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3 Essentials for Your Newborn’s First Trip to the Beach

Travelling with a newborn baby can be challenging. Aside from the hassle of carrying all their equipment, you need to plan their feeds and nap times around your schedule. And if you have older kids to deal with too, you may find leaving the house to be stressful at times.

(Collaborative Post)

The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your annual family holiday. If you and the rest of the family fancy a day or week at the beach, baby can come too.

The important thing is to be well prepared. Whereas you can ‘wing it’ with a toddler or an older child, babies have quite specific needs. They may require a certain brand of baby milk or a particular size of nappy. You can accommodate these things if you head somewhere with shops, but a day on the beach is trickier, as shops won’t be so readily available.

Make a list before you leave the house. Note down everything you would typically use in a normal day and make sure you pack it in the car or your bag. Include an extra change of clothes and some spare nappies. It is better to be well prepared than not have everything you need.

UV Protective Clothing

The main risk to a newborn baby is the sun. A baby’s skin has no natural protection, so they are vulnerable to sun damage. It is sensible to apply lots of sunblock to your baby’s face and body, but UV protective clothing provides an extra layer or protection. There are fabrics that have been developed to filter out harmful UVA and UVB light, so your baby is protected at all times, on the way to the beach and while you take them for a paddle.

A trendy rash guard vest will ensure your baby looks stylish while staying safe in the sun. A boys rash guard from Folpetto comes in several colours and sizes and is perfect for young children.

A Sun Shelter

Babies shouldn’t be out in the sun for long. Therefore, a sun shelter is an excellent accessory for a long day on the beach. It will provide some much-needed shade and give you a safe place to change nappies, feed, and put your newborn down for a nap. Sun shelters are like pop-up tents. They are easy to erect and provide a visible base for the rest of the family to head back to after a dip in the sea. Look for one that is large enough to accommodate your baby’s equipment and beach accessories.

Portable Crib

If you drive to the beach, you can transport your baby in his car seat. If you walk to the beach, he can lie in his pram, but it may be tricky to shift the pram over the sand, so a baby sling could be easier. However, if your baby goes to the beach in a sling, he has nowhere to take a nap when you arrive. Since you may not want to place him on a sandy towel, consider taking a portable crib or bassinet. This provides a safe place for your newborn baby to sleep between feeds and nappy changes. Look for a lightweight Moses’s basket or similar.

These are the main items, but there are zillions of other useful items worth packing in your baby backpack. Hand sanitiser is very useful, as it protects you from nasty bacteria and helps to ensure your hands stay hygienic after changing a smelly nappy. Don’t forget to pack nappy sacks too, as carrying around a dirty nappy when there are no bins is likely to be unpleasant on a hot day.

Dornoch Beach
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The Do’s and Don’ts when Storing Fine Wines

(Collaborative Post)

Fine wine storage is an art, and if you’re unfamiliar with the whole process, you could end up making mistakes that will have a negative on your wine’s quality and not allow it to develop and age the way that it should. If you want to preserve your fine wines the right way, there are some strict rules that need to be followed. In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the things you should do and avoid when storing fine wines.

Do Consider a Wine Storage Facility

If you’re serious about your wines and look at them as an investment, then it would be wise to consider storing them with a wine storage company. Fine wine storage is not something to be taken lightly, especially if your goal is to pass them down or resell them, so handing the wine storage process over to a company that is familiar with vintage wine storage is a wise decision. These companies usually have underground cellars which have the perfect conditions for fine wines and will also allow you to record the condition and duration of storage, which will make appraising and reselling your wines easier. If you want to know more about the process in general, you can always check this guide to fine wine storage.

Don’t Expose them to Light

Wines are very sensitive to UV rays, so you should do everything in your power to protect them from sunlight and fluorescent lights. Dark bottles are already better for wine storage, but they won’t be enough to completely protect your wines from light. Delicate white wines in particular are prone to light damage, so take extra precautions with them.

Heat is also an enemy of good wine, so make sure that you store your wine away from any heat source like radiators, hot water heaters, furnaces or any appliance that emits heat. Wines should ideally be kept at about a 13c to 14c temperature for optimal results.

Do Check Humidity Levels

Besides light and temperature, humidity also plays a major role when storing your wines. Store them in an environment that is too dry, and the cork might dry out and let air in, which could ruin them. This could also lead to leakage. At the other extreme, if you store your wines somewhere that is too humid, you might have to deal with mould and contamination. The humidity of the room you choose to store your wines in should hover around the 60% mark. This will allow your corks to remain fresh and expanded.

Don’t Put Your Wine on Your Fridge

Some people just put their everyday wines on top of their fridge out of habit. But that’s one of the absolute worst places for a bottle of fine wine. Not only do refrigerators give out heat, but the vibrations they emit are bad for vintage wines. Vibration will affect the way the wine ages and tastes. Not only that, but your bottles will most likely be exposed to direct light if you store them there. So, whatever you do, make sure that your never store any vintage wines on top of your fridge if you want them to age properly.

Storing fine wines doesn’t have to be difficult once you know the basics. If you follow the few simple tips in this article, you’ll allow your wines to develop to their full potential and get the most out of your investment.

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How to Make a Playroom

This is a collaborative post.

When your kids start to grow up and become a little more independent, it can be a relief. As they begin to play imaginatively by themselves, you get a little of your life back, and are at least able to work around the house without needing to care for them every moment of the day.

This time of their lives comes with new responsibilities for their parents though: you need to make sure you they’re safe and stimulated even as they develop the capacity to keep themselves amused and pursue their own games and imaginative life. Today let’s look at some top tips for constructing a play room that will keep your young children safe and entertained.

Creating Space

The first you need to do is clear a space. Whether your play room is actually just a corner of your lounge, a basement, or a whole spare room you can devote the purpose, you need to make sure it’s not also being used for storage. You don’t want to run the risk of your newly strong and mobile child pulling an old box of clutter over on their head and hurting themselves. The whole idea of making a safe play space for your kids is that you’re able to leave them there for short periods and not worry about them!

So start by looking into storage options that let you clear out a room. If you look into byStored self storage you’ll find a well priced solution that also includes free pick up of your items to store so you don’t have to worry about driving them over – an extra advantage when you have a highly mobile and curious toddler to take care of.

Controlling Chaos

One issue of a creating a room for your children to play in is that’s prone to become a disaster area! While you can start teaching them to tidy up after themselves when they’ve finished playing, it doesn’t always go well with boisterous toddlers.

You can try and control the chaos by focusing it on specific areas. Turning one wall into a chalk board your toddlers can scribble on to their heart’s content is a good way to avoid finding original crayon artworks on other walls, or total chaos on the floor.

Similarly, if you cover the crates and boxes you keep your children’s toys and supplies in with thick brown paper, that gives them another safe place to draw, and really make the room feel their own!

One you’ve added their toys, and softened sharp corners with cushions, and other simple safety measures, you’ll have a playroom your children can enjoy to their heart’s content while you enjoy a few little periods of independence each day.

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Olive Oil Buyers Guide by Jamie’s Italian

This is a Collaborative Post.

Deciding which olive oil to buy isn’t always an easy thing to do.  I know I’ve spent time looking at labels and trying to decide which is the best option for me.  In the past, I’ve always tended to go with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, just because it sounded better, but even I know that’s a naive way to make a decision on food ingredients.  I found this infographic intriguing, mostly because it is giving us the information we need, to check on the quality of an oil for ourselves.

I now know that for baking and frying, I’ve been using the wrong oil….which I knew for myself, as I wasn’t happy with it and had switched to Rapeseed for frying, but Extra Virgin for salad dressings, but now I’m keen to try Light Olive Oil for myself for bread making and Pure Olive Oil for frying.  If I’m honest, I had no idea, at all, that Oils had such a large range of flavour options.  I’d be keen to know which brands sit at which taste level.

I’d always presumed that Italy was the largest producer of Olive Oil for us, here in the UK, so it was a bit of a surprise to find out that it’s actually Spain.

Enjoy, and I hope this helps you as much as it has me.

The full infographic which was created by Jamie’s Italian, is a beautifully crafted visual guide to Olive Oil, that not only gives the different types of oil, but also suggestions on cooking and doing the tasting for ourselves.



From Visually.






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What about knives?

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If you’re a food fan, admit it, an addiction to knives begins to stalk us.  It’s even worse if we’ve had a great knife, lost it, and have never managed to replace it.

I have to admit, that I’d love to be a bit of a knife snob, and I’ve written about different knife sets in the past, however, the loss of my favourite large chopping knife, that cost me £70, way back when I was a student, hit me hard.  I’d cared for, nurtured, and sharpened that knife lovingly for years.  Not only that, but the rest of the knives in my knife roll also went missing during a kitchen refit.  I  have no idea if I threw them out by mistake, or if my hubby did, or if they got lifted.  Whatever the reason for them leaving my home, I’ve sadly missed having them in my life and I can’t even remember the brand.  For the whole set, I know I’d be talking many many hundreds of pounds these days, and it’s just not an option for our budget.

For me, right this moment, it’s all about the vegetable knife.  Mine is incredibly bad.  I did love one that I bought from Tesco years ago, and liked it so much, I bought another.  My middle child used one to open a tin of paint, and snapped the whole top off.  The the other one was the victim of a teenage frying pan accident, where it was left in the pan while it was on, and melted the rubber grip.  When I tried to find a replacement, I couldn’t find one I liked.  I’ve never got on with tattie peelers and much prefer a knife with a small blade, but the ones these days seem to have quite long blades, and are a bit uncomfortable to hold.

Anyway, I think we all get the message, that great quality knives make cooking far easier than heavy blunt lumps of metal, but finding a full quality set for under 200 £ is a mission for all of us.

I’ve had the Edge of Belgravia Precision set in the past, which retails at around £70 at the moment, and while mine still gets a lot of use, although I am now missing the paring knife, as it got removed to go to a fishing trip, and never got returned.  Remind me why I let my hub and teens into the kitchen again !
As much as I love the remaining knives left in this set, I’m again, on the hunt for a vegetable knife…
What I look for:
  • Good quality at a great price.
  • Sharp.  Actually, can I add this about four or five times.  I really dislike buying blunt knives.
  • Comfortable handle.  Not slippery, shiny or metal.  Nobody wants a sharp implement slipping out of their hands like a freshly caught fish.
  • Non rusting.  Perhaps this isn’t an issue these days with modern technology.  Over the years, I’ve thrown out knives due to the start of red rot.
  • Has a knife block that fits on my counter.  I do like the Edge of Belgravia one much more than regular knife blocks where crumbs can gather in the slots.
  • 3″ blade for paring/vegetable knife, with comfortable rubber handle.

You know what, as I wrote this post, I hunted out the vegetable knife I am using, and I’m so ashamed of it, I can’t bring myself to post an image of the battered, half melted piece of metal.

I managed to figure out it’s a Kitchen Devils knife, so I started a hunt for it.

When I checked Lakeland, I found out it has been discontinued, I headed over to Amazon.    Yes, I round my knife, although it’s £8.95, but to be honest, for what it’s worth to me, as a great wee vegetable and fruit knife, I instantly popped 3 into my shopping bag to buy.  1 for now, and 2 to hide for the future, just in case kids and the man decide to use one of them as a fishing wire tool too…..

I don’t know about you, but guarantees on a knife don’t tend to be something I tend to look for, as I never have any idea whatsoever where the receipt is after a few years.  I doubt the Kitchen Devil people would take back my current sad excuse for a veggie knife.

What do you think about when you’re looking for a new knife set?  Happy knife hunting all.







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Why it’s important to keep flies out of your kitchen?

Collaborative Post

Flies can be a real nuisance in our homes.  They’re frustrating and annoying, with that constant buzzing noise around your head, and that’s not to mention the potential for spreading disease.  The spread of disease is something you want to avoid, especially in the kitchen, where our food is prepared on a regular basis, and good hygiene routines are essential.

Saying all that, getting rid of flies from your kitchen should form part of any hygiene routine we have in place, but it’s not easy to get fly control perfect, as those little flying things have a knack of escaping even the most energetic of fly swatters.


That says it all really.  House flies are not fussy about spending their time in clean areas. In fact, they prefer mucky filth, and revel in the internals of a rubbish bin, and we’ve all seen them swarm around dog poo.

After all that, they fly in through an open window or door, and flit around, from room to room inside our homes, spreading their lovely germs as they go.  If we don’t get rid of them straight away, they’ll land on our kitchen work surfaces, tables, and any uncovered food left lying around, or set out for the next meal.  Salmonella has been potentially linked to house flies, which are known to be carriers of more than 200 types of bacteria, so getting rid of flies should be a priority in our homes.

How to help stop flies invading your home.

We can’t actually avoid finding flies in our homes, especially from spring to autumn, but we can reduce the risk in our homes by taking a little action.

  • Make sure that any gaps and cracks in the exterior walls of your home are sealed up.
  • Make sure that debris is cleared away from the exterior of your property.
  • Keep outside rubbish areas clean and tidy, with lids on.  Open rubbish tends to attract flies and the closer they are to your house, the easier it is for them to get in.  Wash your outside bin with hot soapy water.
  • Consider hanging screens on windows and doors you leave open frequently, to make it harder for flies and other insects to get inside.

What if flies do invade?

Let’s face it, you only have to open a door, and flies can get into your kitchen. You need to make sure that you get rid of them straight away, so that they do not have chance to spread disease in your home.

Taking preventive measures can help reduce the amount of flies that get into your property. But, you need to look out for those that do get in, and make sure that you get rid of them straight away.

  • Make sure that food is kept in the fridge or covered up.
  • Dispose of waste products properly and keep it outside, eg cat litter and nappies.
  • Clean your sinks and hobs regularly with hot soapy water.  Any food residue will attract the flies to your home.  Remember that flies can breed in dirty mops and cloths, so don’t leave them lying around.
  • There are several home remedies that you can use, to help you get rid of flies. You can also opt to use a fly spray, or a UV-A lamp which attracts flies and then kills them.
  • Grow insect repelling herbs, such as mint, rosemary and lavender on your window sills, to deter them coming in.
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10 Ways To Get Your Kids Drinking More Water

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Everyone who reads my blog, knows my mother is now pretty much bedridden after a stroke, but she still knows what she likes and what she doesn’t.  I spent my whole childhood being told that I needed to drink more water, and even my own kids have been at the sharp end of the grandparental water police, but there she is, now only eating and drinking what she likes, and not what she thinks is good for her, and unless it’s a glass also filled with ice, water isn’t ever going to be her go to drink in future.

I think if we’re realistic, we all relate water to our mother figures and being coerced into drinking something we’d rather not.  I was determined not to be part of the water police when my kids were growing up, but I still wanted them to take in as much of the good stuff without too much sugar being added.

It started one breakfast time, when my kids got up, poured glasses of milk, gulped them down and left for school.  Milk turns to food in the stomach, so technically, they’d had nothing to drink, and no water.  I couldn’t blame them though, as straight from the tap, water tastes pretty horrible.

Here are my tips to getting the water intake up.

1 – Drink it yourself.

Our kids often end up being mini versions of ourselves.  If we want them to drink water, we have to be a good example and drink it ourselves.  My morning drink of choice used to be a diet soda, so I cut that one out and started having a glass of water with lots of ice while the kids were still at home, and it’s satisfying on a hot day, but doesn’t tickle my taste buds at all.

2 – Cool bottles.

When sports bottles began to become popular among kids, I paid attention.  It might cost me £10, but with the right bottle, my kids would take bottles of water out with them as they play with their pals, for football sessions, and just to look cool.  Don’t underestimate the power of cool…..

3 – Ask schools to help.

Our local schools were very proactive.  They banned soda and high sugar drinks, and only allowed kids to have water bottles on their desks, to sip from during lessons.  Being able to have a drink during class was a huge proactive campaign that worked a treat.  More schools should do this.

4 – Chart incentives.

With my middle child with learning difficulties, chart incentives worked great.  I pinched the idea from school and created a water chart based on glasses of water a day.  This is how we worked it.

  • One glass of water a day for 7 days =  new pencil.
  • Two glasses of water a day for 7 days = pick a sweetie from the shop.
  • Three glasses of water a day for 7 days = movie night with mum and dad.

5 – Jazz it up.

There are lots of ways to do this.   Some of the following are my favourites.

  • Add fruit for an infusion.  Lemon and lime slices, berries or much more.
  • Add sugar-free cordial to disguise the taste.

6 – Make it a smoothie.

There are different opinions on this, but mine is that any water is more beneficial than no water.  I love to take blueberries, strawberries, mango, raspberries and many more base ingredients, freeze them, then add the frozen fruit to a blender with water.  Blitz it up for a healthy smoothie that’s both good for all of us and is packed full of water too.

7 – Make it available.

As daft as it sounds, choosing water might be the last option kids will go for, if there is an alternative in the cupboard or the ridge.  If all that’s available is water, then they’ll drink it.  Use filtration systems to remove the icky tap water taste.

8 – Keep at it.

Two of my kids try to thwart me at every turn when it comes to drinking the H2O these days, but as teens, they have choices, though I am very proud that my middle child picks water as his drink of choice, several times a day.  He’s developed a very healthy relationship with his beverages.

9 – Choose it out and about.

You know the routine.  For a change, you visit an eatery and the first thing you do, is order a soda.  Replace the first drink with a glass of water.  Not only will you save money on the bill, your health will love you for it too.

10 – Make soup.

What!  Well, we all know that home-made is always best.  As well as hiding lots of vegetables we can’t get kids of all ages to eat, and that goes for my mother too, a pot of soup can contain a nice serving of water, used to add the liquid content of the soup.  This is one of my biggest tricks of my life.  If you make it yourself, for every 1.6 litres of soup, there could be approximately 1 litre of water.  That’s nothing to sniff at.

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6 Foods That Aid Restful Sleep

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We all need our sleep. It’s a fact. Because there’s a lot more to a great night’s sleep than the benefits of beauty, let me tell you!

Sleep deprivation can lead to all kinds of physical and mental repercussions, from obesity and heart disease to anxiety and depression. So it should come as no surprise that, in this fast-paced, stressful world, as a society we’ve never slept worse.

There are lots of ways to ensure a better night’s sleep. Paying attention to what the experts say is one – and you’ll find handy tips to improve your sleep on The Sleep Advisor website. Practising mindfulness is another and whether it’s doing a guided meditation before bed or simply relaxing your body and mind with a nice bath before you settle down, this can work wonders for your sleep cycle.

And since the food we eat is basically fuel for the body, there are certain foods we can try to help it shut down when it needs to.

Foods to help you sleep

1. Bananas

It may sound counter-intuitive – aren’t bananas supposed to give us energy? Well yes, that’s true…but they’re also a source of magnesium and vitamin B6, both of which promote feelings of happiness and calm. Plus, alongside magnesium, the potassium that stars in a banana’s make-up is actually a muscle relaxant – so chowing down on a bedtime banana can actually make you feel calmer and physically relaxed. Bonus.

2. Kiwis

The next superfruit of the bowl is New Zealand’s finest export. Nope, I don’t mean the delicious rugby team – I mean the humble kiwi. It packs a powerful protein punch for something so cute and furry. And researchers in Taiwan found that eating a kiwi or even better, two kiwis an hour before bedtime increases the chance of a good night’s sleep. Something about the high levels of serotonin and anti-oxidants, I’m sure they know what they’re talking about!

3. Almonds

With muscle-relaxing magnesium and calm-producing serotonin, this is one nut you should – ahem – go nuts for. Sorry. Have a handful before bedtime to ward off any night time cravings or, for something a bit more substantial, spread a dollop of almond butter on a piece of wholegrain toast. Mmm.

4. Sweet potatoes

For another tummy filler that won’t keep you awake all night, include some sweet potatoes in your evening meal. Their complex carbohydrates keep you fuller for longer and prevent a rumbling tummy from disturbing your snooze fest. Oh, and they have potassium in them, too. Your dreams will never be sweeter.

Tip: Try making sweet potato wedges with tahini on its own, or hummus made with tahini. The sesame seeds within it contain tryptophan, an amino acid that’s linked with aiding sleep. It takes an hour or so to kick in though, so enjoy it as an early evening snack or as part of your dinner rather than dipping in before bedtime.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric has been proved as having a whole heap of benefits. In terms of helping you sleep, it reduces your blood-sugar levels, it boosts your immune system and it eases your digestive system. All of these things can prevent you from falling into a deeper slumber so turmeric kindly removes these obstacles from your path to Snoozeville.

Tip: Add a helping of ground turmeric to your evening meal or stir a teaspoon into some hot milk of your choice. Add half a teaspoon of ginger and sprinkle with cinnamon – they call it ‘Golden Milk’ in India; I like to think of it as a hug for your insides!

6. Yoghurt

Dairy products are rich in calcium. And research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it hard to fall asleep. So having a yummy yoghurt before bed can actually improve your sleep – good news all round.

Now, I’m not giving you an excuse to have 10 bowls of ice-cream with that Netflix series you’re binge watching. Because sugar isn’t known as the most relaxing thing in the world! And lay off the cheese while you’re at it. It may not have been proven as a nightmare enhancer but it can lead to heartburn, indigestion and other unwelcome bed companions.

So stick to yoghurt instead, or if you’re not a fan of dairy, try other calcium-rich foods, like dark leafy greens.

Tuck in and get tuckered out

Next time you’re reaching for a bedtime snack, avoid the coffee and biscuits and whip up a turmeric latte with almond butter toast instead. Sounds like too much effort? Have a banana!

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did come morning.

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A Future Bedroom Refresh for The Teen

Brought to you in collaboration with Teacherboards.

It’s safe to say middlers bedroom is a bit of a stromash at the moment.  He’s a child/teenager, as so many special needs children are, and although he wants to be a teen, he’s still a child at heart. His room badly needs doing, but as with everything else, life moves on, and here we are, with him now a couple of years into teenagehood, and he’s still got transformers curtains and childish decor.  Even he wants it changed.

When Teacherboards got in touch, I was still thinking about how I could possibly change his room into something that still lets him be a child, yet can be quicky and easily turned into a more grown up room for when his brothers friends come round, and he can swiftly, and on his own, make his room blend in to what a regular teenager would see as cool.  I hadn’t found anything that would allow him that privilege.

I did half think about the rainbow felt pinboards, but thought he might think those too girly. 

They come in 20 different colours, with beech surround.  They can be displayed vertically or horizontally, and include a wall fixing kit. These would have been perfect for him a few years ago, for making shapes, puzzles and more, but for this time round, I have been looking for something a bit more grown up.

I’d thought about buying a blackboard or giant sheets of paper for him, and the option of whiteboards were a very real possibility, then I spotted the paint…  Yep, that’s right..  Paint, but not ordinary paint.

I spotted this paint on their website, and I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

Ideapaint – Dry Wipe Whiteboard Wall Paint, in white.

Write on after four days.
• Environmentally compliant.
• 10-year limited warranty.
• IdeaPaint is odourless when dry (after 24 hours) and will cover an area of 4.65m² per package.

It would be perfect for him….  Absolutely and without any doubt whatsoever.

I can just imagine him drawing away on the walls to his heart’s content, never having to worry about what mum and dad will say, and just the thought of having your walls as your canvas, is genius, for all kids I think.  It would also let him quickly wipe away any evidence of squiggly wiggly lines if he wants to look more grown up when his brothers friends are around.

Given the price, at £168.60 including vat for 4.65m² , I could only justify one wall done in this paint, but that would be enough for him, and would keep him a very happy boy indeed..  I’ve never seen this in classrooms but I’m sure some of you out there have seen this in action.  I’d love to know what the kids actually think of it.

Now, all I have to do, is save up the money, and he can have the drawing board of his dreams……

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The Mother of all Teaparties #fairtrade #happymothersday #twitterteaparty

Happy Mothers Day to all.

The Co-operative sent me a lovely surprise gift for Mother’s Day with no expectation that I would post about it, but I think Mother’s Day is one of the most important days of the year.  More so than a birthday really, as the day signifies all that someone thinks of their nearest and dearest.

I didn’t expect anything at all, so my lovely surprise parcel was a nice way to receive an unexpected gift.  I couldn’t make the Twitter Tea Party, so I had my own.

Coop Mother's Day

I think my biggest Mother’s Day tip, would be that mums are more concerned about what we do for them, than what they get.  I’m lucky if I get a bunch of £5 flowers from the local shop and possibly a card if my hub actually remembers mother’s day is coming up, as he would need to buy for the kids :-).

What I’d really like, would be for them to make breakfast for my mum and I, and keep bringing her cups of coffee all day long, to save me going up and down her stairs around 50 times a day.  Now that would be a fabulous Mother’s day break for me.

As it is, we’re lucky enough to have a carer for a few hours this Mother’s Day, so I will be able to take it easy, though I’m due for my next run session, trying to up my 5k time from the ridiculously slow to the almost acceptably slow……

In my parcel were some lovely little gifts.  Thank you Co-op.

Coop Red Devil Cake Coop Proscetto  Coop Fair Trade Tea Coop Fair Trade Earl Grey coop chocolate tulip

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What I’d Like For Mother’s Day

In collaboration with Tesco.

It’s that time of year again when I’m looking for something for my mum, and being who my husband is, with no idea of what I’d like for Mothers Day, I usually end up buying something for myself and he takes the kids to get a bunch of flowers since I can’t do chocolates as a diabetic.  I have horrific memories of some of the disastrous gifts he’s come up with over the years, and I’ve learned to get what I like myself, or drop enormous hints.

I do a lot of shopping with Tesco, so being asked to take a look at their Mothers Day presents range was something I would do anyway, and gave me a good chance to root through the online gift choices on Tesco Direct.

What I’d Choose for Myself

There is just so much to pick from.  We don’t do large gifts for adults in our house, so the range on offer was ideal for me.

Von Shef Snap and Stack Cupcake Storage CarrierTesco Vonshef Snap and Stack Cupcake Storage

I never know what to do with baked cupcakes.  They usually end up squished into a plastic tub, or end up going all over the place.  With a capacity of 24, for £13.99, this storage carrier would be perfect for me.

Quirky Gadget – App Controlled Smart Scale

At £39.99, it’s more expensive that I’d usually consider for Mother’s Day, but I can dream, and I’d absolutely LOVE one of these smart scales.  I’ve looked at them more times that I care to remember.

Tesco App Controlled Smart Scale

If my other half is reading, this is a big nudge, nudge, hint, wink, wink…..  Not only does it guide us through the baking process, it even gives us hints and timers for when to mix, bake or cook.  My gadget girl head can’t wait to try one of these.

Afternoon Tea – Katie Alice Cottage Afternoon Tea Set

How about this to sit down with afternoon tea and a slab of lovely cake?  I think most women appreciate nice crockery, and I’d like a set or two of these in my kitchen cupboards for when friends come round for the afternoon.  Getting myself lovely cups and saucers hasn’t been top of my buying list, so as a present, I’d be delighted with these for £9, which includes a tea-cup, saucer and side plate.

Tesco Katie Cottage Afternoon Tea Set


I almost always have to buy my own.  If my husband bought them too often, I’d wonder what he’d done wrong….  For Mothers Day, he does sometimes let the kids buy me some, and although I don’t particularly like lilies, I like most other flowers, especially ones in either very muted pale colours or very vibrant reds and purples.

My choice would be this Mother’s Day Seasonal Posy at £25, which includes the milk churn, if I could persuade my man to get them.  I’d love something like this on permanent display, but it could get rather pricey, but for a special occasion, they’re gorgeous.

Tesco Flowers Mother's Day Seasonal Posy

Many thanks to Tesco for allowing me to reproduce these images.


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Beef Rostis using Leftovers

In collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste.

These are made from leftovers.  Who wouldn’t want to know how to make something so delicious, and economical, while keeping lots of food waste out of our bins?  You could even win a Slow Cooker with your own tips.  Read on to find out more.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 2 700

Ok, so what’s the issue?  Did you know that around £260 million pounds worth of beef products are wasted each year in our UK homes?  I know I didn’t.  We might be nation of beef lovers, but that’s a lot of wasted meat.

And that’s not all.  There’s also the half eaten sandwich, unfinished steak in a restaurant, or like some of my extended family members, anything that isn’t eaten on the day, is thrown out and never eaten.

I don’t subscribe to that way of cooking, and many of us are on a budget these days, so it makes sense to use our leftovers and put them to good use.  It’s something I do regularly for my own family.


Love Food Hate Waste is launching the Meaty Issues campaign, where they will share our favourite tips, tricks and left over recipes to help us reduce the amount of beef we throw away  at home saving us money and helping the environment along the way.  Farmer and television presenter Adam Henson will also be talking about how we can do our bit to help get the best from our beef.


My Tips

  • Freeze what you can’t use immediately for another day.  I have frozen banana, cucumber, meat, chicken, soups and much much more waiting to be used.  I especially dislike throwing away beef, as it’s so expensive, and if an animal is providing food for me, I like to use as much of it as I can.
  • Make stock from bones to use another day in gravy, soups, stews and casseroles.
  • Measure your ingredients and check portion sizes before grabbing things in the shopping aisle.  I find it easier to shop online for many things, as I tend to buy what I need, rather that just grabbing a big bag while the boys are moaning about being in the shop too long.
  • Meal planning.  It really does help.  This is one thing I really need to get smarter at, as I tend to over shop and have to freeze lots.
  • Recycle.  Having a separate scraps bin really made me take stock of the raw/fresh food that went by way of the bin.  In the days it went into the big bin, I didn’t have a good handle on how much we threw away.  Now I do…..
  • If you don’t have enough of one thing, add something else from your cupboard to pad it out.  This is exactly what I did for my Beef Rostis.  I had a pan full of mashed potatoes, when family cancelled supper at the weekend.  I wanted to use them up, along with a packet of beef slices that my mum had asked for, but hadn’t eaten more than one teensy slice from.


I had nowhere near enough of any one thing for this recipe, so I just threw a lot of different things together, and out came these lovely beef rostis.  Even my husband was well impressed, and he’s quite a picky eater.

I had a load of mashed potato, so I added enough for a large batch of rostis.  My boys ate two each with some mushy peas for supper, so they were very quickly demolished around here.  I’d make these again, in different varieties.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 12 700

Ingredients (Makes 10 Rostis)

800g Mashed Potato.
200g Beef, sliced thinly.
200g Onion, finely sliced.
3 Mini Sweet Peppers, sliced and with seeds removed. I used red, yellow and orange.
50g Carrots, sliced and cubed.
Ruskoline Crumb Dressing.
5 Eggs.
Plain Flour.
5ml Rapeseed Oil.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 700


I used my Actifry with the Snacking basket to cook these, but you can easily use a frying pan or even oven cook them too, although I’ve never actually made rostis in the oven.

Step One

Cook your onions with the peppers and carrots in the rapeseed oil, until fully cooked.

Depending on how you cook, you might need a little more oil.  If yours are already cooked leftover vegetables, you can miss out this step.  I sauteed mine in the Actifry.  Try not to let them turn brown as it spoils the look of the Rosti when they’re cut open.  I took around 10 minutes to cook mine.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 4 700

Step Two

Put your potatoes and beef into a bowl, and add your vegetables and mix thoroughly.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 5 700

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 3 700

Step Three

Get three dishes, and crack three eggs into one, and whisk them up briskly until mixed.  Put Ruskoline into your second bowl, and plain flour into the third.  You can add more of these as you go, if you need it.  I used 5 eggs in total.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 6 700

Step Four

Form your mix into slightly smaller than palm sized balls and flatten them, pressing together to firm them up.  They may be a little moist at this point, which is what the flour is for.  Dip each patty into the flour and make sure it is fully coated.  I flour all my rostis first.  When they are all covered in flour, I finish the next two steps for each rosti in turn, covering it with egg, then rolling each one around in the ruskoline until fully coated.  Be warned.  It’s a messy business.  Kids love making these.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 10 700

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 9 700

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 11 700

Step Five

In my Actifry Snacking Basket, these took around 5 minutes for mine to be thoroughly hot.  You could shallow fry yours or oven bake on a moderate heat for around 20 minutes, or until fully hot inside.

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 8 700

Beef Rostis with Sweet Pepper and Onion 2 700

Now pop on over to Love Food Hate Waste and add your own tips…