Thursday, 31 October 2013

Why I love Norfolk

Sykes Cottages is running a fabulous competition at the moment.  They want to hear what you love most about Norfolk.  The prize is a wonderful £600 of vouchers to use with them.  Perfect if you have a young family and prefer staycations - like me!  You can read more about the competition on Sykes Cottages' website.

Norfolk and I go back a long way, and I had a hard job pinning down what I love about the region.  I hope you like my entry below; it's accompanied by my 'Why I love Norfolk' Pinterest board.

Why I love Norfolk.  Norfolk made me.

July 1968, Great Yarmouth.  Local girl meets guy from Coventry.  Two years later, they marry in Winterton-on-Sea.  My Mum and Dad.

They move to Coventry, have two kids.  My brother, and I.

Childhood memories:

‘Are we nearly there yet?’.  Do that, do that? That do!  Yarmouth seafront.  Why are the hills flat?  Winterton beach.

The making of me:

University of East Anglia was home.  Norwich culture, sights and bars; my haunts.  Friends made for life.


Norfolk made me.  Now, it makes my family.  Happy days.

Norfolk places with special memories: my Pinterest board.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Easiest slow cooker Quorn chilli ever

I love my slow cooker so much I have two!  A small and large Morphy Richards.  They're brilliant for making healthy hearty meals that we can all enjoy.  Better still, I often use our large slow cooker to make enough for two nights and for a pot or two for the freezer for even easier meals.

Here's my Quorn chilli recipe.  It's so easy, cheap, delicious and if you follow Slimming World, it's syn free too.  Brill!

Serves 4-6 hungry people (you can always half the recipe if you have a small slow cooker)

  • 500g Quorn mince (I use frozen)
  • Handful of chopped onion (again, I use frozen)
  • Four tins chopped tomatoes
  • Two tins kidney beans
  • Dried chilli flakes to taste (I use about four tablespoons, but we like it HOT)
  • Tbsp of ground coriander
  • Tbsp of ground cumin
  • Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Two tbsps tomato puree if you have it
  • Large splosh of Worcester sauce (you can also use a vegetarian equivalent, or omit completely)
  • One veg stock cube

Put everything apart from the kidney beans into the slow cooker and give it a good stir.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.

Stir kidney beans in about 10-30 minutes before serving.

It's as easy as that.

We serve it with rice, or it also goes well with nachos, tacos or wraps.  Yum.

You might also like my slow cooker Quorn sausage and bean casserole.

Linking up with A Mummy Too for this recipe post.

Link up your recipe of the week

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Spooky fruit - a halloween special

Halloween seems to get bigger every year and our local shops are full of it.  I love it - any excuse for a party!  Our son is really getting into Halloween this year and has a pumpkin party at school for the first time, and we're hosting a halloween party for eight adults and children in a couple of weeks.

So when I heard about the Alex and Alexa spooky fruit competition, I couldn't resist giving it a go.  I knew it would help get us in the halloween spirit.

The competition is to create a spooky fruit carving; a modern take on a Jack O'Lantern.  You can win everything for a great halloween with kids, including spooky outfits, party supplies and Lego heads.  Perfect if you're hosting a party!  You can read more about the competition at the Alex and Alexa Life and Style site.

Our fruit bowl is always full, so I emptied it and thought about what to create.

What is spooky at halloween?  Ghosts definitely are, witches can be too.. but what about a vampire?  Hmm.. we could be on to something here.

Our son watched on the sidelines as I set about carving, chopping and peeling the fruit.  First came the face and hair, carved out of melon with blueberries sliced in half.

Then some of the facial features.  The eyes started life as red grapes, but I knew they could be improved..  It was starting to take shape.

So with the suggestion from our son to put blueberries in the eyes to make them look even scarier, I assembled our final spooky fruit vampire.

Spooky enough for you?  With his blackberry eyebrows, orange ears, blueberry hair, apple mouth, coconut teeth with raspberry blood dripping, we called him Dra-fruit-cooler (geddit?!).

Here's my halloween gang adding to the spookiness factor.

And the best part?  Our son ate LOADS of Dra-fruit-cooler for his dessert after dinner!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Coombe Country Park Coventry

This week our son had a day off school because of teacher training.  I was really hoping the weather would be nice so we could get out of the house for a few hours and burn off some of his energy.  Despite the gloomy looking skies in the morning, I decided to risk it, so off we set for Coombe Country Park in Coventry.  We packed wellies and rain covers just in case!

Anyone who lives near Coventry I am sure will have visited Coombe Abbey on a school trip.  Coombe Abbey itself dates from around the 12th century, although parts of the building were added at a later date.  Although the building is now a luxury hotel and park visitors are not allowed in, it still looks very regal.

Coventry City Council maintains the grounds and at this time of year they looked wonderful.  There's a kids' park at the entrance to the grounds and it is really well equipped.  It was really quiet when we visited during school hours and we had it to ourselves for a short while.  It's suitable for all ages of children, from walking to around 12 years old with different zones for different ages and activities.

Although the park was a bit damp, we spent 15 minutes having a play on the wobble boards and swings. 

Once we'd finished, we headed off for a walk around the grounds. Although the air was damp and there were plenty of puddles around we spent a lovely couple of hours walking round in a loop and stopping to look at the birds, ducks and squirrels.  We must remember the duck food next time!

Our son really loved all the colours of the leaves.  He also enjoyed collecting acorns and conkers that had fallen off trees.  We stood under a tree where conkers were literally falling off around us!  Our daughter enjoyed the fresh air too, and loved looking around at everything from her buggy.  I loved all the questions the country park inspired from our son, he was asking why some trees had been cut and were on the ground, why squirrels were searching for acorns and why the leaves turn a different colour in autumn.

We loved our morning out and both kids came home tired but happy (me too!). I'm sure our son learned a lot by us all taking time to get out in the fresh air and look around the park.

I was really impressed with how well the grounds were kept and we all loved the autumn colours.  We'll definitely be visiting again soon.

Linking up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill for this post.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Silent Sunday


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Chicco Polly 2 in 1 highchair review

Baby girl and I have been happiness testers for Chicco for a few months now.  I can honestly say we've loved everything we've had from Chicco.  In August and September we reviewed two of our most favourite things - the Polly 2 in 1 highchair in Tweet and Multiway Evo buggy in Cyclamen.

The first of our reviews is now live for the Polly 2 in 1 highchair.  It's a text and video review that took me a while to get the hang of, but I really enjoyed doing.

Here's a taster of baby girl in this brilliant value, flexible and thoughtfully designed chair:

You can see my reviews of this highchair on the Chicco Tested for Happiness website.  We love it!  I'd love to know if you have any Chicco products and what you think of them.  We still have lots of things to test.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Only when you're a Mum.. #MotherhoodUnderstood

Cussons Mum and Me has a lively Twitter account that tweets at all hours.  It got me through many a sleepless 3am when I was pregnant!  It goes under the #MotherhoodUnderstood tag and posted the following this morning..

Checking Twitter as soon as you get up #MotherhoodUnderstood.

It made me think about other Motherhood Understood facts; here's my few:
  • 7.30am is a lie in to be had once every month or two.  Max..
  • Getting ready to go out can be done whilst bathing the kids, reading a story and brushing their teeth.
  • You know the Cbeebies schedule off by heart...   ...and quite fancy that Mr Maker guy
  •  ditto Mr Bloom (or is that just me?)
  • The kids are your excuse to decorate the whole house like a massive Christmas tree for the whole of December
  • Dates are now of the play variety
  • You look back and think how much time you wasted in bed before you had kids
  • Checking Twitter as soon as you get up... and it only taking a minute to catch up on your timeline because you were awake an hour ago
  • Chocolate is something that's administered in secret, hourly, while the kids aren't watching.
  • Coffee is your best friend in the morning.  Every morning.  At least twice.
  • You're able to pick their voice out from a room full of 50 kids in soft play, who are all screeching.
  • If you ever make it out of the house without them, you're constantly looking around you and feeling like you've forgotten something.
  • You love them most when they're clean from a bath, smell lovely and are sleeping like angels.

I could go on and on and on.... I'd love to hear yours.  Please leave a comment or two.

You can follow Cussons Mum and Me on Twitter @MumandMe_UK

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Love this - there is no set path

Not being a nick-nacky sort of person, I don't tend to buy trinkets and ornaments.  But when we were out in Market Bosworth a few days ago and I saw this in a small shop, I couldn't resist buying it.

I love it.

It's from East of India and is made of white porcelain.  The inscription reads: There is no set path, follow your heart.  It's now hanging in our study, and I look at it while I'm working.  It reminds me to go my own way.

You can also buy it from Amazon.