Saturday, 30 July 2011

Beyond California Dreaming

I went camping in Cornwall this week. Well, I call it camping but no tents were involved. I am sticking to my camping definition though, as no electricity was involved either, and I brushed my teeth in a field.

One of my preferred ways of wasting time is to look up ideal holiday locations. Here are a few of my favourites:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

School Holiday Planning

Some parents moan about the hassle of school days and look forward to the school holidays, when they can have a break. I am the opposite. School days = no problems. Everyone knows what they need to do, where, and by when. I'm not saying it always gets done without a bit of yelling, but everyone knows and knowledge, as they say, is power.

Come the summer holidays and 2 kids quickly find themselves bored without some sort of routine. The eldest at (nearly) 9 is not so much of a problem. He can disappear to a friend's house, or have them around here, and they can amuse themselves for days on end. The youngest, at barely 4, is another matter. He likes a bit of routine. Not so much to have every minute of every day filled with activity, but because he likes structure and to know what's going on. If we're having a do nothing day that's fine, as long as he knows in advance that's what's going on. Both my husband and I work from home so it's important for us to keep a bit of structure to our days as well, otherwise we end up entertaining them all day and working late into the night to get everything done. It doesn't make for a very fun 6 weeks for us and as we're decidedly ratty by mid August, for the kids either.

We've arranged some child care for the youngest but I've created a holiday planner so I know who is doing what, when and where. To be honest, it was partially to satisfy my lust for a good list. If there's anything that makes me feel more capable than a list, it's a list with multiple columns and colours. I've also written a separate list with ideas of things we can do and ordered them by price. I normally use an Organised Mum wall calendar, but I've created a separate spreadsheet just for this.

It's like my own special project. I think I need a hobby. A (large) part of my brain is telling me I'm overthinking this whole holiday thing. Behind it, ready to jump out in 3 weeks, is a smaller by very smug part ready to jump forward to receive accolades that I'm not left in charge of 2 recharged, bored, batteries looking for a bit of structure.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Really? That's you?

I saw a picture recently of someone I used to have a crush on and I couldn't believe how much they'd changed (or what I was thinking). Just to clarify, this is before I met my husband, naturally. Of course my eye never wanders these days. 

Anyway, I started thinking about some of the other people I used to fancy and decided to look them up (it's not stalking if it's in the name of research, right? ) and this is what I found

Alex Band (The Calling)

Robert Arkins (Jimmy Rabitte from The Commitments)

Johnny Diesel

Johnny Depp 

Sorry, I've mucked up the layout here because I wanted to get this picture just a bit bigger

I'm going to leave it here as, quite frankly, I'm so disappointed that I wasted all my youthful enthusiasm on such a bunch of uninspiring men. Really - what was I thinking. It's worth pointing out that none of them look like my husband. They are all weedy musicians. Thank goodness my type has changed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Marshmallows and S'mores

I'm going camping soon. Actually, I'm going faux-camping as we're staying in a pod and not a tent. There are limits. Naturally in preparation for this, I started looking at food and stumbled across the blog How Sweet It Is. I am fairly certain I gained 5kg just reading the s'mores recipes, and immediately got onto Amazon to order the biggest American marshmallows I could find. I love marshmallows! They are one of my favourite sweets. So far I've tasted none that rival Pascals, but the SIZE of the ones in America... and they're Jet Puffed which makes them sound like you can ride them to Planet Sugar.

Say what you like about America, but some of the best baking recipes I have ever read have come from there. They know their sweet stuff. Cakes, pies, brownies... you name it, they've baked it and added extra sugar along the way. Just look at these S'mores cakes in a jar. You would never get that sort of recipe in the UK.

I will be trying s'mores when we go camping and I will post the results. I can't wait. I may even let the kids try some.

Meal Planning Monday 18 Jul 2011

ops... missed a week there. I did meal plan last week but forgot to post it.

Hunter chicken (using this great recipe)
gammon with mustard crust
turkey meatloaf with chilli jam
vegetable pisto manchengo with baked cous cous
egg, beans and SW chips
Quorn, veg & egg noodle stir fry
bacon and new potato salad

Once again it's all Slimming World friendly. The BBQ sauce recipe I've posted the link to is lovely, though I find it needs a little cornflour to thicken it.

I'm also making my most favourite chocolate cake this week: 
185g butter - room temp. cut into cubes
2 tsp vanilla extract
2tsp baking powder
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups plain flour (or 2 cups SR and omit the baking powder - it doesn't seem to matter)
1 cup cool water
3 eggs at room temp, beaten together
2/3 cup cocoa

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. It helps to put the cocoa in early so it doesn't fly into a dusty brown cloud. Mix on high for 3 mins, or until it changes colour (it goes lighter). It might look a bit curdled (though mine never has) but it doesn't matter

Bake at 160C for around 1h 15min in a 20cm tin.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday Soundtrack

This week's Sunday Soundtrack has been noise. And I'm not talking crank-it-loud-and-get-on-the-air-guitar loud. I'm talking Brian Blessed loud: painful volume with no point. It was my youngest's 4th birthday party today and he started asking what time we could go at 6am (it was at 11am). Since we got home at 2pm he's been on a post 3 day birthday bender attention and sugar come down. It's not pretty.

To shake my shoulders back down to where they should be I have just put on Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back (1992)and had butt shaking boogie around the kitchen.

I loved this scene from Charlie's Angels. Unfortunately, apart from the inelegant dancing, that's where the similarity between Cameron Diaz and me ends.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Meal Planning Monday - 4 July 2011

Last week's menu was quite a success in my terns, in that I made at least 75% of what I intended to. My favourite was the baked cous cous with chunky chilli vegetable sauce. The cous cous had this gorgeous texture - like polenta or something. I think my mixture was runnier than theirs as the recipe said press it in, but mine poured. It took a little longer to cook as a result. I will definitely put that one on the menu. You could easily add chicken or sausages to this dish. It's one that will be on my menu again.

This week's dinners are:

Slimming World Chicken Curry with basmati rice (this didn't get made last week)
Mexican mince with tortilla wraps
Mustard chicken with butternut and cauliflower mash 
vegetable risotto (also didn't make this last week)
Quorn stir fry with egg noodles, veg and hoisin sauce
Pork meatloaf and chips or mashed potato and veg

I'm out for dinner for one night. A night off, hooray!

Visit Mrs M for more meal planning entries

Silent Sunday 3 Jul 2011