Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer Nature Walk

Although it may not feel like it right now, we are still in summer and yesterday we went for a nature walk. 
A few weeks back we received a Toucan Box containing a nature bag to decorate and cards showing things to find on nature walks in each season. We decided to use the summer card before it was too late so set off to see what we could find. 
As we are lucky enough to have woods directly behind our house we explored those as well as going on an walk around the local area. 

We did pretty well finding nearly everything on the card(even the elusive sun) as well as a few extra bits and managing to fit in a few splashes in puddles.
 
 
In the afternoon while Alex napped we drew the things that we had found and labelled them. Seb even had a go at copying the words which is great as he has only recently shown an interest in writing.
We had a really good chat about seasons and the order of them and what happens in each season including the weather which he is very interested in at the moment. I can't wait until we go on our Autumn hunt in a few weeks.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Mamas Slow Cooker Chilli

I love making a Chilli in the slow cooker, it is so easy to put together and smells lovely all day long plus I am guaranteed to have empty plates. So much nicer than a jar version, Seb calls this Mamas Chilli.
This serves the 4 of us with leftovers. It's pretty mild but of course you can add more spice to it if you prefer.
Mamas slow cooker chilli

500g beef mince
1 carton of passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
1 pepper
1 400g tin of kidney beans
1 beef stock cube
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Brown off your mince. Chop up your garlic, onion and pepper and add to the mince for a few minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker and add the passata, tomato puree, kidney beans(drained and rinsed), stock cube(crumbled), chilli powder and cumin. Give it a good stir and cook on low for around 6 hours.
Serve on jacket potatoes or with rice. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Crushed Healthy Fruit Snacks

If your house is anything like mine then you will regularly hear the phrase "mummy, i'm hunngrrryyyy". Having two boys with seemingly bottomless stomaches, I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks  so i was pretty excited to try out Crushed Fruit Pouches.
Available in 2 flavours(more coming soon) Apple and Strawberry and Apple and Banana, these 100% fruit pouches are designed to be eaten anywhere. They contain 1 of your daily servings of fruit and veg, making them an ideal healthy snack for on the move.
 
 We tried ours both straight from the pouch as a snack and with yogurt and fruit as part of a breakfast. In winter they would also be lovely in porridge. They went down really well with Seb who LOVED them straight up from the pouch and wanted another right away, Alex preferred them squeezed for him but he always likes to see what he is eating!
I had a try too of course and they are really lovely and at less then 70 calories a pouch are great for anyone looking for a low calorie snack.

Crushed are available in large Waitrose stores and online, WHSmith Travel and will soon be available from Ocado. You can get more information from the Crushed Website.

***We were sent these products to review but all opinions are my own***

Meal Planning Monday(on a Tuesday)

We did pretty well with our plan last week though we didn't end up having the macaroni cheese. I have been poorly over the weekend so haven't felt overly in the mood to cook or meal plan so this week is pretty basic, hopefully i'll be more up for it next week.

Pepperoni pasta bake
Quiche with jacket potato and salad
Macaroni cheese
Freezer dinner(Phil is on a late shift)
Sausage casserole with herbed sweet potato cubes

Linking up with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday linky

Thursday, 21 August 2014

National Crisp Sandwich Week!

Did you know that there was such a thing as National Crisp Sarnie week?
 I certainly didn't until I saw that Tots100 and Seabrook crisps have come together to get us sharing our favourite recipe for the humble crisp sandwich!

Reminiscent of school packed lunches, a crisp sandwich is a guilty pleasure that I rarely partake in these days.

My sandwich is simple and to the point, a fish finger and crisp combo. I used Seabrooks Beefy crisps, but you can use whatever flavour appeals. 
Simply pop your fish fingers into the oven. Butter your bread(I like seeded) and once cooked pop your fish fingers in along with a generous amount of crisps. Push lightly on of the sandwich to crush the crisps a little and there you have it!
"This recipe is an entry into the National Crisp Sarnie Week competition with Seabrook crisps”

***I was sent some Seabrook's crisps to help create my sandwich***

Monday, 18 August 2014

Fudge in the slow cooker

So for the past week or so the slow cooker groups have been all about the fudge. 
Now I love fudge but I have never made it before so I was all over this and on Saturday I set to work with my little helper to make milk chocolate fudge. The results were fab and would be an amazing homemade gift for someone you love. 


400g of chocolate(I used value bars at 30p each)
1 tin condensed milk(397g)
100g icing sugar
Rainbow sprinkles

Break up your chocolate and put into the slow cooker along with the tin of condensed milk. Melt on low, making sure to stir regularly(I did it about every 5 to 10 minutes). After about an hour add the icing sugar and stir well. 
Pour into a suitable dish(I used a loaf tin) lined with greaseproof paper and decorate with your sprinkles. 
Leave to cool before popping into the fridge to set. 

Mine took about 3 hours to set at which point I cut it and popped back into  the fridge. I found the longer it was in the fridge the more fudge like it became. 

I am going to experiment with flavours and additions to this recipe, perfect for Christmas gifts! 

Meal Planning Monday

We pretty much stuck to our plan last week apart from Thursday when we went out for lunch so we just had something small in the evening. 
The Chinese curry was lush, everyone cleared their plates! 
This week we're eating

Italian Chicken and Rice
Mac n cheese with crispy bacon
Chilli and rice
Sausages, herby potatoes and some kind of veg
Pizza

Linking up with Meal Planning Monday!

Friday, 15 August 2014

The First Haircut

Last week while at the hairdressers i chatting to my stylist about cutting children's hair and decided on a whim to book Seb in for his first haircut. 

Anyone who knows me will know what a big deal this was, I love Sebs hair, it is full of curls and he is forever getting compliments on it. We have got to nearly 4 years old without a cut but it was starting to look a bit scruffy and needed tidying up.
I booked with the same person who cuts my hair as I knew he would be in good hands but i was still really nervous. We talked to him about it and although he didn't want it cutting I promised that only a tiny bit would be cut. 
Roll on to Friday morning and he was cool as a cucumber while I fretted. He made himself at home in the salon while we waited and was really relaxed, just asking questions about all the things around us. 
The time came for it cutting and he sat on a booster and had a gown on at which point he got a bit upset(hence no pictures) and started whimpering but once I promised I would stay next to him he was fine again. 
He had about an inch off all together and his hair is much tidier, it is hard to tell from photos as he still has lots of curls but they are less bushy looking.
It was a big day in our household! 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Eureka!

This weekend we paid a trip to Eureka The Children's Museum. 
The boys have actually been before with Phil's parents and really enjoyed it but Phil and I have never been. Eureka isn't that far from us and we got there by bus which was really easy(a tip for all those non drivers) as it is close to Halifax bus station. 
We booked online the night before, this meant we could get in without having to queue so I really recommend it especially at weekends and in the holidays. 
As soon as we got there I knew we'd have a good day, the staff were friendly and Seb was really excited, remembering things from his last visit and wanting to show us. 
I love the quotes about play dotted around, some of them I remember using in essays and they reflect the whole feel of the museum, everything is there to be touched and played with, the best way to learn. 
I took so many photos that it would be impossible to share them all so I'll pop a few from our favourite parts of the museum. I personally loved the mini M&S and Halifax bank, Seb loved the kitchen area and Alex loved the physical areas where he could climb and build. 
The Kitchen
Containment!
Petrol stop
Shopping in the mini M&S
Phil considering a career change
Hard at work in the Halifax bank
Where does our food come from
Weighing to e at baby clinic
Full body scan
Inside our body
We took our own picnic lunch along and there are loads of places to sit and eat inside and out. There is also a cafe there so you can eat out too. 

Entry for the 4 of us came to just over £40 which seems fairly expensive for a museum BUT that price includes an annual pass so we can now go back for a whole year for free which is great and something we will definitely be making use of especially as we home educate and the museum has so many learning opportunities. 

We had a great day out! 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Oatly, an oat based milk alternative

Last week we were given the opportunity to try Oatly, an oat based milk alternative.
I have never tried a product like this before but we do go through ALOT of milk in our house so I thought it would be nice to try an alternative and see what the boys made of it. 

Oatley,  an oat based milk alternative

Oatly hails from Sweden where it is the number one milk substitute. The company has been around since the early 1990's when many thought that they were crazy trying to deleop a drink from oats! Fast forward to today when there is a huge market for milk alternatives and it seems they were on the right track all along! They want to help people make small changes to improve their daily life and Oatly does that by being a healthier alternative to milk.

The range comprises of;
The Original Oatly Oat Drink Ambient RRP £1.39
The Original Oatly Oat Drink Fresh RRP £1.64
The Original Oatly Organic Oat Drink RRP £1.39
The Original Oatly Oat Drink Chocolate RRP £1.49
The Original Patly Organic Creamy Oat RRP £0.79

Oatley chocolate porridge

Firstly by making chocolate porridge, simple enough you make it in exactly the same way as usual but with Oatly Chocolate drink instead of milk. I added chopped up banana on top for added healthiness. This was a huge hit with the boys and both cleared their bowls.

Oatly banana muffins

Secondly I thought I'd try the original Oatly in some baking. I made banana muffins directly substituting milk for Oatly and they came out really well. You wouldn't know the difference.

Chocolate oat milk

Lastly we tried it simply as a drink. I'll be honest the Original Oatly didn't appeal to be visually(I know it's superficial) but the chocolate Oatly looks just like chocolate milk, far more appealing! A glass of this is a perfect partner for one of those banana muffins! 

As a family we really liked Oatly, though I will never stop buying milk it makes a great alternative especially for people who are dairy free. I will most likely buy the chocolate version in future as an alternative to buying chocolate milk as there is a lot less sugar added compared to other chocolate drinks. 

Oatly is available to buy at Tesco, Waitrose, Saintsbury's, Asda, Holland and Barratt and other retailers for more information check out the Oatly website or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. 

**I was sent vouchers to purchase the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own**

Monday, 11 August 2014

Meal planning Monday

I usually do my meal plan posts on Fridays but have decided to change to Mondays so I can join in with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday Linky.

The last few weeks have been hit and miss with sticking to our plans but I am back on it this week and I'm feeling determined! At the weekend we had a rare(for us) roast dinner which was lovely and I have plenty of chicken left over for sandwiches this week.

This week we're eating

Chinese style chicken curry with rice
Sticky pork with sweet potato and veg
Pizza and garlic bread
Lasagne
Pasta with pesto

What are you eating this week? 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Day trip to Scarborough

On Monday Phil and I went to Scarborough for the day to celebrate his birthday. We debated taking the boys with us but decided to go on our own so they went swimming and to see dinosaurs with their grandparents instead. I'm so glad we did as the train was so busy, hot and people were shouting at each other and I know the boys would have hated it.

I got to test our new camera out and have to say I'm really pleased with it so far and I managed to get some really good pictures with it.

I have a bit of history with Scarborough but it's been quite a while since I last went to explore and I almost forget how lovely it is especially on a sunny day and I was really pleased to see it so full of people too.



We went right down to the beach and walked right along, from the busy section to the quieter parts. I took my shoes off to feel the sand between my toes and paddled in the sea but Phil refused to join me!


We went to the harbour and spied the castle and pirate ships before heading to the arcades to try our luck on the 2p machines. 


I like to find interesting shops and down the side streets we found a couple of fab shops selling all sorts of pretty things. 


Nestled between all the usual seafront rock shops is this lovely fudge shop. We had to try some I went for Nutella Fudge and Phil went for Chocolate Orange. 


We also found a gorgeous bar on the seafront where we popped in for a drink and a rest from the sun. It was inside a converted chapel and was beautifully done. I didn't realise until after we had ordered that though sold champagne by the glass or I would have indulged! 

Of course you can't go to the seaside and not have fish and chips and hot donuts. 


I felt so refreshed after doing loads of walking and getting so much fresh air. I can't wait to take the boys for the day, though I imagine  it'll be far more stressful!

Do you like visiting the seaside? 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Degustabox July review and discount code

Last week my July Degustabox arrived. 
  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. This is the 4th box I have received, you can also read my thoughts on the April , May and June boxes. 
As always delivery was great, I was kept informed of exactly when my parcel would arrive and it was packaged well with lots of bubble wrap protecting the contents.
Of course you want to know what was inside! The box was literally brimming with goodies!
 
Green and Blacks Lemon Bar I must admit I did a little squeal when I saw this. Green and Blacks is a brand I love already so I was more than happy to try the newest flavour. Made of 60% dark chocolate I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this bar of loveliness so I got baking a lemon sponge loaf cake and once it was cool I melted some of the chocolate and drizzled it over the top. Perfect combo! The chocolate is nice on it's own too, just a couple of squares satisfies a chocolate craving.
Hornsby's, Blueberry Cider Another brand I was happy to see after being introduced to it in a previous box. This time we were sent the Blueberry flavour. I am happy to report that this flavour is just as nice as the ones we tried before, these are the ideal drink for the warm snap we're having.

Maggi  A brand most of us are probably familiar with, I've used these in the past when I need a quick tasty meal, they are an ideal cupboard staple. The box contained 6 sachets from Maggi, I received Piri Piri Chicken, Beef and Ale Casserole, Cheesy Chicken and Leek Potato Bake and Oriental Soy and Garlic Chicken. I've not tried them yet but am looking forward to using these as I've been pleased with Maggi in the past.

Portlebay Popcorn I am really loving popcorn at the moment, it seems to be everywhere at the moment with all sorts of amazing flavours coming out and Portlebay and right up there. Made by a small crew down in Devon, this is a bit different from the usual popcorn. The box contained 3 flavours; Chilli and Lime, Kracklekorn and Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup. We took the Bacon and Maple Syrup flavour as a train snack when we went to the seaside and they are amazing! I have discovered a new favourite! The other flavours we are keeping for a movie night.
Zeo Drinks Different from the usual sticky soft drinks, Zeo is a crisp dry soft drink. The box contained 3 flavours; Burst, Zest and Crush. I am not a huge fizzy drink fan, but I really liked these and would definitely buy them again, they are not too sweet and sugary tasting, I imagine they would be really nice as a mixer too. My personal favourite was the Lime Zest.
Dr Oetker Eton Mess Sprinkles and Violet Crystals Another treat for bakers this month, this time in the form of sprinkles. I have two small boys(and a husband) who love sprinkles on their treats. The Violet Crystals are a really pretty colour and will be lovely on ice cream or cupcakes. The Eton Mess Sprinkles are meringue and freeze dried strawberries, I used them to make these frozen yoghurt lollies for the boys.
 Frank Bar Blueberry and Chocolate Bar A snack bar made from 100% natural ingredients that is free from gluten, nuts, dairy and refined sugars. This bar is actually good for you!! I'll be honest this isn't something I would generally buy as none of us have dietary restrictions but I have popped it into the changing bag as a snack for when we are out and about.

The Berry Company Special Tea Range Another thing I am enjoying at the moment is fruit teas both warm and iced so I was interested to see some tea from one of Europe's fastest growing drinks brands included. The Berry Company is a family fun business and the tea range is new. I received the White Tea with Peach and Lemon to try and I think it'll be ideal to have with breakfast. 

As usual this months box contained both familiar and new brands to me. I have discovered yet another brand that I must buy again(Portlebay) and the Maggi packs have given me some easy meal ideas for the coming weeks. Yet again the value of the box far exceeds the £12.95 price tag so if you enjoy trying new foods, it is well worth subscribing.


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 F329G

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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