Saturday, 24 January 2015

A refreshing change on the soft drinks market!

I am not a big alcoholic drinker. I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine or Archers and Lemonade, but I am a take it or leave it kinda girl.

This means that I am always on the look out for something 'different' when it comes to soft drinks, something slightly unusual to make a change from what I am used to.

I was recently made aware of a range of soft drinks, Heartsease Farm. They are all natural drinks made from the best ingredients and expertly blended with their own spring water on their farm in Wales.

They are available in 6 flavours, which are:


Elderflower Pressè
Traditional Lemonade
St Clements Pressè
Fiery Ginger Beer
Raspberry Lemonade
Blackcurrant Crush

Now, I was most looking forward to trying the Raspberry Lemonade, as that is certainly a flavour I have loved in the past. However I was sent Blackcurrant Crush and Fiery Ginger Beer, which was good in a way because the Ginger Beer is something I would not normally go for, so it enabled me to try something completely different!


If I am honest, I was half expecting them to taste the same as other fruity soft drinks on the market, but I was wrong! The depth of flavour, especially in the Blackcurrant Crush was delightful. I really refreshing change, and totally unexpected! My only negative was that I wasn't expecting the sparkling to be as sparkling as it was. I do enjoy fizzy drinks, but I prefer them when they have just a hint of fizz. But thats just personal choice!

I like the fact that the bottles are perfect picnic size. We love our picnics, and enjoy them in 3 of the 4 seasons. I will be nice to be able to add something new to our picnic favourites this year! I enjoyed the Fiery Ginger Beer with a Sunday Roast Dinner so even in these colder months they can be enjoyed!

A great alternative soft drink, be it if you are taking part in dry January, are pregnant, or simply fancy a different kind of soft drink, I would recommend you give Heartsease Farm a try!

Do you have a favourite flavour of soft drink?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The New Year Declutter has commenced!

Yesterday I decided it would be a good idea to make a few changes to my Kitchen/Dining room and my understairs cupboard.

Today, at around midday, I seriously regretted that decision.

Basically, what I wanted, was to make the dining area and the understairs cupboard look less cluttered. I could see lots of things that needed to either be thrown away or given to the charity shop!

Yesterday afternoon, with Craig's help, I decluttered the understairs cupboard. It hadn't long been done so it didn't take too long and I managed to find new homes for most things. Then in the evening I decided to take everything off of our large kitchen cupboard/display unit, as it was cluttering up my dining area. This didn't take too long, but by the end my kitchen looked a complete tip! I knew that everything had a place, but that wouldn't be until the morning.

I realise now, that the morning was a very unrealistic time frame to give myself. I don't think I really thought that what I wanted to do, would take so long. In my head it was a simple shuffle around. In reality it was an all day nightmare!

Lots of things have been packed up ready to take to the Charity shops, and 6, yes SIX, black sacks of rubbish have been thrown out, how did I let this toot pile up for so long?! But equally, lots of things needed to find a new home, such as my cookbooks, and all of the childrens games that were stored in the cupboard, not to mention half of our Blu Ray collection and lots of play doh!  I also moved and decluttered our craft unit and moved it under the stairs.

So it was really the re-jigging that took the time. I started at 9.15am this morning, only stopping to pick up Millie from Nursery and Chester from School. and finally finished at 6 this evening! Madness!

I have a few finishing touches to do tomorrow but all in all its done, and I am so happy with the way it looks. No more everyone having to squash between the table and the unit and I can even put the table at an angle with lots of room to spare!



Of course I had to make sure I had my own little Disney area!



I really want to declutter as much as I can this year, we have outgrown our 2 bedroom house and will eventually sell and buy a 3 bedroom, but in the mean time I really want to prove (to myself) that, not only can we live without clutter, but also that its ok to get rid of things that you haven't looked at for the past 9 years!

Anyone else started a New Year declutter? How are you getting on?


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A little breakfast treat for me!

I had lots of things planned for this morning, blog posts to draft, photos to take. Yet so far all I have managed to do is cook and eat this....


Looks yummy doesn't it?! Well let me tell you, it was indeed very yummy. It was just what was needed on this really cold day!

It was minus 2 on the School run this morning and now its snowing! So I think I deserve this little treat to warm me up! I mean who could resist bacon and Mickey shaped egg?!

Maybe now I can get back on track and go back to what I am meant to be doing. Maybe!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

5 Spice & Maple glazed Gammon

We were meant to have a Christmas Tree smoked Gammon from Morrisons alongside our Turkey on Christmas day. However, Morrisons did not stick to their side of the bargain, and even though I pre ordered in plenty of time, my Gammon never turned up.

So I had to improvise, and just like in all Disney movies, we had a happy ending!

I bought a plain, boring, everyday gammon joint and turned it into a super yummy scrummy Gammon joint with a 5 spice and maple glaze!


Ingredients:

1 gammon joint (mine was 1.6kg)
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
a couple of glugs of maple syrup

Method:

I placed the gammon joint in the slow cooker with some boiling water and a dash of the maple syrup and 5 spice. Cooked on low for around 5-6 hours.

Once the gammon has finished in the slow cooker, pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Place the joint of gammon into a roasting tin or baking dish and score the top so it looks like you have a diamond pattern.

In a ramekin or small bowl mix together your Chinese 5 spice and brown sugar. Then add your maple syrup. You will need to do this gradually as you will want the consistency to be that of a thin paste.

Brush the glaze generously all over the gammon.

Place in the oven for 40 minutes, making sure that you baste every 10 minutes.

Slice and serve!


It really was the best gammon I had tasted, and it is now firmly on our family's favourite meal list!

This could easily be boiled on the stove or cooked completely in the oven, I just love to use the slow cooker as it free's up more of my time!

Do you have a favorite way to cook gammon?

Sunday's were made for this....

Some people really dislike Winter. I suppose I can see why it would be a bit unappealing. Wind and rain is forecast most days. Then for most people, there is the prospect of going to work when its dark and getting in from work when its dark!

But I don't see winter like that. You will have already read in my first post this year that I am determined to make the most of our Annual Passes and Winter is certainly not going to stop us. In fact its only going to increase our fun! Millie is somewhat obsessed with Peppa Pig, so going anywhere that gives the excuse to jump in a muddy puddle is perfect for her! Then we have Chester, our outdoor explorer! He will find fun and adventure in everything, whatever the weather!



Last year we had some great wintery outdoor moments, really making use of the country park just a few minutes from where we live! It is my intention to make full use of such a great FREE local amenity this year too!

Of course all of these times spent in the cold can only mean one thing.. coming home from those lovely winter walks, putting the kettle on, put our PJ's on and getting out the blankets and throws so that we can all snuggle on the sofa together and chat about the day we have just had! The perfect way to end a perfect day! Actually I think this is the reason that Sunday's are my favourite day, its all about family time and sharing moments together.




I have strong childhood memories of Sundays. They usually consisted of all four of us getting in the car and driving to Knole Park. With my Dad stopping off at the newsagents on the way. He used to buy us sweets to have half way round. I am sure he thought we didn't know that he had gone in the newsagents for the sweets?! But it was always an excitement when we were half way round to find out exactly what sweets or chocolate he had chosen! We used to have so much fun on those walks, spotting deer, climbing trees, looking for golf balls (as there is a golf course right next to the park!), and we used to stay out for hours!

But when we got home, it was always the same routine. Mum would put the kettle on, Dad would get the pillsbury dough out so that Sarah and I could help 'make' some pastries. Then we would all snuggle on the sofa and watch The A Team and the Antiques Roadshow!

Its funny how things stick, I try to carry this on as much as I can for my children. Of course minus the Antiques Roadshow! We normally end up watching a movie or if Chester gets his way... Phineas and Ferb!

How about you? Do your family enjoy the winter months?


Friday, 9 January 2015

My cheeky toddler is 3 today!


I just can not believe it. My cheeky little Millie is 3 today!

It only seems like yesterday I was rushing to the hospital to have her!

This past year has been another great year for Millie. Everything she does amazes me, and even though her brother did it before her, I still love those firsts and milestones!

She started her year with the terrible two's, which seem to have got more controllable as the year has gone on. Her tantrums are not as bad as they were, although she is still very good at throwing them, and her ability to sit still has improved!

Then she was very brave and gave all of her dummies to the Dummy fairy! It was a testing first week, but she did it! What a good little girl!

We then come to the start of what has developed into a very big part of Millie's life... her obsession with baby Panda's! I find it amazing that she is still so obsessed with them. If you ask her what her name is, she will often tell you its 'Millie Panda'! She has got such a fantastic imagination, she can make a game out of anything, quite often her made up games include some Panda characters. Recently she has been telling us that when she grows up she wants to be a Panda keeper, so that she can care for the baby Panda's in China! She has seen some Panda videos on Youtube so I think that is where that idea has come from. But how cool would it be if that dream did become a reality for her one day?!

In June we tackled Potty training. Something I was really not looking forward too. But in true Millie style she took it all in her stride. With the help of some princess stickers it was a fairly straight forward process.

In the summer we spent lots of days at the beach and at the park, Millie loved to copy her brother, and I think lots of credit needs to go to Chester where Millie's learning is concerned. He is a fantastic big brother, and really loves to teach her new things and show her how things are done... the Chester way! The summer was also the time when she started to learn how to ride a bike, I can see that this is going to be just as testing as Chester's bike riding, but I am pleased that she is showing an interest!

Millie had two new challenges towards the end of the year. The first one being Ballet, which she absolutely loves, and even since September she has come on so well, showing us all of her moves, she is very enthusiastic about it! The second challenge was Nursery School, This challenge was probably harder for me than it was for Millie, she was ready for Nursery and walked in with such confidence! She has a smile on her face everytime I pick her up, and always has lots to tell me! I can see that Nursery is going to play an important part in her coming year, she has already picked up so much!

So there we go, Millie is another year older. I am looking forward to seeing what the next year brings for Millie, but I do wish time would slow down just a little bit!

Happy 3rd Birthday Millie!

LED lighting, an energy saving solution!

10 years ago I would not of given the term 'energy saving' the time of day. It was a thought that didn't really enter my mind. But nowadays I have two very important reasons to be thinking about energy saving, saving money and the environment. Those reasons are Chester and Millie! 

Since having the children, I have certainly become more aware of our spending, I have become very good at making our money go further. This started with the little things like turning off appliances that were not in use or switching to energy saving bulbs. LED bulbs are something that interests me nowadays. We have switched all our Christmas tree lights over to LED, but what about our other lights? We have 12 lights in total in our house. Whilst the initial cost for LED lighting is higher, they can actually save upto 80% of electrical power. Now that really is money saving! LED Planet have made this fun infographic to show how energy efficient some of our most iconic buildings are because they have or are switching to LED lighting. Its an interesting read.....
LED Lighting






*This post was a collaboration with LED Planet