boys loved. I'll be honest baked beans make me heave so I didn't join in but i have to say it looked and smelt nice. 
The recipe is to serve 4. 
4 large potatoes, cooked and mashed
Tin of corned beef, chopped
1 tin of baked beans
1 onion, finely chopped
1 squirt of ketchup
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Fry off your onion until soft and pop into a glass dish, add the chopped up corned beef, ketchup and the beans, mix well and then flatten down with a fork. Spoon the mash on top and spread out before adding the grated cheese on top.
Pop into the oven for  30 minutes until golden on top.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Mr Big Tops Sweet Box

 Hands up of you like the idea of receiving a box of your favourite sweets in the post? 
My latest subscription box discovery is Mr Big Tops sweet box. I first read about them a while back but last week decided to treat myself to a box to see what they have to offer. I love sweets, i can never resist pick and mix and we I did my own sweet buffet at our wedding so a box of goodies winging their way to me in the post was appealing to me! 

The concept in similar to a graze box(but less healthy), you choose your likes and dislikes from their list of sweets and then order either a one off box or  a more regular delivery.The sweets on offer vary from those that are widely available to some more hard to find ones(chocolate bananas, yum!).
I ordered a one off box and it arrived 2 days later. The box is bright and fun and contains 375g of sweets. There are easy push and pull openings on the box so you can open it in sections
 My box contained 6 little bags of sweets; foam bananas, raspberry and blackberry gums, white mice, giant jazzies. fizzy bubblegum bottles and milkshake bottles. 
There is a small amount of each sweet(5 giant jazzies for example) but to be honest I think that is enough for a helping. A box costs from £3.95 which includes delivery, it isn't the cheapest option for sweets but it is a great idea for a little treat for yourself or a gift for someone else(you can add a gift message). 

If you want to try Mr Big Tops yourself, check out their website.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Leopard print on a boy?

This week I took this outfit photo of Alex and shared it on social media as I often do.
On Facebook I was told by someone I should keep the leopard print for when I have a girl. Now I know the outfit Alex is wearing may not be to everyones taste and that is fine by me, but he is just a baby, does it really matter what print he is wearing? It's just a print? The clothes are comfortable and suitable for the weather so why do they need to be gender specific? 
I responded that if leopard print is good enough for Mick Jagger to wear then it is good enough for Alex too.  I'm also pretty sure if some celebrity mum put their baby son into leopard print trousers thousands would rush to copy her. 

Both of my boys have a huge mix of clothes, from stereotypical boy tops with aeroplanes and buses on to the more unusual(in this country) boy tights. I like to play with clothes and want the boys to be confident enough to choose clothes that they like instead of what they should be wearing. At 3_ Seb already has his own preferences, particularly loving bow ties and hats.  I recently read an article(sorry it's the Daily Mail) recently about a pensioner who dresses exactly as he wants despite his age and what others think and in my opinion he should be admired, as he says fashion is a way to express yourself.

Would you put your son in leopard print leggings?
(don't worry I won't be offended if you hate them!)

Friday, 23 May 2014

This weeks meal plan

I have skipped a couple of weeks of meal plan posts, I still did a plan but just didn't post about it.
This week is a bit pasta heavy but I do love pasta and it's easy to make on the nights Phil works late.
  • Homemade pork and apple burgers with herby potato cubes and salad
  • Salmon and mash with green beans and carrots
  • Italian Chicken and Rice
  • Pasta with pesto
  • Tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake
  • Mac and cheese with a crunchy topping
  • Pizzas
What will you be eating this week? 

Who'd home school their kids?

Who'd home school their kids?

This is the question that was asked on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff this morning. 
Before I start I would like to say that in the UK people tend to use home educate instead of home school as that gives the impression of school type education at home which is generally not the case over here. 

After reading on a home ed group that this discussion would be on, I decided to tune in and see how it went. I will be honest I did expect a negative piece but I was pleasantly surprised, Christopher Lloyd was on the show talking about home educating his children and spoke with such passion and enthusiasm that he seemed to convince the rest of the panel that home education is actually pretty awesome and I saw positive comments both on Facebook and Twitter. 

In answer to the original question posed by the show, well any kind of parent really,  anyone can home educate if they wish. You don't have to be rich or super intelligent or even have a stay at home parent. Join any home education Facebook group and you'll soon see that in the UK home edders really are an eclectic bunch of people.

I have made no secret of my hopes to try home education and I'm really glad to see that it is being put across as a viable option for everyone. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Catch up

Eeek, I haven't blogged in over a week. 
Phil had a week off work and we've been busy enjoying the sunny weather so blogging took a backseat. A quick rundown on what we've been doing.

We went for a day out at Kirklees Light Railway, we got to meet Thomas and his friends. We were so lucky to have had a beautiful sunny day.
 Phil and I had a date day, we went to Everyman Cinema in Leeds for the first time and loved it. Double sofas to sit on and cocktails to drink while watching the film. I can't wait to go again.
 And finally we've spent loads of time out in the garden enjoying the sun. We have beautiful views in our garden :)
I'm back into blogging now, lots of posts planned :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Thomas King of the Railway Playset Review

We were recently lucky enough to be chosen as Toys R Us toyologists and Seb was sent a fab Thomas train set to review. This was pretty exciting as he loves Thomas(we are actually going to meet him this weekend) so i had a feeling he would love it.
We were sent a Thomas King of the Railway Playset which retails at £39.99 on the Toys R Us website, the set is recommended for age 3+
We decided to set the track up once the boys were in bed which was definitely the right thing to do. I left Phil to put it together and it took him about 20 minutes which i think is pretty reasonable and it would be quicker once you knew what you were doing.
It's quite a large track that is a figure of 8 and incorporates various obstacles for Thomas to negotiate in his quest to retrieve the Kings crown such as movable track and a disused mine. Along with the track you receive a motorised Thomas and a cargo car. Thomas motors around the track with your help and collects the crown from the mine.

When Seb came down and saw the track, he was very excited and we had trouble tearing him away from it to come and eat breakfast. We are already familiar with the King of the Railway story so Seb knew he needed to find the missing crown. He enjoyed helping Thomas on his quest by using the crane to swing around the missing track and opening the castle gate. He happily played with it on and off all day and then we moved it to his room where it is a regular part of his play. I have noticed the train will sometimes come off the track if not place on in quite the right way but thats easily sorted.

 This toy is great for imagination and recalling the King of the Railway story and building on it as well as thinking ahead to the obstacles Thomas might encounter and how to help. It is also good for practising fine motor skills, particularly when using the crane to move the track around.
I think it is a great toy for any Thomas loving child and i like that you can buy additional trackmaster toys to add to the set to extend your childs play. It is well made and robust enough to stand up to some not so gentle handling. I do wish batteries were included in these kinds of toys though(luckily this set only needed 1 AA). 

**We were sent this to review as part of the Toyologist scheme but all opnions are my own**

Growing our own

Along with our caterpillars we gave also been busy planting and growing recently. As well as planting flowers we have been attempting to grow some of our own food. I don't think there is any better way to teach little ones about where the food on their plate comes from.
We are taking part in a potato growing project at the moment and so have been busy with those since March, they are due to be harvested in June and so far things are looking good. I can't wait to see how they've grown and to us them to cook with.
We are also attempting to grow some purple carrots and a strawberry plant. These are tiny at the moment but I'm hoping they are successful and may pop the strawberry plant into a hanging basket.

I don't have particularly green fingers but am enjoying seeing things thrive in the garden.

Do you grow your own?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Unstructured Creative Play

Although we do a lot of crafts where we are making something, i don't often post about the times where we just paint or glue just for the fun of it. I guess it's because we as adults focus on the end result but to children it's about the process too.

Unstructured creative play is really important and great fun. Physically is is good for motor skills and hand eye coordination, it also allows them to use their imagination to create something and to have pride in something they have been in charge of making. For slightly older children it is also good way of expressing emotions that they may not yet have the ability to put into words. 
 Our favourite thing to do is get out the paints and a variety of tools and explore. Instead of saying let's make cards for Easter/Mothers Day/Grandmas birthday, I will simply say 'let's paint!". How they play depends on their age and stage of development, I always find it interesting seeing the differences in my boys.

Alex absolutely loves to paint, he uses brushes but much prefers to get his hands in to exploreand while he will paint on paper, he LOVES to paint himself and thinks it is just hilarious.
Seb is now at the stage of being more careful when crafting, he aims to keep colours separate(so happy to be past the stage of everything being mixed into a splodge of brown!) and his pictures often form shapes and he will tell me what things are(grass, the sun etc).
You may want to keep some wipes handy!!

Do your little ones enjoy getting creative?

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Say hi to our very hungry caterpillars

Everyone loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar and is probably many our childrens first experience of life cycles. 

A couple of months ago I ordered a butterfly house online so that Seb and Alex could witness the life cycle of a butterfly for real. We waited for the weather to get milder and ordered our caterpillars which arrived quickly in a small pot with food. 

There are 5 caterpillars in total and they started out tiny.
After eating they grew
And grew
They are really active little things and seem to grow each day. 
We're waiting now for them to form Chrysalis and then we can transform them into the butterfly house, 

Seb loves his caterpillars, he is checking on them several times a day and wants to show them to everyone, he can tell people exactly what is going to happen to them and likes them to be on the table while he is colouring.
Alex is obviously too young to understand but he does like having a a look at the wriggling caterpillars in the cup.

As we hope to home educate, I think the butterfly house is a great investment as it can be reused again with new caterpillars. The one we have is by Insect Lore though I have seen others around too. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Car Brie Nara

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had bought the new cookery book A Girl Called Jack. I've now made a few of the recipes but my favourite so far is definitely the Car Brie Nara, quick, easy and a little bit naughty, it's a lovely meal to whip up for 2 and would be great for a date night dinner and means you can whip up something tasty even on a limited budget. I recommend this book or Jacks blog for some fab ideas. 
The recipe below isn't from the book word for word(Jack gives variations) but it is exactly how I cook it.

160g spaghetti
1 onion, diced
1 fat clove of garlic, diced
100g smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
50g brie
1 tsp mixed herbs
200ml double cream

Put your spaghetti into a pan of boiling water and leave to simmer. While that is cooking fry the bacon adding the lemon juice into the pan, then add the garlic and onion sautéing until nearly cooked,  Cut your brie into small cubes and add to the pan, once it starts to melt add the cream and mixed herbs and stir.
Drain your spaghetti then add to the sauce stirring through before serving.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sorting with Pom Poms

Last week I cleared out our craft cupboard, it ended up taking quite a long time and I couldn't believe how much was lurking there. I tend to buy things when I see them at a good price, pop them away and forget about them. 

One of these things was a bag of pom poms that had been reduced to 25p, popped into the craft cupboard and duly forgotten. Well I found them again and decided to use them in a simple spring activity for Seb.

This tray was about 50p in Asda a few years ago, it's been used for parties and is perfect for sorting activities.
We sorted them into sizes and then into colours, counting the pom poms as we went.
A cheap and easy way to keep a 3 year old amused for 20 minutes while practising fine motor skills and basic maths.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Trendy Thursday

I haven't posted any outfit photos for a while so this weeks Trendy Thursday is a mix of favourites from the last couple of weeks.

We have had a few lovely days recently which has meant some summery clothes have been able to come out to play.

I love rompers and this anchor print one was a bargain at £5. Paired with a little vest dyed yellow by me it makes a cute outfit for playing in. 

Anchor print romper-Tesco, Vest-John Lewis, Converse-Schuh
 Another romper, this time with long legs! I think this would be really cute paired with jelly shoes. 

Fruit print romper-Tutta(via Zulily), Mustard vest-H&M, Bib-Funky Giraffe
 I love this monochrome outfit from my go to shop

Tee-H&M, Leggings-H&M
 And finally a photo with Seb in! There is a lot of Primark in this photo!

Alex wears : Print tee-Polarn O Pyret, Navy shorts-Primark, Converse-Schuh
Seb wears: Check shirt-Primark, Denim shorts, Primary, Hat-H&M, Vans-Office
We received a lovely parcel from Zara this week and there is another one on the way from H&M of course! 

If you want to show off your trendy tot, head over to Medicated Follower of Fashion to join in the linky

Degustabox review and discount code

Subscription boxes are hot right now and i love them. This month i have been sent a Degustabox to try. If you haven't heard of Degustabox before, it is a monthly subscription box containing foodie items so you can discover new flavours every month.  After seeing them on various blogs recently i was really excited to try the box out and try some new products. 

First up I would like to praise the delivery service, I was emailed and texted telling when to expect delivery with an hour slot plus I had the option of changing that. I hate missing parcels so this was a big plus as far as I'm concerned.
The box is a good size and it is packaged really nicely with lots of bubblewrap to protect the contents inside. I liked the cute printed packaging(I'm a sucker for nice wrapping) and that the products were wrapped in tissue paper with a sticker tempting me to open and see what was inside.
 Inside the box was a whole host of goodies plus an information sheet with short descriptions of the content. So what came in the box? i hear you ask! 
Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer in raspberry flavour. Made with real raspberries for a unique refreshing taste. I've never tried ginger beer before and i haven't tried this drink yet but i will be tonight, so I'll report back! 

Lindt Lindor Chocolate. This was the first thing i tried from the box, made by master chocolatiers this chocolate is deliciously smooth and creamy, I'm so pleased it's available in treat bar size and will definitely be buying again. 

Cawston Press Rhubarb. A better soft drink made without preservatives, additives or artificial sweeteners. I'm drinking this while writing this post and it tastes just like Rhubarb and Custard sweets, in other words, its delicious! I hope i can find it locally to buy as it will be lovely on a summers day and i would love to try the Apple flavour too. 

Clearspring Miso On The Go. These instant soups are made from the finest organic ingredients without artificial additives, colourings or preservatives. There are lots of benefits of eating Miso including strengthening the immune system and aiding digestion. 

Go Splash Blackcurrant. A low calorie way to add a little excitement and flavour into your water. These little bottles contain enough flavouring for 6 litres of water. I really like this product, a quick squeeze of the bottle gave me enough flavour for a glass of water, i like the mild flavour it added to my drink and it being sugar free is always a good thing. I also like it's small portable size.

Keogh's Atlantic Salt and Irish Cider Vinegar crisps. Made from Irelands finest potatoes grown on Keogh's family farm these crisps contain 100% natural ingredients and are both Gluten and MSG free. I let Phil have these as he loves Salt and Vinegar flavour crisps, he said they were lovely and the pack soon disappeared!

McVities Mini Rolls. Everyone loves Mini Rolls and now they come in Tropical and Berry Burst flavours. They have the great quality and taste we always expect from McVities and I have 2 small boys who have been munching their way through these. It is suggested to freeze these and eat them as a summer snack and i will definitely be trying that out.

Dr Oetkers Fine Cooks Chocolate in milk and dark.  Dr Oetker have created this cooking chocolate to give your great results when baking. The milk chocolate contains 35% cocoa solids and the dark a whopping 72% cocoa solids. These are ideal for covering cakes, using in desserts or even making chocolate decorations. We will be using these in our baking next week.

Mornflake Superfast Pots. These pots come in 2 flavours; Raisin Honey and Almond Granola and Fruit and Nut Muesli. Great for breakfast on the go, you simply need to add a little water into the pot and stir and it magically turns into milk! Even the spoon is included! These are a lovely tasting,  crunchy breakfast and are perfect for mornings where you are in a rush.
  I have really enjoyed my Degustabox experience and writing this review. I like that there is a real mix of products in the box and it's always great to try new products and those that i may not otherwise think to buy on our weekly shop

 The lovely folks over at Degustabox are offering you all £3 off when you register with them. Simply go to their website and use the code THQWJ

You can also follow Degustabox on Facebook and Twitter

**I was sent this box to review but all opinions are my own**

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