Monday, 14 December 2015

Menu Plan (14th December 2015)

I finally feel that I am catching up with everything. This week is yet another busy week, I am only at home on Thursday evening. My sister has arrived from Australia for Christmas and we have a few things arranged with her. Tonight is the final craft club before Christmas, tomorrow I am going to see Caro Emerald in Manchester and on Friday is my work's Christmas meal. 

I am looking forward to next week when I am off work and by then everything should be done and I can relax.

Meals are quick and simple this week or will need forward preparation.

Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Macaroni Cheese ( Emma is cooking for her and Matthew as Craig is also out)
Wednesday - Curried Mince Beef and rice. (My sister has requested this and it is Craig's signature dish)
Thursday - Twice baked potatoes and salad
Friday - Craig to sort out
Saturday - We are all at a pantomine and will be eating out beforehand
Sunday - Fish and Chips.

I am trying to empty the freezer ready to defrost when I am off work. We are not at home for Christmas so there is no need for me to stock up. I want the freezer ready so that I can cook meals to freeze to save time in the New Year.

What is everybody else doing for meals this week? Are a lot of you at Christmas parties?

Linking to Organising Junkie to see what everybody else is enjoying.


Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Trees are up.

I love putting the trees up as both of the trees we put up are special to me in different ways. The decorations in the back room are classic colours and were chosen so that no matter what the colours of the room they would match. Also the room can be very dark so the lighter colours also help.

The tree and decorations in the front room are my favourites because they have been chosen or made by the kids over the years or are from my first tree. I also have a collection of Disney discs which are dated. I was gutted when they decided not to do them this year.

I don't do real trees because I do not like the smell of them. I rush past the tree at work holding my breath and I certainly do not do pine scented disinfectant.

Joining the craft club at the WI also gave me the ability to do and complete some Christmas crafts. The two trees I took into work to brighten up the office. I did post the boot on Instagram but not the completed wreath. I also made 3 others for my Mum and sisters. This has been the first year I have actually made things instead of just thinking about making something.

 I love looking at other people's decorations and I do suffer from decoration envy. I would love the house to be covered in garlands and lights and poinsettias but part of me would get rather irritated with the amount of things out especially once Christmas was over.

I hope you are all having fun and preparations are going well.


Monday, 7 December 2015

Menu Plan (7th December 2015)

Another busy week ahead, but at least this week I am not travelling with work. I have however got 2 WI meetings and I am going to my favourite Garden Centre to see their Christmas displays. My Sister has also landed home for Christmas from Australia with my nephews so I will be trying to spend time with her as well.  Meals are going to be quick and simple and try to use as much as I can from the freezer and cupboards to make room for the Christmas food.

Monday - Burger, Fries and Salad
Tuesday - Chicken Pittas and crudites
Wednesday  - Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday - Shepherds Pies
Friday- Soft shell Tacos
Saturday - eating with in-laws 
Sunday - out most of the day so probably something I can put in the slow cooker.

Are you still busy in the run up to Christmas?

Linking up to Organising Junkie and Mrs M as usual.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

24 Days of Christmas

How quickly is this year going?

I was up rather late trying to finish off some advent stockings ( which I failed) before sorting out the kids advent calendars. We have ones that you can reuse every year, so I just put chocolate coins in each year and a joke in Matthews’s. I have a Yankee Candle one this year for the first time. I have wanted one of those for several years so this year I decided to treat myself and I used my Boots points, so in effect I got it for free.

Every year we try to do some family activity together each day. Unfortunately this week I am away with work so I have chosen activities which the kids can do even if Craig goes out. On Friday, Craig and I are out so our usual Film night will be child only. I feel really guilty about leaving them to their own devices especially at this time of year but I hope we can still have lots of fun and family time.
Some of these activities are quick for when time is short but at weekends I do try to choose activities that last longer.

My list this year is as follows.

1-     Open Christmas mugs
2-     Make paper chains
3-     Read Christmas story book
4-     Watch Christmas movie
5-     Put up Christmas trees
6-     Write out Christmas cards for school friends and neighbours
7-     Make paper Christmas snowflakes
8-     Choose new decorations for tree
9-     Go to Bent’s garden centre to look at Christmas displays
10-  Drink homemade hot chocolate using chocolate syrup and stirring with chocolate spoons
11-  Create a memory box of Christmas past
12-  Visit Tatton Park to see the house decorated for Christmas
13-  Go to Barton Square once dark to see the lights and go on the carousel
14-  Watch a Christmas movie
15-  Do a Christmas jigsaw
16-  Watch funny Christmas related Youtube clips
17-  Wrap presents
18-  Sing along with Christmas carols
19-  Pantomine
20-  Bake cookies
21-  Deliver presents to family
22-  Snow play at Chill Factor
23-  Visit to Father Christmas ( go with my  Sister and Nephews who are over from Australia)
24-  Pizza night with my family

Do you have any activities or traditions that you do each year?  I would love to know.


Monday, 30 November 2015

Menu Plan (30th November 2015)

Well, I am actually getting this post up on the right day. I have got a really busy week ahead and I am away with work for three days this week. I am not planning for those days as Craig never sticks to them anyway. I am trying to get everything ready for tomorrow as I have advent stockings to complete that have taken longer than I thought. I am going to have to cheat to get them up in time and then finish them properly once they are taken down. we are also going to put the Christmas decorations up at the weekend.

I will be posting the crafts I have made for Christmas later this week but for now here is the menu plan.

Monday - Ham & Cheese Toasties
Tuesday - Chilli con Carne and Rice
Wednesday - Craig to sort out
Thursday- Craig to sort out
Friday - Ladies to Dine / Pizza for the kids
Saturday - Chicken and Bacon pie (did not get made last time)
Sunday - Beef and Ale Stew with vegetables and Dumplings.

As usual I am linking up with Organising Junkie and Mrs M to see what others are up to.

Have a good week, even if it is busy.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Menu Plan (23rd November 2015)

I am really bad at remembering to post my menu plans every week. I really must try harder. Even having them written down hasn't reminded to post.

I made a special effort to remind myself to post this week's plan so here it is.

Monday- BLT sandwich
Tuesday - Chicken Kievs, Chips and Veg
Wednesday - Cheesy Chicken Pasta (normally would use spaghetti but have loads of pasta and no spaghetti)
Thursday - Sausage, Mashed potatoes and peas/beans
Friday - Take away
Saturday - Chicken and Bacon Pie
Sunday - Roast Beef Dinner.

Linking up with Mrs M and Organising Junkie

Hope everyone in America has a Happy Thanksgiving. 


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Planning for Christmas

There is now less than 2 months to go until Christmas. Has anyone started panicking  yet?

Over the years I have tried several strategies to try and make sure that I am not leaving things to the last minute. I also generally manage to take on too many projects and then find that I do not have time to do them all.

There are several websites that can help you get organised. My favourite has been They run two plans that will help you clean, organise and prepare for Christmas. They are the Christmas Countdown and the House & HolidaysPlan.  If you sign up for these then you will receive reminder emails to keep you on track.

If you don’t want to go that in depth then Real Simple have a simpler checklist which can be found at

Both of these sites are American based and also cover Thanksgiving. Alison May at Brocantehome has produced a Christmas Countdown which is available to purchase on her website. 

If like me you like making lists then there are plenty of example s of Christmas planners that are available to download, some  you have to pay for and some are free. I tend to download pages from Organized Christmas that I know I will use.

I personally have tried various ways of planning over the years and have developed my own plan.

October Half term – Make Christmas Cake
End of November- All presents bought.
First Weekend in December – put Christmas decorations up
First week in December – all cards written and posted.
Second week December- all presents wrapped.
The week leading up to Christmas (book off work)- Last minute things, food shopping if needed (every other year)

I don’t include deadlines for craft projects as I always try to do too much and invariably end up failing to complete them. This year I have almost managed to complete all the craft projects I have set for myself but that is only because of going to the WI craft club and working on them there. I will post pictures when they are all complete.
I have a calendar printed out and in my Christmas planner where I write in things we are doing and then in November and December I pin them up in the kitchen so everyone can see what is going on. This also avoids double booking which has happened in the past.

I don’t have set dates simply because lots of other things crop up last minute so I leave plenty of time just in case I don’t meet the original deadline.

How do you plan or organise Christmas.?  I am always looking for new tips to improve my own organisation.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Menu Plan (2nd November 2015)

Well as I expected we did not stick to the menu plan for last week. Craig decided to do hos own thing with the kids for most of the week and I was left to fend for myself. Back to normal this week however now they are back in school and college.

Autumn has now definitely kicked in and so more comfort meals are coming on board. Some new and some tried and tested. Thursday should be the only meal that we are eating out and Craig will have to cook on Sunday as Emma and I are going out to start the Christmas shopping with my Mum and Sister.

Monday - Slow cooked chicken in a mushroom sauce with rice
Tuesday - Quesadillas or Calzone (depending on who wants what)
Wednesday - Sloppy Joe Pasta Bake
Thursday - Bonfire Night Party at my Mother in Laws
Friday - Pan fried Jerk pork with vegetables
Saturday - Moussaka

Linking up with Organising Junkie and Mrs M.

Hope you have a good week.


Friday, 30 October 2015

Packed Lunch Termly Plan

Matthew has been on packed lunches at school now for a couple of years and things can get repetitive as he is such a fussy eater. For this school year I decided to get him involved with deciding what he wants..  We looked at various websites for inspiration. Matthew thought most of them were a bit OTT and fussy but he got a couple of ideas (pitta pizzas and homemade lunchables) from them. My favourites were 100 Days of Real Food and The Kitchen Shed. Both these sites had some delicious looking lunches for children, but their children are obviously not as fussy as Matthew. 

I am also lucky in the fact that the school, although they encourage healthy eating, are not as strict as some when it comes to the content of lunchboxes. I know that there are things on this plan which would not be acceptable in some schools, but my philosophy towards food is everything in moderation.

This has been successful so I have decided to repeat  the plan below over the rest of the year and see whether he gets bored.

Week 1
Chicken wrap, carrot and yoghurt
Ritz crackers, cheese, cucumber, crepe
Pitta Pizza, squeezy yoghurt, cucumber
Chocolate spread sandwich, carrot, plain popcorn
Chicken paste sandwich,  grapes, carrot

Week 2
Chicken and rice, squeezy yoghurt, smoothie
Ham wrap, grapes, carrot
Crackers, cheese, crepe, smoothie
Beef paste sandwich, grapes, fruit string
Ham, carrots, grapes, cucumber, small bag crisps

Week 3
Pitta Pizza, Squeezy yoghurt, grapes
Hot Dog, cucumber, carrot, crepe
Roast Beef Sandwich, grapes, Aldi Groovy Bar
Rice with cucumber, carrot, smoothie
Chicken paste sandwich, small bag of crisps, smoothie

Week 4
Pasta and hotdog, grapes, smoothie
Ham Wrap, cucumber, biscuit
Carrots, Sweetcorn, cucumber, Brioche
Crackers, grapes, squeezy yoghurt
Chocolate spread sandwich, grapes

Week 5
Homemade Chicken Nuggets, grapes and carrots
Pancakes, carrot and cucumber
Chicken paste sandwich, Jelly, smoothie
Tortilla Chips, grated, cheese, sweetcorn, grapes, chocolate milk
Cooked chicken breast,  squeezy yoghurt, crepe

Week 6
Beef Paste sandwich, carrots, sweetcorn
Pasta and sweetcorn, squeezy yoghurt, grapes
Roast beef wrap, grapes, fruit strings
Chicken and rice, squeezy yoghurt, grapes
Chocolate spread sandwich, smoothie, sweetcorn

I know there are repeats but there is more variety than there has been in previous years. By using this plan it will also help with shopping and not panicking in the morning about what to give him for his lunch.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Menu Plan 26th October 2015

Another week where I am late posting a menu plan.  I really need to buck up and do better. I wouldn’t mind but I had everything planned over the weekend, so it wasn’t as if I was late thinking about what to have.

As it is half term then I have a feeling that we won’t stick to this menu plan as  Craig is off with then kids this week and if he doesn’t fancy doing what is on the plan, he won’t. Craig has mentioned taking the kids to the Pizza hut buffet or a local Chinese buffet at lunch time which means they probably won’t want to eat a lot in the evening. I guess I will just have to see what happens.

This week the plan is:

Monday- Spaghetti Bolognese and Garlic Bread
Tuesday – Bacon, Egg and Potato cake
Wednesday- Fish pie
Thursday – Curried Mince Beef and rice
Friday -  Chicken Wraps
Saturday – Halloween and we are out
Sunday – Chicken Katsu curry (which I saw in the latest Asda magazine)

Hope you all have a good half term.

Linking up with Mrs M and I'm an Organising Junkie as usual


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lilabean- A storybook about Simplicity for Grown Up Girls by Kate Carpenter

I guess part of me is looking for a simpler (and less hectic) life and I found out about this book from Alison May at Brocantehome. After reading the blurb (as shown below) I  downloaded it out of curiosity to find out more about Lilabean and what she did.. The book is written almost like a poem and is extremely easy to read.

OMG  I am Lilabean, in the first couple of chapters at least - trying to do everything for everybody and not enough time for me.

I am looking to change and make things simpler in my life just as Lilabean. I guess I was hoping that there would be some ideas on how to simplify disguised in poetry. Unfortunately in that respect I was disappointed.  Apart from de-cluttering and changing where she shopped there was very little detail about how she changed her life. In fact, towards the end of the book it felt that either the author had run out of time and needed to finish the book as quickly as possible or just ran out of ideas.

However the story is beautifully written and I could not put it down. There were so many things I could relate to whilst reading and the thoughts and emotions that Lilabean experiences I can totally understand what she is going through. Her journey is one that I am just embarking on and I hope to experience some of the relevations that Lila did and end up with the life I want to lead not one that I feel I am expected to lead.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Menu Plan (19th October 2015)

Another hectic week which is why this menu plan is late going on. I just can't seem to catch up. This week is hopefully quieter and I am planning on catching up with housework and crafts I have started. I was out last night at my WI craft club and I am in Aberdeen on tomorrow and my flight doesn't land until 9.35pm after leaving the house at 6.30am. Hopefully the hours hanging around in the airport will mean that I can catch up with some reading.  Craig is out Tuesday and Thursday and we are going to Blackpool on Saturday to see the illuminations so the menu plan is only Monday to Friday this week.

Monday - Bean burger, Sweet Potato fries and salad
Tuesday - Jacket Potato with cheese and beans
Wednesday - Chicken and Vegetable stir fry
Thursday - Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
Friday - Fajitas.

Linking up with Mrs M and Organising Junkie to see what everybody else is eating.

Enjoy your week


Monday, 12 October 2015

Menu Plan (12th October 2015 )

Back to menu planning following another week where I worked away for most of the week. Thankfully, I have only one more week when I am away for more than one night and that isn't until the beginning of December. Last week was hard as it involved lots of hours of driving and being stuck in traffic. I am so glad that I no longer have to do that every other week. I am hoping to practically eliminate any need for me to travel by holding webinars and recording training videos. That would definitely be a big help and I am also learning how to do something new.

I am loving the cooling of the weather as I find it easier to cook when it is colder and also, I do like comfort food which is too heavy for the summer months.

The menu for this week is as follows

Monday - Steak Carne Asada Tacos
Tuesday - Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
Wednesday - Sausage Crumble 
Thursday - Chicken Fried Rice (Matthew's request)
Friday - Pulled pork Burritos (Emma's request)
Saturday - Moussaka
Sunday - Roast Chicken Dinner

Linking up to Mrs M and Organising Junkie to see what others are planning to eat this week.

Wishing you all a good week.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Menu Plan (28th September 2015)

It's back to planning after a week off. I was working away for a few days last week so Craig was in charge. He doesn't do plans. He tends to cook whatever he feels in the mood for. He doesn't mind me planning as long as I don't tell him because when I have done that in the past he has said that he doesn't want it.By not telling him then he won't be thinking about it and putting himself off.

This week, amazingly I am only out 1 evening and that is for my Mum's birthday. I will (hopefully) be eating before I indulge in cake, as I am in Sheffield all day. I might just get Emma to cook it so at least the others can eat.

We are also out for a meal with Craig's family on Saturday, all 20 of us. We are having to choose what we want beforehand. I guess this makes it easier for the restaurant and also for us as we can take as long as we need to choose.

So anyway, here is the plan:

Monday- Sausage in Giant Yorkshire Puddings, Veg and Gravy
Tuesday - Hunters Chicken with Roast Potatoes ad peas
Wednesday- Cubed steak and Farfalle in a Creamy Tomato Sauce (Clean Eating Magazine Website)
Thursday - Curried Mince Beef and Rice
Friday - Oven Baked Fajitas (didn't get to do them last time)
Saturday - Out with Family
Sunday - Homemade Creamy Chicken Pie with chips and veg.

Linking as usual to Mrs M and I'm an Organising Junkie.

Hope you have a good week.


Friday, 25 September 2015

Happy 10th Birthday

My Little Man turned has turned 10. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone.

He had a brilliant day at the Trafford Centre with his friends. They went bowling, had a game of adventure golf and a go on the dodgems before having something to eat. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Menu Plan (14th September 2015)

I am a bit late posting this menu plan this week. I can't seem to catch up with everything since the plans changed over the weekend. Other things have had to take priority and I feel as though I am constantly 'fire-fighting'. Hopefully being off work for the rest of the week will allow me to catch up.

Anyway, here is the plan for this week

Monday - Chicken Stir Fry
Tuesday - Homemade Pot Noodle
Wednesday - Sloppy Joe Bake
Thursday- Sausage and Bean Pie
Friday - Refried Beans and Cheese Quesadillas
Saturday - Pork Steaks in sticky BBQ sauce and Rice
Sunday - Beer Can chicken with potato wedges and veg.

As I am at home from Wednesday onwards I thought I would try some new recipes so all but Saturdays I have never made before. Wish me luck.

Linking up with Mrs M and Organising Junkie to check out what others are planning for this week.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Death of the Autograph book and Rise of Pay to Meet

One thing I have noticed over the past few years when I have attended events such as Comic –con that you are now having to pay if you want an autograph or a photo with one of the celebrities attending.  Who set the precedent for this? When I was a teenager any autograph opportunities were free and you generally had an autograph book as you weren’t under obligation to purchase anything.

I have attended a few Comic cons on the last couple of years and to get to see the celebrity of your choice and either get a photograph or an autograph you have to pay £15 or £20 for one or the other, so if you wanted a photo and an autograph then you pay between £30 and £40. That to me is scandalous!  I have come to two conclusions as to why this happens. The first is, the organisers are looking to recoup the money they have paid for the appearance fee, or my second conclusion is that the celebrities (or their management) are looking to make extra money and are greedy.

If my first conclusion is correct then surely the organisers are making money from selling the tickets and charging the people who wish to exhibit. If it is the second then I hope there are some celebrities out there who would make a stand and not charge as it does seem to be the norm at all these conventions.  The people who attend these events have already paid to get there and to get in, they should not be subjected to having to pay to meet their idols..

It’s not just conventions where you are having to pay to meet an idol. Emma  wants to go to Tyler Oakley's (a Youtuber)  book signing next month.  She is having to pay £15 for the privilege. Granted she gets a pre-signed (non personalised) copy of his book and a selfie with Tyler but the website states that due to time constraints Tyler will not be able to spend any extra time chatting with people.

Come on, when I meet Thunder in the late 80’s I bought their CD and then queued up for the autographs all of which were personalised and signed in front of me.. The guys were great and chatty, nobody hogged their time and loads of photos were taken.  The band also performed live for free. There were security around but they were not needed to ask anyone to move along. I have seen book signings lately and it is like a conveyor belt and completely soulless and would surely leave everybody unsatisfied.  I am hoping Tilly doesn’t have that feeling.

Fans need to make a stand and not attend any events where you have to pay because how long will it be before some celebrities will charge when a fan asks them for an autograph or photo on the street.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Menu Plan (7th September 2015)

First full week back in school and college for the Kids and Craig is at his first Masonic meeting of the new season as well.

I am so glad to be getting back to normal after the holidays, including eating better meals. The summers are so busy that meals do tend to be rushed or changed and we end up eating out a lot more. I am always pleased when the kids are back in school as Craig is less inclined to change plans at the last minute.

This week's menu is as follows

Monday - Quick salmon pasta
Tuesday - Slow cooked sausage casserole
Wednesday - Cottage pie with Sweet potato mash
Thursday - Chicken risotto
Friday - Oven baked Mexican Fajitas (from Kitchen Shed website)
Saturday - Pulled pork, fries, salad and coleslaw
Sunday - Lamb steaks, garlic mushrooms and homemade potato wedges.

Linking to Mrs M and Organising Junkie.

Have a good week.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Menu Plan (31st August 2015)

It's back to school this week and I am hoping to run down my freezer to make space for lots of home-made freezer meals for when time is short. Very much a mixed bag and I know not the healthiest.

Monday - Paella (ready made frozen)
Tuesday - Soup and Toasties
Wednesday - Beef Casserole
Thursday - Fish and Chips
Friday -Turkey mince tacos
Saturday - Pizza (I am out all day so Craig is in charge)
Sunday - Chinese dim sum and crispy duck.

Hopefully that will run the freezer down almost to empty ready to be stocked up with more nutritious meals.

Hope you have a good week.

Cheat's Chicken Fried Rice

Whilst I was working away a couple of years ago I needed to find recipes that Craig or Emma would be able to make without much hassle. I found this originally on Netmums but it has been adapted by Craig to suit our tastes. It is by far the quickest and easiest recipe for Chicken Fried Rice I have found and it great if time is of the essence during the week. It can also be adapted very easily to suit your family's tastes

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
450g skinless and boneless chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
3 packs of Express Rice (we use Uncle Bens Chicken Fried Rice and 2 Egg Fried rice)
Teaspoon of lazy garlic
Tablespoon of oil
About a tablespoon of soy sauce
Pinch of mixed herbs
Pinch of 5 spice powder
Tin of Sweetcorn (drained)

 Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, chicken, herbs, 5 spice and soy sauce and cook until chicken is done.
Meanwhile heat the rice (microwave or pan)
Once rice and chicken are cooked combine in the frying pan.
Add sweetcorn and cook until sweetcorn is warm.
Serve immediately with Prawn crackers and any other accompaniments you wish.

See Quick and Simple. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Menu Plan (24th August 2015)

Back to menu planning after a week's break. It is the last full week of the school holidays. Craig is off three days so he is going to be doing most of the cooking. He enjoys cooking but doesn't do anything to fancy. The meals this week are using up things in the cupboard that Craig can cook and the kids will eat.

Monday - Slow cooked pork steaks in a creamy mushroom sauce
Tuesday- Spaghetti Carbonara
Wednesday - Cheaters Chicken Fried Rice (recipe to follow)
Thursday - Tacos
Friday - Beef Casserole in the slow cooker
Saturday- Shopping day for school/college so eating out.

We are at a christening on Sunday so will probably be something quick from the freezer if we are hungry.

Linking up with Mrs M as usual.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bounce Below

We recently visited Bounce Below in the Llechwdd Slate Caverns in Blaneau Ffestiniog. I admit I booked it without really finding out what was involved, I thought it was just nets suspended a few feet above floor in a cavern. I had read from the reviews that we would probably be worn out at the end and I was prepared for that, but that was about it really. Little did I know…
You are advised to arrive about half an hour before your allocated time which in our case was 5.00pm. I would definitely recommend booking well in advance if you want an early slot and it is not advisable to just turn up, especially during the school holidays and weekends as you are unlikely to get in. There are only about 34 people allowed in a particular time slot as they need to limit the number on the nets at any one time. It cost £20 each and you are on the nets for an hour.
Once we had been kitted out with helmets, and in the case of those who weren’t fully covered on their arms and legs a jumpsuit, we were then escorted into the caverns. You don’t go down into the cavern, it is a short flat walk to the nets and you arrive on the platform. It id there you get to see the full extent of the nets in the cavern and the lighting makes it look absolutely amazing and wondrous. It was only then that I knew I had made a mistake. Craig does not like heights and is very uncomfortable in confined spaces. There are three nets in the main cavern, stacked one above the other and the only way to go down to them is via a net chute and the only way up is a narrow enclosed rope ladder. The highest net is about 100 metres up and the lowest is about 2 metres from the floor of the cavern. I thought there is no way Craig would go on. I will give him credit though as he did and he stayed on for the full hour. He didn’t go up or down to the different levels though.
There is one net in the second cavern and I have to admit I was a little freaked out when I went on that. That one was probable about 80 metres up and beneath you there were people zip wiring. With the lighting in that cavern and the fact the net was black it looked like you were floating in mid air. Although I went on it I have to admit I didn’t stay on for long simply because all I could think about was what would happen if the ropes or the net snapped. I didn’t get that feeling in the main cavern as I know there were other nets underneath me that would break the fall.
To move between the levels you had to go down a chute. It was a bit snug and you definitely need to cover your face as the chute is made from ropes. I enjoyed going down the chutes and would not have been bothered if they had been longer. Going up a level was done by scrambling up an enclosed rope ladder. These varied in length depending on the level. This was the tiring part of the experience unless you are quite fit.
The kids loved it and I frequently lost sight of them as they were all over the place. Matthew loved the chutes and he spent most of the hour going up and down the levels. He didn’t pluck up the courage to almost jump down the chutes like some of the other kids were doing. One of the rules is that you don’t jump down the chutes and there were members of staff overseeing the use of the chutes and ladders.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience and the unexpected workout I got. Even though I thought £20 was a lot to pay for one hour after doing it then I think it is really good value for money ( I am sure Craig would not agree with me) The kids said they would be there every weekend if we lived closer they loved it that much. We will be returning as Emma wants to do the Zip Wire experience that is there for her birthday. She wanted to do it that day but we did not have time and we also heard that it was £50 each.

I apologise for the lack of photos. It was quite dark in the cavern and my camera was not up to the job.

Further details about Bounce Below can be found here

Monday, 10 August 2015

Menu Plan (20th August 2015)

Another week of trying to use up what is in the freezer and cupboards so minimal shopping needed.

Only 5 days as we are going away for a few days on Saturday and I am out Monday and Tuesday so meals will have to be quick and simple.

Monday - Soup and Toasties
Tuesday - Fajita steak with rice (no tortillas)
Wednesday - Garlic Chicken with Potatoes and veg
Thursday - Chilli con Carne 
Friday - Fish and Chips (did not have last week)

Linking up with Mrs M to see what other people are having and get inspiration for the future.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Menu Plan (3rd August 2015)

Last weeks menu plan didn't quite go to plan as I was getting home from work a lot later than planned due to traffic.

I am only out of the office for one day so hopefully this week will be a little better. Another plus is that I haven't had to go shopping over the weekend as I looked in the freezer and cupboards to see what I could use. I will have to buy some milk and fruit but that I can pick up when needed at a lunchtime.

So this weeks menu plan is as follows

Monday - Tuna Pasta Bake (didn't get made last week)
Tuesday - Chicken Fried Rice (something Emma can do as I won't be home until after  9.00pm and Craig is also out)
Wednesday - Pork in Mushroom Sauce with potatoes and vegetables
Thursday - Our 22nd Wedding Anniversary so we are going out for a meal. Kids will probably have takeaway.
Friday - Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas
Saturday - at Mother in Laws after Birthday Party
Sunday -Lasagne, Salad and Garlic Bread

Mrs M is still on holiday so no link up this week.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Kitchen Appliances- Dust gatherers or Life Savers

Our combination oven/microwave gave up the ghost on us about two months ago. We had had it for 13 years so we could not complain. It was  about a week to payday so we thought we would wait until then to get another. Craig wanted to get another combination oven but I wasn’t bothered and was happy to get just a basic microwave as we did not really use all the features that were available.
As of today and we still have not bought a replacement as both of us realised we did not really miss it. There has only been one time when it was missed and that was when some food needed reheating. I have decided that most things I used to do in the microwave (porridge and scrambled eggs) actually taste better when done on the hob even if they do take a couple of minutes longer. So I am not going to rush to buy a replacement any time soon.
This got me thinking about other kitchen appliances we have and could we do without. My husband would not replace the dishwasher if it broke as he never uses it saying he does a better job. He doesn’t complain though when I load the dishwasher when he can’t be bothered to wash the dishes after dinner.
Craig loves his gadgets and appliances but in most cases for me they are nothing but dust collectors. We have a perfectly good oven and hob that will cook everything we need so why take up work top space with gadgets that cost money and don’t always save you time. Such items include, a George Foreman grill, an electric pan that is supposed to save you using your hob rings, a sandwich toaster and a Halogen oven. All of those things are currently sat unused on top of the fridge or on a shelf in the garage. The only time I find appliances useful are if they are able to do something  which we are unable to do. In my house this is my Nespresso Coffee Machine, Nutri Ninja and my electric mixer. I also use my slow cooker quite a lot as we have a gas oven and I don’t really fancy leaving the oven on when there is no-one in the house.
I have obviously not included the washing machine as I think for most people it is an essential alongside the fridge freezer and the oven. My tumble dryer I only really use in winter. Even in summer when the weather is bad I will put the clothes on the airer to dry in the house as they still dry within the day.
What kitchen appliances could you not live without and what have you bought and never used? I would love to hear people’s opinions.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Menu Plan (27th July 2015)

The first week of the school holidays and I am out training everyday but today. As I am travelling on the M62 or the M6 then traffic is going to be unknown. For that reason I have planned to do things that Craig or Emma can cook just in case I am back late.

Monday - Slow cooked beef and ale stew
Tuesday - Tuna Pasta Bake
Wednesday - Homemade Chicken Goujons and Chips
Thursday -Creamy Chicken Pie with Philadelphia based sauce
Friday - Turkey Tikka Kebabs and Rice
Saturday - Burrittos
Sunday- Beer Can Chicken with potatoes and veg.

Craig went to Aldi for the shopping as I really did not feel like food shopping and spent just over £40. There were a couple of things he could not get so I will pick those up but they will total less than £5. Budget going well.

Hope you all have a good week.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Menu Plan (20th July 2015)

I know I am a day late posting this but better late than never.

As we were away over the weekend I was actually organised enough to order what we needed for delivery on Sunday evening when we were back. I probably saved about £30 on the bill as I was not able to buy things on impulse as I was walking around.

When the shopping was delivered there were only two substitutions and they were just for different brands (better than ordered) which was fine. They did forget the cereal I had ordered however so I had to phone and get a refund. I think we have probably just got enough in, especially if Matthew sticks to his toast as he has done these last few weeks.

Anyway the menu plan is as follows

Monday - Chicken Stir Fry with Noodles

Tuesday-  Barbecue  (with 12 of Emma's friends. She is making the burgers)

Wednesday - Swedish Meatballs with mash, green beans and gravy

Thursday - Chicken and Bacon Risotto

Friday - Salad

Saturday - eating out as we are at Comic Con in Manchester and then seeing Ant Man

Sunday - Beer can chicken with roast potatoes and veg.

Hope you all have a good week

Thursday, 16 July 2015

A trip to the Zoo

A few weeks ago Craig, the kids and the in-laws went up to the South Lakes Zoo for the day. The weather was glorious.  We had purchased a camcorder for Emma when she goes to college and also for me to start vlogging to link to this blog.

Anyway we took the camcorder and the video below documents the day. It is my first attempt at doing any videoing or editing an for the first attempt I don't think I did too badly.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

I have joined Bloglovin'

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Menu Plan (13th July 2015)

Well my first week went pretty well and I stuck to the plan. For this week I looked at what we had in the freezer and cupboards and planned to use as much as I could to make space. I went to Aldi to do the shop and spent £45 which included household products as well as food.

We are away at the weekend so the plan only covers Monday to Friday but there are things in the freezer if anyone is hungry upon our return late Sunday. I will order the shopping for next week to be delivered Sunday evening as we will not be back in time to collect.

I am also out with my WI group two nights and so those days the meals are quick to prepare as I only have about 30 minutes to prepare and cook. For one of those I will not be home in time from a meeting to prepare so it will be up to Craig to sort that meal out.

Monday - Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas (oven baked not take away)
Tuesday - YOYO (You're On Your Own)
Wednesday - Sausage Casserole (done in slow cooker)
Thursday - Chicken  Stir Fry
Friday  - Pizza before we go away (again from freezer

I know this is not the healthiest of weeks but I am trying to make room and use up what we have, Vegetables will be served on the side and there is fruit available for snacks and dessert.

I am linking up again to Mrs M as it is fun to see what everyone else is doing.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Weekend of contrasts

I had a busy weekend with totally contrasting looks.

Saturday we were all at a wedding where the theme was 1950’s / Back to the future. This was chosen because the wedding date coincided with the 30th anniversary of the release of the film and the groom is a big fan. So big a fan he actually hired on of the Deloreans used in the film as his wedding car. It certainly caused a bit of a disturbance and  a few near misses from other road users as it drove  down the road and whilst it was outside the church.

I even managed to get Craig to join in on the 1950’s theme. It is my style anyway so I had been really looking forward to it.

The reception was a very relaxed affair with a pizza station  where they were making fresh pizzas in a wood burning stove that looked like the front of a locomotion train.  There was also a barbecue with burgers, sausages and ribs and for the kids a sweet shed where they could help themselves.

Entertainment was provided by a three piece band in the marquee which played songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s

It was a lovely day with fantastic weather. I especially liked the informality of the reception. The was none of the ostentatiousness and competitiveness  that seemed  to happen at a lot of other weddings we have been to in the past (all of which have ended in divorce, unfortunately).  

I wish the bride and groom a long and happy life together.

Sunday by contrast involved getting absolutely covered in powder paint whilst doing the Color Run in Manchester.

I had been roped into doing the run at work as most of the people in the office decided they wanted to do it. Although it wasn’t my first charity run I would like to point out that I am not a great fan of running (or swimming or cycling ). I find running alone extremely boring and I was definitely lacking the motivation to do any training for it.

Thankfully that wasn’t a problem. There were 10,000 other people competing and it was almost impossible to run a lot of the course. This was especially true at the colour stations where powder paint is thrown at you. There were people rolling on the floor and posing to take selfies. It is marketed as the ‘Happiest Race on Earth’ and it certainly was fun to do.  Would I do it again? Surprisingly the answer is Yes.

My only issue was because of the number of competitors it took us an hour to get to the starting line. I think that they need to stagger the arrival times so that people are not stuck waiting especially in the heat of the day.

What a difference in my look over the two days. Sunday’s look is definitely not a normal look for me. The 1950’s look is definitely my favourite and one that does tend to pop up quite a bit in my wardrobe, though maybe without the net petticoats unless it is an occasion.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Menu Plan (6th July 2015)

Menu Planning is something I have been meaning to do for a while, especially as our lives have become busier over the past few years. We are also looking to save some money to put towards a new roof. One of the biggest areas I think we can save money on is food. We currently do not have a budget but I have added up how much we have spent over the last few months and I found it to be a ridiculous amount. It thankfully isn't as much as the participants on the recent TV programme that I think was called 'Eat Well for Less' but it was still a lot more than I thought it would be.

I have to admit that I am an impulse shopper and walking round the supermarket can be lethal. Craig is even worse than I am, especially with the special offers. There have been some months where we have had to use the shelves in the garage to store some of the things we have bought as there is no room in the cupboards. 

I am hoping that my looking through my cupboards and freezer then preparing a menu plan and shopping list will help me cut my monthly food spend drastically. To avoid the impulse buys I am also going to start ordering my shopping online and picking it up from the store. I won't bother getting it delivered as my local supermarket is only about a mile away and I will use less money in fuel picking it up then I would by paying the delivery charge.

So my first menu plan looks like this

Monday- Steak and Salad
Tuesday - Steak pie and chips ( already in freezer)
Wednesday - Kedgeree
Thursday - Chicken Fajitas
Friday - Crispy Lamb with Jacket potatoes (from Nosh cookbook)
Saturday - Chicken Pittas
Sunday - Spaghetti bolognese (from scratch)

I am linking up with Mrs M  where I will also be checking out what other people are doing for future inspiration.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Nosh for Busy Mums & Dads by Joy May

Although I like cooking I do prefer meals that are pretty simple and do not use too many ingredients, especially if they are items I would never normally buy and most of it would got to waste. To that end I don’t tend to buy cookery books as they generally only include no more than ½ dozen recipes I would want to make. I usually find inspiration from the internet or in free magazines.

This recipe book did however catch my eye and looking through it I found a large number of recipes I would make. I liked the fact it was simple, everyday meals that used ingredients that I would normally buy.  The book also gives you four sample weekly menu plans and the shopping lists associated which is great for when people haven’t got the time to sit down and plan a week’s meals and shopping.

The book is split into different sections like quick bites, something for the weekend and budget days but I ending up disregarding the headings as some of the quick bites recipes take longer than those in the ‘Something for the weekend’ section. To me a ‘quick bite’ is something that can be prepared and cooked within 30 minutes.

The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow and I like the fact that they use mugs for measuring as it saves a few minutes with getting the scales out and setting them up.

I have made several recipes from this book and even Matthew who is extremely fussy has enjoyed them. The family favourite is Pastitsio but we have also enjoyed Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Beef Ragu and the One Pot Beef Cobbler.

This book is rapidly becoming my go to book for inspiration when meal planning and I am going to try and do at least 3 new recipes a month from it as well as favourites from it.

This book is ideal for the busy home cook who does not have a lot of time to spend   around in the kitchen and for those who need inspiration. I would also say this book is ideal for those who are wanting to cook more meals from scratch but would class themselves as beginners.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Two Birthdays

Today I am celebrating 2 birthdays.

The first is the 16th birthday of my wonderful, wacky daughter Emma and the second is the birth of this blog.

16 years ago I gave birth to my first child after 24 hours in labour. I can remember the instantaneous rush of love when I saw her and my love for her has increased every day. I am so proud of the young lady she has become. She is independently minded and does not follow the crowd, trying to keep up with her conversations can be impossible as she goes off at tangents at completely random points, she is a lot more self confident and assured than I was at her age and she always wants to make friends. She wants a cat that she is going to call ‘Pig’ and it has to woof and she is determined to find a dragon.

So I would like to wish my somewhat random, zany, mad, often hyper, diverse, unique, wonderful, awesome, loving, caring, amazing and beautiful daughter EMMA a very HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY.

The second birthday is this blog. I hope to share my life as I begin to regain some independence and freedom now that Emma and my gorgeous son Matthew (who is 9 ½) are getting older and they don’t need me as much.