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?