Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Some different types of Easter eggs to enjoy!

Easter is nearly here and for my family it is all about the treats. We love Easter eggs. Chocolate always tastes better when it is shaped into an egg. There are thousands of different types out there now. I think every single type of chocolate bar comes with an egg now and each year there are plenty of new one's to try.

Chocolate rabbit

These are some of the stranger Easter eggs that I have seen lately:

Unusual Easter Eggs

Heston from Waitrose The Chocolate Scotch Egg - Waitrose - £4.80.
A British picnic favourite is sweetly reinvented: meet the chocolate scotch egg. Milk chocolate maple crunch replaces breadcrumbs, the meat is now a rich milk chocolate caramel ganache while a zesty mango and yuzu fondant forms the golden yolk at the centre.

Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses Cheesealicious Cheddar Easter Egg - Asda - £2.50.
This new Easter egg made entirely from creamy cheddar. Enjoy this Easter treat by spreading onto oatcakes, with a little dash of chutney, spread it on your toast or simply cut off a piece and nibble away!

Ostrich Easter Egg

Mini Ostrich Chocolate Easter Eggs - Choc In Choc - £12.00.
If you’re looking to treat a loved one to a novelty chocolate gift, this is just the right handmade chocolate for you. Who could possibly resist such silky smooth Belgian dark chocolate, or the beautiful, blue marbled surface on the eggs? Both eggs are finished with a beautiful golden feather design, dusted with edible gold and lovingly packaged in a box for the perfect gift.

Popcorn egg

Joe & Seph's Milk Chocolate Popcorn Easter Egg - Amazon - £18.99
A delicious milk chocolate Easter egg encrusted with salted caramel popcorn! A Chocolate Egg with a twist! Indulge in a luxurious egg made with seriously smooth milk chocolate. There’s so much more to discover though, crack open to discover the award winning Salted Caramel Popcorn encrusted in the shell. A delicious combination of sweet and salty to offer something unique this Easter. Perfect for gifting to friends, family or children. 

More unusual Easter eggs

Eggstra Porky Easter Gift - Snaffling Pig - £14.00.
Easter Eggs are all well and good - but until now there has been little in the way of a springtime treat for those of a savoury pork based snack loving persuasion. Behind the shamelessly egg-shaped facade sits a large 275g jar of premium pork crackling, each brimming with an awesome flavour and cooked to utter crunchy perfection.

Flutter and Bloom Egg - Aldi - £14.99
Aldi’s utterly elegant Easter offering features 700g of thick milk chocolate, a mini blonde egg hidden within and 3D butterflies and flowers for decoration. It’s weird and wonderful and I really want it! 

Guinness Dark Chocolate Easter Egg - Very - £16.99.
This indulgently dark chocolate Easter egg is served alongside 6x mini pint liqueurs filled with dark and white chocolates with a Guinness flavoured centre. Everything comes presented in a smart gift box, making it the perfect choice for Easter gifting.

Do you fancy any of these?

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

We all have a junk drawer. What's in yours?

Since Ellie has gone back to school I have been doing all of those little jobs that I have put off for months like sorting out the cupboard with the bedding in, clearing the shoe rack and sorting the junk drawer in the kitchen.

Junk drawer

There are some unwritten rules that we all blindly follow in our homes such as keeping all your carrier bags inside another carrier bag or putting clothes that have been lightly worn in a pile and not in the washing machine but the junk drawer is a thing of beauty.

No one sets out to create a junk drawer but somehow we all seem to have one. All your odd bits and bobs find their way in and before you know it you’ve lost track of what’s even in there. Messy drawers are the go to place to shove everything that doesn't have a home but do you even know what you’ve been putting in there?

I cleaned ours out recently and was surprised about some of the things in there. A lot of things I had forgotten about and some of the things shouldn't have been in there at all. Oops.

There must have been about 50 birthday candles, birthday banners and some balloons. I must remember later this year not to buy new one's.

There were a ton of instruction manuals for various things. One's that we don't really need anymore like the washing machine that we replaced last year and the coffee machine that we know how to work, we use it enough.

There was Sellotape which I needed a few weeks ago and couldn't find any. It never even crossed my mind to look in the junk drawer. I of course went out and bought more which I didn't really need to do. 

There were a ton of Elastoplast's and I don't know how they got in there because we do actually have a first aid box with Elastoplast's in. The same with the batteries, we have a box for batteries but I still found some in the drawer.

There were some keys? Don't ask me what they were for because I am not 100% sure. Even Stu had no idea. I checked whether they were for the windows but no, I am thinking they could be for a bike locks.

There were a ton of takeaway menus, old one's that are no use as the prices have changed. I have the news one's pinned to the notice board in the kitchen.

Other things in the drawer were kettle descaler which should have been in the cleaning cupboard under the sink, random screws, rubbers, pencils, hair bobbles, superglue and a screwdriver. Those type of things I spend time looking for but never seem to find. lol

What type of things are in your junk drawer?

Monday, 29 March 2021

Our weekly meal plan! 29th March - 4th April. #MealPlanningMonday

Our Weekly Meal Plan

Last weeks meal plan went great we we ate everything apart from the Tuna pasta. Becky went for her vaccine on Thursday and while I was in town I got some pasties and sausage rolls from Greggs so we had them with chips. Becky has a check on her heart today so I will be making the most of being in town again and buying something nice for tea.

It's going to be a strange week. The kids break up from school and college for Easter on Wednesday so I know I will lost as to what day it is come Thursday. Then it's Easter and on Saturday I get my Covid vaccine. I got the text a couple of days ago inviting me to book and of course I did. I am half excited and half nervous. Fingers crossed that I don't get any bad side effects. Stu and Becky had hardly any so I am thinking knowing my luck I will get every side effect going.

On the menu this week we have:

Monday - Subway sandwiches from town.
Tuesday - Pie, mash and veg.
Wednesday - Spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread.
Thursday - Leftover bolognese in wraps.
Friday - Fish, chips and mushy peas.
Saturday - Pizza.
SundayCottage pie and baked beans.

What are you eating this week?

Meal planning linky

Sunday, 28 March 2021

The Easter eggs have been bought. #MySundayPhoto

Last week when I was in town I made a point of getting the kids their Easter eggs. I didn't want to rely on getting them through the online shopping in case they didn't deliver. 

Years ago the kids would have been happy with an egg from the pound shop but now they're older their tastes have changed and they like nicer chocolate, more expensive chocolate. lol I can't blame them, Lindor is my favourite too.

Easter Eggs

My Sunday Photo

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Week 12 of #Project365. 20th - 26th March. A photo every day for a year!

These weeks are flying over. 3 more school days and then it's the Easter holidays which seem extra long this year. Ellie doesn't go back until the 20th of April. Just when I get used to her being back in school she's off again.

We've had a strange week and I have felt pretty anxious for most of it. I have been worrying about side effects from Stu and Becky having their Covid vaccines. They have both got off so lightly. I am feeling so relieved and now just have to wait to get mine. I got a text this morning inviting me to book an appointment to get it. This time next week I will have had it! I am half excited and half nervous. Eek!

Now for a photo every day!

Covid vaccine card
Covid test reporting
Washing on the line - A hot chocolate and muffin
A doughnut - Me waiting for the bus
Sunflowers growing

79/365 - 20th March
Stu had his vaccine and felt absolutely fine afterwards. He felt a little hot and cold but that was it. He always has sore arms from work anyway so he didn't really feel any pain in his arm.

80/365 - 21st March
I always feel a sense of dread doing Ellie's lateral flow Covid tests. We do them on a Sunday and Wednesday evening. So far they have all been negative but I do worry. 

81/365 - 22nd March
I do love getting washing out on the line and on Monday I got 4 loads dried! I am glad I got so much done as the weather hasn't been great for the rest of the week.

82/365 - 23th March
Snack time. Hot chocolate and a Jammy Dodger muffin.

83/365 - 24th March
Pretty doughnuts! Yum, yum! 

84/365 - 25th March
Waiting for the bus with Becky to go into town to get her Covid vaccine. She was fine after it and hasn't really had any side effects apart from a sore arm.

85/365 - 26th March
More things are growing on my windowsill. I didn't actually know what these were when I took the photo. I was convinced they were daffodils but it turns out they are dwarf sunflowers. I remember the kids got them the set for Mother's day with the bucket, compost and seeds. I need to take note of what I plant and where I put it.

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Friday, 26 March 2021

This week my Word of the Week is: Anxious! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

Anxious

Using anxious as my Word of the Week might make you think I have had a bad week but I haven't. The reasons for my worry have been positive things in a round about way and it turns out all the energy I took worrying about things was wasted, well so far anyway.

Stu got a phone call last Friday morning from out local GP's asking him if he wanted his Covid vaccine. He of course said yes and went and got it on Saturday afternoon. I was half excited and worried for him but it took half an hour from leaving here to getting back which isn't bad considering the doctors is a 12 minute walk. lol

He asked the nurse why he has been called for and I haven't and she said they're just working their way down the list but she did ask if I wanted to be added to an extra list so if someone cancels or there's extra vaccines left at the end of the day, I can go at short notice. That has had me worrying all week thinking that someone might ring and ask me to go when it is inconvenient. I imagined them ringing telling me to go on a day I had something else on, then I would have to say no and be pushed to the bottom of the list.

Anyway Stu had his vaccine at half two and by 8pm I was on the phone to my dad asking when him and his partner started feeling the side effects. Stu was feeling nothing, his arm wasn't even sore. We expected him to feel something on Sunday and he got off so lightly. Apart from feeling a little hot and then cold that was it. Oh and Wednesday his arm was a little sore. I was worried about the side effects he might have and then felt worried because he had barely any.

Becky went back to college on Wednesday for the first time in about 5 months and I thought I was going to love my day home alone but it left me feeling anxious. It feels so silly saying it but after having a year of nearly always having someone here with me being alone is strange. I had nothing to worry about but still felt uneasy all day. I am sure I will get used to it again.

Yesterday Becky and I had a trip to town to get her vaccine. The last time I went on the bus or into town was in November so that had me feeling anxious too. I was also worried about side effects Becky might feel but so far so good. I am writing this at about 6pm last night and her arm is a little sore but she feels fine in herself. Her legs are aching but I think that's down to walking more than she probably has in the last few months. lol

When Becky came out from having her vaccine we popped into Sainsburys and bought the Easter eggs. It felt so odd being in a supermarket. I can't remember the last time I was, it certainly wasn't this year. Hooray for online shopping. We also called into Poundland and got some pasties from Greggs. I thought we might as well make the most of being in town forgetting we are back on Monday. lol 

On Monday Becky and I are off to the hospital which has me stressing. She has the yearly check on her heart which I always stress about anyway but now she's 18 it means I can't go in with her because of Covid. It will be the first heart appointment she's ever been to alone, I have always done the talking. I have said that if she gets stuck on a question to ring me and ask me. I think she'll be OK as long as she pays attention and nothing has changed with her heart. I am actually more worried about her finding the right department in the hospital. That place is like a maze. I just hope that if she gets lost she asks for directions.

Word of the week linky

Thursday, 25 March 2021

10 tips to save on kitchen energy bills!

Over the past year I think we have all spent more time in the kitchen. Can you remember when we were all baking banana bread? hehehe Every day we are in the kitchen cooking meals. We have to eat and it's one place where if we think about what we do in the kitchen we can save a bit of money. I am not talking about meal planning or buying cheaper brands I am talking about proper energy saving.

Kitchen

1. Pay attention to the energy consumption (wattage) of items that generate heat as these will cost the most to run. Try not to leave rings burning on the cooker when they aren't being used and don't forget to switch the oven off.

2. After turning the oven off leave the door open to heat up the room. We do this all of the time as our kitchen is always so cold due to having a huge window. It really does make a difference.

3. Invest in a slow cooker for as little as £18 and save money by avoiding using the energy hungry oven. You can cook so much in a slow cooker and I use ours most weeks.

4. Cooking food that has come straight out of the fridge takes longer because it’s colder. Simply take it out of the fridge and leave it on the side at room temperature for 30 minutes or so and it will cook much quicker.

5. Overfilling the kettle is the main way we waste energy. Only boil enough water for your requirements. My girls are so guilty of overfilling the kettle and it drives me crazy.

6. Switch off or unplug microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines and electric ovens as they will continue to use standby energy.

7. Grab your kitchen appliance manuals and choose the eco settings. Dishwashers can be used in eco mode and will save up to 50 per cent of the energy required for each load.

8. Don’t choose inferior, cheaper washing up liquids. The better the degreasing agent, the less hot water you’ll use to wash items. Cheaper alternatives are often a false economy as they are less effective.

9. Fill your freezer to capacity and it will run more efficiently. It takes more energy to power a partially empty freezer compared to one that is full. 

10. Using lids on pots and pans when cooking will stop heat from escaping and food will cook more quickly requiring less energy.

Have you any tips to share?

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

(Ad - Gifted) Dantoy Ice Cream Kit - Review!

The way this year is flying over summer will be here before we know it and when I think of summer one of the first thing which springs to mind is ice cream!

I was recently sent the Dantoy Ice Cream Kit to feature here on my blog. This gorgeous set is absolutely adorable for little ones and from a fantastic company who is 100% focused on being green.

Dantoy Ice Cream Kit in box

Pretend play is such a big part of a child's development. Children often imitate the actions of others and this develops the child physically and mentally helping the child to become an active, creative and healthy adult.

Contained in the Ice Cream Kit is: 3 Cones, 4 scoops of ice cream, a scoop, a cone holder and 2 cupcakes!

Dantoy Ice Cream
Dantoy cupcakes
Dantoy ice cream scoop

The ice cream comes off the cones and the cupcakes come apart too and you can mix and match them. This set is great for pretend play as well as strengthening eye-hand coordination, balancing skills and stimulating the imagination.

All of this kit and Dantoy's products are made to last. They are approved for contact with foods, microwave safe, dishwasher safe, frost-proof, will not degrade if left outdoors in the rain and contain no toxins.

Dantoy have a great “I’m Green” line of bioplastic products. Their bioplastic is made of at least 90% sugarcane, a sustainable raw material and their bioplastic is 100% recyclable. The Danish brand are fully committed to helping create sustainable toys. Even the packaging is recyclable. When getting the ice cream kit out of the box I did notice this. There were no metal wires or tape holding the pieces in place which was absolutely brilliant. It really made me think that a toy company have really got things right.

Dantoy believe that people should buy less, buy well. That is why their toys are only made with sustainable products. We can all be eco-friendly and by choosing brands who care will make a little difference.

A few years ago my girls would have loved this set. They were all about imaginative play. Ellie did have a quick play with this and thought the ice creams were adorable. This set won't be going to waste though, I know a little girl who is going to love it.

The Dantoy Ice Cream Kit is available from Smallable for £21.00 and I think it is well worth the money. It's a great set and will last for years and years.

I was sent the Dantoy Ice Cream Kit free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

12 Lessons I've learned in the last 12 months.

We have officially been in some sort of lockdown for a whole year. This time last year Boris said we must stay at home and thankfully the majority of us have when it was asked of us. It has been a challenging time and I am hopeful that things are starting to improve now with the vaccines being rolled out and restrictions being lifted.

Lockdown

I think we have all learned a lot over the last year and these are the most valuable lessons I have learned:

The importance of family.
I knew family was important but didn't realise how much until I couldn't hug them or even see them! I really do appreciate my family, now more than ever! It's been well over a year since I last saw my great Aunt and over a year since I last hugged my dad but I have got to spend more time with my girls. Before lockdown I hardly saw my girls as they were out with friends. Now they've been at home we've got to spend some quality time together and it has been lovely.

Our NHS is the best in the world.
I knew this anyway thanks to them helping my girls with their heart defects but they have been more than amazing over the last year. They have worked themselves to the bone and put their lives at risk to help. Without the local doctors things could have been a lot worse for my dad when he caught Covid.

Online shopping is a god send!
I don't think many of us would have managed without online shopping whether it be food, crafts to keep the kids busy or gardening supplies. Yes, I complained about getting a grocery slot sometimes but they have kept us fed.

How to wash your hands properly!
I thought I knew how to wash my hands but over the last year I have taken extra care with the hand washing and have washed my hands a lot more. I have done everything in my power to keep my family safe and they were so sick of me nagging about handwashing at one point but now it has become a habit.

The importance of nature!
I knew nature was an important thing but didn't realise how much until we were stuck at home. We made the most of having a garden planting things and just spending time out there. We also have been going for plenty of walks which we probably wouldn't have done without lockdown happening.

Kids are more resilient than you think!
At the start of the lockdown I really worried about my girls but I think they have came out of this doing OK. Don't get me wrong we've had a few wobbles over the last year but both of my girls have made me so proud. They have both stuck to the rules of the lockdowns, mostly. We did have a little moment this time last year when Becky and her girlfriend tried to bend the rules a little but me and her mum were having none of it. They haven't seen each other in person since Christmas when they swapped presents but are counting down the days until they can see each other again.

Leggings are a wardrobe essential!
I think I have worn jeans about 5 times in the last year. lol I have lived in leggings either with a long t-shirt or jumper in the colder months. The best one's I have found are amazingly from Poundland, in their Pep & Co section. They are only a few pounds and are really stretchy and are not at all see through.

How hard the teachers work!
They are amazing and have pulled out all the stops to make sure out children have been educated throughout the time we have had to spend at home. I don't imagine it has been easy for them, they weren't taught to teach that way. I did feel for some of Ellie's teachers when on Zoom lessons none of the kids were keen to put their cameras on or speak through the microphone and they felt like they were talking to and teaching nobody but they soldiered on.

Home schooling is hard!
And the work is even harder! The French and Maths work that Ellie had to do was way over my head. We might have had a few arguments about it because with the maths they have changed how it is taught to kids nowadays compared to how I was taught. Ellie did well with her work, sometimes she needed a little nagging to get going or to stick with it at the end of the school day but we hung on in there until the end and thankfully she is back at school now.

The importance of freedom!
I wasn't one for going far from home or even going out that much until I was told I couldn't. We did have plans to visit my great Aunt last summer but that couldn't happen. We have had no days out in over a year unless you count the odd time we have gone into town shopping for birthdays or Christmas. I miss the freedom of being able to visit my dad. Before lockdown I would go at least a few times a week and the kids would too. They loved going to his business and doing odd jobs for him. I can't wait to be able to be able to have a day out with the kids or to visit my dad.

To appreciate the simple things in life.
Being home alone, a cup of tea, spending time with the kids, gardening, baking, no pressure to go out, getting DIY jobs done, discovering new places on a daily walk, writing letters and lazy mornings.

The importance of telling people you love and care for them.
Many of us have lost family or friends over the last year and I read something online from the mum of someone who passed away, how she thought that they didn't really have any real friends that cared about her. The condolences on her Facebook page said differently. It has taught me to tell people how much I care about them.

What have you learned over the last 12 months?

Monday, 22 March 2021

Our weekly meal plan! 22nd - 28th March. #MealPlanningMonday

Our weekly meal plan

Last weeks meal plan went great. We swapped a couple of meals around and the chicken fried rice had added egg noodles. It felt like a bit of a Chinese takeaway which is a good thing.

I am very excited for this week. Becky is back at college and I will have a whole day to myself and will be home alone for the first time this year then the day after she gets her vaccine so we'll be having a trip into town. She did say she would go herself but I would rather be with her just in case she does feel unwell on the way home. I'm sure she'll be fine but I do worry.

On the menu this week we have:

Monday - A roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings.
Tuesday - Leftover roast dinner pie with mash.
Wednesday - Fish fingers, chips and baked beans.
Thursday - Tuna, sweetcorn and pasta.
Friday - Pizza Nachos.
Saturday - Diet coke chicken with rice.
Sunday - A fry up. Bacon, sausages, mushrooms, fried eggs, baked beans, tomatoes and toast.

What are you eating this week?

Meal planning linky

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Daffodils in the garden. #MySundayPhoto

It was only a few weeks ago that I shared a photo of some daffodils but they were shop bought and inside. Now the one's in the garden have grown and every time I look at them they make me smile. 

a daffodil


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Week 11 of #Project365. 13th - 19th March. A photo every day for a year!

 We have had a really good week with lots of exciting things happening. Becky got a date for her Covid vaccine, next week and Stu is getting his today! The doctors rang yesterday morning and asked if he wanted it and he of course said yes. I am feeling rather left out now. I have heard nothing about getting my vaccine but I suppose they must be on to the under 50's here if Stu is getting his so my time will be coming soon.

Now for a photo every day!

Pizza and a mothers day card
A new mug and a calendar and some flower seeds
My youngest waiting for her Covid test result
A win in the game Fortnite.
Tomatoes growing in plant pots.

72/365 - 13th March
Home made pizza with toppings including: Tomato puree, ham, salami, mushrooms, onions, pineapple and cheese. The best thing was there was plenty of leftovers for Sunday so I didn't have to do any cooking.

73/365 - 14th March
Mother's day and I was spoilt rotten! Breakfast in bed, I had a soak in the bath, the kids waited on me hand and foot and I had an Indian takeaway. It was the best day. Becky made me a card off Moonpig I think. She had obviously been on my Facebook account pinching all the photos.

74/365 - 15th March
My new favourite mug. Give me strength is something I always say usually when the kids are testing my patience.

75/365 - 16th March
I got a lovely package in the post from Suzanne, aka ChickenRuby. She did say she was sending the gardening calendar which has already been a great help but the flower seeds and letter was such a thoughtful addition. I can't remember the last time I received a hand written letter in the post and it was just lovely and really made me smile.

76/365 - 17th March
The school have started sending the Covid lateral flow tests home for us to do and Ellie did her first home test on Wednesday evening. It was a lot easier to do than I expected. It was negative. Phew! The next test is tomorrow evening. Something else to add to our Sunday evening list of things to do.

77/365 - 18th March
A new season of Fortnite started on Tuesday where everyone gets reset back to level 1 and the map changes. I got my first win on Thursday. It took me that long to get the hang of it.

78/365 - 19th March
My tomatoes are doing well so far! They're growing so that's a good thing.

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Friday, 19 March 2021

This week my Word of the Week is: Exciting! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

Exciting

This week has flown over and it has been a good one. A very exciting week compared to the last few months.

On Saturday I got a text through saying "You are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine but stopped myself from booking it for me because I had a thought that Becky still gets text messages on my number from the NHS because she hasn't got around to changing her phone number at the doctors since she turned 18. I rang up on 119 to ask them and the woman I spoke to was lovely and said it's stupid how there is no name on the text message. She checked through my details and I wasn't eligible so that meant Becky was. I am guessing it is because of her heart problem, the same heart problem she had when the pandemic started and the doctors said she is not at any risk compared to a totally fit and healthy person. I am so glad she's getting the vaccine next week but it does annoy me how they change the rules about who is vulnerable.

So next week Becky goes back to college for the first time this year, gets her vaccine which she is very excited about and then a few days later has her yearly heart check. It's the most excitement Becky's had in months. hehehe

On Monday there was a group Zoom call from Ellie's school giving a presentation about GCSE options. We knew most of the information but it was helpful that it was all explained properly. Ellie is very excited about starting her GCSE lessons and put in her choices on the website the school has given us. Engineering, Business and Geography are her first choices and she has Art and Hospitality and Catering in reserve.

There was also a lot of excitement this week with the new Season of Fortnite starting. Every few months the online game Fortnite has a big update and changes a lot of things. We were up early on Tuesday so Ellie could get ready for school and then watch the big reveal at 8am. We didn't log into the game we just watched others play it on YouTube. I think if we did log in I would have had trouble getting Ellie off the game to go to school. lol. It's the first time since I have started playing Fortnite I have seen a big change. Just when I got the hang of playing they pull the rug out from under me and I have to learn to play again. The map has changed, animals have been added and now you have to craft things like weapons.

Home Covid testing has started here. Ellie had been having lateral flow tests at school since she went back but they have decided now is the time for the parents to take over. I was not excited about this, to be honest I was pretty nervous about doing the first test at home but it turns out they are pretty simple to do and thankfully it was negative. So from now on every Wednesday and Sunday Ellie will be getting tested.

How has your week been?

Word of the Week linky button

Thursday, 18 March 2021

The ultimate fish pie, perfect for Good Friday - Recipe!

Can you believe later this week is officially the start of spring? This year is flying over and it is only a few weeks until Easter when I hope we will be eating a lot of tasty meals and treats.

Just over a year ago we tried out Idahoan Perfect Mash and were very impressed with it and since then I have been sent a few recipes to have a look at and this was one of my favourites.

Fish Pie

Perfect for Good Friday this recipe provides a tempting shortcut to a family favourite dish. Fish Pie. Made with salmon, haddock and cod for a decadent fish filled pie topped with Idahoan Cheddar Cheese Mash.

Ingredients: 

300g cod loin
200g skinned and boned salmon fillet
175g smoked haddock fillet
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
80g plain flour
80g unsalted butter
800ml semi-skimmed milk
Large handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 medium eggs
180g raw prawns
125g frozen garden peas
2 x 109g Idahoan Cheddar Cheese Perfect Mash
50g mature cheddar cheese, grated
 
Instructions:

Place the fish into a large saucepan with the onion and bay leaf. Pour over the milk, which should just cover the fish. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and gently lift the fish out of the milk and into a bowl. Flake when slightly cooled. Reserve the milk, discarding the bay leaf and onion. Make the milk up to 800ml by using some extra milk if necessary.
 
Melt the butter in the same pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute over a medium heat, then remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking until all is combined into a smooth sauce. Place back over the heat and bring to a simmer while stirring, then cook for 2 minutes until thickened and smooth. Stir in the parsley and season.
 
Preheat the oven to 190°C, 170°C fan, Gas Mark 5. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the eggs for 7 minutes, drain and run under cold water. Peel off the shells then cut into quarters.
 
Scatter the fish into a 1.5-2 litre ovenproof dish and top with the prawns, egg and peas. Pour the sauce over everything in the dish, gently shaking to make sure the sauce runs to the bottom around all the fish.
 
Prepare the Idahoan Cheddar Cheese Perfect Mash to packet instructions. Spoon the mash on top of everything in the dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar cheese.
 
Put the dish on a baking sheet and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden at the edges.

Is this something you or your family would like?

This recipe is from Idahoan Perfect Mash. You can find more recipes and information over on their website.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

(Ad - Gifted) One of our new favourite snacks: LOVE CORN!

My family are always on the look out for new snacks to try and the healthier they are, the better. So when we were given the chance to try out LOVE CORN how could we resist? With over 10 million bags sold the crunchy corn kernels are packed with flavour and made with love!

LOVE CORN

LOVE CORN is a crunchy savoury snack made from roasted corn kernels, sunflower oil, some spices depending on the flavour and nothing else! So simple but so good! They are also plant based, vegan, gluten free, verified Kosher and free from genetically modified ingredients! What more could you ask for?

LOVE CORN comes in 4 different flavours: Sea Salt, Salt & Vinegar, Smoked BBQ, Habanero Chilli and are available in a variety of bag sizes: 20g snack pack, 45g portion size and 115g for sharing.

LOVE CORN snacks

I thought the best time to ask the kids to try these would be late afternoon when my youngest Ellie had came in from school. She is always on the hunt for something to eat at that time of day, needing a boost from school and something to fill her until tea time. These sounded like they would do the job!

Ellie loves anything bbq flavoured so went straight for the smoked bbq one's. She opened the packed tried one and I had to tell her to slow down so I could get a few photos. lol She really was enjoying them that much. I did convince her to give me a couple to try and they were so good and packed full of flavour.

Trying out LOVE CORN snacks

These are great for kids, in lunch boxes, after sports or an in between snack and are great for adults too as a topper on salads, soup or cheese boards and they pair perfectly with beer & wine which Stu and I did put to the test on Saturday night. Stu is a chilli lover so he claimed the Habanero Chilli one's and I had the Sea Salt ones which I thought were delicious! Stu loved his too but I wasn't keen on the Chilli ones and he wasn't keen on the sea salt ones. It's all down to personal taste. Not everyone is going to like every flavour. Becky was happy to be left with the salt and vinegar ones and she said they took a bit of getting used to as they are so strong, they are but they are very moreish.

I hadn't heard of these until a few weeks ago when I read about them on other blogs but now I seem to be seeing them while I am doing my grocery shopping which of course is a good thing since my family have asked me to buy more. I will, I think they are a great alternative to a packet of crisps and much better for us too! They are a snack we can all enjoy.

If you want to try these you can claim a free LOVE CORN sample pack of their fab four flavours, you just have to pay £1.99 shipping. Also if you would like 20% off you can use the code "CRUNCH20" on their website.

I was sent a selection of LOVE CORN snacks free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Making choices about GCSE subjects.

Ellie is in year 9 at school and that time has come to make choices about her GCSE options. It doesn't seem possible that my youngest is old enough to deciding her future like this but it's happening and we have spent hours speculating about what GCSE subjects are on offer and what she might choose.

We have no experience of choosing GCSE subjects at Ellie's school. Becky did her GCSE's when we lived in Northumberland at a different school so we were very interested to see how things worked here.

Signpost against a sunset

While the kids were home learning emails were sent out saying they will be choosing their GCSE subjects when they returned to school and they haven't hung about in sharing the website where the choices are made and handed in.

Ellie will still be studying the core subjects: Maths, English Language, English Literature, Science, PE and PSHE. She then had to choose 3 subjects and 2 reserves from the one's listed below.

GCSE Options

We went through each subject reading the booklet that the school gave us and talked about what was involved and whether she would like to study it. To be honest she wasn't inspired or excited about the majority of the subjects and neither was I. A lot didn't seem right for Ellie.

These are the subjects that Ellie has chosen:

Choice #1 - Engineering is something Ellie has always been interested in and it seems like a more hands on subject than others. She loves building and creating things so it really stood out to her.

Choice #2 - Geography is one lesson she finds really interesting at the moment and really does enjoy it. They key things she will learn about are: Our Natural World, People and Society & Geographical Exploration but I think the field trips to the coast swung it for her.

Choice #3 - Business was something we hadn't even thought about but Ellie read about it and it really interested her. The course includes learning about businesses, running them, keeping accounts, promotion, marketing and even Ellie could see that these are great skills to have especially since one day she wants to run her own business and be the boss. I am not even joking.

Reserve #1 - Art - Ellie loves art but it's not something she really wants to do as a GCSE, she likes to draw and paint for fun but doesn't want to spend a lot of her lesson time doing art. She only chose it as a reserve because she likes it better than other subjects.

Reserve #2 - Hospitality and Catering - Isn't something Ellie is keen on but it was either this or a subject she hates.

What Ellie hasn't chosen:

Drama - Ellie hates drama! She hates being the centre of attention so I knew she was not going to choose this.

French - Ellie is counting down the days until she doesn't have to do French. She doesn't understand it and after doing home learning with I remember why I didn't like French at school either.

PE - Ellie is not a sporty person. She enjoys the 2 PE lessons that she has each week but that is because she is with her friends and it is fun. GCSE PE is a lot more serious and there is more learning to do. I agreed with Ellie that it is not for her.

History was considered but it was a choice between this and Geography and Geography won. Ellie is interested in history but there was some of the topics that she had never learned about like like Elizabethan England.

Performing Arts was another no for the same reasons as Drama.

Photography was something Ellie had in reserve at one point but was told that she couldn't have both Art & Photography as choices, even in reserve. I suppose that's fair enough because photography will be studied in art.

Health & Social Care was something Ellie didn't even consider. She has seen Becky do health and social care and knows what it involves and has no interest in it at all.

There was no mention of RE which surprised me but I suppose Ellie's school isn't a religious one like her primary and old secondary school was but the biggest shock came when there was no mention of any I.T based subjects. Considering nearly everyone uses a computer and lots of jobs do I thought there would be some I.T lessons but no.

Thinking back to when Becky chose her GCSE's Ellie seems to be getting a rough deal. Becky had the choice of all the subjects Ellie does as well as Computer Science. Music, Spanish, Design, Travel & Tourism, Construction, Film Studies, Statistics, Media and Hair & Beauty. The only one Becky didn't have the option to do was Engineering. I suppose it's because Becky was at a much bigger school and there were more teachers. At Ellie's school the PE teacher is also the health and social care teacher and a head of the year.

So there we have it. My girl has chosen her GCSE subjects and fingers crossed that she gets her first choices. It can't be any worse than Becky's. She only got to do one of her 4 original choices. lol but it worked out OK in the end, she did well in the subjects but it's just a shame they were a waste as they were nothing to do with what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

The school gave some great advice to the kids when it came to choosing their options which I thought I would share.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself:

Are You Good At The Subject?
This is a pretty obvious question and one which you can answer. Remember, though, that you should ask your subject teacher if you are good at the subject because he/she knows your ability level in relation to the whole year group. 

Do You Enjoy The Subject?
Each of us is different and we each have our own favourite subjects. An interest in a subject, however, should not be confused with ability in a subject. You must ensure that your enjoyment is because you are genuinely interested in the work.

Do I Need The Subject?
This may be difficult to answer if, like many Year 9 pupils, you do not have a career in mind. You must, therefore, think carefully about your broad base of subjects. For those who do have a career in mind, find out the subjects which are needed to follow the career and check back that you have the ability to get the necessary examination grade in the subject.

Two final points: Do not choose or discount a subject because you like or dislike the teacher. Similarly, do not be influenced by the subjects your friends are choosing. You are an individual and your aims and ambitions are different from anyone else.

Has your teen chosen their GCSE options yet? What are they choosing?