Bunny Burner. Still tastes awesome, even though I somehow read 6 minutes instead of 3 under the grill.
Good Friday I was feeling, ‘meh’, burnt out, tired and unable to face the mess from a busy week or even worse the prospect of building even more mess over the Easter holidays. But Mr A volunteered to take the kids food and ingredient shopping, so I cleaned the kitchen and prepared for some baking therapy.
Simnel cakes have been around since medieval times as a sweet treat, it was the Victorians who decided to decorate them with 11 balls to represent the disciples minus Judas. My interpretation, as a ‘heathen’, as Mr A affectionately refers to me, is all about Spring. I am a firm believer we need festivals to see us through the seasons. Continue reading →
Next week me, my Dad and the kids have the long drive down to Gatwick, an overnight stop at the Ibis and then our flight to Bologna. The car journey had been the least of my worries, but today’s guest post has some good tips I hadn’t planned for.
The “are we there yet?” scene in the car journey is almost beyond familiar. And yet it happens all the time for many families who have to take long car journeys. With the Easter break coming up, it’s time to start preparing for long trips to grandparents’ homes and all that means for those of us with small children. Here are 10 tips for making the car ride a pleasanter trip for all involved: Continue reading →
I am really excited about this month’s giveaway. It combines four of my greatest passions: British Summer Time, theatre, food, and time with the one you love. In fact five, I really loved the music behind this show as a kid…have you guessed from the pic?
As I arrived in Nottingham from London at 6pm last night, it hit me it was still light! The clocks are springing forward on Sunday, so going to the theatre of an evening won’t seem so much like forcing myself out of hibernation.
This month’s giveaway is in partnership with Allianz Global Assistance:
Allianz Global Assistance offers quality travel insurances to millions of travellers worldwide and wants to celebrate the start of the British summer with you! Allianz Global Assistance wants to give you the chance to make more use of the additional daylight on offer starting when the clocks go forward on Sunday.
Win an amazing night out with Theatre and Dinner for 2 in London!
PRIZE: Two tickets for the musical “Thriller” in London and a two course dinner in a choice of one of ten restaurants. Drinks are not included. Price includes service charge and VAT. Tickets are for an evening show Sunday-Friday, or the matinee on Saturday or Sunday. For a show in April -June.
My strategy for the school holidays is to write a list with the kids of the things they want to do. This normally means I cannot fail disappoint them, and when they get to the end of the holiday they have a sense of accomplishment. At this age their ideas are normally not too ambitious, the picture above is Miss L’s list from last half term. The worrying stick man pose denotes yoga in case you were wondering. There’s a trip to the park, an indoor picnic and meeting some friends.
This time for once, I am ahead of myself and I have some tricks up my sleeve too.
Closer to home,the stage adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s I was a Rat premières at Nottingham Playhouse over Easter, Miss L are looking forward to seeing it this week. I’m excited about taking her to theatre that is a bit more grown up and sharing a more physical style of theatre with her. I fell in love with physical theatre, when I was a drama student.
photo by Oriana; via Flickr http://bit.ly/10A0fAR
This is a right ‘trick up my sleeve’, but thanks to the Bolognian Tourist Information I am taking part in a #socialmediafreetrip to Bologna, Italy. My Dad, a huge foodie, is excited about joining us. The kids are beyond excited about eating Bologna out of ice cream, tortellini and pizza. Expect lots of Instagram shots of Dad drinking expressos to try and keep pace, me wearing sunnies and sitting in beautiful plazas and the kids chasing pigeons.
I’ve been reading Skimming Stones by Rob Cowen and Leo Critchley.after meeting Rob at a National trust event, so when he sent us all a video on how to make a kite I was inspired to try it myself with the kids. Skimming Stones is all about finding simple, forgotten skills that help us to interact with nature and achieve a deeper connection with our surroundings. Which leads neatly onto…
I want to explore Nottingham Forest, (the woodland, not the football team). It is sad to think so much of this area must have been woodland in Robin Hood’s time, and I feel like every time we try and find the forest I think ‘Is this it?’ but I think we must have missed a huge chunk, so that can be our quest. I am hoping the Forestry Commission can help me find it.
I have Maggy’s new book Red Ted Art up my sleeve, along with tea and biscuits, for a couple of afternoons of happy family crafting.
Or what’s under it? The last haul from under our sofa…
Sofas are a cornerstone of family life and… I have a chance to win a rather nice corner one today.
My mother cashed in her teaching pension to buy a sofa, a beautiful two seater seventies box shaped number from Habitat. It had brown velour cushions, with tiny cream flecks on. The square cushions came off and made fabulous den making material.
We became moulded into it over the years of our childhood, our impressions left in its worn arms and soft hollows. It bore scratches from the cat to one side. Sadly, it went up in flames in a house fire, fortunately the only one of us to lose its life. Continue reading →
Oh yeah, I am smug, not more standing over a hot stove for me.
Panasonic gave me a Combination oven to try out over Christmas. A few months in and it is really making a difference to how we cook. It can combine oven, grill and microwave to make cooking quickly taste just as good as the conventional routes. Panasonic microwaves use different technology, so no blind spots, shrivelled vegetables or need to rotate your food on a plate.
The kitchen is our favourite room in the house, it’s where we always end up, that’s my old and grubby Ikea armchair bottom right. But…it isn’t an easy space, it has 2 doors to the garden and 3 huge windows. It’s cold and draughty. The units are basically an old showroom kitchen that wasn’t ever intended to fit this room. But we don’t have the budget to replace it or knock down walls. So we fight with it daily.
So with the help of interiors expert Jen from Love Chic Living, and The Range who kindly challenged me to do this kitchen makeover, I am hoping to make a real difference to the look of this room.
From a distance it is lovely, but close up is cluttered, grubby and lacking any soft furnishings or those we do have lack any proper hems. The end of the kitchen by the doors into the garden is a dumping ground and most importantly, we have no kettle.
If you are still thinking ‘what is she on about, what a nice kitchen’. I KNOW, I am lucky to have this space. But here’s a close up, this is what gets me down. This is what happens when you have a space that works against you (and when you decide #teamhonk and baking with your kids are more important than cleaning):
I find making interiors decisions tough and if I am honest all that flipping back and forth measuring and comparing fabrics bores me. I am like a little kid who has to be bribed to sit down and finish the job. Which is where having someone like Jen to walk me through a kitchen makeover was amazing. It only took an hour, whereas I could have phaffed on The Range’s huge collection of blinds, cushions and curtains for weeks.
The Range offers amazing value so you can make a real difference on a small budget. An hour after Jen left my house she sent me a list of everything I needed to order from The Range for the kitchen makeover, including the maths and measurements, how easy is that! I can’t believe how much we managed to achieve on an under £300 budget. In fact, I feel really silly for putting off getting some blinds for so long.
Jen’s lovely to chat to, great at helping you make decisions and makes breaking down a kitchen makeover really easy and fun as well, look:
I’m looking forward to revealing Jen’s mood board and the final The Range makeover, very soon, watch this space.
Today’s guest post is written by Emily, as a parent I think her insights into childcare are refreshing, in that they are written as a child and not a parent. My Mum spent ages trying to persuade me to go to camp, as much for me I think, as for her own sanity, looking back I wonder if I missed out?
As a child, I had an au pair (two, in fact) before I was school age and I went to a day camp during the summer holidays. Back then, before the cognisance of adulthood and a general awareness of self, my siblings and I didn’t consider the ramifications of an outsourced childcare – on us or our parents. We just went with it, as children do, and didn’t realize how little time we actually spent with our mum and dad.
When you’re a kid, life is a total mystery and your parents are superheroes. Although you question everything around you, you rarely question the behaviour of your parents. For the first ten or so years of your life, they are the centre of the universe, the omnipresent knowledge machine that offers cuddles and condemnation in equal measure, they are infallible and their decisions make the sunrise. It’s as simple as that. Continue reading →
I’ve stayed in a windmill, but I’ve yet to try a boat as a family holiday experience, however, I know at least one pirate resident who would be well up for it! Over to an expert, today’s guest post by Laura Potts is all about boating holidays…
Boating is in the blood in our family. I grew up sailing and later teaching and crewing; my husband graduated from racing his father’s handmade dinghies on the River Orwell in Suffolk to serving aboard aircraft carriers around the world.
So when the kids came along, it only seemed natural to get them into life jackets and on-board at the earliest opportunity.
This guest post, by Amy Rutter, in association with LG, previews some amazingly futuristic gadgets….self making bed anyone?
You could argue that with the technology and gadgets available on the market today, we’re currently living in the future. Of course, actually, it’s the present, but we’re getting closer and closer to that futuristic world seen in 2015 in Back to the Future 2. I think it’s unlikely that’ll we’ll be quite there by 2015, but we’re not far behind.
Although we don’t have flying cars, we do have rechargeable electric cars on the road.
With most car manufacturers now giving it a stab, the Nissan Leaf is the top-selling motorway-ready electric car, selling 50,000 by February 2013. It produces no greenhouse gas emissions and has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Green Car Vision Award and the 2011 World Car of the Year. The only problem is, as well as installing a charging system at your home, you need to make sure there’s one nearby on your journeys.
The QOOQ tablet is perfect for budding chefs. Designed for even the messiest of cooks, this virtual cookbook is a touchscreen tablet that can handle sticky fingers, splashes of food and extreme heat. It has protected wiring and even sits on slip-proof legs so that it will hold itself like a book stand. Featuring interactive meal planning and an automatic shopping list, this should live in every modern kitchen.
LG launched a new smart TV in Harrods recently which is the world’s first 55-inch OLED TV. OLED means it’s wafer thin but has an amazing picture quality and 3D capabilities. The built in smart TV dashboard lets you swipe through programme options as well as stream films on demand, browse the internet and access social media sites. Fifty years ago, who’d have thought we could recreate the cinema experience in our front rooms?
How much of a drag is it to make your bed in the morning? Well, it’s not a huge pain, but it’d be great if it could be done for us, right? Cue this self-making bed from Spanish furniture company OHEA. When activated, a mechanical arm will straighten the sheets and duvet before lifting and straightening the pillows and dropping them back onto the bed. Luckily, the bed has a safety device which prevents it from making the bed while you’re still in it. That’d be a nasty wake up call.
One of my favourite gadgets in Back to the Future 2 was the pizza oven which let you put in a teeny pizza and 30 seconds later it emerges, 10 times the size and steaming hot. Genius! Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for that invention, but it the meantime we’ve got this pizza ordering button (if you live in Dubai, anyway).