Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Diner, Ganton Street London and the Regent Street Festival

London’s Regent Street was pedestrianised for four consecutive weekends in July, with all sorts of entertainment provided by the shops and businesses along the street.

I went to the festival with a friend and my four month old, not really sure what to expect, and we had a great time. There was a large display about the importance of bees - apparently some of the buildings in this area have bee hives on their roofs - where children could get involved in various activities and meet a lady dressed as a bee.

Hamley's toy shop had a man blowing bubbles up and down the street outside and a promotion in store where we were able to get a free teddy for my little girl; Holister had deckchairs and giant inflatables, there was face painting, free samples from Whittards (I love their instant iced tea) and various food stalls.

My favourite part was the Wimbledon-themed ball pond outside Ralph Lauren Polo, where you could climb in and have your photo taken from a camera above; we were then given prints of the photo straight away (free of charge) and I gave my phone number for a digital copy of the photo to be texted later - but when it arrived they had sent me a stranger's photo! Still it was a really fun experience and a lovely day out.

There were lots of food stalls which looked very tempting including Gaucho and Ham Yard Hotel but we decided it would be easier to sit down in a café or restaurant, as baby S would need feeding and changing as well. We cut through from Regent Street to Ganton Street where there were several restaurants that looked good but most appeared very busy. I spotted the Diner, a larger restaurant with more space inside, and asked if they could accommodate a buggy as I knew most of their tables are fixed booths, but they took us to the back of the restaurant to a table that had fixed seating on one side and movable stools on the other. The greeter even helped carry the buggy up two small steps to get to the table, and helped move the stools so I could get the buggy next to the table.

I've been to the Diner in Spitalfields several times and really like the food but this was the first time I'd been in with a baby in tow. She had her milk as I was reading the menu; when the food arrived we posed for a photo and baby S tried to grab my friend's burger!

My friend had a chicken burger and I went for the macaroni cheese with bacon; I would have preferred the bacon a bit crispy but the dish was really nice and very filling - though that was probably because I also had a Snickers milkshake as a treat with it!

We were then joined by a vegan friend and I was pleased to see the Diner had a couple of vegan options - a burger and a vegan version of the mac and cheese, and some of their locations including Spitalfields now have a completely separate vegetarian and vegan menu.

If you are wondering about visiting with a baby, they do have baby change facilities in the ladies toilet, though when you pull down the wall-mounted changing table you are actually blocking access to one of the three toilet cubicles, and I wasn't sure people would be too thrilled I was changing a poopy nappy right next to the sinks as the baby change isn't in a separate cubicle but in the main part of the ladies, though they don't have a huge amount of space and it was better than nothing. Overall I'd say the Diner is definitely baby friendly and was a good place for us to sit down for a while and eat lunch while we enjoyed the Regent Street festival.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Oreo Marshmallow Fluff Cheesecake

Whenever I buy a jar of marshmallow fluff for a recipe I end up eating the whole jar  - not in one go, but it doesn't usually end up being used in the recipe I intended!

This time around I bought two jars so I could definitely make the recipe I wanted! My husband loves Oreos and I decided to make an Oreo cheesecake and use the marshmallow fluff in the filling.

I kind of made the recipe up as I went along and it didn't set particularly firm - you need to eat this with a spoon rather than a fork - but it tasted really good!

See the recipe below..

You need:
1 packet Oreos
50g butter
213g jar marshmallow fluff
200g tub soft cheese
100ml crème fraiche
100g icing sugar

Crush the Oreos either with a rolling pin or in a blender. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat or in the microwave and stir in the crushed Oreos.

Press into the bottom of a 7 or 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.

In a large bowl, mix together the marshmallow fluff, soft cheese, crème fraiche and icing sugar and spread over the crushed Oreo base.

Allow to set in the fridge, ideally overnight.

I'm sharing this with Baking Crumbs and Casa Costello's Bake of the week (even though there is no actual baking involved!) and CookBlogShare.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 29

I had a great weekend with a friend visiting going into London twice, once with my daughter and once leaving her with my husband - we went to CatFest and the Regent Street Festival. While I was there I had macaroni cheese in a restaurant which reminded me of how much I like it, so I'd like to make it again soon - though with the weather so hot at the moment we will probably be barbecuing a lot again!

Monday - barbecue

Tuesday - out for a family birthday

Wednesday - barbecue

Thursday - stir-fry for me, chicken chargrills for him

Friday - gammon, new potatoes and apple sauce

Lunch- bacon sandwich
Dinner- barbecue

Lunch- crumpet pizzas
Dinner- macaroni cheese and sausage

Monday, 9 July 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 28

It's too hot to think - and to cook! Unfortunately my husband doesn't eat salads or I would consider doing those for dinner every night. Instead we plan to barbecue a lot.

Since having a baby I don't have a lot of time to prepare food so while I'd love to be trying out new barbecue recipes every time, I'm more likely to be found ordering ready-marinated meat and ready-to-cook things from the supermarket, but there are a few easy but tasty things we can do to liven it up a bit.

Tuna steak, hot dog and potato salad for me, beef kebabs and hot dog for him

Burgers plus chicken kebabs

Watching the football, like most of England - which starts around the time my husband gets home from work so I'll put something easy in the oven from the freezer

Burgers, mozzarella sticks, potato salad, garlic bread

tuna steak, beef steak for him, chicken kebabs

Lunch - I'm out with a friend at CatFest (Google it!)
Dinner - barbecued whole chicken, sausages, mozzarella sticks

Lunch - I'm out again with friends so will get food while I'm out
Dinner - probably something easy from the freezer

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Pink Unicorn card - Be a Unicorn in a Field of Horses

Unicorns are a really big thing at the moment - I can't really remember when it started but suddenly they are everywhere, from toys to children's clothing to cakes to stationery. Late one night in between feeding the baby I was browsing the internet and decided to look for a rubber unicorn stamp for card making. I thought there would be loads but couldn't find any I liked until I came across this unmounted one from China. It's quite large so just right for the main element of a card.

The backing paper is from a set called Glitter Girl which was from Hobbycraft only a couple of months ago but they don't seem to stock it any more unfortunately. The frames and banner are die cuts I bought pre cut from Ebay (getting out my die cutting machine seems like hard work at the moment!). I stamped the unicorn and coloured it in with Promarker and stamped the sentmiment from a separate set of unicorn-related sentiment stamps.

I'm sharing this with Penny Black where the theme is 'things with wings' as unicorns are usually depicted with wings; Crafting with Dragonflies where the theme is animals; Crafty Friends which is fairy/fantasy; Send a Smile 4 Kids which is anything goes for kids; and the Fairy and Unicorn challenge where the theme is mythical.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Trip of a Lifetime - exploring the Galapagos Islands

There’s something tragically romantic about being the last of your kind, the only one of your species left on earth, with no way of continuing the line. That was the plight of Lonesome George, a giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, specifically a Pinta Island tortoise.

There are plenty of other giant tortoises in the Galapagos but George was the last from Pinta; he was a symbol for the conservation efforts of the Charles Darwin Research Centre and famous the world over.
 George died in 2012 so I didn’t have the opportunity to see him when I went to the Galapagos Islands on my honeymoon in 2016, but we saw several of his compatriots and learned about the different types of giant tortoises – some have domed shells and short necks, and others have saddleback shells and long necks. These differences contributed to Darwin’s development of his theory of evolution.
There’s something both humbling and mind blowing about standing in a spot dedicated to the man, looking at creatures that are direct descendants of the animals that gave rise to such an important discovery.

But a trip to the Galapagos Islands isn’t all about science – sometimes it’s just about marvelling at the natural beauty of spots like Pinnacle Rock, above (which will be familiar to those who saw the film Master and Commander, the first movie to ever film in the Galapagos) or the fish market on Santa Cruz, where sea lions vie with pelicans to steal fish.

Riding in a panga (small rubber dingy) to sail under rocky outcrops to watch Galapagos penguins – who seemed just as interested in watching us back – and snorkelling with sea lions which wanted to play, darting in and out among our group – will be among the most memorable experiences of my entire life. What makes this experience extra special is knowing how protected all these species are – only 5 of the 18 islands are inhabited, and there are restrictions on how many people can visit the other islands and at what times, so you’ll never get there and find hundreds of people descending from cruise ships all at the same time. Some of the islands, formed of volcanic rock, make you feel that you are walking on the moon, or stepping back in time, or discovering your own uncharted territories like the explorers who have gone before.

We stayed at the Finch Bay Hotel, an award-winning 'sustainable eco hotel' voted the world's leading 'green' hotel for the last three years in a row, and took day trips on their yacht so most days, so the size of our group was in single figures. Led by a knowledgeable local guide, we would carefully pick our way across the rocks under the blazing sun, stopping to let a huge iguana cross our path, or to watch the mating dance of a blue-footed booby. The animals seemed totally unfazed at our presence, as they have quite literally never been at risk from predators, so they have nothing to worry about – and we definitely had a sense that we were guests in their lands. In fact, sometimes I felt like we were slightly irritating paparazzi – with the laid back iguanas wondering why we were so keen on taking their photos when they were more interested in basking in the sun.

The bio-diversity is amazing, both on land and in water. I’d never snorkelled before – or since – so was pretty nervous, but nothing was going to stop me from going underwater and marvelling at so many different species of fish. I was lucky enough to see a giant sea turtle swim right past, and lucky to have escaped what was apparently a close encounter with a bull shark. We saw plenty of small (as in, a foot or two long) shark which were relatively harmless and ignored us, but at one point our guide signalled to everyone to get out of the water and back into the panga as quickly as possible. We found out later he had spotted a bull shark, a fairly dangerous species - shark attacks in the Galapagos are rare, but when they happen, they are usually bull sharks. I’m very relieved I didn’t actually see it myself, and didn’t know why we were exiting the water until afterwards, so I didn’t panic!

Visiting the Galapagos Islands takes some effort and dedication (and money, though there are ways to do it on a smaller budget than the top end cruise ships). At the time of our trip, there were no direct flights from the UK to Ecuador - anyone would think they want to discourage package holiday tourists!  We had a couple of options for indirect routes and fancied a few days in a luxury hotel (it was our honeymoon after all) and really like visiting the US so opted for Miami where we stayed in the luxurious Fontainebleau hotel. Then it was the ‘simple’ matter of a flight to Quito, a flight to Baltra in the Galapagos, then a bus, boat, car and another boat to get to our hotel. 
This time two years ago we were on our way back home from our honeymoon - it was worth every moment of the long journey, and I would have said it was truly a once in a lifetime experience – but now that I’ve had a daughter I’d like nothing more than to take her to the Galapagos Islands one day so she can experience the adventure, the beauty of nature and animals in their natural habitat, for herself.
This is my entry in the Trips100/ Audley Travel blogger challenge.
Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: To find out more or enter via the website, visit  Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 27

I can't believe we are more than half way through the year - I don't know where the time has gone! My little girl is now 4 months old, it seems a lifetime ago that we brought a brand new baby home from the hospital as she has grown and changed so much. Her latest thing is blowing raspberries and as I started writing this with baby S on her playmat at my feet, where I thought I could leave her while I did my meal plan, I looked down and she'd learnt to shuffle and had moved several inches off the playmat! I love that she is learning new things all the time - even if it means I have even less time to myself! And by 'time to myself' I mean time to stay on top of housework and so on... it's rare that I get any 'me time'!

Last week's meal plan was a bit of a write-off. We planned to barbecue a lot and on the first night, the food burnt and was totally ruined, because our gas barbecue had a build-up of fat that caused huge nearly-take-your-eyebrows-off flames. The next day when it had cooled down my husband took the barbecue apart after he got home from work, and the next day I spent an hour cleaning it while I was napping, but an awful lot of elbow grease and four cleaning cloths going in the bin later, it looked like I'd barely started. So I gave up and booked a professional oven and barbecue cleaning company, who were supposed to come on Friday afternoon - meaning we'd be able to use the barbecue once in the week at least, plus the weekend. On Friday afternoon I got a call saying the guy's van had broken down and he couldn't come! I couldn't help but wonder if he just didn't want to do a final job at 4pm on a blazing hot Friday.. they are now coming back on Monday so hopefully we can barbecue next week. I ended up freezing some of the food we were going to cook last week but also having to throw some of it out, which was a shame!

For lunches this week I will try to mainly have salads!

Barbecue - pizza and sausages with salad, barbecued new potatoes

Barbecue - burgers, fish kebabs, chicken kebabs ,halloumi

Barbecue - sea bass with this sauce for me, steak for him, halloumi, potato salad/ cous cous

Something different for a change...lasagne from my batch cooking for me, chicken nuggets and chips for him

May as well barbecue again! Pork loin steaks for me with couscous, burger/sausage for him, mozzarella sticks

Lunch - ham and cheese toasties
Dinner - Barbecue lamb with salsa verde from this recipe for me, steak for him

Lunch- bacon sandwich
Dinner - Whole barbecued chicken with limonata, potato wedges, salad and Weber chocolate fondants

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Handmade Peacock Anniversary Card

I recently signed up to the Hunkydory Craft club - Hunkydory is a craft brand that is particularly known for ready made toppers and die cut images and sentiments. Their club gives you a discount when you buy, but the reason I signed up was because you could get a set of toppers for only the £2.99 cost of postage as a new member.

The set I got included flamingos, birds - and peacocks. I decided to use one of the peacock images to make an anniversary card for my husband for our second anniversary as we'd had peacocks at our wedding.

You can read more about the venue and our day in my post from 2016 on our wedding at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

To make the card, I chose a larger than usual A5 card blank and covered it with a piece of the cardstock that came with the Hunkydory set. It had a strip of a different pattern across part of the card which I positioned along the bottom of my card and added a border from the same set. The peacock and frame are all different elements from the Hunkydory set too.

Finally I added a glittery thick card word saying 'anniversary' which I think I bought from Tesco (though I could be wrong!).

I'm sharing this with:

Daring Cardmakers where the theme is weddings or anniversaries

TGIF challenges has the theme 'all that glitters'

Alphabet Challenge - G is for great outdoors, and the peacock represents our outdoor wedding

and at Tuesday Taggers it's 'things with wings'.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Meal Planning 2018 Week 26

It's a scorcher this week! I expect we will be barbecuing a fair bit but these days I don't really have the time to make different recipes and it's more a case of just ordering meat. But I don't really like to eat that much meat and never really eat any veg when we barbecue (I only like salad when I have it as a meal in itself, I somehow can't make myself eat it on the side at a barbecue!). So I need to factor in a couple of other meals when I can eat some veg and try to find some easy healthy barbecue recipes as well!

Barbecue - including cauliflower with a spice rub, from an Ocado recipe and possibly also chicken fattoush

Spaghetti Bolognese to use up mince from Sunday's tacos


Chicken chargrills and mashed potato for him, chicken cacciatore for me


Lunch - my husband is working today so I will have a sandwich or salad
dinner- he will probably want to barbecue again assuming I've been able to restock food!

Lunch - fresh pasta
Dinner - chicken tray bake

Restaurant review: Finch's pub, Finsbury Square, London

Baby S had a big day recently - we got the train up to London and a bus to visit daddy at work. She was definitely a big hit with some of his colleagues and it was my first time seeing my husband’s office too which was nice - he has a much better view out his window than when I was at work!

#My office was only a ten minute walk away so after lunch I took S in to meet my team and I had a good catch up with my manager while I was feeding the baby. In the end we were out of the house for over 7 hours and S was so well behaved and meant for a much easier day than I expected (she was only 14 weeks old after all) - S had her lunch in the pub when we did then I fed her again in the break room at my office.

My husband’s suggestion for lunch was a pub near his office called Finch’s as he'd been before and knew they did good food. The staff were very happy accommodating a buggy and gave us a table with plenty of space; however when I asked to use the disabled toilets which had a baby change table, I found they were using it as storage for several chairs and I couldn't get to the changing table without moving at least half a dozen chairs - and decided not to bother and change S when we got to my office.

I was tempted to order the mac and cheese scotch egg (£8), which I was told was a vegetarian version of a scotch egg with macaroni cheese around the egg instead of sausage meat. It sounded really nice and I wish I had ordered it now, but it didn't come with anything and I didn't particularly want to order a side of chips but didn't think the egg would be enough on its own. Instead I had the pulled BBQ pork in a brioche bun (£9), which also didn't come with any sides as it was on the brunch menu. It was really filling and very good - the barbecue sauce was delicious - but perhaps a little expensive as I would expect to pay not much more for a burger (or pulled pork in a bun) with chips. My husband had the burger which did come with chips which at £14 and another £1.50 to add bacon was also quite steep. I guess the City centre location was part of that, but while the food was good it was a bit expensive for what we had.

I couldn't see any sign of branding and my husband said he'd never noticed anything to suggest it was part of a chain so I was surprised when I looked it up on the internet afterwards and found it was a Young's pub. Young's always does good food and this was no exception.



Friday, 22 June 2018

Lotus Biscoff Chocolate Mousse

If you haven't discovered Lotus Biscoff spread yet, I urge you to try it now. The little caramelised biscuits you often get with a cup of coffee in cafes have been turned into a spread that is the consistency of Nutella, but tastes like biscuits!

The company's website suggests it as a breakfast food spread on toast which I think might be a bit sweet - I don't even eat Nutella on toast though I do have it on croissants, but otherwise I use it in desserts. Or eat it straight from the jar with a spoon!

I wanted to make an easy dessert for a barbecue with family and found a recipe for Lotus Biscoff and chocolate mousse on the Ocado app. The recipe had  step missing - it didn't tell you what to do with the egg whites that were listed in the ingredients - so I took a punt, and will explain here what I did.

I didn't buy any of the actual Lotus Biscoff biscuits as they are for decoration only and make the recipe quite expensive if you need to buy a whole packet only to use a few, unless you are going to eat the rest of the biscuits later!

The recipe says it serves 8; I did it for 5 and for 8 people the portions would be quite small, so you could use this quantity to serve 6

You need:
200g Lotus Biscoff smooth spread (see link above)
200g dark chocolate
5 eggs
200ml whipping cream - I used double cream as I couldn't get whipping cream and it worked fine

Heat the chocolate and Biscoff spread in the microwave until melted- I did on the 5 setting (medium heat) for 2 minutes.

Separate the egg and in one bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until stiff and set both whites and yolks aside. Whip the cream and set aside.

Beat the egg yolks one at a time into the chocolate mixture then fold in the beaten egg whites. Finally fold in the whipped cream.

Spoon into individual serving dishes and chill for a few hours until set; these will also keep overnight in the fridge.

The mousse was very rich but really light in texture, this is definitely something to make again!

I'm sharing this with CookBlogShare hosted by Everyday Healthy Recipes and We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin and Thyme

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 25

A lot going on this week - it's our wedding anniversary and my parents are coming to stay after that and have offered to babysit one night, so as well as going out for our anniversary we might go to the cinema as well. We used to go regularly - though mainly to see each Marvel movie when they came out as my husband is a big fan - but have only been to the cinema once since S was born 15 weeks ago. Unsurprisingly that was to see the Marvel Avengers film, Infinity War! This time I think it will be between Solo - a Star Wars story, and Jurassic World - a fallen kingdom. We'd both like to see Deadpool 2 as well but with three good films out at the moment I think we will have to wait for that one on DVD or Sky Cinema!

Dinner out for our anniversary at the Ned

Barbecue at home

Wednesday - my parents are staying
Lunch- beans/macaroni cheese on toast
Dinner- Hunter's chicken with Applewood barbecue sauce, from an Ocado recipe

Lunch- early lunch as we are going to My Gym so something easy like cheese toasties (I'll confess - I just had the food shopping delivered and realised I forgot to plan anything for today's lunch!)
Dinner-  barbecue

Lunch- fresh pasta
Dinner- possibly out if I'm meeting my husband from work to go to the cinema

Lunch- was going to do baked croque monsieur from an Ocado recipe, depends if we already had chees on toast on Thursday!
Dinner- Tacos I was going to do last week but didn't, or leftover barbecue food

Lunch- TBA
Dinner- whichever of the Saturday options we didn't have, or a chicken traybake

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Focus on the Journey, not the Destination handmade card

This card has an inspirational sentiment that would be suitable for a birthday or someone who is going travelling - though I actually gave it to my dad for Father's Day.

It's made from free gifts that came with a recent issue of Creative Stamping magazine. I stamped a white card blank with some of the clear stamps that came with this issue - one was a train ticket, one was a passport stamp, one was a postmark that you might get on a postcard and so on. I stamped them in different coloured inks randomly over the card, then cut a circle from a piece of paper that came with the magazine with a map design. I cut a border from the same paper and stuck it around the edge of the card.

I stamped the plane stamp onto brown paper and cut around it, and stamped the sentiment onto white card which I mounted onto brown card and added those to the card as well.

I'm sending this to My Time to Craft where the challenge is a stamped background, Simply Create Too where the theme is 'for a male' and Ellibelle's Craft Wednesday where the theme is 'make it masculine'; Always Fun Challenges - for a male/dad and Stamps and Fun where the theme is travel and holidays.                 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Don't Worry Bee Happy card

This card was made using a few stickers I was given by a friend; I don’t know where she got them from. The stickers were quite large, taking up most of the space on a blank card, so for a while I didn’t know what to do with them.

I decided to use one of the stickers as the background; it is a brown sticker with a few yellow and brown honeycomb shapes in the middle. I cut around the sentiment from another one of the stickers, and found some tiny bee stickers from another set and dotted them around the card.

With the colours I think this card is quite masculine so it would be suitable for a man or a woman.

I’m sharing it with Little Red Wagon where the theme is ‘to bee or not to bee’

 and Tuesday Taggers where the theme is ‘for the boys’

plus Unicorn Challenge where the theme is masculine.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018- week 24

We had a very successful weekend at my parents - I say successful because it was the furthest S had been in a car (she's now 14 weeks old) and we didn't need to stop en route, she slept really well in the travel cot and apart from posseting milk all over the dress my mum bought her, and met her cousin C for the first time.

As it was a busy weekend I hadn't so much as thought about food for this week though we do have plenty in the freezer, and being on maternity leave means I can go and do more food shopping whenever I want - though the little lady does have a schedule of activities I need to fit it around, like baby massage and My Gym!

Leftovers from the weekend

I'm taking S into work to meet everyone today so want a dinner that won't take me long - I'll do something from the freezer with chips

mackerel fillet with new potatoes and garlic based on this recipe for me; chicken fajitas for him (bit of a faff to cook two totally different things but my husband doesn't eat fish!)

Lasagne from my batch cooking in the freezer, and beef grillsteak for him. Or, BBQ if the weather is nice - it's not meant to be that hot this week

Butter chicken curry (cheat's sauce from a jar) I planned to do last week but didn't

Lunch fresh pasta and garlic bread
Dinner tacos

Sunday - Father's Day
Lunch bacon sandwich
Dinner Toad in the hole with the new Richmond chicken sausages

Monday, 4 June 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 23

My husband was ill last week so we didn't go to see my family over the weekend after all, so I'm hoping we can go this weekend! Last week's meal plan had a lot of changes besides that, as I had planned to barbecue (or rather, I had planned for my husband to barbecue!) a couple of times based on the weather forecast at the beginning of the week but the forecast changed and it wasn't very nice after all.

Quick dinner as I have to go to a vet appointment for my cat - pasta and smoked salmon for me, pasta and meatballs for him (planned to do this last week but didn't)

Probably something like frozen pizza as my daughter has an appointment at 6pm and I don't know what time I will be back

chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking in the freezer for me, chicken chargrills for him

Possibly barbecue as the weather is meant to be nice - I had to freeze all the barbecue food I bought for last week so there's plenty to choose from!
If we don't barbecue I will do barbecue flavour chicken breasts with potato wedges

Hopefully barbecue again
If not, butter chicken curry

Lunch brunch of pain au chocolat and cinnamon rolls we didn't have last week
Dinner Hopefully with my family this time

Lunch with my family
Dinner I'd promised my husband a takeaway after driving back from my parents last time so I guess the same still applies

Monday, 28 May 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 22

I've had a lovely bank holiday weekend with a birthday barbecue on Saturday at a friend's who lives nearby - most of my friends live hours away so it was lovely to be able to go and hang out in their garden in an easy, low key way - the highlight was the company of course, plus the weather was great (just about OK for my little girl as we kept her in the shade) and the birthday cake came from Konditor and Cook - yum!

Then today we were at another barbecue, this time for two family birthdays - the weather was great (there had been thunderstorms forecast originally) and it was lovely seeing the in-laws and cousins while enjoying a glass of prosecco.

This weekend coming we are visiting my parents for my mum's birthday and my daughter will get to meet her cousin on my side of the family for the first time!

at a barbecue

Meatballs and pasta for him, smoked salmon pasta for me

Chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking in the freezer for me, chicken chargrills for him

Weather is meant to be nice so I think we will barbecue - sausages, chorizo pittas and maybe some potato wedges too

Barbecue - chicken skewers, burgers, garlic bread

Lunch cinnamon swirls and pain au chocolat as an easy quick option before we hit the road
Dinner with my parents

Lunch with my parents
Dinner takeaway or frozen pizza


Sunday, 27 May 2018

Greek Summer Salad and a Photo Board backdrop for better blog photos

I want to tell you about a salad that I made and also a great product I found that will make taking photos for your blog or Instagram better straight away. But first the salad...

We went to a friend's barbecue yesterday which was lovely - my little girl enjoyed laying on a blanket in the shade and watching everything that was going on and meeting some of my friends for the first time. Here's a little photo of her for no reason other than she's cute!

My friend asked us to bring a salad and I decided to make a sort of Greek salad - it was very simple and doesn't really need a recipe! Simply half some cherry tomatoes, cut some feta cheese into cubes, slice some black olives and remove the stones (I actually used ready sliced ones from a jar) and tear some fresh basil leaves. Toss with a glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper for a simple but tasty salad.

I'm really pleased with this photo which I think is called a flat lay in style (i.e. a birds eye view). It was taken on my kitchen table which is made of glass - so it's a terrible surface for photograph and I usually put a mat or table cloth or something on it when I want to photograph food, but my table cloths always have creases and none of my mats are very big.

I came across a company called Photo Boards that makes backdrops for taking photos against. They use 'texture reproduction technology', whatever that is, so the boards look more three dimensional and not like a photo of a piece of wood - I think they actually look like you are using a piece of wood, rather than a large flat piece of PVC. They are lightweight and wipe clean which is great when you are photographing food, come in two sizes (I bought the 60x60cm one, the larger size) and a variety of designs and shades that look like you are photographing against wood, marble, linen etc. They are not cheap at £30 each so I only bought one, but I already want another!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Pink Flamingo and Balloons birthday card

handmade flamingo birthday card
Flamingos are a really popular motif at the moment and one night while feeding the baby I decided they would look really good on a birthday card, and bought a flamingo stamp from Dovecraft on Ebay.

I also bought some die cut balloon shapes - it would be cheaper to buy the die in the long run and cut my own shapes but time is something I don't have a lot of at the moment (I'm writing this while the baby takes a nap but can already hear signs she is waking up!) so I just bought the shapes pre-cut.

I was playing around with shapes and thought the card would look nice with several layered embellishments in different shades of pink - there's quite a lot going on on this card but I really like how it turned out.

To start I covered most of a white square card blank with a piece of pink patterned paper, leaving a small white border clear around the edge. I stamped the flamingo onto a piece of cream card and coloured it pink with a Promarker pen.

I cut a scalloped shape around the edge of a slightly larger rectangle of purple paper (which was actually a recycled birthday card envelope I'd received) and mounted the flamingo card on that. I found a wide glittery pink ribbon in my stash that I'd bought and never used - it is quite wide and very pink and glittery so a bit OTT for most cards but I decided it worked for this one! I stuck that across the middle of the card using double sided sticky tape and mounted the flamingo topper on that.

The final touches were two die cut balloons, one in pink and one in purple, and a stamped 'happy birthday' sentiment from the 'Say it with stamps' set from All Night Media on a piece of the same purple paper as the topper which I cut out with a wavy line. The perfect card for someone who likes a bit of glitz and glamour!

Here are some of the products I used:

I'm sharing this with Stamplorations where the theme is 'things with wings'; Crafty Ribbons challenge, As You Like It where the theme is pink or blue, and Creatalicious Challenges where anything goes with the option of 'all that glitters'. As I re-used an old envelope I'm also sharing it with Use Your Stuff where the theme is upcycle/recycle, plus Addicted to Stamps challenge where the theme is 'ribbons galore'.

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 21

There's another bank holiday this weekend which doesn't mean as much as it used to now I'm not at work, but it will be nice to have my husband around for three days! We are going to a barbecue on the Saturday with friends and another one with family on Sunday and are also planning to barbecue at home a couple of times this week as my husband loves to use the Weber grill... so that's a lot of barbecue food!

Pie and mash (pies bought from Waitrose rather than made)

Forecast to be the nicest weather all week so I think we will barbecue -  including Ocado recipes for chorizo and pesto flatbreads and barbecued new potatoes and griddled halloumi with herbs

Also supposed to be lovely weather so we might as well finish up the barbecue food!

Chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking for me, chicken chargrills and mashed potato for him

Chicken goujons and chips for him, fishfingers and chips for me

Lunch - bacon sandwich
Dinner- at a barbecue

Lunch - breakfast burritos
Dinner - roast chicken unless the weather is too hot and I decide to do something else!