Meal plan – the Summer is on it’s way edition

So, if that was an Easter break, we’ve had it! I don’t know if it went by in a flash because I was only able to get a couple of days off or if in fact time did actually speed up a bit. Either way, the kids are both back at school and we are back into a (sort of) routine! Hurrah!

I am trying to avoid takeaways for the next few months and gravitate towards healthier options. It could go either way to be honest.. As well as eating slightly more healthily I am hoping it will help me save a bit of money.

Tesco have started doing their summer BBQ style food which I love. I bought a pack of jumbo sausages this week and I am hoping they haven’t changed the recipe from last year because they were pretty good and you get lots in a pack! I still have a fair bit in the freezer so you can fully expect a fair few odd looking meals over the next few weeks as I work through what we have!

This week in food

Monday – Sausages with dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli

Tuesday – Jerk chicken (it isn’t really, it is just chicken with a bit of Tesco seasoning on it) with fried plantain, a jacket potato, fresh tomato and coleslaw

Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs (made from the rest of the sausages)

Thursday –  Fish with roasted vegetables

Friday – Hoisin pork belly stir fried with peppers, onions and whatever else I find in the fridge served with egg noodles

Saturday – Lamb koftas with flatbread, homemade dip (natural yoghurt, a little bit of mint sauce and finely chopped cucumber) and a greek salad

Sunday – Pie and mash with veg

 

Ps. I usually link this meal plan up with Katy from katykicker.com but she is off bringing new life into the world this week!

5 Ways To Keep Your Ears Healthy

This is a collaborative post

Both MrG and I suffered with our ears as children. No surprise then that we are hyper aware when it comes to our own kids’ ear health. So far we have actually been pretty lucky. 

Unlike tummy upsets which we have encountered many times. We have only really had a couple of occasions to worry about our children’s ear health.

The time that stands out in my memory is when Bess used to love to swim. She got so many ear infections it was ridiculous. Luckily we had a walk in centre which we could access pretty easily when the GP was booked up (and aren’t they always?!) 

The worst bit

I do remember how uncomfortable the ear infections used to make her though and most of the time the only answer was a prescription of antibiotics and just a waiting game until the pain subsided. It did not make it any easier though when she would be up in the middle of the night crying her little heart out for some kind of relief. 

Ears are pretty low maintenance when you really think about it anyway. You don’t need to brush them and as long as you are aware of issues which might arise you are basically set. 

Do not insert things into your ear

I know that it can be difficult to restrain yourself when you can feel the wax and you have cotton buds in the cupboard but, really, don’t do it.

The ear drum is very very delicate and more often than not if you try to remove wax with a cotton bud you will just push it further down causing untold issues down the line. 

Luckily Auris Ear Care offer ear wax removal in North London alleviating the need for you to have a go yourself. Some thing’s are worth trying to DIY but some, like this, are most definitely not! 

Swimmers ear

This was the issue that Bess had and what brought on the ear infections she suffered with as a small child. It is so important to keep your ears dry.

Swimmers Ear is an infection in the ear canal. Bacteria thrive in warm, dark and damp conditions and that is exactly why you are prone to Swimmers Ear if you get water in your ears when bathing or swimming. 

It is useful to keep your ears dry but of course that is pretty difficult to do when you are in an actual swimming pool.. Another good idea would be to purchase a set of earplugs to wear when swimming. 

Allergies and the weather

One thing I have always been aware of is just how much my ears are affected in cold weather. As soon as there is a bit of a breeze and the temperature outside drops I can feel it in my ears. 

I guess when you think about it there isn’t much to protect them. Unlike the rest of my body which has a layer of insulation. Our ears have nothing really. So as soon as the cold wind blows then problems can arise. Best to cover those ears in the cooler months. 

MrG and I also get hayfever. Both of us suffer pretty badly and I can definitely feel a difference in my ears. 

As well as pollen. Household dust and pet dander can also be a trigger and those allergies can make you feel rotten. They can affect your ears as well as your eyes, nose and throat. Symptoms can range from itching, swelling, difficulty hearing and earaches. 

Try not to fly with a cold

I absolutely love flying but do you ever get a pain in your ears during or after a flight? Usually the pressure in your ear is equal to the pressure outside. However, when you are taking off and landing on a flight that pressure is unequal due to a blockage in the Eustachian tubes. It’s called Aeroplane Ear and it can be really painful! 

 If you experience this try to chew, swallow or yawn as it helps to equalise the pressure when landing. If you do have a cold then try to take an oral decongestant before you fly. 

Keep the volume down

Music and machinery can expose us to over the safe noise limit – 85 decibels (dB) for long periods. MP3 players in Europe have a default limit of 85 dB. As a general rule of thumb, if other people can hear your headphone music then it’s too loud! (Remember that the earbuds on MP3 players funnel the sound waves directly into the ear.) Long-term exposure to high volume levels can gradually wear out the tiny hair cells of the inner ear that convert sound into nerve signals that go to the brain.

Take breaks if you must listen to music through earbuds, and try out noise-reducing headphones. Don’t fall asleep with earbuds in and make sure your devices are set at 60 decibels or lower – the level of normal conversation.

ear plugs

 

 

AD Lunch ideas on a budget

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Jacks supermarket. All opinions are honest and my own 

I think I speak on behalf of all Mums and Dads when I say that our absolute favourite part of parenting is deciding what to feed everyone under our respective roof’s every day and for what feels like eternity. Honestly, it is so much fun. Especially if you have a family like mine who when faced with the question of what they want to eat, can only muster a disinterested “I don’t mind…”

Only, they absolutely do mind of course! I proved this by once giving them the same sandwich everyday for weeks to see when they would object. It didn’t end well.

Truth be told it was an absolute own goal on my part because now NOBODY is massively keen on sandwiches anymore which means coming up with something a bit more exciting. Add into that the past 12 months of utter monotony, tired kids and an impending Easter break from School (which, by the way they have surely only been back to for about 10 minutes?!) and you have a recipe for a headache!

The solution

You might remember the Halloween party food post from last year? Well, Jacks has swooped in to the rescue again! This time around I wanted to show you that you do not have to spend a lot to make some lunches that even the pickiest kids (hi, Moose, I’m looking at you..) will love!

Yes of course you can use these ideas for school lunches. However, I have devised a cunning idea for the school holidays too!

Instead of dealing with their continuous requests for food throughout the day I am going to pack them a home lunch. If it is in their lunch bag then they can have it – but if not then sorry kiddos!

It sounds a bit mean but as well as the concerns about their health if they keep chomping like Pac-Man we also have to think about how much we are spending!

Like a lot of families we have a fairly strict budget when it comes to the food shop and the school holidays really make a dent in this. That’s why supermarkets like Jack’s are awesome for us.

Not only are the prices on par with other budget supermarkets – with the added bonus of fruit and veg which seems to stay fresh for longer than those bought from competitors. Jacks is part of Tesco which means it stocks lots of familiar products too. They have a lovely fresh bakery area and a really cool app. The shop smart app means that you can scan your shopping using your smartphone to keep track of your spending and save time at the checkout as you have already done the legwork!

Fill em up ideas

Pesto pasta salad

This is one of those dishes I make once and pick at all week. If I am cooking pasta anyway I will chuck an extra few handfuls in so that I can prep a lovely pesto pasta salad for us to have for lunch during the week.

All you need is cooked pasta, chopped up tomatoes, some chicken if you have it and then your pesto sauce. Due to a weird lockdown glitch whereby I forgot I had already bought pesto we have it coming out of ears so I use a spoon of that and sprinkle over some pine nuts. If you don’t have a pesto habit like me that’s ok! You can knock up a pesto with what you have in the fridge or freezer.

You will need oil. Olive is good but whatever you have is fine. You will need cheese (preferably parmesan but that tub of Italian hard cheese you bung on spag bol will work just fine) and pine nuts if you have them. Garlic and lemon juice too (the bottle of lemon juice you bought for pancake day and a jar of lazy garlic are what I use)

To those ingredients you need to add either basil (which you are unlikely to have laying around) or you could add peas or even the bagged salad leaves you usually chuck out at the end of the week. Whizz it all up together adding salt and pepper to taste and stir through your cooked pasta.

Potato Salad

Store bought potato salad is (in my opinion) a bit rubbish. It always tastes bland to me and the texture is all wrong. I much prefer homemade. It is nice and easy on the wallet and tastes amazing! Yes you can put it with something else but Bess and I could happily munch our way through a bowl of this stuff on it’s own.

Nothing fancy here. Potatoes (small ones are best) chopped and boiled with salt and pepper, mayo and chopped onion.

Cream Cheese Bagels

My children seem to have a strongly held belief that if it is on my plate then food must be delicious. They are, of course, absolutely correct but it still kinda sucks when I lose half my lunch to them.

Cream cheese bagels are simple and very satisfying. You can top them with anything you like of course but my favourite is cucumber – and sometimes smoked salmon. I chop the cucumber up to make the bagel easier to bite into without losing any of it.

Quesadillas

Just lately I have loved a tortilla wrap as an alternative to sandwiches and quesadillas are a fun way to eat them. Better than wraps because they can be packed flat. You can use any filling you like.

My favourite is chicken and sweetcorn and cheese with BBQ sauce. Tasty hot or cold and the kids love them too!

Banana sushi

One of my moments of genius was born – as so many are – out of necessity. We ran out of bread and the kids needed feeding. So, I spread a wrap with lotus biscoff spread, peeled a banana and rolled it up! I sliced it into sections and presented it to my children as banana sushi. You know something’s a hit when the teenager shares a photo of it with her friends..

Easy pitta and dip

Another easy lunch is crudité and dip. Now, my 6 year old will not entertain the idea of eating raw veg so I had to settle for pitta. You might be able to make yours healthier by using carrot sticks instead!

The dip is just yoghurt, cucumber and half a tsp of mint sauce. Really easy, healthy and cheap!

Grab it and go lunch

Not gonna lie, some days we either wake up late or for whatever reason do not have the time or inclination to do any more than just grab and go!

Luckily Jacks bakery have these amazing cheese and tomato pinwheels and cheese twists for just 60p each which are ideal!

Shapely Sandwiches – Waste free edition!

Sandwiches do still make an appearance in our house. One of the ways I liven them up a bit is by using cookie cutters to cut them into shapes. Now, I had seen this done by other, more creative Mums in the past and always thought that the amount of waste it must create was a shame – and it put me off doing it myself.

So, the way I do those fancy shapes is to leave it assembled and just press the cutter into it. That way Moose still gets the exciting shape but doesn’t a)have a very small sarnie or b)get to skip his crusts. Sorry kiddo!

Easy ‘if it’s’ pasta salad

We are big fans of pasta and I usually have leftover cooked pasta in a tub in the fridge. For a really quick and easy lunch we just chop up whatever salad veg and cooked meat we have laying around in the fridge along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or some mayo and seasonings. It’s called “if it’s” pasta because if it’s in the fridge, we have it!

A grazing lunch

A massive trend at the moment is a grazing box. Now, they look tasty but have you seen the prices?! It’s not hard to throw one together and if you use a tray like the cheapo plastic one I have (nice one, Ikea) you can save on the washing up too!

I saw an interesting programme with Hugh Fearnley Whatshisname on the Beeb a while ago and they were talking about picky eaters. Not the 32 yr olds who live on cheese quavers and ketchup. The child kind. They were saying that a really good way to introduce new foods without making it a stressful chore is to mix them in with things the child likes and let them help themselves. Sure, they may not touch it the first few times but eventually stats show that they do get braver! Worth a try!

Anyway. No explanation needed here. Add an assortment of lunch type grub to a tray. Chop it a bit so it’s a bit easier for little hands if you are that way inclined and then just let them have at it!

My lot were SO excited and Moose did indeed try celery. I mean, he hated it obviously but at least he tried. The whole lot was wolfed down anyway so someone ate it..

Enjoying time at home – yes still!

Now that schools have opened again fully I am back to having at least some time by myself. It is absolute bliss!

I mean, sure, I am working for most of it. But even to be able to do that without the constant snack requests or questions or having to wade in to break up the latest argument.. well, it is something I am very much enjoying!

It has also meant that when I have a day off on the weekend I can once again look forward to it. Nothing is open round here as yet but it almost feels like we can spy the finish line now so it is not too bad.

We are still loving a bit of baking and have perfected our cookie game now.

I had my vaccination this week so that has probably boosted my mood too. Just the knowledge that I will be even a little bit protected feels very good. I also feel lucky that my parents and my sisters have all been invited for theirs too. It is all just a bit more of a weight off.

There is a small little voice in the back of my mind which is niggling me. I wasn’t brilliant at social interaction before all of this and now that I am out of practise I’m not sure how it will feel to be back and mixing with the general population.

A massive positive though that I keep reminding myself is that everyone is just as out of practise at this as I am. We are pretty much all starting on an even footing really.

I expect there will be lots of awkward conversations and plenty of those little both-dodge-the-same-way street interactions. Probably plenty of family members putting their foot in their mouth over sensitive subjects and lots of Mums sidling up to each other to feel that connection with someone with whom we share common ground in the form of mud covered gremlins hurling themselves down the slide like they forgot how much fun a play park can be.

Despite being slightly anxious about all of this. I am also rather looking forward to it. I just have to work on my masks-on eyebrow wiggle greeting I think.

Mothers Day Gift Guide

The items in this post were received in exchange for inclusion and my honest opinion

I am very much in favour of any excuse for my children to adorn me with gifts. This year Mother’s day falls in the same week as International Women’s Day – if that’s not enough of a reason to show the most important woman* in your life how much she rocks then I don’t know what is. 

Here are some fabulous ideas for gifts for you to surprise the Mum in your life (if you live with a Mum who is not YOUR Mum then you still have to shop for her. I don’t make the rules) 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

A beautiful bouquet from E-Florist

What could be better than receiving a stunning bouquet? Everyone I know loves a flower delivery and none more so than Mums (hint hint kids). 

E-florist have bouquets to suit all tastes and budgets and you can even add little extras like chocs too! A great gift for those of us whose Mums live too far away to be able to visit in person. 

Impasto Impressions stemless wine glass

As a self confessed clumsy oaf, I am a big fan of any kind of less dainty glassware. The Impasto Impressions stemless wine glass is so pretty to look at but a great practical gift too. 

Each glass is unique as it is painted by hand – like a fine sculpture or timeless painting. It is almost too beautiful to use, but please do| Perfect for casual entertaining and durable enough for everyday use.

Myros Soap

Contrary to popular belief, Mums don’t actually like sharing absolutely everything they own. This super posh Myros soap comes in a pretty little tin and smells absolutely gorgeous! Definitely a hands-off it’s mine kind of a soap. 

Traditionally made Turkish pomegranate soap, presented in a stylish tin based on historic Turkish silk printing. With most ingredients and materials sourced and created in Turkey, this is a handy go-to gift for friends, family or even yourself. Great for those on the go, travelling or just looking for a sophisticated bathroom accessory

Disney loving Mums 

Don’t fret, Stitch. Of course we forgive you. How can you resist such a cute face? Lilo taught Stitch to love and he’s here to say “I love you, too.” Each piece is hand painted and slight colour variations are to be expected which makes each piece unique. 

If Stitch isn’t your Mums favourite (really? He’s adorable) then GiftGivingAllWrappedUp have got you covered with plenty of characters to choose from that your Mum can cherish for years. 

Harry Potter goblet

“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

Whichever house your Harry Potter mad Mum belongs to GiftGivingAllWrappedUp have some awesome Potter goodies perfect for this Mothers day

We love the house goblets! 

Mophie Powerstation Mini

 

A Mothers phone is her lifeline to the outside world. Whether she uses it for comparing notes (or venting) at other Mums, googling an impossible question asked by one of her darlings or simply a game of candy crush to take her mind off yet another tantrum. Do not underestimate how much those bars of charge might impact on your wellbeing. It really is not worth risking a low battery. 

The Mophie powerstation mini lets you charge your devices from just about anywhere with a push of a button. A convenient USB-C input/output port means you can charge the powerstation and then use that same port to charge a device. It has an attractive fabric finish and is approx the same size as a smartphone so easy to carry when you are on the go.

Tea & Chocolate gift box

 

It is a fact (ish) that all Mums love a good cuppa. The Tea and Chocolate gift box from Bird & Blend improves upon the good old cup of tea by adding tea infused chocolate with unique blend teabags all in a nice little gift box! 

A fabulous quirky gift for Mums and one that can be posted too! 

Spice Pots Box

If you are looking for something a little different for your mum this Mothers Day – then look no further! The Luxury Indian Spice Box contains 5 premium curry powders which are packed full of flavour and intensity – there is a level of heat for everyone! The luxury curry kit also includes a 150 page Indian cookbook and a bespoke soy wax cooks candle to get rid of those curry smells and leave your kitchen smelling lovely and fresh with scents of basil, patchouli and geranium.

And if your mum doesn’t love cooking – give this gift to your dad to help him hone his cooking skills while your mum puts her feet up with a good book and a cup of tea (or a glass of wine if you’re anything like us!).

Helly Hansen Mono Material Raincoat

If your Mum is a fan of the great outdoors then this is the gift for her! 

Built on the idea of making garment-to-garment recycling easier, this Helly Hansen waterproof and breathable coat combines urban design lines with singular material construction. The entire jacket, except the zipper puller, is made of polyester that can easily be recycled. A great investment piece which will keep your Mum warm and dry on her daily walks.

Little Butterfly London

If the Mum in your life has recently given birth then she deserves to be pampered. The Little Butterfly London Pamper gift set is perfect!

Three mother skincare products are delicately presented in a stunning keep-sake gift box that features a grass print inside and glossy butterflies on the outside, then tied with a beautifully designed cotton ribbon. 

Red letter days hamper

hamper

A luxurious selection of treats, all packed up into a gorgeous wicker basket, is the perfect gift for those who love all things pink, bubbly and delicious and with the Ladies hamper, Red Letter Days have you covered!

A big bottle of Zonin Rosato Vino Brut is included for Mums who love fizz. Those with a sweet tooth will adore the selection of sweet fancies, which include salted caramel luxury fudge, Maclean’s Cherry Bakewell Luxury Biscuits, a Linden Lady milk chocolate bar with pearlescent balls, strawberry and elderflower jam, Joe & Seph’s prosecco gourmet popcorn and a Gold Crown cake with Brazil nuts, flaked almonds and cherries. Utterly scrumptious!

Jane Scrivner Products

jane scrivner products

If your Mum loves to pamper herself in the bathroom then the Jane Scrivner range has you covered. 

Natural, organic and fast acting products encased in stylish and sophisticated packaging, this brand is perfect for Mums this Mothers day!

Jane Scrivner is a skincare brand with a difference, that difference being their ingredient-led skincare delivers powerful results in a short space of time and there is a collection of hero products which all work harmoniously together, so they’re all ready to go. New skincare regime sorted!

Whether you are looking to care for hair, body or home Jane Scrivner are bound to have a product your Mum will love.

Virgin Wines hamper

Why not let your Mum have the night off with a Movie Night hamper from Virgin Wines –  the Pizo Syrah is wonderfully fresh with trademark bramble fruit and black pepper flavours. Partnered here with a mouth-watering box of chocolate truffles and tasty bag of salted caramel popcorn. All you’ll need to do to complete your evening is select a top film

Happy bake co

Happy Bake co offer a decadent array of mouth watering home baked goodies. Whether you want to collect from their Peterborough location or order for delivery your Mum will definitely love their brownies and blondies. 

Each month sees a new range of flavours with special boxes for occasions like Mothers day. 

My favourite is the Bakewell Blondie! 

 

*If you did not emerge into this world out of a woman then of course I will concede that perhaps someone else is more important. Anyone? No? Best go get a card then!