Monday, 2 June 2014


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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Summer Holiday Activities for Kids

I know, I know - it's still 7 weeks until the kids break up for summer (count 'em, 7!) but I am already preparing for them. My boys are almost 12 and 6 and, as I have bemoaned many times before, will happily play play on screens for 12 or 14 hours if given the opportunity, stopping only to use the toilet, snack, and argue with each other. I can't blame them. I would have done the same if I had the option of more than a mere four telly channels and Pong.


I do this sort of list every year. The aim is not to get  through all the activities, but to take the hassle of out finding something fun to do under pressure. Some of these can be done anywhere, while others are child friendly activities and family days out in South East Wales, where I live. I will be adding to this list so please let me know if you have any suggestions and, if you've got a similar list for your area, add a link to your blog post at the bottom.

Everything on this list is either something I have done, or which I genuinely would do. I've not simply generated a list of random places.

Free Places to Go in SE Wales
Blaenavon Big Pit
National Museum Cardiff - I Spy Nature, Art Collection, WWI
St Fagan's
Caerleon Roman Museum, baths, and amphitheatre 
Cardiff Bay - parks, walk, cycle, scoot
National Trust: Tredegar House grounds, Duffryn Gardens
Walk up the Sugarloaf
Walk up the Skirrid
BMX track in Blaenavon
Ride along Newport - Brecon canal path
Welsh Proms free daytime concerts in July
Explore castle ruins at Abergavenny, Skenfrith, Crickhowell
Bedwellty House and Park in Tredegar
Porthcawl Beaches

Skenfrith Castle

Cheap Things to Do in SE Wales
Super Tubing at Festival Park in Ebbw Vale. £5 for 5 rides. Accepts Tesco vouchers and sometimes has Groupon deals.
Boat trip in Cardiff Bay
Cwmcarn Forest Drive £5 per car. It's closing in November so get in while you can.
Car boot sales are great for browsing and picking up cheap toys/games/books

Other Things to Do
Rearranging bedrooms - surprisingly satisfying and fun

Techniquest in Cardiff Bay

Ways to Spend Less and Still Have Fun
Orange Wednesday, cheap Tuesdays at Vue, or choose daytime sessions
Voucher Cloud - have downloaded this but still not used it
Exchange Tesco vouchers
Vouchers on cinema receipts (currently ours has 20% off at Harvester on them)
Kids AM sessions at the cinema - £1.75 at Vue, or £3 for a 3D film. Cineworld's prices are cheaper, at £1.50, or £1.25 if you book in advance with MyCineworld.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 5 May 2014 - the Morrisons Mums Edition

How excited was I to be given £80 worth of Morrisons vouchers as part of their BritMums #MorrisonsMums bank holiday campaign! Fresh food is good, but free fresh food always tastes better, so I got stuck into my meal planning with gusto.

I will say that I am a fickle supermarket shopper. Within two miles of my house I have access to Morrisons, Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Marks & Spencer. With eight supermarkets to choose from and the need to keep an eye on my budget, I vary my shopping depending on who has the best deals. I have always found Morrisons to be one of the more expensive supermarkets, but they've recently put their prices down on a lot of items and I wanted to see if it made any difference to my weekly shop.

On the menu this week:
Pork and Beef meatballs with homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti
Venison burgers with salad
Chicken wraps and salad
Dinner for breakfast - bacon, sausage, egg, beans, toast/bagels
Steak with Bearnaise sauce, spinach, and new potatoes
Fridge Frittata

There is quite a lot of meat in the menu this week, partially because I didn't have to pay for it, and partially because I have been training for an upcoming weight lifting comp and want more protein.

The kids have been after me to make mint ice-cream so, taking advantage of a sunny bank holiday, we used this fast and delicious recipe, which uses milk, double cream, sugar, and fresh mint. A batch serving eight people worked out to £2.01, or just over 25 pence per portion when served in bowls, and tasted just like summer.

Another hit was the venison and pork burgers (£2.59 for 2), which I served with a fresh knot roll (25p each), yellow peppers, baby spinach, and salad tomatoes, costing around £1.82 per serving.

I can't say I'm a Morrison's convert, but having seen their new prices and the quality of their food, not to mention the lovely staff and well laid out store, I will be a lot more open to shopping there in future. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Easy Bank Holiday Weekend Activities With Kids

Hooray - it's a long weekend! I really shouldn't be so excited. We've only just gone back after Easter holidays, but I am not going to turn down some quality sleeping in time. What are you going to do with the kids? I am not going to jinx things by saying it too loudly, but the weather forecast is actually not that bad. We might get to enjoy being outside without our hoods up! If you exhausted all your child-entertainment ideas during the school holidays and your inspiration tank is still running on empty, have a look at these family bank holiday weekend activities.

1. Weekend Box Club (
I was lucky enough to be given a weekend box to try a while ago, and on a wet old day over the Easter holidays, my 6-year old and I got stuck in. It's ideal for parents or grandparents who want to do something together that doesn't involve board games, screens, or having to spend a fortune. The Weekend Box comes with 4 activities and virtually everything you need to do them. There's something to make, something to cook, something to read or write, and something green. You can see more here.The Weekend Box Club is a subscription service with fortnightly deliveries. I will say that at 6 (nearly 7) my son found a couple of the activities a little boring, but we adapted some to make them more engaging and spent a happy hour chucking gold coins in cups and drawing on balloons.

2. Indoor tennis
Speaking of balloons, they're something I always have handy. Balloons are cheap and fun entertainment for kids of all ages. Blow them up and have a balloon fight, draw or write on them, play indoor keepy-uppy, blow them up and let the air out slowly so it makes a hugely irritating squeaking noise, or blow one up up then let it go and see who can catch it.

3. Cook
You're going to have to cook at some point over the weekend, so why not get the kids involved. Bank holidays are for barbeques and salads. Why not make your own burger buns, experiment with salads, or set up an ice cream bar for dessert. Alternatively, popcorn is always popular here - especially when it's topped with something sweet. You'll find a plethora of popcorn recipes on Pinterest , or try this Caramel Marshmallow recipe

4. Get Out
Left to their own devices, my boys would be plugged in for eight(teen) hours straight, with only the odd break for a kick of football, to bicker over who is in who's Minecraft world (the online equivalent of "get out of my room!"), go to the toilet, or to get some food.
I make sure they get outside to do something, or we all suffer! Don't get me wrong, they often bitch and moan every step of the way, but they usually shut up at some point, and everyone is happier for some active time outdoors. Geocaching is a fun purpose to a walk. Find your nearest National Trust property and enjoy the gardens, head up a mountain, or go somewhere you can throw sticks and stones in the water.Enjoy the bluebells before they disappear. Sometimes we do chores such as cleaning out the shed or cutting the grass, but it's got to be done so why not do it together and turn house work into something less drudgey? Plus, what parent doesn't get a kick from watching their kids being useful?
The key with my two is to bribe them with a treat of sorts, whether it's ice-cream while we're out, or screen time without nagging when we get back. Another inexpensive way to have fun is browsing at a car boot sale. I give the boys a few pounds each and off they go.

5. Be a Tourist
If you haven't done it for a while - or have never done it - play tourist in your home town. Visit places you'd normally send your visitors, check out local beauty spots with a picnic, explore the landscape or the history. Just type in your area + tourism into Google and see what comes up.

OMG - there's two of them!
If you're looking for something else, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out. Captain America is a great film (and not only because it has my fantasy husband, Chris Evans, wearing tight t-shirts). Rio 2 is not bad for the younger kids, and Tarzan is also getting positive reviews.

There's also a new lot of LEGO Minifigures out and they're SIMPSONS! As with the LEGO Movie Minifigures, these are £2.49, so I guess the 50p per packet increase is permanent (Boo to you LEGO) . Go feel a few packets and see which ones you can find.
Lego Simpsons Minifigures £2.49 each

What do you have planned this weekend? If all you do this weekend is faff around on Pinterest, don't worry. The great thing about May is that we get another long weekend at the end of the month!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 28 April 2014

Wow! Last MPM post for April. How this month has flown. It's back to work/school here this week - always a hard ask after two weeks off. Here is what we're eating this week.

DIY wraps - chicken, sweetcorn, peppers, avocado, cucumber, etc
Sweet Potato Burgers with roasted garlic cream and avocado (I suspect the roasted garlic cream may end up as mayo)
chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta, spinach, tomato & basil
Ham, cheese & veg pie topped with sweet potato/cauliflower mash
Breakfast for dinner - toast, eggs, beans, etc

I am going to experiment with one or two of these quinoa recipes for lunches. I don't have much time for lunch, so it has to be quick to make/eat, and healthy.

Breakfasts will be protein shakes of one form or another. My body is a temple, and all that.

Have a great week, and remember to check out Mrs M's for more Meal Planning Monday posts. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Clever Ways to use Up Left Over Chocolate Eggs that Aren't Cake Recipes

Shiny! Colourful foil wrapped Easter Eggs always make me smile.

Are you heading into the weekend with a tonne of Easter chocolate still waiting to be consumed? If you've officially hit your limit and want to give those leftover Easter Eggs the heave-ho, why not try some of these chocolate recipes.

1. Cherry Ripe Slice Recipe - One Pot Chef
This beauty uses both white and dark chocolate. No cooking required, so it's a child-friendly recipe if you help them melt the chocolate. This video from One Pot Chef is less than five minutes long and, like him, you'll probably want some "alone time" to enjoy this Cherry Ripe Slice.

2. Chocolate Pots with Orange and Cardamom - The Guardian
You'll find the recipe on this page, along with some other ones you might want to try. I don't think you can ever have too many good chocolate recipes!

Chocolate pots with orange and cardamom. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura for the Guardian

3. Chocolate Covered Fruit and Nuts
Ok, not a recipe as such, but satisfy your parental concerns by dipping fruit and Nuts in melted chocolate. Choose your favourite nut, or dip strawberries, slices of kiwi, and chunks of banana in chocolate and let them set (try swirling white and milk choc before dipping for a cool effect).

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti /

4. Chocolate Fondue
Unleash your inner Margot Leadbetter or Fanny Craddock with this sweet '70s classic. I normally make a dipping sauce simply by melting chocolate with cream, but the BBC Good Food website recommends also adding butter and milk.

5. Rocky Road Crunch Bars - Nigella Lawson
Now, Nigella calls for "best quality chocolate" in her recipe, but I am willing to bet melted chocolate eggs would be acceptable in a pinch. You can find the full recipe on


6. Chocolate Rice Crispie Bars
Finally I'm going to suggest you add melted chocolate to your usual rice crispie bar recipe (if you don't have one, there are lots to try on the Kellogg's Rice Krispies website.

If you have a favourite way of using up your remaining Easter eggs, why not post a link to the recipe in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

5 Fantastic Free Online Resources

If you're the sort of person who believes you get what you pay for, be prepared to place your cynicism firmly to one side. These online resources are free and require no subscription, making them fantastic and easy to access.

British Pathe
Whether you're a teacher, a student, or someone with an interest in history, you'll be excited to learn that British Pathe has just made available their entire collection of more than 85,000 historical films on their YouTube channel They also have War Archives , Vintage Fashions, and Sporting History channels.

All parents of school aged children need to know about Topmarks ( It brings together trustworthy, quality teaching and revision resources for parents and children to use at home. The site is easy to navigate, allowing you to search either by school year or topic. The site is free, but it's possible to support it either by making a donation or buying from Amazon via their affiliate links.

Topmarks Education

Spotify and Grooveshark
If you haven't yet sampled the delights of streaming music online, you're missing out. It's a legal way to hear all your favourite tunes, as well as listen to new artists. Spotify ( and Grooveshark ( can be accessed online or via apps on your mobile or tablet.

BBC Languages
The BBC's website has a huge amount of information on it. Tucked away is an awesome "language" section where you can learn to speak 40 different languages. There are audio and video files, exercises and tests, even links to school revision information. Go to

Online Newspapers
Access a huge number (thousands, according to their blurb) of newspapers from around the world via Online Newspapers ( It also has a link to a fab selection of online magazines. You'll never have to spend money on a magazine subscription again.

Do you have a favourite free online resource to share? I'd love to hear about it, so please leave a link in the comments.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 21 April 2014

After two days of eating way too much chocolate I am ready to get back on the healthy eating wagon. My diet has been pretty good over the past few months. I've cut out a lot of processed carbs and generally had a much more positive attitude to what I eat. I've focused on increasing protein and vegetables, and eating better during the day so I can train better in the evening. It's very frustrating than making time to get to the gym (something that can be difficult for anyone with family demands) and getting my kit on, only to find I have nothing in the tank, as it were, when I get there.

Protein shake with protein powder, almond milk/milk/water, fruit, spinach, almond butter/coconut oil

Omelette with spinach, ham, tomato
Left over dinners
and maybe Quinoa and vegetable soup

Shepherd's pie with cauliflower and sweet potato mash x 2
Beef curry with butternut squash and rice
Roast chicken with veg and gravy
Quinoa with leftover chicken, roasted broccoli, and balsamic vinaigerette
Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

I have no doubt that I will need to cook something separate on quinoa nights. My husband is not a fan, and if I can't get my kids to eat carrots without pulling faces I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting them to put quinoa anywhere near their gobs.

Don't forget to catch up with more Meal Planning Monday posts at Mrs M's.

Friday, 18 April 2014

How to Fix a Ripped Trampoline Net


Today I fixed a rip in our trampoline net. We bought one of those £99 Jumpking trampolines from Asda 3 years ago, and it's probably the best £99 I've spent on anything for the kids. The net, which stays up all year round, has been subjected to quite a few trampoline football/WWE/how many kids can we get on here type play, and had a massive rip along the bottom, plus a few smaller ones which were in danger of expanding. It hasn't stopped the boys from playing on the trampoline, but it has limited some of the games they play. "No problem," I naively thought. "I'll just get a new net." Hello? How much! The cheapest price I have seen them is £40 + £9 delivery on eBay, and, being the tightwad thrifty soul that I am, I couldn't bring myself to spend that much. I fixed it for less than a fiver and about half an hour's work (it would have been less time, but someone was bouncing on the trampoline at the time!)

I used fishing line that I thought would be strong enough not to break, yet which would be pliable enough to sew and knot easily. You don't need a needle, but the knitters needle I used made it much faster than it was without.

I worked in sections of around a foot long both to avoid getting the line tangled, and to make it easier to repair if it did rip at some point. I kept the tension a little slack so it had some "give" which will hopefully prevent the net around it from being pulled to ripping point. I used blanket stitch in some places, but it depended on the extent of the tear and the amount of bounceage I was dealing with. Let's just say that my technique wouldn't bear up to May Martin's scrutiny.

in progress...

...and finished

Yay! Bring on the wrestling
I know there are snazzier ways you could stitch this up using fishing net techniques, but if you're anything like me then your good intentions to do it that way would sit on the shelf until the entire net was in tatters and your kids had left home. The massive tear and a few smaller rips were all repaired with ease, and I've got plenty of fishing line left over should any more appear.

Have you fix a trampoline net in a similar way? If so, please leave a comment so I know how long to expect this repair to last!

Testing ...1....2...1...2.

Hello! Is the mike on? It's been a while so you may all well have sodded off to other blogs more regularly updated with interesting titbits (whoops! That actually came out as titty bits in the first draft) but thank you for those who have checked back in every now and then to see what words of wisdom chocolate cake recipes and pictures of my latest crush I have uploaded. I have barely blogged here all year, bar the odd Meal Planning Monday post, and I bet you're simply dying to know what I have been up to. Well, since 1 January I have:

* started working as a classroom assistant in a secondary school and amazed myself by liking it as much as I do. It's only until the end of July, but it's been an enjoyable eye-opener. Never doubt that most teachers work bloody hard for their money.
* started a new blog about making the most of your time then (ironically) had to shelve it because I simply don't have enough hours in the day
* found a few new writing clients who have kept me happily busy writing about gorgeous wedding-y, food-y, and family type topics
* taken on the role of Food Academy Co-ordinator at the Abergavenny Food Festival
* discovered a strong affection for heavy metal of the weight lifting variety, and have the shoes to prove it
* lifted 100kg like a mofo
* developed an inappropriate habit of using out of date ghetto slang
* got the gist of football terminology so I don't embarrass myself by cheering at the wrong point during my son's matches
* turned 40 and lived to tell the tale
* maintained a loving relationship with Saturday morning bacon sarnies
* kicked Richard Armitage and Michael Fassbender to the curb in preference for Chris Evans (aka Captain America, not Radio 2, just so we're clear)

There are several things on that list which have taken me quite a way out of my comfort zone but, apart from a little trepidation, have just made me really excited.

Here are some pics of 2014 so far:

What have you been up to?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 3 March 2014

Hello! It's been a few weeks since I have a done a meal plan and I have really noticed their absence. Not only have I started to freak out from the pressure of having to think of something to cook every day, but my grocery bill has been creeping up as well. This week's menu looks like this:

Peppered steak, spinach and veg
I'll have mine with quinoa but my husband hates it so he'll probably have potatoes of some sort.

Meatballs in homemade tomato sauce
Pasta and garlic bread with these for the kids. I daresay I'll have mine with some spinach becase I am a bit addicted at the moment
Roast chicken with all the trimmings
Crustless quiche, frittata, whatever you want to call it
Bacon, eggs, beans and toast
Freezer dinner - fish fingers, waffles, whatever for the kids. Soup for me.
I made a batch of sweet potato, butternut and lentil soup yesterday so that's my lunch sorted for the week. I will also bake some brownies and flapjacks.
I have found a few new recipe sites I will be investigating when I get a chance:
Australia and New Zealand has a great tradition of balls - apricot balls, chocolate balls, chicken balls, etc. I think it's time I introduced my kids to their heritage and tried something like this:
substituting rich tea for Arrowroot bickies and drinking chocolate for Milo.
Have a great week. Remember to check out more Meal Planning Monday posts at Mrs M's

Friday, 14 February 2014

Random Likings

It's been a while since I've done one of these, primarily since I am primarily writing about flowers and weddings and haven't been doing the random research that I used to. Anyway... here are some random likings I have been sitting on for a while

1. Celebrities reading mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel
This is the sixth installment of this very funny feature and worth finding 1-5 on YouTube

2. Great British Sewing Bee Series 2
I LOVED the Great British Sewing Bee and am so excited that series 2 is finally starting on BBC Two on Tuesday 18 Feb. It's about the only reality show I can stomach and, no, it's not just because Patrick is such a fox.

3. Cardiff Children's Lit Fest 8-13 April 2014
I love this festival. We went to a few of the events last year (most notably Tin Tin and Asterix drawing) and this year's line-up looks at least as interesting. I have my eye on Dennis the Menace vs Horrid Henry and the Murderous Maths. I think it's great for kids to see that authors are actual people and find out about what goes into creating their favourite characters and stories.

4. This Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding Recipe

It may be hard to believe now, but it won't be too long before we'll have to put away the comforting winter puddings. Before that happens, make sure you make this self saucing chocolate pudding. It's simple and delicious and you probably already have the ingredients in your cupboard.

5. Starfish Ring
Even though I can't say "starfish" without a little part of me sniggering, I really like this ring from Trinkettes

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 3 February 2014

Hello and welcome to a new month. Now we're in February I hope the weather takes the hint and bucks up its attitude! This week's menu is:

Cottage pie topped with cauliflower & butternut mash
Pork Steaks with sweet potato and spinach
Meat balls and courgette "spaghetti" 
Omelettes and something... I will have to work on that one
left overs/freezer fun (fish fingers, nuggets, whatever)

My lunches are also pretty unhealthy lately so I will be making a pot of soup with quinoa and whatever veg I can find and taking that in a flask.

You may have noticed that it's a pretty low carb menu and that's because I am trying to improve my diet. I'm taking it one week at a time! Let me know what your fave healthy meals are and remember to check out Mrs M's for more #MealPlanningMonday posts.

Have a great week.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Do our children really need longer school hours?

Paul Kirby's recent proposal to increase schooling to 45 hours a week, 46 weeks of the year, has got me dusting off my soapbox and clearing my throat. I apologise that this argument is not especially well structured. It actually started off as a comment in response to an online news article about it, but it got so long I thought I'd better post it here instead.

If you haven't heard it in the news, the full details of his proposal are here.

Longer school hours won't equal a better education, as other countries aptly demonstrate. This is effectively proposing that schools become creches so parents can go back to work. It's certainly not in the best interest of the child, especially younger children who need more time to relax, sleep, and enjoy other activities than this proposal would give. 9-6pm is longer than many adults spend in their workplace each day. Any party with this as their manifesto would certainly not be getting my vote.

I had to read this quote twice because it is so dismissive of children and families. "The average working day would give most parents the chance to do a full time job, in between dropping off and picking up their kids." So we drop them off and pick them up and in between we go to some mythical well paying job that's just crying out for a woman to fill, feed them a quick dinner and put them to bed (my youngest is in bed between 7-8pm). Where does family life fall into this? Only in the proposed holiday time? There's also the bit about longer days preparing children for the world of work. Children don't need to be prepared for the world of work because, in case it's escaped your attention, they're CHILDREN. Besides, I know school leavers who would give their right teeth for the chance of a full time job where they can put their education to good use but the jobs simply aren't there!

You can find information to support anything by saying that "studies in America have shown". The UK starts its children at school a year earlier than most other European nations - two years in the case of Sweden and Finland - yet fall behind when children in objective studies such as Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) where Finland has been found to have the best school system, excelling in key subjects such as maths and science. These figures are mentioned in Kirby's article and dismissed, yet I can't see why they are any less credible evidence than his examination of the US.

Kirby states that "The perfect 2015 Election promise needs to tick the following boxes:"

Address the cost of living crisis, especially that faced by hard working, but low income families
As a hard working, low income family I can testify that this does not address  the cost of living crisis because wages are stagnant yet the cost of living is rising.

Capture the imagination of women voters, especially those aged 30-45.
That's me! It's captured my imagination alright. I now imagine you sitting in some office in an affluent area of the country, completely isolated from the people you propose this will appeal to

Show that the political party is on the side of ordinary families against vested interests
I'd class ours as ordinary, yet this policy undermines family interests. I chose to have children because I actually wanted to spend some time with them, not have them forced to stay out of the house for more than 9 hours a day, then be exhausted on the weekend.

Reverse the view that the next generation will not have it as good as their parents
I am not sure how this will create jobs to enable the current generation of school leavers to be able to afford to dream of owning their own home or having a decent pension

Produce a trump card that shows we know how to win the global economic race
This doesn't even make sense. It's like it was put in for a bit of padding.

Prove that politicians can do big things that matter in the real world, and quickly
Making fast, significant changes is only good if the changes are beneficial. 

He finishes his manifesto by suggesting we tell if it's a good idea by pretending that it had already been in place for 20 years and the proposal was to change it to the way it currently is. What? That's ridiculous. It hasn't been that way for good reason: the idea is absurd.

The party who will get my vote in 2015 will be the one who shows a credible commitment to improving the standards of education for all children and increasing the employment opportunities for parents so that  there are a) jobs there and b) salaries which reflect the increase in the cost of living so that childcare for those who need it is more affordable.

I made the decision to work fewer hours and take a lower salary so I can be there for my children, to nurture, parent and support them as they grow. That is the role of a parent, not a teacher. It is not in their best interests, or the interests of my family, for them to be in school from 9am-6pm. After school and wrap around care already exists in most primary schools for working parents and it is subsidised by tax credits and the councils. Putting my kids in school for 9 hours a day is of no benefit to them or to me.

What do you think? Am I missing something in my interpretation? Would you vote for this policy? Let me know!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Is Going Commando Ever A Good Idea?

Miranda Kerr in Pucci and Liz Hurley in "that" Versace dress which made her a household name

This post is inspired by this pic of Miranda Kerr in a slashed Pucci gown at the 2014 InStyle Warner Bros party that followed the Golden Globes. I am not a fan. I think Kerr is drop-dead gorgeous with a killer body that I have no doubt is a combination of exceptional genes and hard work, but this dress just made me shudder. I suspect it was, at least in part, a two-fingers up gesture to her ex. Orlando Bloom not only got to appear on the ACTUAL Golden Globes red carpet rather than merely a sponsored after-party, but also had the honour of presenting an award, yet who got the most headlines? Yep, Kerr in her blatantly underwear free dress.

I lost a bit of respect for her, to be honest, and yes, I am sure she's crying into her organic green smoothie while reading this. She's gorgeous, she's fit, she doesn't need a slashed fashion equivalent of a neon sign saying "I AM SEXY" - it's obvious that she already is. I asked myself: is going commando ever a good idea? Why don't you be the judge.

Kate Winslet in Stella McCartney in 2011

Kate Hudson in Versace in 2012. I don't actually mind this one.
Heidi Klum at the 2007 Victoria's Secret Show afterparty. She wore more on the runway earlier that night, and that's saying something!

GP in 2013 admitted her dress was a "disaster". She was scrounging for a razor moments before hitting the red carpet. Classy.

... and the eye-watering iCandy dress worn by Draya Michele and Erica Mena who clearly have a close relationship with intimate waxing

What do you think? Have I been a little harsh? Is less really more in this instance, or is there such a thing as too much information?

ETA: Someone's kindly pointed out that I was remiss in not including Jaimie Alexander's attire at the Thor 2 premiere. The sexiness of the dress is overshadowed by the grossness of a stick on flesh coloured modesty patch... ick!

Not a good angle: The dress was the most explicit when Jaimie stood to the side

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Meal Planning Monday 27 January 2014

Well, here we are at the start of another week and it's fair to say I'm not feeling inspired. I'm envious reading other people's blogs where they mention that their children eat everything they cook as if it wasn't something extraordinary. My fussy kids are doing my head at meal times in at the moment and it's either because a) I'm making a bit of a stand, or b) they are being taken over by Satan. Or both.

This week is:
Sunday - fish fingers and yellow rice for husband and youngest. Packet pasta and sauce with grated cheese, which I burned. No point jazzing it up. That's what we ate. 
Monday - Sweet and Sour Pork with peppers and rice
Tuesday - Meatloaf, potatoes, veg, gravy
Wednesday - Cheesy ham and veg pie
Thursday - Roast chicken with veg, gravy, stuffing and Yorkshire puddings (I am not a purist - Yorkshire puddings are good with any roast dinner
Friday - chicken and spinach curry
Saturday - Fridge frittata

I am baking
Chocolate and caramel brownies
ANZAC biscuit traybake
... that should last the week but if it doesn't then I'll bake a chocolate cake as well. 

Remember to check out Mrs M's linky for more Meal Planning Monday inspiration. I will be reading with interest this week in the hope of getting my meal planning mojo back!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 20 January 2014

Howdy hungry peeps. How has your week been? Though I did manage to meal plan last week I didn't quite manage to get my post up, so I am getting in early this week and doing it on Sunday. Go me and my sporadic organisation skills.

I've started a new job which involves me being out of the house all day (the biscuit tin is going into decline with loneliness) so I have to be super organised if I am to survive without my family turning feral because I am late with dinner. To that end I have not only meal planned but prepped and cooked almost an entire week of dinners.

We're eating:
Savoury Crepes with chicken, spinach and bacon
Toad in the Hole
Roast Chicken
Pancetta & Spinach Frittata
Chicken & Butternut Risotto
Pizza & Garlic Bread 
... and either left overs or beans on toast type meal. 
What are your favourite freezer or batch cooking meals? Please share them with me in the comments because I am going to need them!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

National Trust 50 Things for 2014

50 things
The National Trust 50 Things to Do Before You're 11 & 3/4 list is the perfect place for parents who want to do more with their kids but are feeling uninspired. With so many options there's always something to suit your mood/age/weather/budget/location. We made the most of the free activities on offer at Tredegar House (a NT property in Newport) in the 2013 summer holidays. Well, the kids made the most of the activities and I made the most of the cafe and a peaceful hour or two.

Check out the website for the ability to register your child. You can keep track of all the activities you've done online and unlock games and other goodies as a reward, or download and print off a list to tick them off as you go. My 11 year old has completed virtually all of them, however my 6 year old has only ticked off about a quarter so there is plenty there to keep him busy. Plan a holiday or a day out around and activity or just do the ones close to home.

As well as providing the list, the National Trust have YouTube videos to help get you started. They're virtually all free and simple and will encourage children to explore their actual surroundings rather than merely their Minecraft ones.

Here are some of my pics:
22. Explore inside a tree 
4. Build a den 

28. Climb a huge hill - you can't even see the summit from here!

14. Dam a stream

1. Climb a tree

...maybe not

23. Visit a farm
15. Play in the snow
I've never had a problem letting my boys get stuck in, no matter how dirty they may get, but I have spoken with some parents over the years who have been reluctant to give their children the same freedom. If you're worried about their clothing or the washing I've found waterproof trousers to be invaluable. They're all over eBay and if you don't by the fleecy ones then they can be worn all year round.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Best and Worst Dresses of the 2014 Golden Globes

Yay! It's that time of year again. I love an award ceremony to brighten up a gloomy winter evening. More specifically, I love an award ceremony red carpet because, let's face it, it's all about the dresses. I don't give a toss who won what and what they said, I don't care about the guys (Richard Armitage excepted), I just what to check out the gowns and pass judgement.

The ones I liked...
Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive - business in the front, party in the back, just like a mullet
Reese Witherspoon in Calvin Klein. I've seen pics where this aqua dress looked almost Tiffany blue. It's gorgeous

Julie Bowen (no, me neither) in Carolina Herrera

Uma Thurman in Versace. She has a killer bod but doesn't always make the most of it

Kaley Cuoco in Rani Zakhem Couture - she could have got away with this as a wedding dress
... and the ones I didn't
Emma Thompson in Lanvin - really ageing and not especially flattering. She's got nice boobs but this high neckline does nothing for them and the drab skirt is aging
Hayden Panettiere in Tom Ford - I hate everything about this: the neckline, the slit that ends above the knee, the slicked back hair. 

Berenice Bejo in Giambattista Valli - the colour is gorgeous on her but the sheer bit, ruffles and lapels turns it into a hot mess

Giuliana Rancic in Lorena Sarbu- this looks dated and not in a trendy vintage kind of way. Yuck bodice and weird waistline.

Anna Gunn in Donna Karan Atelier - the colour is really boring and washes her out

... and the ones that have me on the fence

Lupita Nyong'o in Ralph Lauren - the colour is sensational but I am not loving the cape

Lena Dunham in Zac Posen - would be great if it fit in the bust. It squishes her bust and looks like it's cutting into her arm pits.

Drew Barrymore in Monique Lhullier - it's a pretty dress but looks more suitable for a wedding than the Golden Globes 

There were other dresses I liked but these were the ones that stood out for me. What dresses did you like and not like? What did you think about Emma Watson's Dior dress & trousers combo.