The Big Feastival 2014 Photo Diary

While I get back to normal after a weekend of camping chaos with a baby and toddler here is a little snippet of our time at The Big Feastival:

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Look out for our full review later on this week.

A huge thank you to AEG and Wyldwood cider who made it possible for us to be at the event and made it so much more fun for us while we were there! X

Washing Baby Clothes & That Clean Bed Smell

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

This last week has been a haze of little to no sleep and shopping for washing powder and fabric conditioner to deal with seemingly endless piles of washing and drying. My little family has had a stomach bug which has worked its way around us all..lingering with Chloe for 5 long days and finishing up with my OH yesterday. I have done more washing this week than I’ve ever done in my life.

Poorly littlest girl:

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The sofa cushion covers have had to be washed. Three times.
Baby sleeping bags and pyjamas – about twenty times.
The carpet – at least five times.
The clothes.. Oh the clothes.. So many times.

But worst of all has been the bedding. Because that’s when babies like to be sick. When you are all snug and drifting off into your dreamland because your baby who hasn’t been sick all day so is surely getting better decides to laugh in your face with a whole swimming pool worth of vomit. Sorry for the over sharing.

My poorly big girl who seemed to get over the bug quite quickly:

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Chloe has two favourite times to throw up. Firstly when she is lying in mine or OH’s arms in my bed. Secondly when she is sleeping. In her bed.

I could pass as an Olympic athlete with the haste in which I can jump out of bed and strip it entirely in 5 seconds flat. It’s an acquired skill..which comes with the parent badge.

Some nights we were so tired that the beds and children were stripped quickly and the laundry basket filled before we collapsed back into a bare bed to snatch some sleep. There is no comfort or warmth in a bare mattress.

The only plus from it all is that at least three times this week we have all had clean bedding and there is no better feeling at night than that of clean, fresh bedding. Soft, fragranced sheets are a sure way to help make you feel better right?

Never has there been such good timing for me to need to pop to Asda and do a shop for #collectivebias

Persil and Comfort have joined forces with Tommys and you should see collaborative packs in store soon, they hadn’t yet arrived in mine although there were small leaflets on the shelves explaining about the charity and the collaboration.

Me on the hunt for the special packs:

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For the children I like to use a good quality fabric conditioner for sensitive skin such as Comfort Pure and a non bio washing powder such as Persil non bio.

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We don’t actually have any major skin sensitivities here luckily but they are still so young and their skin is soft and more likely to get irritated.

What do Tommys Do?

What we do:
Tommy’s funds research into pregnancy problems and provides information to parents. They believe it is unacceptable that one in four women lose a baby during pregnancy and birth. They fund research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage and also have freephone pregnancy line that can be called for advice and to chat to a midwife.

I had an extremely problematic pregnancy with my second daughter and quite a few times in the first 5 months I believed I was miscarrying. It was a very scary and dark time for all of us. I fully support Tommys and the work that they are doing to help discover the causes and to aid prevention of miscarriage.

You can read more about our other mums who are supporting Tommys by searching for #mums4tommy on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s been such a long week for us here but thinking about the charity and how many babies are lost just makes me realise how lucky I am that my children are here and that a stomach bug and cold is not really the end of the world.

It’s a good thing someone likes to watch the washing machine hey?

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Win A Munchkin LATCH Starter Set

Another competition for you lovely lot. I do spoil you :-)

This time you could win a LATCH bottle starter set from Munchkin.

Firstly, about Munchkin. As a blogger I work with lots of brands and Munchkin is right there as one of the best. I’ve been a blogger ambassador for them since March and we have been extremely lucky to try out a number of their fantastic products. I know that I can trust their products and that my children will like using them.

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What is LATCH?

With the goal of helping new mums reach their breastfeeding goals, the revolutionary Munchkin LATCH™ bottle feeding system is designed to offer mum everything she needs to make the transition from breast to bottle feeding as natural and comfortable as possible, for mum and baby. The LATCH teat has a truly innovative accordion base that moves, stretches and pumps, just like the breast, ensuring baby establishes and maintains a proper latch and continuous connection to help reduce the symptoms of colic. As baby grows, so does the LATCH™ teat range. Stage 2 and 3 teats allow Mum to increase the flow as baby’s feeding demands increase.

I’m hoping to start Chloe on a bottle over the next few weeks so I will keep you posted on my progress. She is very attached to my boobs so I really hope she will enjoy this new experience.

This is the starter pack you could win just by completing the simple rafflecopter form below:

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The Newborn Starter Bottle set includes 2 120ml bottles, 2 240ml bottles, 4 Stage 1 teats, 2 Stage 2 teats and the LATCH bottle & teat brush.

The range is now available from Boots and Kiddicare.

For more info visit the Munchkin Site

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Individual Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding

I warn you that if you like chocolate and you like cake..you will LOVE these. Easy to make.. Far too easy to devour.

Every week I try to make something that will appear on that weeks episode of Great British Bake Off – this week the theme is desserts and their first challenge is to make a pudding.

Well my little family haven’t been very well this week and the lingering after effects of a stomach and cold bug are still present in everyone apart from me. So I thought as nobody else would be keen to eat chocolate pud I would try to make an individual serving – but none of this cake in a mug malarkey ( which is good but not what I fancied) I wanted a proper pudding with sauce.

It turned out pretty perfect. In fact I would make no changes to the recipe at all if I made it again. Its more than enough for one hungry person..in fact considering they were unwell two other hungry people shared mine with me.

You should bake this in a ramekin or pudding dish which will comfortably contain 250ml of liquid.

Individual Chocolate Self Saucing Pud

You will need:

For the pud:

35g of SR flour
35g of Caster Sugar
35g of whole milk
15g of melted butter ( * tip – melt it in your ramekin in the microwave for 20secs – saves you greasing it )
5g of cocoa powder
15g of beaten egg ( about a tablespoon & a half )
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

For the sauce:

5g of cocoa powder
25g of soft brown sugar
40ml of boiling water

Preheat oven to gas mark 4.

Mix all of your pud ingredients together until smooth in a mixing bowl then put into your greased ramekin.

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Now for your sauce..combine your brown sugar and cocoa powder together in another bowl and cover the surface of the pudding. Top up with hot water, do this slowly as you want it to cover all of the sauce mix – probably about 40ml of water but obviously don’t overfill.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until fully set on top and firm.

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These were totally and utterly delectable. You need to try them!
I’m joining in with The Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014

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And Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

I was very much a believer that Slow Cookers were just for casseroles, stews and curries until a few months ago. I made lasagne in mine and realised it can be adapted for most things.

I’ve tried joints of meat, pulled pork and various other dishes.

Last night I made the most beautiful whole chicken so I thought I would share with you how I did it.

You will need:

1 small whole chicken
2 banana shallots sliced in half
1 carrot cut into long strips
1 large potato diced
Fresh herbs – I used thyme and rosemary ( no need to chop)
1 clove of black garlic
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 lemon
100 ml or so of boiling water
1tso of olive oil

Turn your slow cooker on high. Place the oil, herbs, garlic and veg in the bottom of slow cooker. Now add your stock cube and water. Prepare your chicken by placing 1/2 a lemon in the cavity and sprinkling a little black pepper over it and place breast down on top of your veg. Put the lid on and leave for about 4 & 1/2 – 5 &1/2 hours depending on your slow cooker. Check that your chicken is cooked. I used a meat probe just to be sure. Preheat your oven to the highest setting and then pop into a baking dish with all of your veg leaving the herbs and stock in the slow cooker. Cook for about 15 minutes until your chicken looks as good as it smells. Pull out and rest for at least 10 minutes.

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Now take your stock out of the slow cooker using a sieve and pouring into a jug or bowl. Discard your herbs and let stock cool to room temp before putting in the fridge or freezer. You could use your stock immediately to make gravy if you wanted but I fancied my chicken with sautéed potatoes and asparagus instead of in a traditional dinner so I’m planning to use my stock for another meal.

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I’m feeling a little addicted to slow cooking at the moment so expect lots more recipes over the coming months.

What’s your favourite slow cooker recipe?

Making Food Taste Amazing – Flavoured Butter

A simple steak can be transformed by a disc of herby butter popped on top in the last minute or so of cooking.

A warm. pancake with a little maple syrup or honey butter popped inside just before rolling up crepe style. Ahhmmmmazing.

I was chatting to some friends recently and not one of them had tried making flavoured butters before. Some had bought some ( typically garlic butter) or tried some in restaurants but considering its so easy to do I was amazed none of them did it.

So I’m doing what I always do. Blogging about it.

To make flavoured butter all you need is a stick of butter and your choice of herbs/flavour. Make sure first of all that your butter is soft. Wash and chop your herbs finely or use dried herbs. Here are just a few suggestions of butter/flavour combos:

Tarragon Butter – perfect for chicken or steak dishes
Rosemary & Garlic Butter – great for chicken dishes or potatoes
Honey Butter – great for spreading on warm, homemade bread. It’s delicious.

You could also do spiced butter:

Cinnamon Butter – lovely on top of toast or to use in a special bread n butter pudding
Ginger Butter – haven’t tried this yet but like the idea

Hot butters:

Chilli butter – great for lots of dishes but be sparing with the chilli flakes!

Or a zesty one:

Orange zest butter – great for basting a roast chicken
Lemon zest butter – brilliant for fish.

Soften your butter in a bowl and add your diced herbs or spices and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a section of cling film and using the cling film ( or it will get messy) make into a sausage shape and completely cover with cling film. Twist or tie both ends. Place in the fridge or freezer. I tend to freeze mine and cut off a section as and when I need it.

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Garlic & Herb Butter:

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Cinnamon butter:

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I used Kerrygold for my rosemary, thyme and garlic butter and for my cinnamon butter.

Kerrygold butter has had a bit of a makeover with the helpful of renowned Irish fashion designer Orla Kiely so why not pretty up your fridge while using the gorgeous Irish butter.

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I’m sure there a are a million and one different flavour combos for you to try so go wild and experiment a bit.

* I was sent a voucher to try out the new Kerrygold.

The Little Red Biscuit Review & Giveaway

You may remember me talking about Lotus Biscoff sometime ago when I first discovered the spread and biscuits in my local supermarket. My love affair with Lotus has continued to grow steadily and I’ve normally got a jar of the spread in the pantry and always some of their Biscoff biscuits in my cookie jar.

I was recently asked if I’d like to sample the full Lotus range and it would have been just rude to say no.

When my parcel arrived it contained the standard Biscoff biscuits as well as the new chocolate covered delights and a jar of the smooth and chunky spreads. I’ll admit to being a bit pleased. Ooh and they sent me a cool Lotus coffee cup which I love.

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I’ve always liked the plain biscuits but the chocolate ones take it up a notch and are definitely more of an indulgence. They come in little packs of three which are just the right amount to enjoy with a cuppa.

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The smooth spread is perfect for toast and it melts into a totally delectable puddle of buttery sweetness. Yum.

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I had my reservations about the crunchy spread – I thought it would be a bit too much like soggy, crushed biscuits but luckily I was wrong and it’s really, really food. Would work well heated every so slightly to top vanilla icecream or even swirled into icecream straight from the jar.

I’ve seen lots of recipes over on Google for cheesecakes and cakes using Lotus ingredients and my very lovely friend Amanda even uses the smooth spread in place of peanut butter to make Lotus Biscoff cups.

Now that I’ve made you all drool, how about giving one of you lovely readers a goodie box containing all of the biscuit and spread varieties as well as a Lotus cookbook?

It’s simple to enter, just use the rafflecopter form below and one lucky winner will be chosen at random. Good luck :-D
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lotus Biscoff is stocked in selected branches of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose and Co-op, to name but a few! For further information, to find your local stockist as well as download a one time, money off voucher please visit www.lotusbiscuits.co.uk.

A Sort Of Spanish Stew – Slow Cooker Style

As soon as a chill is in the air I turn to my slow cooker. It’s a bit of a seasonal thing for me although it does make occasional summer outings.

Today we were headed out for the day and so I whipped out my trusted friend to make a Spanish style stew.

I love cooking with chorizo and sweet paprika. The amount of flavour from just a tbsp of sweet paprika is incredible and chorizo well I use it in anything and everything. For me though the best part of this stew was the addition of Orzo towards the end of the cooking time. It turned it into a more substantial meal and we all loved it

Anyway without further ado here is the recipe:

You will need:

3 inch chunk of Chorizo diced and browned in a pan
Tin of potatoes drained and halved
Tin of carrots drained
1/2 courgette roughly chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 yellow or red pepper diced
250ml of beef stock
1.5 tbsp of sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
250g of orzo

Put all ingredients aside from the orzo in your slow cooker.

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I cooked on high for 3hrs and on low for an additional 5 ( purely as I was going out and didn’t want it to overcook ) In the last 45 minutes cook your orzo to packet instructions ( usually 8 minutes), drain and add to your stew. You could just add to stew earlier on uncooked and add more liquid but I didn’t plan the orzo – it was a bit of a whim. Take the lid off your SC for the last half hour as it helps to thicken the dish. Enjoy with hunks of buttered bread. Delightful. Warming.

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We all LOVED this dish including my 3yr old. Would serve 5-6 people.

Linking up to:

Link up your recipe of the week

Making A Healthy Start With The Green Smoothie Club

Last week a few people that I follow on Twitter were chatting about something called the Green Smoothie Club it was a challenge they were taking part in which involved having a green smoothie each day packed full of fruit and vegetables.

Well I’ve been feeling rundown and pretty lousy since having Chloe and it’s now 9 months on so something had to change. I have a pretty good and varied diet but it feels as though Chloe drains ( literally)all the goodness from my body leaving me with little energy, tired skin and lacklustre hair.

A challenge which includes extra fruit and veg every day could only be a positive thing yes?

So I’ve begun. It’s now 5 days in. I’m really enjoying it. My OH has joined in too and it means I’m more likely to keep up with it.

I’ve used 3 different fruit/veg combos so far that have worked really well and taste good so I thought I would share them with you.

1. 1/2 Courgette, carrot, apple,1 cube of frozen spinach,1 cube of frozen ginger,banana, mint and 1tbsp of linseed. Along with a small tray of ice blended until smooth in my Vitamix – this is lovely, a bit of a kick from the ginger but quite subtle.

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2. Apple, Carrot, courgette1 cube of frozen spinach, 2 cubes of ginger, mint, 2 tbsp of linseed, ice and 1 Crushed apple and strawberry pure fruit pouch – this was really refreshing and zingy!

3. Blueberries, courgette, carrot, linseed, apple and a Vitacoco mango, ice and pineapple coconut water.

I’ve found I prefer the smoothies which don’t have too much banana as I get to taste the other fruits n veggies. I find banana is such a strong flavour that it can easily take over everything else.

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It’s hard to say if it’s having a difference yet although I do feel a bit brighter and considering I’ve had a week of very little sleep that’s fairly remarkable. It also means I’m wasting less veg and fruit as I’m throwing all my odds and ends in the Vitamix.

I’ve also started dicing some bananas and carrots and freezing them ready to throw into my smoothies. Organisation is key to keeping up with all new challenges I feel. My aim is to keep up with the green smoothies for at least 5 days a week. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Oregano & Sundried Tomato Foccacia

As it’s bread week on The Great British Bake Off I couldn’t let it pass without trying my hand at a new bake.

The last few weeks I’ve been going through one of my flatbread addiction phases and they have accompanied a lot of our meals but last night I fancied a change so made a foccacia.

The basic recipe is one I’ve used on numerous occasions to make a rosemary and seasalt foccacia but the beauty of this bread is that you can change it so much just by adding a few herbs or ingredients.

This is a sort of pizza flavoured foccacia with oregano and Sundried tomatoes giving a really summery vibe. I used dried herbs as I was actually feeling too lazy to go out and snip some – and it was cold last night! Fresh would take the flavour up a notch I imagine. It also has a hint of heat because I used chilli and garlic rapeseed oil:

Oregano and Sundried Tomato Foccacia

You will need:

500g of strong white bread flour
1.5 tbsp of oregano
5g of easy bake yeast
350ml of warm water
30ml of chilli & garlic rapeseed oil ( The preservation society )
5g of seasalt
1.5 tbsp of Sundried tomatoes
* some additional oil, salt and herbs for the topping

Mix your oregano, flour and salt in a large bowl. Add your yeast and warm water and make a rough dough before adding your oil and bringing it together into a very sticky dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. You need to work through the sticky stage, using floured hands and adding more flour to hands as needed. It will become less sticky and more smooth. Then add your Sundried tomatoes and knead for a few more minutes.

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Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a teatowel. Leave until doubled in size ( about an hour to an hour and a half).
Preheat your oven to the highest heat setting.
Now knock back and shape into a rectangle on a floured work surface and place into an oiled rectangular baking tray. Cover again and leave for about 45 minutes. Now using your fingers, press deep dimples into the dough and sprinkle with herbs and salt and drizzle with oil.

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Place into your oven and cook for approximately 18-20 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly you may want to reduce the heat for the last 10 minutes.

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Leave to cool slightly and serve cut into strips with oil for dipping.

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I’m joining in with The Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014

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And Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com