Me And Mine – July

It’s been ages since we joined in with the Me And Mine linky which is such a shame as I really want to have more photos of us as a foursome. It’s so hard to get both little ones in one place and to actually get them to look at the camera.

So I have lots of photos of the girls with their Dad and a sprinkling of photos of me with them ( I take the photos normally) and maybe just 3 or 4 of all of us. Anyway I was determined to get one this month so here is our attempt at an impromptu family photo on a recent walk around the estuary behind our house.

It’s not the best quality photo but in years to come I won’t be looking at it pointing out photography flaws but remembering those moments of us when Chloe was still small and tucked in the carrier and Izzy ran around free as a bird on warm summer evenings. I love this:

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And it certainly beats our other two attempts:

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dear beautiful

Camp Bestival Week 2014

It’s finally here. The week of Camp Bestival. It’s so close I can smell the bacon, feel the bubbles on my face and hear the roar of the crowd as Mr Tumble jumps on stage.

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Last year at Camp Bestival was hard for me. I was pregnant and as a family we had a really stressful few months. Looking back I shouldn’t have gone really as I spent the whole time worrying about whether my pregnancy was going as it should or if I would need to dash off to hospital for the 100th time. I went for Izzy and she loved it. Anyway this makes this year all the more special. I have more energy ( even with a teething baby) TWO children to enjoy the magical world of Camp Bestival and we are glamping in a Hotel Bell Tent offering.. Plus this year CB has ALL the food..yes even more than in previous years.

This post is just a quick rundown of a few things we are looking forward to at this years festival:

1. Mr Tumble – he’s the top of the list every year I think and seriously one of the festival highlights for us. He puts on a brilliant show and it’s incredible to watch the children as he comes on stage.

2. Pretending I’m more than just a 30 something mum whilst dancing away to Basement Jaxx.

3. The food… The food.. The food. Smokestak, DJ BBQ, Paellaria along with Los Churros Amigos and some Purbeck icecream to finish up? I think so. Breakfast around the tent some days and hot chocolate while the children sleep blissfully in bed (HA HA HA) and even a frozen cocktail or two.

4. Listening to some comedy..with Milton Jones.

5. Getting back to nature with Project Wild Thing and The National Trust 50 things project.

6. Meeting up with my fellow Camp Bestival bloggers. There has been a real community feel amongst us over the past month and we have been sharing camping tips and discussing the very best non glass alcohol there is.. :-) It will be great to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones as well.

7. We are also hoping to pop into the sneeze free garden hosted by Piriton which looks like a lovely spot for a family picnic.

8. Having toast and watching the crowds go by in the evening sat at The Soup Library:

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And just to finish off some final packing tips:

Multitasking products:

You need to pack as light as possible whilst also ensuring you have EVERYTHING you need for you and your family. It’s hard. Products which do more than one thing always help. Such as:

Johnsons 2in1 shampoo & conditioner:

Great for the kids and we will use it too. We will probably shower twice unless the kids get massively sticky and grubby.

Muddy Puddles 3 in 1 waterproof suit

A waterproof coat which has a removable fleece liner so can be worn in 3 separate ways. Handy for wet days, cold nights or wet and cold nights!

MamaBabyBliss Baby Balm

A balm which can be used on the most sensitive baby skin but also on my skin too. Perfect for when my skin gets a little dry or if Chloe or Izzy get chafed skin.

Frozen cocktail pouches

These frozen pouches act as extra cool packs and taste so good when they begin to defrost. My kind of multi tasking.

Solar Power Buddy from Power On Demand LTD

This clever product can charge mine and my partners phones as well as the Kindle Fire HDX so that if Izzy wakes too early we can perhaps keep her quiet with something fun to watch or read.

Easy Food & Snacks

Yes the food at the festival looks awesome. Unfortunately I’m on a budget so we can’t eat out for every meal.

Snacks are important as I don’t want to be forking out for food everytime Izzy gets a little peckish. We are taking some of the fab new Mamia Fruit pouches from Aldi which are purse friendly and delicious according to my children. Rice cakes, crisps and bags of fruit are also winners. Breakfast biscuits such as Belvita are great on the go breakfast items. Yoghurts for the first day or so when the cool bag is still cool and chunks of cheese and crackers.

Quick and easy meals at the tent include:

Bacon sandwiches
Hot dogs
Pasta with a little olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes – so simple but so good
Soup
Frittata

We also take things like tinned rice pudding, tinned fruit, baked beans, peanut butter and bread for handy snacks.

I should also point out that food tastes SO much better when eaten outside.

Some final points.

There are a very small amount of tickets left. Do not miss out. Visit the Camp Bestival site for more info.

Why not check out some of my fellow bloggers posts before you go:

LoveLife and Pixels

76 Sunflowers

Safe Delivery

We have all been there. When you are expecting something through the mail and it never appears. Or you send a special gift to someone and it doesn’t arrive at their end. Using our standard general mail services this has happened to me on more occasions recently than I would like to admit and seems to be getting worse.

I sent some baby treats to a friend using good old R.Mail recently and they simply didn’t turn up. The items weren’t high value so I didn’t send it by signed for or recorded mail and on complaining to my local post office I was told there was simple nothing they can do.

Now if I need to send something and want to be assured it will arrive on time, in good condition and at the right place I use a specialised delivery service. There are lots of companies offering various services these days. Most even pick up from your house which is always a bonus if you are a busy mum like me.

Did you know TNT even offer a same day collection and delivery service? Handy for those little emergencies!

I’ve also been using Ebay a lot lately to shift some of my old maternity clothes and products that I no longer use and it’s great to be able to give buyers a tracking number or company they can call to chase up their purchase. My feedback has increased and lots of positive comments from customers regarding speedy posting.

As a blogger I receive a lot of parcels. My postman usually has a few for me every week and I now seem to know most of the local parcel delivery men – it’s been interesting for me to find out which ones are reliable and which ones will leave my parcel out in torrential rain!

One of my recent parcels contained this lovely hamper:

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* This post is in collaboration with TNT.

My Hotter Moment – Hotter Shoes Review

I recently attended a blogger night at Hotter Shoes in Cardiff. Not only was it wonderful for once to not have to travel to London for an event but it was a truly lovely evening meeting up with my fellow Welsh bloggers.

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First up we listened to Melanie Killilea give a talk about how Hotter began and how they have grown over the past 15 years. I’ll be honest and tell you I had it in my mind that Hotter was a bit of an older woman’s brand and that I wouldn’t be too keen on the shoes but I was wrong. And happy to admit to it.

Yes some of the shoes are all about comfort rather than cool but their range is so popular year after year that why would they end that? They have shoes which are just comfy shoes and then they have shoes which are comfy shoes but also ( in my eyes) really lovely and pretty funky shoes.

We were invited to choose a pair for ourselves and I really struggled between the skater type shoes, the gorgeous brown pumps ..and the blue/brown deck shoes. The only reason I opted for the pumps in the end is because I have so many types of deck and skater shoes that I wanted something different. I’m glad I did as they go with everything, they look pretty and feel so much comfier than any shoe of this type that I own.

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Have you been into a Hotter shop? Have you had a Hotter moment? I definitely did. Why not check out their website? You may be pleasantly surprised.

For all of you lucky readers you can claim 10% off some fabulous shoes or bags:
Please use the code: PKCTEN
10% off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to 10% off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers.

And finally how about winning a gorgeous new handbag?

Yes you can win this pretty Juliet handbag:

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It’s super simple just fill in the rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Around The World In Food

When I was asked to write a recipe based on a country involved in the Commonwealth games I immediately planned a meal around food I had tasted years ago on a volunteer trip to The Gambia. Food prepped and ready to cook I found out that The Gambia actually withdrew from the games last October – oops.

I guess I’m not that sports minded.

I decided I would still go ahead and make my Gambian Domodah recipe but add to it some Indian Flatbreads and Mango Lassi – India is still in the Commonwealth games :-)

Domoda was by far our favourite meal we had on our trip to The Gambia and it was fun trying to recreate it. I made adaptations to a recipe from the WYCE charity cookbook. You can read more about our trip to Madina Salaam in The Gambia here.

My Take On Domodah

500gram of lean diced beef
2 roughly chopped sweet potatoes
2-3 large tomatoes (deseeded)
2 red onions
2tbsp of tomato puree
2 vegetable stock cubes
1.5 cups of smooth peanut butter
4 cups of water mixed with a little tomato purée or tomato juice
1/2 small red chilli
2tbsp of sunflower oil

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Heat your oil in a large saucepan and brown your beef. Add your sweet potatoes, 1 cup of your water and vegetable stock cubes. Stir and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Dice your onions and tomatoes and mix together with your diced chilli – I cheated here and threw them in the Vitamix. Add to your beef along with your remaining water, tomato paste and peanut butter and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes or so.

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Serve with rice, flatbreads and something cool and refreshing to drink.

* You can add more chilli if you prefer a hotter dish – mine was for my toddler to eat also so I kept it mild. You can add carrots and aubergine instead of sweet potatoes if you like or any veg you want to throw in.

Indian Cumin Spiced Flatbreads

250g of Plain Flour
1tbsp of Chilli and Garlic Rapeseed oil ( normal rapeseed oil is fine)
150ml of warm water
1/2tsp of sea salt
1/2tsp of ground cumin

Mix together the flour, cumin and salt. Mix together your water and oil before slowly adding it to your dry mixture. Stir together to combine until it forms a dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and stretchy. Cover and leave for 20 minutes. Roll into a sausage shape and cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece out until approx. 2mm thick and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Place a large frying pan onto high heat and wait until the pan is very hot, almost smoking. Place your dough in the pan, each side should take 1 minute or so. You can tell if the bottom is done as it will start to bubble on top. Some blackened scorched bits are normal and make it taste even better.

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We also had delicious Mango Lassi – a combo of mango pulp, yoghurt and ice. Yum. Recipe and pics to follow soon.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, it was really nice to cook something different and it brought back some lovely memories of our trip to Africa

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*’I was sent a food shopping voucher to cover my costs for this recipe.

Festival Cooking

We are off on our first festival holiday as a foursome next week and although we are excited its a little daunting too. Having to pack everything we need for everyone. Then having to think about food too..

There is a pretty amazing food line up at this years Camp Bestival so we will definitely be partaking of those delights some of the time but I’m on maternity leave so I do actually have to be a little thrifty for the most part.

Which means we will be cooking a lot of our meals in the festival fields.

Now Camp Bestival has a great set up in all of their standard, glamping and campervan fields with designated cooking areas and washing up areas but not every campsite or festival will have that.

A pop up or collapsible wash bowl is really handy:

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Cooking in the outdoors especially with children and tents around can be dangerous so I’m loving the idea of this Flameless cookbox from e-outdoor.co.uk

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It uses a water activated heat pack and is even safe to use INSIDE your tent. Brilliant huh?

Our first two years at Camp Bestival we used a traditional camping stove and made meals such as frittata and omelettes along with the usual camping staples of bacon, beans and sausages.

We normally take a flask to fill up with boiling water in the morning and use throughout the day if we want a cup of tea.

And we always take a small milk pan to make hot chocolates to have just before bed:

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I will be writing a post this weekend about all the meals we plan to cook at Camp Bestival and also the ways in which we will be cooking it so look out for that.

What are your campsite specials? Are there any meals you always make when at festivals?

*This post is in collaboration with e-outdoor.

Sleep Tight Baby – Snoozeshade Review

When Izzy was a young baby she would only sleep if it was entirely dark. I would cover her pram/car seat etc with blankets if we went out anywhere and it was truly annoying as they never hooked on correctly or stayed on if it was windy etc.

Recently we have been sent a snooze shade to review and I really wish I’d had this two years ago. Since receiving it about two months ago we have used it every day. Yes every single day. If we go anywhere it’s attached to the buggy or car seat and even at home if she needs a quick nap in relative peace ( with a toddler around) then I pull it over the pram and it’s instant calm. Well not always.. It’s not magic after all but she definitely sleeps for longer stretches. Add to that it looks nice and protects babies from sun and bug bites – it’s a real winner in lots of ways.

We have used it on two different buggies and car seats with ease, very simply to attach and when not in use we simply roll it back. We use it sometimes just when Chloe is a little fed up after being over stimulated – everyone needs peace for five minutes especially when you are so cute that everyone wants to poke and prod at your chubby cheeks ( that’s Chloe not me )

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It’s been everywhere with us. To Cornwall on holiday, to the beach.. To Britmums live. It’s brilliant in sunny weather and even provides some mild protection from rain when you forget the covers.

I’m going to add a video later this week so you can see how easy it is to use but I wanted to post this review quickly as I have a £5 off voucher code for you to use and with summer coming it’s the ideal time to buy it:

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* This snoozeshade was gifted for the purpose of this review.

It’s Ryvita.. But Not As We Know It

When I was younger I always thought of Ryvita as a diet food. Bearable when cutting calories but no fun any other time surely.

Whether it has changed a lot over the years or my tastes have ..ahem..matured I don’t know but I really enjoy them these days whether I’m dieting or not.

I love them with soft cheese,tomatoes and basil for a light but indulgent treat:

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Recently I was invited to try out some of their new crispbreads and recipe ideas and I didn’t need to be asked twice.

We tried out this recipe from Ryvita for a raspberry ripple ice cream sandwich.

We didn’t include jam as we preferred the tart taste of the fresh berries and we added homemade salted caramel ice cream instead of vanilla..we may also have had open top sandwiches as somebody ate the other crispbreads. But wow. I would have no problem serving this as a dessert to friends at a dinner party.

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It’s definitely worth taking another look at the latest Ryvita range . My favourites are the black pepper crackerbreads and sunflower seed and oat Crispbreads. Delicious and unless you top them with full fat homemade icecream they are pretty good for you too.

* I was sent crispbreads and a shopping voucher to try out the new recipes.

Meal Planning Made Easy With Meal Prep

Most weeks I meal plan. I find it easier if I have some kind of idea of what I’m cooking that week. Of course sometimes things change, perhaps we go for an impromptu meal out or go over my parents etc but for the most part we eat the meals I’ve planned at the beginning of the week.

What I’ve started to do which makes a big difference to the way I cook our meals is spending a few hours on a day when my OH takes the little ones for a trip to the park doing meal prep. Last week for example I cooked chicken thighs, sausages and gammon steaks in the sous vide machine in one afternoon. Then I quick chilled them ready for meals in that week. Whilst they were in the sous vide I chopped vegetables and browned mince ready for spag Bol, I boiled potatoes ready to mash and mixed dough for bread.

In two hours I more or less completely prepared meals for four days and it made life so much easier.

I’m doing the same today.

Today’s prep work:

*Sous vide chicken thighs ( you could just oven cook if you don’t have a sous vide) and sausages
*Defrost ribs and minced beef from freezer
*Chop sweet potatoes for wedges
*Dice and boil potatoes for rosemary parmentier potatoes
*Chop onions and carrots
*Cook chick peas ready for curry and burgers
*Make dough ready for bread rolls
*Make a batch of waffle batter
*Grate cheese
*Dice peppers and cucumbers

This weeks meal plan

I’ve decided to stop setting meals for specific days so I just have one of these meals on whatever days we want.

*DJ BBQ chicken thighs with s.potato wedges and salad

*My veggie bean burgers in homemade bread rolls served with spicy rice

* Smoky 48hr Ribs with parmentier potatoes

* Sausage Casserole with homemade soda bread

* Domodah – this is a Gambian recipe which I haven’t cooked in several years so will be interesting to see how it turns out. I make it with chicken but you can also use beef.

* Lasagne with a big salad

Breakfasts are usually cereal and fruit but waffles on one day as treat.
Lunches are usually lighter meals of sandwiches or soup… Or you know naan bread pizzas with leftover saag aloo :-)

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