Silent Sunday




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Secret Santa - Fun Gifts Under £5.

It's that time of year again when I seem to be involved in several Secret Santa's.  The budget is usually up to £5.00, here are a few fun gifts most of which come in under budget!


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |


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The Highlights and the Low-light of The Week

Thank goodness it's Friday.

It has certainly been a mixed week.  My only Low-Light (which impacted on the whole week so a big low-light!) has been that I have managed to catch my first heavy cold in probably a decade from those hard-to-resist wet sloppy kisses from TC.  She caught the dreaded lurgy from nursery last week and had shaken it off and been well all this week, with masses of 3 year old energy whilst Mummy has been feeling rubbish.

But as us parents all know we have to (try) to keep calm (ish) and carry on.

My Highlights were:

1.  First thing Monday morning I got on an early train to London for the Britmums Christmas Do hosted by Morrisons.  A really lovely event with so much delicious Christmas food and drink to sample and a great opportunity to meet more bloggers.  Also had a sprint through London's Underground (did I say I wasn't well!) and a lovely long natter on the way home with Anya from Older Single Mum.

Thanks to Britmums and Morrisons for arranging and hosting.




2.  I'm doing a month long course and we have reached the third week and the exciting part for me so I hope to be spending some of the weekend watching screencasts and catching up on coursework.

3.  I had decided to move TC to another nursery (a whole other post) and was delighted to be informed that I could move her to another branch, thus avoiding another admin fee of £75 if I started afresh at a totally different nursery.

4.  Our new front door has finally been fitted and is fabulous, well worth the long wait and once the front of the house has had a little paint makeover it will look even better.  

5.  The cold is now on the wane after a week of sleeping 10 hours a night (bliss), eating soup and drinking swamp juice (except for Monday when I ate a lot of cake, see no. 1).

6.  It didn't snow.

So although it has been a trying tiring week, a few boxes have been ticked and now TC is tucked up asleep in bed I can finally relax.  

Thank goodness it's Friday.

Have a lovely, warm weekend.


MLM x

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Beetroot Double Chocolate Cake

It feels like months since the Great British Bake Off ended, I was really pleased with the outcome, I had always admired the way that Frances went the extra mile, Miss Style over Substance won the day in the end. 

It may all be over for another year but some of us have decided to bake on and although I am a little late to the party, I'm still very pleased to be joining in.

Helen and Jenny have opened a linky for the whole of November to link up a bake inspired by a theme shown during the entire series 4.  I have always wanted to bake a cake with beetroot in, I've used courgettes and carrots already but always steered clear of beetroots as they scared me a little with the staining red colour and wondered if the earthy taste of beetroot would come through in the cake.




I couldn't have been more wrong, this cake is moist, fudgy and so delicious. You would never know there are 3 large beetroots baked into it and more importantly TC won't know either!

I used a Beetroot Chocolate cake recipe from Tesco  and instead of using sunflower oil I substituted with the same amount of Stork melted in the microwave and used in the same way.   

I did reduce the sugar content from 200g to 125g which I think brings out the taste of the chocolate (and there is a lot of chocolate plus cocoa in this cake, I used Tesco 74% and along with the beetroot makes an antioxidant rich cake, see chocolate can be good for you!)

The cake was covered in a chocolate ganache, 100g Tesco 74% chocolate and 200 ml double cream, you can use more chocolate but like I said there is a lot of chocolate in this cake already!  Bring the cream to a gentle boil then take off the heat and stir in the chocolate and keep stirring until melted and glossy.  This amount was plenty for an 8" cake with some to spare.




Love this recipe, hiding a piece as we speak!


GreatBloggersBakeOff


Link up your recipe of the week


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com


 I was sent a tub of Stork to use in my Great Bloggers Bake Off bake.  Thank you Stork!

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Silent Sunday






OneDad3Girls

Review - Higher Nature Kids Vitamin Range

I was recently sent a very generous set of Higher Nature Kids Supplements to sample.  TC takes supplements as we all do as a family, she has an extremely good diet with limited sugar (which is getting less easy to implement as time goes on but she still has a savoury tooth rather than a sweet one .... so far anyway!).  I see supplements as a top-up to fill in any blanks in our diets, I used to use a liquid based supplement but her taste buds have matured and she prefers to take something chewable now. 
higher nature vits nd

 Higher Nature’s new Kid range are designed to support children from 3 years and up, the range includes products for all round health, really delicious tastes and some kiddie fun shapes and textures.  There are no artificial colours, flavourings, preservatives or sweeteners in this range either.
Vital Vits – are a delicious, chewable once a day supplement containing 19 essential vitamins and minerals in 3 fruity flavours in fun-shaped characters.  I crush one up into her porridge every morning.
vital-vits-characters
Smart Focus Omega Fish oil – these one a day jelly rounds are full of omega 3 EPA and DHA with omega 6 GLA too, emulsified for easy absorption.  These she absolutely loves and happily munches on one every day now.  They are intensely fruity with no fishy aftertaste and are free from added sugars and artificial sweeteners.  We had something similar from another company which were discontinued so was extremely happy to try these and will definitely be buying for her.
Fruit & Shake – this is like a pepper shaker for children to flavour food such as yoghurt, cereals or desserts with fruit and veg!  It contains powdered apples, tomatoes, blueberries & broccoli sprouts.  Miss ND has plenty of fruit and veg in her diet but this is great to travel with or if you have a fussy eater as she has been in the past, when she reached 2 suddenly everything was on the bleurgh! scale, it did pass but took time and the Fruit & Shake would have been ideal back then to add valuable nutrients into her diet.
Vitamin D3 Spray – there has been a lot in the news lately about Vitamin D deficiency, this handy minty flavoured spray contains 625 iu of the absorbable form of D3 and is a generous 8 month supply.  It has great novelty value for a 3 year old too!
Relax & Unwind – presented in individual sachets, this mild berry flavoured supplement is mixed into hot or cold water until it dissolves, it contains vitamins C, D, Calcium and Magnesium to help youngsters unwind after a busy day.  It also helps to protect their bones during those important early years.Again no artificial sweeteners.  
The Higher Nature Kids Supplements get the thumbs-up with TC, they are easy to take, very palatable and most importantly for me,  are free from any artificial ingredients.



Disclosure:  I was sent Higher Nature Kids vitamins for the purpose of review, all opinions are honest and my own. 

Mumsnet Blogfest 2013

In a few days time I'll be boarding the early train to London to attend Mumsnet Blogfest 2013.  I have been blogging for a couple of years now but haven't taken it all that seriously, I started blogging from Multi Layer Mummy just for fun and to document life with TC as a mum with children two decades apart.  It still remains fun and lovely to look back on.

I started the food blog Nutritious Deliciousness as food and health are a huge interest of mine, making nutritious food delicious! The juggling between the two blogs then began.  

I was lucky last year to win tickets to Food Blogger Connect and spent 2 days listening to some amazing speakers and stories which really whetted my appetite (see what I did there) to attend more events.

So it's off to Mumsnet Blogfest on Saturday, the programme looks amazing and I'm really looking forward to seeing the fantastic line up of speakers, Jo Brand and Prof. Tanya Byron amongst others plus some very inspiring bloggers at the breakouts and clinics. 

The sponsors that will be there are Coca-Cola, Mark Warner, Red & Yellow Care, Talk Talk and Honda who have some fantastic activities lined-up to keep us entertained. 

So many bloggers that I "know" are going plus one I have actually already met in real life a couple of times so looking forward to good natter over lunch. There's also some whizzy new technology which allows us to connect with each other by tapping our name badges together so be careful where you put yours!


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Maybe see you there?

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Firework Fun!

This time last year TC was 2¼, we bought a few small fireworks and wandered out into the garden to let them off.  We thought she would enjoy the sparkles, the colours, but maybe not the noise.  

So from a good distance, daddy let off the first firework, a lovely sparkly fountain, the result, TC was petrified, she ran back into the house, fireworks over!  We tried to cajole her out again to no avail, so daddy let the remaining few off & we watched behind the glass of the living room window.


This year at 3¼, we persuaded her that this is what is supposed to happen when we light the blue touch paper.  I bought some mini fireworks and sparklers and this evening we all had a sparkly good time!





We use to have such great bonfire parties every year to coincide with my birthday, with friends & neighbours at ours, food, drink, hot chocolate for the kids and of course a roaring bonfire and lots of "ooo's and ahhh's as the fireworks commenced. Everyone would chip in with a few fireworks so you can imagine the display!

We haven't had one of those parties for the past 5 years now, it just didn't seem appropriate to celebrate anything at the time after a family loss.  But time has moved forward and for TC, who has such a joy for life and loves a party (so like her mummy) we are going to reinstate the annual party next year and send a firework up into the stars in remembrance and love.




Next Bloggers Network Event

I was delighted to be invited to the Next Blogger Network Event yesterday, a brilliant day of speakers, networking and fun!  Unfortunately the weather had a better idea for us travelling to the venue but I managed to get there just over an hour late.


I used to wear a lot of Next clothes in my younger days, now I cherry pick the odd few pieces but do love dressing TC and usually find some lovely pieces in the Next sales.  Our best bargain buy last year being her gorgeous jacket for half price, she's wearing it again this year, don't tell the Fashion Police!

The Next store brand opened in 1982 and my friend Joanne and I were there!  We were teenagers and fashion crazy as teenagers mostly are, so much so that our mums both applied for a Next card and we made good use of theirs and of course had to pay all most of it back, cue Saturday jobs!

Next at the time was a new retail concept with a co-ordinated collection of own branded clothing and accessories in small boutique-style shops.  I do remember it being so different from anything out there back then.

Home Interiors was added in 1985 and when Mr J and myself set up home it was Next, amongst others that I decorated and furnished our first home with slowly but surely {had my own store card by then!}.  I still have a cushion, matching swatch of fabric {I used to sew back then} and leftover wallpaper, never one to throw anything remotely useful out!

Childrenswear was born in 1987, I also still have a boy's shirt from the early 1990's that my own son wore as a 2 year old and his gorgeous Next jumper is also secreted somewhere in the loft, couldn't bear to part with either.  Both are like new, such is the great fabric quality, maybe a grandchild of mine will wear them again one day.

In 1988 the home shopping Next Directory was launched, which seems a lifetime ago, has it really been that long?  A glossy, seasonal catalogue that came online too in 1999.  The history goes on from there, take a look on the Next website for an interesting timeline.

The Next Blogger Workshop ran 3 sessions, Branding & Advertising, SEO & Web Design and Film & Photography, all very informative and fun sessions, I came away with lots of notes to re-read and put into practice!  I was really surprised to hear from the top bloggers there that they post from 5 to 10 times a day!



It was lovely to meet and chat to some of the younger bloggers too and good to see the cameraderie between them.

The food was amazing too, The Hoxton laid on breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, ending with a cocktail before heading home into the chaos of the remnants of the storm. 

These fabulous branded biscuits were made by Bee's Bakery for the event, they were so delicious, I popped a couple into a sweetie bag {did I mention there was also a tuck/sweetie shop too!} to share with TC & Mr J. 




Thank you Next and The Hoxton Hotel for the great hospitality, it was a fun, relaxed and very informative event and thank you for the very generous goodie bag!


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Great Bloggers Bake Off - Week 9 - Canapes

After 9 weeks of the Great British Bake Off I'm so looking forward to the final next week, it has been brilliant with some great competitors.  

It has been so great joining in with the Great Blogger Bake Off ladies, we have built up some lovely friendships and had quite a giggle, we think a GBBO meet up is in order!

This week the bakes were really challenging, The Opera Cake which is a work of art and so technical, I will leave that one to the French Patissiers, a Charlotte Royale, which is something I would love to tackle when I don't have a 3 year old around to "help" mummy bake.  She truly is a budding Nigella and I do encourage her all the way, she loves the mixing, cutting out shapes, etc with her little baking kit, a future Bake Off contestant maybe!

The third challenge was savoury canapes and with party season here soon, knocking up a plate or two was lovely and with a glass of fizz for me & Mr J, I don't mind if I do!



On the menu: Sundried Tomato & Stilton Tartlettes with caramelised onions, Chilli Tomato Whirls/Palmiers, Spicy Chickpeas and Smoked Salmon & cream cheese Blini's.  All very quick and easy to make and made with what was in my fridge mostly!

Tartlettes - shortcrust pastry base, chill, line into tarlette tins, mine are a touch large, bake blind for 10-15 minutes, fry onions for a few minutes adding a teaspoon of dark brown sugar for the last 2-3 minutes to caramellise.  Chop up sun-dried tomatoes and add to the onions, crumble Blue Stilton over the top.  Bake for 10 minutes at 180 C.

Whirls/Palmiers - shop bought Puff Pastry, I rolled out a 10" x 12" piece, spread with Sun-dried tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, chilli flakes, black pepper (put whatever you love in), then roll the longer sides in towards each other, meeting in the middle, pop in fridge for 30 minutes to firm, then slice into half inch pieces, lay on a baking tray, egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Spicy Chickpeas - drain and rinse chickpeas, place on baking tray and roll in olive oil, sprinkle with spices of your choice, I used chilli powder, black pepper, garlic salt and a touch of cumin. Bake in oven with other canapes for around 15 minutes, delicious!

Blini's - lovely, light, sugar-free little pancakes, as fast as I was making them, TC was eating them!  Luckily the recipe I use which you can find on the Good Food Channel makes a fair amount if you use half a tablespoon of batter for each blini.

Beat up some cream cheese, add smoked salmon (chopped into very small pieces, you can use off-cuts) then roll into a sausage shape and wrap in cling film, pop in fridge overnight, then slice into pieces to top the blini's, finish with a sliver of smoked salmon and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Mr J and I sat down on the floor in the living room last night with a blanket on the carpet and had a mini impromptu picnic... and scoffed the lot! 

Linking up with Helen from The Crazy Kitchen and Jenny from Mummy Mishaps for this penultimate Great Bloggers Bake Off.


GreatBloggersBakeOff


Silent Sunday






OneDad3Girls

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Great Bloggers Bake Off - Week 8 - Seeded Spelt Loaves

*Thank you to Helen & Jenny for my Star Baker Award this week!*


I never really realised how many weeks the Great British Bake Off took up until I started baking for the Great Bloggers Bake Off every week.  I was determined from the start to join in every week as a personal challenge to bake with ingredients I had never used before.

I had all the ingredients for a Chocolate Beetroot Cake but for the GBBO it needs to be a dairy free version so instead I baked the signature loaf using Spelt flour, the brief was to use a non-traditional flour and Spelt flour is one of the many flours I have bought with a view to trying new bakes, eventually! I made Spelt biscuits the other night when a craving for biscuits set in and the biscuit tin was empty!

I used a recipe based on the Dove's Farm one except I made mini loaves, omitted the nuts and added a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds to the top as well as the dough.  Before adding the seeds on top I egg washed the dough.




This produced 4 mini tasty loaves and makes a lovely breakfast bread, toasted or untoasted, topped with butter, cheeses, honey or even jam!



Teaming up for the 8th week with Helen at The Crazy Kitchen and Jenny of Mummy Mishaps, pop over to one of them to check out the spectacular array of bakes.


GreatBloggersBakeOff


Silent Sunday






HealGel Intensive - Review

I was recently asked if I would like to try out the award winning HealGel Intensive Advanced Skin Formula.  I had wanted to try the HealGel products for some time, definitely on my beauty wish list.
HealGel was created by a team of the world's finest plastic and cosmetic surgeons to provide genuinely effective treatments for all skin types, taking transformative skin care to the next level.


 

This light, non-oily gel which is suitable for all skin types, smells really fresh and clean and is designed to deliver active elements to the areas where they are needed the most.  It absorbs easily and gives a perfect primer for make-up.  
HealGel Intensive has many uses and was originally developed to improve the appearance of scars and diminish redness, it can also help in a number of skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. 

HealGel was also created as anti-ageing formula to firm, smooth and replenish the skin, all qualities I look for in a skin-care product these days, I'm all for holding back time for as long as possible and keeping my skin in good shape with minimum interference.  



The list of ingredients is pretty impressive.  Silicone which is firmly established as the optimal healing ingredient for scar treatment.  Arnica (which I have used for bruising and healing for many years, even after my c-section) and Madecassoside which is extracted from the plant Centella Asiatica (aka Gotu Kola) which soothes irritation, stimulates collagen synthesis and protects the skin against ageing.  
HealGel Intensive also contains several powerful peptides to increase collagen production, something that diminishes as we age, and decrease fine lines, swelling and puffiness.  It also contains anti-flammatory active ingredients to encourage a clear, healthy looking complexion.  Like I said, impressive!
For me as an former aesthetician this is fascinating stuff and for the full science bit, you can read how it all works together on the HealGel website.


Using HealGel Intensive over a number of days and nights to give it a real trial I have noticed that it really has enhanced my complexion and I am keen to try the other products in the range, the HealGel Eye which has light diffusers for a more youthful appearance and HealGel Face which along with the ingredients found in the Intensive product has a blend of Omega oils to replenish dehydrated skins and to restore elasticity along with Hyaluronic acid complex to plump and revitalise skin.
Disclosure: I was sent a full sized HealGel Intensive product for the purpose of review, all opinions are my own and totally honest. 






Summer Revisited

A couple of weeks ago we had a lot of rain and I found myself longing for the summer which looked like it was well and truly over at that point.

But after the rain the weather became so mild and so welcome, the winter will seem so much shorter if this continues.

Today, the sun shone all day and it was warm and balmy here, we soaked up the last drops of the sun on the seafront, having lunch, drinks and of course the obligatory ice-cream.  

It really felt like summer again.  I'm going to remember this one fondly, where we crammed such a lot into our days, I even have a little tan this year from running around after TC in the fresh air and swimming in the open air pool near where we live.   I also have very attractive stripey feet from my collection of sparkly flip-flops.



I'm going to miss you Summer, you were so generous with your favours this year.  But Autumn is also a lovely time of year, the leaves are starting to fall from our trees, turning into their golden and red seasonal hues.  The crops in the fields are being harvested too, a sure sign a change is on its way.






Sparkly flip-flops and sun hats have been put away again, but Autumn when you see Winter approaching please can you tell it to play nice this year!