Thursday 30 November 2017

A December bucket list...

It is soon December and it means my girls and I will be doing a lot of Christmassy things....My fella Stu will of course be included too but he works and it's usually the girls and I who do baking or crafty things....

Do some baking!
We want to make mince pies....The last time we did was years ago. We will probably cheat and use ready made pastry but the thought is there.....

Tesco have some fantastic baking kits in. We tried some out over the weekend but they have so much more to try! Their Reindeer Cake Kit, Christmas Tree Crispy Pop Kit, and the Christmas Jumper Biscuit Kit looks fantastic....

We usually make a gingerbread house but this year Tesco aren't selling the house they're instead selling a Gingerbread Toy Shop for £4.00....That is fine with me! It will be nice to have a change. Last year we made a gingerbread house and we did the year before too! 

See the Christmas lights being switched on.
Our Christmas lights in Ashington are being switched tomorrow and I think we will have a toddle along as long as it's not raining. The last time we saw them being switched on was in 2013 which seems a shockingly long time ago....

Make some decorations.
Homemade Christmas decorations are the best. After having a shop at Hobbycraft just before Halloween and getting some crafty things I couldn't resist looking at Hobbycraft for Christmas things!

The Wall Hanging Felt Christmas Tree & the 90 Piece Jolly Santa and Reindeer Paper Chains really took my fancy and they have been delivered....I can't wait to get them out.

Get all the Christmas presents wrapped before Christmas Eve!

I say this every year but this year will be the year I do! I seem to have already got a lot of the presents already so there is no reason not to wrap them....

Remember to put out all the Advent letters out.

I bought a set of letters from An Elf for Christmas and I will have to remember to put one out each evening for Ellie to find in the morning.....

Each day your Christmas Elf pen pal sends a new advent letter, revealing their exciting adventures straight from Santa's workshop. Children can discover the mischief, mishaps and funny stories happening in at the North Pole as the Elves prepare for Christmas. 

Watch plenty of Christmas films.
Elf, Love Actually, The Snowman, Home Alone, The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street are some of our favourites....

Have a look around the shops on Christmas Eve.
My fella is off work on Christmas eve for the first time in about 10 years so I'm going to make the most of it. Hopefully we can nip out and do some last minute shopping.

What do you have planned for December?

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Sausage and baked bean slow cooker casserole.

It has been years since I used a slow cooker...We have lived here about 6 years and my last one got broke in the move....I received a brand new one for my birthday and the first thing I made was Sausage and baked bean slow cooker casserole!

I wanted to make a meal that I knew the kids would love....Ellie is a funny one. I knew that if she tasted something from the slow cooker...Something which is new in the house and didn't like it she would then go on to refuse anything else coming from it....Sausages and baked beans are always a huge hit here.....

You need:

2 Tins of baked beans
600g of Charlotte potatoes, small ones, skin on and halved.
2 Tins of chopped tomatoes
10/15 thin sausages
2 Large chopped onions
200g White button mushrooms
1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce

To make:

Brown the sausages and onions in a frying pan. You don't need to fully cook them....
Add to the slow cooker.
Add the potatoes and the tins of chopped tomatoes to the slow cooker and cook for about 6 hours on low.
After 6 hours add the tins of baked beans, the mushrooms and the Worcester sauce.....
Give it a good old stir and cook for another 1.5 to 2 hours.

It took about 10 minutes to prepare and I just left it for most of the day....Fantastic! We sat here smelling it all day cooking...All day we wished for it to be tea time!

The kids ate it with Garlic And Coriander Naan breads, Stu had cheese topped bread buns and I just had plain white bread buns....

It was a perfect meal for a chilly day and the kids loved it. Phew!

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Free from Baking kits from Tesco.

When I think of "Free From" food I always think of Tesco....They have such a great range that seems to be growing every week.....They have a fantastic section dedicated just to Christmas including some great baking kits which we have been trying out! 

These kits are all free from Gluten, Wheat and Milk....

Becky decided to take charge and wanted to give these a try so I let her....I was just there to offer advice and pass her things.

Tesco Free From Vanilla Christmas Jumper Cake Kit - £3.50

You can make and decorate your own Christmas jumper vanilla cake which contains rice flour and potato starch, with icing sugar, dairy free dark chocolate chips and multi coloured decorations.

This was simple to make. Add the dairy free spread, eggs and water then put it in a cake tin and bake....Simple. 

The instructions did try to over complicate things. It suggested using grease proof paper to trace the jumper stencil that is on the inside of the box and use that as a template which I thought was a bit silly....I just cut the stencil out and placed that on the cake and cut around it....It was stronger than grease proof paper.

We had a bit of a mishap decorating the cake....I melted the chocolate and lost the packet which was the piping bag. We just spread the chocolate on....It didn't make a difference to how it tasted. Phew!

The cake was lovely....It didn't last 24 hours. We ate it all. It was a good size and fun to make. 

It sort of looks like a jumper....Maybe if you squint your eyes a little....

Tesco Free From Chocolate Brownie Christmas Pudding Kit - £2.50

The free from microwaveable brownie Christmas pudding kit contains rice flour, with icing sugar and multi coloured decorations.

I loved this kit....It was so quick and easy to use. All it took was 3 minutes and 50 seconds in the mircrowave....It took longer to cool than it did to actually make it. hehehe

Becky did the mixing and all I had to do was get it out of the bowl. We didn't line the bowl. We just greased it with the dairy free spread and it worked. There was only a tiny bit that stuck. Phew!

I think I used the perfect sized bowl....I was going to use a smaller one but while it was in the microwave the mixture nearly rose to the top of the bowl. This is it before and after cooking....

Doesn't it look great! It tasted fantastic too! I think this would be something we buy again for Christmas....It is perfect just to make when you need a dessert.

We still have the Tesco Free From 3D Gingerbread Star Kit to make. I am going to make it sometime this week while the girls are at school as it looks a little more of a challenge to make than the jumper cake and pudding...

The gingerbread mix contains rice flour, potato starch and corn starch, with icing sugar and silver star decorations and costs £3.00.

We were sent these baking kits free of charge to try out in exchange for this blog post.

Monday 27 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan!! - #mealplanningmonday

Last week I got a slow cooker for my birthday which made me so happy and has made me so excited about food and cooking again....I have been searching and finding a lot of new recipes to try and on Saturday night we had our first meal from it. Sausage and baked bean casserole. It was so good. I have a blog post about it later this week.

Last weeks meal plan mostly went to plan....I had a Christmas dinner for lunch on my birthday from Wetherspoons and it was such a big portion that I couldn't eat it all and I was was sent some pizza and wine to try from Nisa which was a lovely treat....

On Saturday night I stayed up and booked my Christmas Tesco delivery slot! I got the 23rd of December which was the day I wanted then if anything is not delivered I can nip out on Christmas eve for it! Hooray!

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Pork & apple casserole with mashed potatoes....
Tuesday - Chicken stir fry....
Wednesday - Gammon, chips and a fried egg....
Thursday - Fish finger sandwiches....
Friday - Something while we're out seeing the Christmas lights being switched on....
Saturday - Pineapple chicken & rice....
Sunday - Pie & mash....

What are you eating this week?

Saturday 25 November 2017

A photo everyday for a year - Week 47 #Project365

This time next month it will be Christmas day! Eek! I am feeling quite prepared....All the expensive presents are bought and I have nearly all the smaller presents but this week was all about presents and treats for me as it was my birthday. hehehe

We had a great week and here is a photo for everyday!

301/365 - 18th November
A Reese's selection box made Becky so happy.

302/365 - 19th November
Quarter past 4 in the afternoon and I realised we hadn't opened the curtains all day. Oops.

303/365 - 20th November
A competition win arrived from A Cornish Mum.....Harry Potter things. Fantastic!

304/365 - 21st November
My birthday cake. Yum! Yum!

305/365 - 22nd November
I was sent a ton of Baylis & Harding products to feature on my blog. This may be my favourite thing. It's so cute.

306/365 - 23rd November
Waiting to go into the dentist....Becky needs a filling but this was her first check up after getting her braces off and the dentist said people usually need a little work after getting them off.

307/365 - 24th November
Becky finally brought her school photo home....It feels like I've been waiting for it for months...

Friday 24 November 2017

I felt very loved and special on my birthday. #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

On Tuesday it was my birthday and I had the best day....
Before kids birthdays were all about having fantastic nights out now with kids they are so different but I think I like birthdays better now....Kids really do make them special.

On My Sunday Photo post I showed the two bags of presents that the kids and my fella Stu had bought and lovingly wrapped. Ellie has a thing about doing birthdays properly and was determined that I wasn't opening the presents until my actual birthday....I got told off so many times for trying to sneak a peek. hehehe

On Monday Ellie was off school sick again....She got up, dressed and complained of feeling sick but I made her eat breakfast....We got as far as just before the school gates and she threw up. Back home we went. (She was fine by the next day). While chatting to her she came to the conclusion that she didn't really like the idea of getting up earlier on Tuesday morning for me to open my presents so I was allowed to open them on Monday evening. Hooray! I felt very spoilt!

I had a lovely day on Tuesday....I went out for lunch and had my first Christmas dinner of the year, I got myself some new pj's and had a special delivery from Jayne who blogs at Sticky Mud & Belly Laughs

Jayne had read my birthday wishlist blog post and bought me something off that! A slow cooker!!! I have spent the last couple of days finding recipes and getting very excited about what we are going to be eating....I have half my meal plan for next week planned already. lol

Stu had managed to change his shift at work so instead of starting at 4pm he started at 6pm which gave us a couple of hours together as a family.....It was perfect! The kids were being lovely and very helpful around the house....

 By the time Stu got in from work just after 10pm I was starving. I had only had toast for tea because I was still full from lunch. The last treat for my birthday was a takeaway. We got pizza!

I felt very loved and special on my birthday. Thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Randomise game: Draw, act or describe your way to victory!

On a Saturday evening we like to have a bit of family time away from the computers and tablets....I was asked if my family would like to try out the game Randomise and it sounded perfect!

Randomise was born on a cold winter commute from Brighton to London, when they creator Hazel Reynolds decided to set herself the challenge of creating a game that it would lure her 12-year-old sister away from her beloved iPad.

Randomise is a mash-up of classic games like Charades, Articulate and Pictionary with a huge dollop of randomness on top!

Teams compete to act, draw or describe the random identities which are on the cards which might sound easy but can be quite challenging....Describing a confused octopus eating spaghetti or a disguised giraffe playing air guitar is quite hilarious!

To play you need at least 4 players which was perfect for us! I teamed up with my teen Becky and my fella teamed up with Ellie my youngest....

When it is your turn you decide whether you are going for an easy or hard challenge and whether you are going to Describe, Act or Draw....

Then you select a card from each of the three piles of cards A, B and C. The opposing team will then give you three random numbers from 1 to 3 (eg. ‘3,1,2’). Look at the words on the cards that match these numbers to discover your new identity.

Card A will always describe you (eg. Happy, Hairy, Vain), card B will tell you what you are (eg. Octopus, Astronaut, Lion) and card C will tell you what you are doing (eg. Eating spaghetti, Playing football, Baking a cake).

It sounds a little complicated....I tried to explain it to my family without even getting the game out of the box and they were confused....It makes much more sense when you have the cards in front of you! lol I got called an idiot for trying to over complicate

There is 110 cards in the box and every game is different as there is more than a million combinations possible....Some of the combinations are so funny! Just looking at the cards above. A shocked snail, reading a book....hehehe

When you have picked what you are you will have 30, 60 or 90 seconds to reveal yourself:

DESCRIBE – You have 30 seconds to use your voice to communicate your identity. You can’t say any of the words on your cards or use rhyming words or letters to give clues.

ACT – You have 60 seconds to use your body to communicate your identity. You can’t make any noises, point or use any props.

DRAW – You have 90 seconds to use your artistic skills to communicate the phrase. You can’t draw any letters or numbers.

We played that you got a point for every correct card guessed and the winning team is the first to get to 30 points. The rules are quite flexible and you can change them to make it work for whoever you are playing with. As Ellie is only 10 we gave her a couple of minutes to describe, act or draw the choices on her cards....

Randomise is suitable for ages 8 and above but I think if you bend the rules a little younger children can join in the fun too!

Randomise comes in a box which is perfect for storing the cards and it is small enough to take to other people's houses to play! I think this would be a fab game for over Christmas when you have a house full of guests!

It is available to buy now on Amazon for £11.99. I think it is worth every penny.....It is a game we will be getting out again and again. 

The girls have even tried playing it together which doesn't really work as like I said you need at least 4 people to play properly but they have had fun acting out the different combination of things and seeing who can draw the best pictures of random things....

We loved this game and can highly recommend it! We played for over an hour and had some real family fun! It's great to play with the kids and I imagine hilarious to play with other adults too!

Usually I would take photos of us playing something like this but I didn't....As it was on an evening the lighting was rubbish for photos and to be honest we were just having too much fun! 

We were sent this game free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

40 Before 40....

Yesterday was my birthday....I'm now 38 years old. Eek! I don't feel 38 most of the time.....A few weeks ago I tried to buy alcohol from a shop and got asked for I.D. I laughed at them but they still wouldn't serve me because I didn't have any I.D. lol I felt like a child....The young lass serving me was only a few years older than my teen. hahaha

Anyway I have decided to write a list of things that I want to do before I hit the big 4-0! Heading towards 40 doesn't bother me at all....Age is just a number after all.

Get a passport.
Have a proper afternoon tea somewhere fancy.
Change my hair colour drastically. Something bright and loud!
Get a tattoo.
Have a proper holiday.
Get over my fear of hospitals and doctors.
Learn how to master smokey eyes from YouTube tutorials.
Go to the cinema alone to see something I want to see.
Start driving lessons and maybe pass my test.
Wear fake eyelashes.
Get up the first time the alarm goes off. Just once.
Lose some more weight.
Buy something expensive for myself.
Make bread from scratch.
Get served alcohol in a shop without being asked for I.D.
Watch all of the Star Wars films. 
Go camping.
Sing karaoke.
Get a pet.
Learn to crochet.
Boil an egg properly, so it's still dippy.
Eat at a very fancy restaurant.
Meet at least one of my blogging best friends.
Go to a blog conference.
Stay up and watch a WWE Pay per View. I used to stay up years ago...Before kids.
Wake up in time to see a sunrise.
Visit London.
Read more books.
Go horse riding again.
Have a night away with my fella.
Have my eyebrows professionally done. Waxed or plucked or whatever they do. 
Get a proper camera.
Go to the gym.
Visit my dad. I have never seen where he lives and the business he runs.
Say no more! I say yes to too many people when I don't want to do things.
Host a dinner party.
Learn to sew.
Grow something edible like a tomato or strawberry.
Stop caring what people think.

What do you want to do before you hit a big milestone age?

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Pimp your drinks with PopaBall.

Have you heard of PopaBall? I hadn't until last week! They produce products that are aimed to ‘pimp your drinks’ with and they also have some lovely gift sets....Perfect for this time of year!

I was sent two products to have a look at and was very excited. I had never seen or tried anything like this before.

Blueberry & Lemon Flavour Bubbles for Gin£3.79
Each pack of bubbles serves 3-6 drinks.

Add a spoonful of bubbles to your G&T, suck them & your drink up through the straw provided and bite to release their fruity flavour!

These add flavour, texture and fun to your drink! The bubbles keep their shape and flavour until they burst and it is such a strange feeling when they do. They are a lot of fun and taste delicious!

The shell is made from seaweed extract and is therefore suitable for vegans and coeliacs.

Blue Pearl Shimmer for Gin - £7.49
Each jar contains 21 servings.

Fill 1/2 glass with ice. Add 25ml gin and top with tonic water. Slowly sprinkle in 1/3 of a teaspoon of the shimmer powder. Watch your gin bubble up and then clear to reveal a magical blue pearl shimmer! Sip away and enjoy your amazing, blueberry flavoured, sparkling gin!

I loved this! It made my drink look magical! It made me think of unicorns. hehehe It tasted so good and it made me feel so fancy drinking this! I will be saving the rest for Christmas to make the drinks extra special...

These products are not just for gin though! You could use them in prosecco, vodka and anything else fizzy! Even lemonade. They could make drinks extra special over the festive season!

Popaball also have some great gift sets. I love the look of the The Ultimate Gin gift set with Bubbles for £22.79 which I think is a fantastic price for a Blueberry flavour blue pearl shimmer powder, 120g, Blueberry & Lemon Flavour Bubbles for Gin, 1 chunky telescopic straw, 5cl bottle of gin, 200ml tonic water of your choice, 100g dry gin fizz gummies and a beautiful Popaball gold foiled gift bag!

Do you drink gin? Does any of this take your fancy?

I was sent the products mentioned free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Monday 20 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan!! - #mealplanningmonday

Last weeks meal plan didn't go that well. We missed a couple of meals....Ellie was sent home sick from school & no one felt like eating much so we had cereal and then with her not eating properly the only thing for it was to offer her a McDonalds. It worked and she wolfed it down. Phew! 

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Chicken fajitas....
Tuesday - It's my birthday so I'm not cooking. I'm planning to go out for lunch for a Christmas dinner and for tea we'll just have sandwiches and of course cake....
Wednesday - Fry up. Sausages, bacon, egg, black pudding, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes....
Friday - Pizza....
Saturday - Sloppy joe's....
Sunday - Roast chicken dinner....

What are you eating this week?

Sunday 19 November 2017

I am being tortured. hehehe. #MySundayPhoto

It's my birthday next week and my fella and the kids have wrapped my pressies already. They are right in front of me, torturing me....I really want to have a feel and a peek but the kids won't let me. If I even walk towards the bags the girls give me a telling off. I hate waiting for surprises!

Saturday 18 November 2017

A photo everyday for a year - Week 46 #Project365

This has been a rubbish week for photos...I'm sorry. I don't like putting the heating on when it's just me in the house so I have been mostly hiding under a blanket trying to keep warm this week! 

I still managed a photo every day though...

294/365 - 11th November
At 5pm it was a tough choice.....Open the wine or have a glass of pop. hehehe I went for the pop.

295/365 - 12th November
I bought some selection boxes to put away for Christmas and put them on the fridge out the way of the kids. I shouldn't have left them where I could see them. I may have dipped into one. Oops.

296/365 - 13th November
Monkey is ready for Christmas. 

297/365 - 14th November
Ellie got sent home from school after being sick. She is fine now. An afternoon on the sofa made her feel better.

298/365 - 15th November
A day of school for Ellie due to her being sick....She had a ton of toys scattered around the dining room. I asked her to tidy them up and she piled everything on the table. Ugh! 

299/365 - 16th November
Thursday was my blogs birthday! 5 years has flown over.

300/365 - 17th November
She had nothing spotty to wear for the non-uniform day at school so she made do with her Children in Need headband.

Slip a taste of Yorkshire into stockings this Christmas...

I love Christmas. It is a time to enjoy good food and drinks....Over the festive season I always seem to buy things I wouldn't over the rest of the year. Fancy cheeses, Bailey's, nuts and  Advocaat to make Snowballs. 

I am always on the lookout for new drinks and when someone offered me some Brontë Liqueur I was keen to give it a try....

Brontë Liqueur combines blackberry and sloe with wildflower honey, a hint of jasmine, black pepper and cinnamon and is named after the county's famous writing sisters.  

It is an exciting new alcoholic drink from ‘God’s Own Country’ and the perfect present for a literary fan or those seeking a taste of Yorkshire....

I drank it over ice and it was delicious. It is warming and drinking felt like such a treat. I am quite fancying trying the cocktails especially the Brontë Barista!

Brontë Liqueur retails at £17.50 for six 5cl bottles, £23.50 for a 50cl bottle and £29.50 for a 70cl bottle. Charlotte’s reserve retails at £19.99 (RRP) and is presented in an exclusive faux 19th century leather bound book, making it a perfect present for Brontë aficionados. Both drinks are available via the website.

A percentage of all sales of Brontë Liqueur will be donated to the Brontë Society to help ensure the enduring legacy of the Brontë family which I think is just a lovely idea.

I was sent a sample of Brontë Liqueur in exchange for this blog post.