Monthly Archives: November 2013

Festive Friday


Last week I joined in with the festive Friday linky. The badge is at the bottom of the page if you want to join in 🙂

This week we’ve made home made Xmas tree decorations. It’s been loads of fun – so much better than buying them and I’m so excited to decorate our tree with our home made bits and bobs 🙂 Each year we add a few more home made things to the tree and its lovely to have all the memories, and I look forward to getting these things out each year to look at – I’m already excited about looking at last years bits from the attic, but these were just made out of card!

So, to this year. I found a recipe for salt dough at red ted art and got excited by the idea of it. It’s easy to make and just used plain flour (one cup) salt (half a cup) and water just until binded together. Then it was baked for 2 hours at 100 degrees – really simple. Skewer a hole before baking though as its too hard to do afterwards, to thread ribbon or string through when done!

Then we got Paint and glitter glue out, and I just let Amelia do what she wanted. It was her idea to get the sequins out to decorate them too, and I think those ones look really good (even if they do keep falling off them!) I got just as much into making these as Amelia did, and I have some salt dough still in the fridge as I didn’t use it all so that I could see how the decorations turned out, and I’m thinking of making some bits on my own one night – is that a bit geeky?!

This activity has really inspired me and given me so many ideas – little Xmas gifts for family of the girls hand prints, some kind of garland decoration with some different shapes, could do all sorts!

The other thing we’ve done is decorate some pine cones. A bit of glue and glitter and they look beautiful – better in real life that the photo below shows too. I’m really pleased with them, and they cost almost nothing.


Festive Friday at Thinly Spread



B is for baking…


Yesterday I had some mince to use, so i decide to make a savory mince pie. this is a recipe i have copied for my mum and its gorgeous, simple and lasts us for tea and the next days lunch. I’m sure it won’t be something everyone will enjoy, but we have mince quite often and so this just suits us to make with any leftover mince.

This pie is so easy to make and I think it tastes lovely. It’s home made – I made the pastry the night before and left it in the fridge overnight as I find the result works better. Then I blind bake the pastry and while its cooking make the filling, and for this I then let the pastry and base cool (as I had to go out!) and finished it later. I don’t know why but this was the best pie I’ve made, I think for this reason!

So, to make:

Pastry (I always use the recipe from the bi-ro book) but it’a also online here. You could buy shop bought shortcrust too if you just don’t have time or don’t want to make it. The basic recipe for pastry is:
8oz self raising flour.
A pinch of salt
2oz lard
2oz margarine (I use stork)
Enough water to bind.

1. All you do is mix all of the ingredients together – flour and salt, rub in the lard and margarine and add water to bind. Don’t make it too sticky though, if this happens add more flour. I do tend to wash my hands in cold water before handling the pastry, as I always heard that cold hands are better. Don’t know if its true but my pastry is always fine.
2. I put it in the fridge In cling film overnight as it seems to work better, but it will be okay to use straight away too.
3. When ready, flour a surface and roll out to whatever size you need. I use a silicone circular dish but I’ve made it on a rimmed plate before with no problems too. Grease the tray if needed, then add the pastry into the tray. Make sure you have extra left for the top though!
4. Place greaseproof paper over the pastry and add baking beans then cook at about 150 degrees for about 20 minutes. I used to ignore this stop but that does mean a soggy bottom!
5. While pastry is blind baking, make filling (see below)
6. Take out of oven and remove baking beads and greaseproof paper.

1. Fry mince with one red onion, a few mushrooms, sweet corn and peas (I use frozen)
2. When cooked, add flavour. For this pie I used the quick method and made up beef gravy granules with hot water, making it quite thick, then poured it into the mince mixture.
3. Let cool slightly then add to pastry base.

4. Finally, just roll out and add the top, brush with a bit of beaten egg, and cook for between 30-45 minutes.

Serve and enjoy 🙂

The one where I made gift tags..


I thought I was being organised – bought presents (not quite all, but I’m doing okay), bought wrapping paper ( a bargain – £3 for 2 12 meter rolls from wilkos) and I bought pretty ribbon. So what did. Forget? Gift tags. I did look at some, but somehow forgot to pick them up. I do hate spending money on stuff like that.

So once my presents were wrapped I decided I’d make gift tags. And it was easy, took about an hour and I think adds a home made element to the gifts and shows the recipients that I love them as I took the time to make something I could have bought.

Here’s what I did:

1. Step one – cut out a shape from a thick card. I make cards as a hobby so I had thick card and circle cutter. However, old Xmas cards, cardboard or a thinner card would work too. I used a circle shape cutter too, but you could cut them by hand. This would add a lot to the time but could be done.

2. Cut out the same number of circles from some pretty paper. Left over wrapping paper would be good – I bought some cheap paper from Wilkos for making cards in a few days.

3. Stick together. I used double sided tape, but I think glue would work too if that’s what you have.

4. Make a hole, and thread with ribbon or string.

5. Write on them and Sellotape to gifts. Done.

I’m actually really pleased with these tags. The same method can also be used for Xmas tree decorations, but by decorating both sides of a shape. I’m going to try this when I do my Xmas tree decorations too.p, using different shapes.

Let me know what you think 🙂



Meal planning Monday…

I don’t join in with meal planning every week but it helps me when I do. When i have a plan I know what I’m making and there’s less waste (I hate wasting food) and I know what to get out ready to cook etc. So I’ve planned my weekly meals this week, it’s nothing particularly special but is kind of a typical week for us. I’ve also tried to make meals that I can mash up easily for my 7 month old baby, as I’m trying to make it easier for myself and make sure she has a good varied diet too 🙂 So here’s the plan:

Monday – sausage casserole – not had this for ages. Going to make double to freeze half for next week too 🙂 I make it with couscous. Perfect for Rosie too, it can be mashed for her to eat it.

Tuesday – spaghetti bolognaise. Making double again for next week and again I’ve not had this in ages. Again fine for Rosie to eat.

Wednesday – tuna pasta with sweet corn and mayo. Easy, quick tea. Rosie can eat the pasta as finger food.

Thursday – pie and vegetables – we have loads of carrots to use, and got frozen vegetables in the freezer.

Friday – film night so I reckon hot dogs will be perfect 🙂

Saturday – fish, new potatoes and Sweetcorn. We scoop out a bit of fish, take a potato out of the skin, and mash up a bit of sweet corn for Rosie.

Sunday – hopefully we will get an invite for Sunday dinner somewhere lol. If not, I have a pork joint in the freezer so will do a quick east dinner.

I’ve added this post to the at home with Mrs M .

Meal Planning Monday

Silent Sunday


I’m still in survival mode…

Just to give you an idea of context, I am usually super organised. At work I always had everything organised and prioritised. I had a ‘traffic light system’ so red tasks were urgent, amber needed to be done when possible and green could wait a week or two. I had lists of phone numbers, contacts, and email addresses filed safely. I had a folder to store information that families may need. I organised my diary carefully. I was (still am, but on maternity leave!) a social worker with older adults within the complex case team and my caseload was really high (about 25 ‘complex’ people to work with at any time. So I had to be organised or I wouldn’t have coped mentally with the workload.

But as a mum, none of these things work. I’m not organised at all. I try to be, but somehow these girls of mine refuse to be put into a timetable. I have it planned out what we will do, but then it doesn’t work. At all. My cleaning hardly ever gets done, which frustrates and bothers me but doesn’t seem to make much difference. I never iron. I do try to cook most nights, but I’m just not organised. There are only 4 of us (including my boyfriend) to organise and somehow it’s an impossible and never ending task.

I get really puzzled as to why its such hard work maintaining a house with two children. And mentally I seem to be struggling a bit. Most days I feel a bit sad. Not quite sad, but not happy either. In some ways its like feeling nothing to protect myself from feeling broken. I don’t know quite what I would do if I didn’t have my parents, sisters, nana and in laws as they keep me floating. Just about.

Having a baby is hard, hard work. Everyone talks about the 6 month mark being that magical point when it gets easier. Only it doesn’t. When my oldest was about 3 months old I remember her crying, and me crying, and me just hoping to survive until 6 months, because then she would magically sleep through and be less clingy and needy. It didn’t happen – she didn’t sleep through until about a year old. And with Rosie now, she’s almost 7 months. And at 6 months it didn’t change. I’m still in survival mode. I think I will be for a while yet.

That’s not to say I regret having my girls. I don’t – I absolutely love them to bits and I cherish every moment with them. In fact, at times I think that they are the only ones who keep me sane, and when Amelia says something funny or Rosie makes one of her new noises (na, na, na) it just makes me really proud. They are my life in two little packages. But i’m tired, I need some space and I want to be me and not just mum occasionally.

Sorry for the rambley post, I’m not usually one to moan or even talk much about my negative feelings. Even now I’m half tempted to delete this post and not put it on my blog. But I have to be honest – this blog is a place where I need to be honest or else it will just stay in my head. Posting this will help me, and so I’m going to post it.

I’m still in survival mode. But I’m doing my best and its okay to not feel great all the time.

Festive Friday – homemade Xmas cards


First things first, anyone who is likely to be receiving one of these cards (mum!) look away and don’t read this post!

Today I made Xmas cards with Amelia as part of the Festive Friday Linky. i want to have a crafty christmas as I’m on maternity leave this year, and to do that I wanted to get started early as I seem to have so many ideas in my head 🙂 The pictures show our results. I suppose they are just typical kids cards really, but I’m still proud of Amelia’s efforts and so wanted to blog it! I think she’s done some really pretty cards (with a bit of help from me of course!)

We used a few ideas that I’ve seen on other blogs – the baubles idea was from red ted art, and the reindeer hands idea I’ve seen too here and wanted to make as i thought it would make a lovely card. I have to admit that this card is my favourite out of all the ones we have made, and i may have to try to get Amelia to make another 1(or 2) of these. I’d like one for myself as a picture rather than a card, using all of our handprints too. See what I mean about having so many ideas?!

We had a lot of fun today making these cards – Amelia really enjoyed decorating with the glitter glue. I wanted to try a snowman too, but Amelia didn’t want to do that so we didn’t. But now I think we have enough cards to send out to our families from Amelia and Rosie, so mission accomplished.

I’m making some of mine tomorrow night, along with my two sisters and a bit of mulled wine (well – if I get around to making it!) and maybe some kind of baking, so I’m sure the results will be blogged soon!

Let me know what you think 🙂

Festive Friday at Thinly Spread


Old school sponge with a ‘whatever you fancy’ topping and custard.


I actually made this ages ago and have just realised that I have never blogged it. And since I haven’t done a recipe for ages (I keep making stuff and forgetting to photograph it before eating it!) I thought I would add this one as its so easy, cheap, quick and can be used with anything. I used syrup, but it could also be topped with jam, lemon curd, marmalade, orange or lemon zest, whatever you like really.

So, the basic recipe is:

100grams butter
100 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
100grams self raising flour
6tablespoons Syrup/lemon curd/jam etc…

1. Preheat oven to 200degrees (I oven cooked but this could also be microwaved.)
2. Cream butter and sugar together.
3. Add the eggs a little bit at a time. Add a small amount of flour if it looks as though it could be curdling.
4. Fold in the flour,
5. Butter a pudding dish, and add your topping (eg: syrup). I spread this around the dish a bit to ensure good coverage.
6. Add the mix to the buttered, syruped (not even sure if this is a word!) dish, and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
7. To see if it is cooked insert a skewer – if it comes out clean it should be done.

Let me know if you try this – it really is a quick, easy and yummy pudding, perfect after a Sunday dinner or for a mid week treat.


Christmas planning (if you hate the C word before December look away now!)


For me, Christmas planning starts as soon as Amelia’s birthday ends. Her birthday is just over 5 weeks before Christmas and for me once the excitement of her birthday is over, it’s the perfect time to step up the planning. Her birthday was yesterday, so here’s the plan!

Friday 22nd November – make Christmas cards with Amelia. I’m going to get some materials ready and then just let her do what she wants. I also want to try to make something with Rosie’s hands if I can get her to keep still enough to make hand prints!

Friday 29th November – make Christmas tree decorations. We’ve made decorations before, but its good to build them up over time 🙂 I Will look for what materials we need, and find some ideas so that we are ready.

Friday 6th December – make a couple of small home made gifts (think more about this so we know what we are doing!)

Friday 13th December – make some home decorations, or finish gifts. Put up tree and house decs.

Friday 20th December – baking day – mince pies, gingerbread men for tree. Maybe something with cinnamon.

Week 6 – 23 and 24th December.

Each Friday between now and Christmas I have planned a different craft to do with Amelia. Card making kicks it off – I will then blog each week and link it up to the festive friday linky. Im excited just thinking about it 🙂

I also have loads planned for myself – making my own cards, a couple of gifts, boxes, shopping etc too which i will blog in between I’m sure, but it gives me a headache thinking about it all so I’m keeping it simple for now!

Here is to a crafty and fun Christmas (hopefully!) xxx

Silent Sunday