Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Random Likings

Donna Air's dress at the Serpentine party. 
I've never been able to wear yellow. I think she looks great. 

Feliciano Lopez - hubba hubba!
And the best part is that I don't even feel pervy as Andy Murray's mum is older and pervier than me

You Gotta Go There To Come Back (Stereophonics)
Greatly underrated album and one of my favourites. Our car CD player died with my last copy still in it and I've had to replace this album as I missed it. (there's another disc stuck in there but I can't remember what it is, so obviously I don't like it that much)

No coffee in them. They look like little doughnuts without the fat. Thanks to my sister for this link. I need to give these a go.

We've finally seen some decent weather 

I haven't had this for years, but had a hankering after trying the plum wine in Wagamama's (which reminded me of it). Tracked it down in Waitrose. Nice over ice or with lemonade (or gin, according to the Queen)

*sunshine photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono
Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Monday, 27 June 2011

Meal Planning Monday

Here we are yet again... Monday. I didn't get a meal plan up for various reasons, but am back again and feeling organised. I really noticed the difference last week without a plan. Even if I don't stick to it religiously, it makes things much faster know what's there to be cooked.

Chicken Hungarian goulash 
Baked cous cous with chunky chilli vegetable sauce 
Quorn sausages with butternut and cauliflower mash
Slimming World chicken curry
Chinese style pork burgers with salad
Slimming World ham, egg and chips
Risotto with whatever I've got lying around

It's a bit of a busy week and my weight loss has plateaued a bit, so I'm really focused on my food this week. I'll also make some Quorn bolognaise sauce and veg soup for lunches and snacking.

I always bake at least once a week for the kids and husband. This week will be white chocolate chip cookies and easy chocolate cake.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Soundtrack

This is my husband's fault. He got this into his head yesterday and dug out the drum and bass mix that's on YouTube. Our youngest has taken a liking to it and keeps wanting it on so he can dance.

For you purists, the original version is here:

I didn't grow up in the UK so Bagpuss is not part of my childhood. I know it holds a tender part in the memories of my generation, but my kids think it's the most lame thing ever. My eldest gave me a real pitying look when he found out that that was pretty sophisticated for TV when we were young.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Summer Homeware Wishlist

From Lakeland. I love Lakeland. If I died and went to super organised heaven, it would be there (and I bet they'd sell a suitable snap-loc keep me fresh stackable coffin)

Blue Soda Glasses from Next
 So pretty that I wouldn't mind hand washing them. 
Ok, not exactly summery, but my eldest would love this. Shame our walls are very resistant to any sort of fixing.

Recycled Welsh Wool Picnic Blanket
I just love Welsh wool. I don't know what appeals to me so much but I covet Welsh wool things. I think it's because it tends to be softer. Or maybe I'm just biased. These Not On The High Street blankets are nice.

M&S Coolmax bed linen 
If we ever get any hot summer nights... 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Meal Planning Monday

I'm back to reality after last week's dream menu. The freezer looks a little emptier than before, but I've filled it up with groceries again today.

stir fry veg, Quorn pieces, egg noodles, chilli sauce (standard grocery shopping day dinner, as it's nice and quick and uses all fresh ingredients)


cottage pie with lean turkey mince topped with mashed cauliflower and butternut squash (so, not cottage pie at all)


Frittata with spinach, whatever veg I have in the fridge, onion, and chopped up Quorn sausage
Spaghetti Bolognaise
Freezer surprise

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Noah's Ark - day out review

Yesterday we took a family trip to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol. It's a great farm and zoo over on the Clifton side, by Ashton Court. I bought the vouchers ages ago via a LivingSocial deal with the intention of using them in the half term break. Unfortunately, the only day all of us could go was the one day it bucketed down, so yesterday it was. Entry is normally £37 for a family 2+2, or £35 for 1 +3. (I paid £18) It's slightly cheaper than Bristol Zoo, though the prices in the cafe and the quality of food there looked miles better.

On the recommedation of a friend, we first visited Noah's Ark a few years ago. Despite good intentions, we haven't been back for about 3 years. It's partly because it's closed on Sun, which tends to be the day I do things like that with the boys. It's privately owned and run, and has a big arable farm as well as the zoo part. There's not a huge variety of animals, but the ones that are there are interesting: white rhino, gibbons, prarie dogs, and giraffes being just a few. They've also got large lion and tiger enclosures which have opened since I was last there.

Arguably the best part about Noah's Ark are all the excellent play areas. From trampolines to climbing frames, a termite mountain (hill with tunnels) to a massive indoor slide and soft play area, plus some of the best zip wires I've had the pleasure to try (love a fast zip wire) the boys were in the ideal place to use the extreme energy levels that only children have.

I haven't mentioned the animals much, but Zoo Farm is an apt description as the animals span both types. There's a tractor ride (big hit with youngest) and informative talks by the keepers at various times during the day.

  • Lots of good play areas, both indoors and out
  • interesting mix of animals. Not a lot, but not so many as to be overwhelming. Lots of babies at the moment, which are very sweet.
  • reasonably priced
  • friendly staff
  • plenty of free parking
  • Lots of picnic tables and places by play areas, so kids can play while parents sit
  • Some parts a little 'tired' looking, like the purpose built toilet blocks. They're clean though, with plenty of baby changing facilities in both the men's and women's toilets.
  • Small cafe, could get very hot and crowded in summer. Not very nice tea.
  • the mankiest camels I've ever seen.
  • not easily accessible by public transport (1 bus, or train + taxi).
  • question marks raised over animal cruelty, which have since been disproved, but which still leaves a bit of a smell.
I didn't look at the shop, but from memory of our first visit it sells the usual zoo type souveniers. You can also buy bags of animal feed for the goats and sheep.

There was a bit of hoo-ha a while ago, with accusations that the owners were promoting creationism. The information I saw seemed fairly balanced, with a wall of information about Darwin all from the Open University. I doubt many people will pay much attention to it, anyway (it's on the walls in the barn with the slides, if you're interested).

There has also been some controversy over the tigers, links to a circus and living conditions, but I haven't been able to find out much more about that. I read they had 3 tigers, but we only saw 1 on the day. There are 2 male lions. There are good viewing platforms at both ends.

I definitely recommend it as a family friendly attraction. Though there are indoor play areas, it's definitely one for dry days to be able to appreciate the whole zoo and farm. It's a good alternative to nearby Bristol Zoo. Both offer different experiences which my children have enjoyed.

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, Clevedon Road, Wraxall, Bristol, BS48 1PG
Tel: 01275 852606

Sunday Soundtrack

Today's Sunday Soundtrack is as loud as possible, in order to drown out the sounds of Mario Kart (which drives me bonkers). It comes courtesy of Faith No More.

I was introduced to Faith No More's music when I was 18, by my guitar playing boyfriend. (Nearly) 20 years later it still makes me smile. There's nothing better when I'm feeling a bit angsty, than to put on Angel Dust (1992) and do whatever I need to do with the extra energy it gives me. Be Aggressive is particularly great for running to. Kindergarten is one of my favourites because we used to sing along to it in a funny voice, and then there's the mellow Easy. I think it's their best album.

Faith No More followed up Angel Dust with King for a Day.... Fool for a Lifetime. It's not as strong, and the later Album of the Year (1997) failed to live up to its name. If you're a Faith No More novice, you could do worse than listen to the 1998 best-of album. Actually, Faith No More have released 7 compilation albums which seems a bit ambitious considering they only released 6 studio albums.

Since it's Sunday, I'll leave you with this gem

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Random likings

Here are a few random things that have caught my eye this week.

The Good...

I bought these and they are gorgeous

Sam Claflin
In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

...and the Not So Good

Something a bit stinky about this one

The end of season 2 of Glee
Such a long wait until the start of season 3

Like Margo Ledbetter's housecoat

Monday, 6 June 2011

Meal Planning Monday

Last week's meal planning was a success, with everything made as planned and no extra shopping trips because I coudn't be bothered cooking what was on it. A quick check of the freezer yesterday showed that I've got tonnes of bread, for some reason, which isn't good on Slimming World. I've also got a tonne of other stuff in there that could really use running down which means that this week probably won't be that interesting.

To compensate for what is going to be a boring week's eating, I'm going to detail what I wish my menu looked like. Since it's a dream menu, I'm including puddings.

Mum's beef bourginon with garlic croutons
Raspberry Pavlova
lasagne and salad with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and red onion
pistachio and chocolate gelato
roast chicken with all the trimming (including Yorkshire pud)
treacle tart and custard
Lentil burgers with home made wedges and salsa.
spicy apple pie with whipped cream
Laksa with tofu or fresh prawns
Coconut custard with caramel syrup 
home made pizza including vine ripened tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil
chocolate brownies (not completely cooked so they're still squidgy) served warm with fresh raspberries and creme fraiche
chicken schnitzel, mashed potato, ratatouille, and gravy
steamed lemon pudding with pouring cream

Now that I've got myself salivating with half a dozen times of chopped tomatoes and some frozen veg to look forward to, I'll leave it there with the promise to have an actual real menu plan next week.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday Soundtrack

Today's Sunday Soundtrack is pop, as I've had Radio 1 on pretty much all day whilst I've been pottering around doing stuff. 2 songs have stuck in my mind more than any others: Bounce, by Calvin Harris featuring Kelis; and Judas, by Lady Gaga.

Here is Bounce, which I like:

Here is Judas, which I don't like. I think it's tries too hard to be something it's just not, which is original. Madonna's already been there, done that, and worn the ripped T-shirt.

Someone who's not featured today, but whom I really like is Jessie J. I don't quite have a girl crush on her yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Monkeying around

My youngest son turns 4 next month, and he's having his first ever birthday party. It's a classic case of 2nd child syndrome. My eldest had a party every year up until he was 6 or so, before it turned into taking him and a friend out for a treat day somewhere. Unfortunately, a trip to the cinema followed by  pizza is not the treat it was when I was a child. I think I went to the movies 3 or 4 times a year. My eldest must go at least once a month. Anyway, I digress...

Youngest wants his party at a monkey themed soft play centre. I've already booked the party and paid the deposit and now I'm casting my mind to the fun things. In theory, I don't have to do anything beyond providing a cake. The venue provides invitations and party bags. But where's the fun in that? I want to do them myself.

I've been partially inspired by my friend Leonie over at Just Call Me Martha. There's no way I'm even remotely in her league when it comes to style, but her blog is full of goregous ideas, stunning cakes, and useful links. To fit in with the soft play place I've decided to stick with a monkey theme. I really liked the Sock Monkey party goods from Oh My Gluestick. I decided against them because I've only got a limited amount for extras, most of the budget for the party going on the venue. In the end, I decided to go for a brown, yellow, and green theme, choosing these stickers , plain gatefold cards to print for the invitations, and plain lime green paper bags for goody bags.

I'm not yet sure what I'll put in the goody bags. I've ordered some of these monkey bars from A Quarter Of, but am also tempted by this inflatable monkey.

The big question is the cake. I like to bake, but my decorating skills leave a bit to be desired. I'll probably end up leaving it until the last minute then make plain cupcakes with some sort of monkey sweet on the top. I'm full of good intentions, but cursed with laziness.