Monthly Archives: September 2011

Meal Planning Monday No. 1 – 26th September 2011

I’ve seen the weekly Meal Planning Monday blog posts popping up regularly in my GReader for a few weeks now and I’ve been inspired by Kate at The Five Fs and Emma at Mummy Musings to start taking part myself.

I’ve been getting really frustrated with a few things to do with our evening meals lately. Firstly, when we have no plan we will occasionally end up eating an unplanned takeaway which is not only unhealthy and no good for my weight loss plans, it’s also very expensive when compared to a home cooked meal. Secondly, we might end up deciding on a meal during the day which requires a ‘quick trip’ to the supermarket for some essential ingredients that should cost about £5, yet I always seem to manage to spend about £30. Again, no good for a weekly budget and also can sometimes mean we end up eating quite late, another hindrance to healthy eating & my metabolism.

So, from this week onwards I am going to start planning out our meals for the week and, this is the really important bit, sticking to it! I might switch days around if our circumstances with work etc change but, ultimately, these will be the meals we’re going to eat this week:

Monday: Sweet chilli & garlic chicken stir-fry with rice noodles, baby corn & sugar snaps

Tuesday: Probably soup as my husband is out until late at a meeting

Wednesday: Slow-cooker gammon joint with green salad, new potatoes & coleslaw

Thursday: Slow-cooker braised beef in red wine with carrots, parsnips, mashed potato & broccoli

Friday: Lemon & rosemary oven-baked seabass fillets with roasted vegetables

Saturday: Chinese marinated pork shoulder steaks with rice & vegetables

Sunday: Slow roasted spice rubbed boneless shoulder of lamb with roasted butternut squash, cauliflower & green beans.

Why not pop over to Mrs M and see what everyone else is planning this week?

Thanks for reading,



My Bio-Oil Experiment – 1st Update

I’m sorry.  I haven’t done what I said I would.  Please forgive me.

In my original Bio-Oil experiment post I said I was going to post weekly updates and, as that was 3 weeks ago and this is the first update I’ve posted, I quite clearly haven’t done this.  The truth is though, I haven’t really thought there was enough of an improvement to warrant weekly updates.

To remind you, this was what the scar looked like before I started applying the Bio-Oil twice daily:


And this is what it looks like today:



I apologise for the fact that it’s not as close-up as the previous photo.  What can I say?  I’m no Mario Testino…..

Ultimately, the redness has definitely faded and the skin feels much softer but I’m not overly impressed.  Maybe I was expecting too much.  What do you think?

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins


When I was baking the Mini Quiches I realised that I had some bananas hanging around that had seen better days.  I only really like eating bananas raw when they are still quite green and under ripe (I know they’re harder to digest that way, don’t nag!) so it was either throw them away or use them up in some devastatingly imaginative way.  I hate wasting food, so, with a quick root around the cupboards and a bit of Googling, the decision was taken to bake some banana muffins.

This is the recipe I used:

From but I halved the quantities and chucked a few dark choc chips in because I felt like it!

Ingredients – Makes 6

100g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder (I didn’t have any bicarbonate of soda so I increased this and it seemed to work)

Pinch salt

2 small bananas, mashed

75g caster sugar

1 small egg (you might need an extra spoon of flour if the mixture feels too ‘wet’)

35g butter, melted

50g dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius / Gas Mark 4.  Place 6 paper cases in a muffin tin.  I only had boring white ones but I think dark brown ones would look gorgeous 😉

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; put to one side.

3. Mash the bananas and, if you’re like me, try not to hurl at the sight/smell of overly ripe sweetness as these WILL be yummy, I promise.  Combine this gooey mess with your sugar (which I also like to sift), egg and melted butter.  Fold in the flour mixture (I also sift this again) and mix together to get a smooth batter.  It should look something like this:


Doesn't look that appetising, does it?

4. Eat a few of the chocolate chips.  Eat a few more.  Top them back up to the required 50g and sprinkle over the muffin batter, like this:


Ah, that's better! Dark chocolate chips make everything better.

5. Stir the chocolate chips in and spoon the mixture evenly between the paper cases.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden brown on the top and spring back when lightly tapped.

7. Cool on a wire rack then eat, remembering to save some for the next day’s packed lunches!



Ham & Cheese Mini ‘Bread’ Quiches


After realising that Little Man would be taking a packed lunch to preschool every day from now on, I started to think about how I could keep them interesting and varied for him.  At the moment, I think it would be a good idea to stick to traditional ‘picnic’ type items that don’t require cutlery as I’m not sure on the preschool’s policy on this.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled seeing a recipe for mini quiches that used bread as the crust instead of the usual shortcrust pastry which I thought would be not only quicker but also easier to do and get Little Man involved at the same time.

A quick search on Google and I came up with a few variations, so I decided to wing it and create my own.  Here’s how I did it:


In the absence of my pastry cutters, I had to improvise!

Firstly, I had to cut out the bread discs.  I think white bread would probably work best for these in the same way that it generally toasts better, but in an attempt to keep them fairly healthy I used 50/50 bread which seemed to work fine.  You could always try wholemeal bread which should work, it just might not be as ‘strong’.  My pastry cutters were last seen at my Mum’s house but she’s convinced she doesn’t have them, so who knows where they are?  I had to improvise so I used the biggest mug I could find which just happened to be a Starbucks one!  Ooh, I really fancy a Starbucks now – skinny peppermint mocha to go please!


6 bread 'discs' ready to be buttered

I’d decided to just make six mini quiches as I’m currently trying to follow a wheat-free diet so they would only be eaten by Little Man and Big Man and I wasn’t sure how long they would keep for.


Buttered and ready for the quiche filling

I buttered the non-stick muffin pan that I was using and also buttered the bread discs to give a ‘seal’ so the egg filling wouldn’t seep into the bread and make it soggy.  I think the next time I make them I would roll the slices of bread out slightly to make them thinner and also use something bigger to cut the discs out with so that they come up slightly deeper with room for more egg filling – this would give a better filling to crust ratio!


My Commis giving the eggs a good mixing!

Then, while the bread ‘crusts’ were baking and colouring (about 10-15 mins on Gas 6, approx 190 degrees celsius) it was time to make the filling.  I used 2 medium sized eggs with about 100ml of milk and into this I added some turkey ham, shredded, about 50g of grated mature cheddar and about a tablespoon each of flat leaf parsley and chives.  Obviously, you could change the fillings to suit.  Next time, I’ll probably try bacon, mushroom and use a bit more cheese as that flavour didn’t really come through enough.


Lots of lovely herbs for extra flavour

There was a bit too much filling as the bread crusts weren’t really deep enough and my over-enthusiastic helper didn’t stop pouring at the right time so some of the egg mixture overflowed the crusts and went around them in the muffin pan.  I was worried that this would cause major problems but it really didn’t in the end.  I suppose that you could possibly make ‘crustless’ quiches in this way, maybe by putting the egg mixture into a paper case, then I could have them too!  I baked them for about 15-20 minutes on the same setting but as my oven is old and decrepit I wouldn’t take my timings as gospel on this!  Basically, you want them set and golden brown on the top.


Straight out of the oven

On getting these out of the oven I managed to burn myself yet again so I’m really hoping my Bio-oil experiment works!


Voila! Finished & cooling.

Little Man took one to preschool in his lunch the following day and he ate it so I’m guessing he liked it!  Big Man also tried one and declared them tasty so it looks like I’ll be making them again soon!  Let me know if you decide to give them a go or if you have any other suggestions for different packed lunch options for Little Man.

Thanks for reading!


It’s the little things…..


Little Man

It really is funny how it is often the smallest things that can have the biggest impact on you.

Little Man, having turned 3 at the end of July, started ‘full-time’ (15 funded hours a week over 5 mornings) preschool last Tuesday.  I was worried how he would cope with going every day but, so far, other than some tiredness creeping in towards the end of the week, he’s coped brilliantly.  *touches everything wooden within reach*

I, however, have found the adjustment quite strange.  He suddenly seems so grown up!  But the catalyst for this feeling wasn’t the fact that he was going every day, it wasn’t even the fact that there’s now a proper ‘timetable’ on display in the lobby explaining what they’ll be learning and when; it was the simple fact that he now has to take a packed lunch with him every day!  I know, I’m barmy!

Terrible mother that I am, I hadn’t even considered the lunch aspect so sent him in the first day (Tuesday) without any!  I was standing in the lobby, seeing everyone else turning up with their packed lunches when the horrible realisation dawned on me.  However, I still wasn’t convinced that Little Man would want to take a packed lunch.  For one, he’s not used to eating lunch until 1pm ish, not 11;45 so I just didn’t think he would be hungry.  Also, he was used to having his hot meal at lunchtime Monday-Friday and a sandwich/toast for his dinner.  Well, how wrong was I?!  Nanny turned up early to collect him on that Tuesday as he didn’t have lunch but explained that he could take a lunch the next day if he wanted to, which he did and was actually stupidly excited about.

The following day I dutifully prepared ham & cream cheese sandwiches in the shape of dinosaurs along with a whole heap of other stuff, thinking “Well, as long as he eats some of it!”   Hahahahahahaha…….



I turned up at 12:15 to collect him, expecting to be greeted by him running towards the door to see me as per usual.  No.  When the lady called to him “Mummy’s here” he just called back “I haven’t finished my lunch yet” so I had to go in while he finished his yogurt!  He had pigged more or less all of it, only leaving his cheddar stick and a few grapes and raisins which he subsequently polished off in the car on our way to the shops to get ingredients for the baking we were going to do that afternoon.  (More on this another day.)

I’m so pleased to see him sitting down, with the other children, to a healthy lunch and I’m always interested in any ideas for different lunchbox ideas – I might even start a little linky 😉  Anyway, here’s what he had for lunch on preschool days last week:

Tuesday: no packed lunch (Naughty Mummy!) but sausage casserole & vegetables homemade by Nanny.

Wednesday: ham & cream cheese dinosaur sandwiches, breadsticks, carrot batons, cheddar stick, a Frube, grapes and raisins.

Thursday: mini ham & cheese ‘bread’ quiche (recipe to be posted shortly), laughing cow stars, babybel, mini peperami, grapes, cucumber slices, a Frube and a banana & chocolate chip muffin (another future recipe post) – I have no idea why I sent him with this much food, needless to say, he didn’t eat the muffin!

Friday: turkey & pesto mayonnaise dinosaur sandwiches (Big Man says I’m spoiling him), carrot batons, apple slices, babybel, a Frube and a muffin which he did eat this time!


Thursday's lunch - yummy!

What do your little ones like to take for lunch?  I’d love to hear in the comments 🙂



Dear So and So…..My first!

Dear virus currently living in my throat,

Kindly bugger off and leave me alone please.  I am very busy and important and the way you are making me feel, particularly first thing in the morning, isn’t helping me to make the most of my extra free time now Little Man is at preschool every morning.


Poorly sick, lazy lethargic Mummy with eleventyhundred things on her ‘to do’ list


Dear Little Man’s keyworker,

I fully understand that Little Man is not an angel, but he’s not the devil either.  When you have to tell me of the one, fairly minor, thing he’s done wrong over the course of four mornings in which there was a hell of a lot of fantastic stuff, please do so without looking at me like I’m responsible for bringing another Damien into the world.

Wishing you would get some perspective or, at the very least, a more positive tone of voice, Little Man’s Mummy


Dear Little Man,

I can’t even begin to explain to you the emotions that have churned through me these past four days.  I’m so happy when I see you so excited to go into preschool and I love that you are starting to make some new friends there.  I’m thrilled that the ladies at the preschool (barring your negative and depressing keyworker) keep telling me how well you’re doing and that they’re really pleased with you.  I’m shocked at how much impact the simple fact that you have to take a packed lunch in with you every day has had on how grown up you seem and I’m quite sad, but mostly very proud, to see the lovely ‘big boy’ you’re becoming.

Loving you to the moon and back, Mummy


Dear So and So...

My Bio-Oil experiment


About 2 months ago I suffered a nasty brownie related injury.  Nothing to do with the charming & helpful brigade of young ladies but rather related to the chocolate baked product.  I was a little careless removing them from the oven (probably in my haste to try one!) and gave myself a nasty burn on my left wrist.  It hurt.  A lot.  There was definitely may have been swearing.  I wouldn’t mind but the brownies weren’t even a success, harumph!

Anyway, I’ve been left with a rather unattractive scar and, being the vain creature that I am, I’ve decided to try and do something about it.

Several people recommended Bio-Oil to me and I handily already had a partly used bottle of this in my bathroom cabinet from my pregnancy.  Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t have any stretch marks although I’m sure it works really well at preventing them if you remember to apply it and not just leave it in the cabinet like I did, ahem!

So I’ve decided to give Bio-Oil a go on my scar and document the progress here.

This is my scar on day one:


I’ll be using the Bio-Oil morning & night & posting weekly photos to judge whether or not there has been any improvement.



P.S. I might give it a go on my silvery, faded stretch marks too but, do not fear, I most certainly will NOT be posting pictures of those.  I wouldn’t want to give you all nightmares.

P.P.S. That photo also made me realise how wrinkly my hands are looking (always an age giveaway) so I’ll also be applying L’Occitane hand cream at the same time, hence digging that out of the bathroom cabinet too.

P.P.P.S. Anyone else read/reading ‘The Slap’?  Really struggled with the first chapter due to too many revolting characters being introduced too soon so I’m wondering whether to persevere or not.

A gem of a discovery

I have lived in the same area for all my life (30 *cough cough* years) and my parents have lived here for longer than that, since they were married in fact (44 years!). My Mum moved into the area with her family over 50 years ago so really knows it well.

However, despite that, we recently discovered a fantastic park, only a few miles away, that has a miniature railway in its grounds that runs every Sunday (& some Wednesday afternoons in the school holidays) throughout the Summer.


Waiting patiently for the next train.

The trains (there are a few) mostly run on steam and there are two tracks, a ground level track and an elevated narrow gauge track.


Wow! Steam!

My Little Man is mad on trains (Thomas, Chuggington, Underground Ernie – you name it, if it’s a train, he loves it!) so once we found out about it, a trip there was an absolute must!



We went on Sunday, with Nanny & ‘Dad-Dad’ (Daddy was at White Hart Lane, suffering!) and it was a really fantastic afternoon. The train fare is only £1 each, with under 3s going free and it was probably the best few pounds we’ve ever spent, on a pennies-per-smile basis!


Thanks for the helping hand Dad-Dad!

As well as the railway there are also tennis courts, a putting green, an outdoor ‘gym’, a fantastic ice-cream/hot-dog van which also sells teas & coffees, toilet facilities, some large green open spaces for football/cricket/rounders, two fantastic playground areas and, this Summer, there was a children’s funfair too.


That's a big ice-cream for a Little Man!

The railway has been there for 40 years so I can’t think why we didn’t know about it until recently. We’ve missed out on a lot of cheap, fun Sunday afternoons this year but I’m sure we’ll be making up for it in the next few years!


Managed it though - yummy!

Thanks for reading!