I’m still here…


You may have noticed my absence, or maybe not.

There’s been a lack of Meal Planning Monday – I’m still meal planning but have decided to hand over the reins of Meal Planning Monday to someone else for the time being. I’m struggling to keep up with everything in life right now but I do still want it to continue.

I’m in the biggest, busiest and most stressful two weeks of my life – I am trying (badly) to revise for exams I have pretty much no hope of passing, I’m co-ordinating a £50k event for work, there’s endless school stuff, second job stuff, Christmas stuff…in my wisdom I thought I’d do some Ebaying too so lots of parcels to do to. I feel like I am failing at everything.

I feel like everything is on top of me and if just one more tiny thing is added to the pile, I’m just going to crumble. Dramatic? Maybe, but that’s how I feel right now. I just want to stop the world. Or fast forward two weeks until I have more time, until exams and events have all but bogged off.

And I’m certainly failing at blogging.

But I love blogging.

I’m going to be playing catch up over the next week or so – I just hope there’s someone out there still with me :(

Say hi if you are!

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Meal Planning Monday (9th November 2015)

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Good morning!

I am getting criminally bad at keeping up with #mealplanningmonday these days – my life is just too busy with work and other sideline projects. It makes me sad as there are weeks when I have literally no time to think about blogging, yet it’s something I have always done for myself. I’m sure I’ll get time again to devote to it but in the meantime, I was wondering if anyone would like to take the reins of Meal Planning Monday for me until the new year? Get in touch!

My meal plan this week looks like this

Salmon, new potatoes, broccoli
Sausage roll, chips and beans (classy but a firm kids favourite here!)
Spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread
Sweet potato chilli, with rice and pitta breads
Pieminster pies, new potatoes and veg

The Pieminster pies are a review – I was sent six of their seasonal pies and I have two left. They’re so lovely, I have really enjoyed them!

Okay over to you. Usual blurb coming up!

Link up your own meal planning blog post using the Linkytools form at the bottom of this post. If you’re not a blogger, then that doesn’t really matter, just leave a comment telling us what you’re eating that week!  There’s a whole post on tips and tricks for meal planning here that you might like to read.

We have a Facebook group that anyone is more than welcome to join, regardless of whether they’re a blogger or not and you can find that HERE. We’ve also got a Pinterest board where some of the meal planners have started pinning their favourite recipes from their blogs. If you’re interested in getting involved, then get in touch! Our hashtag on Twitter is#mealplanningmonday. Use the hashtag and I’ll RT as much as I can, and of course if you’ve got any questions about Meal Planning Monday, do drop me a line.

See you next week, look forward to seeing your plans!

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I ask you, when did holidays get so expensive?


As the nights draw in I can’t help my mind wandering off to thoughts of summer holidays. I know it was only summer yesterday but I love a holiday, who doesn’t?  With the way English summer goes, it’s about our only guaranteed chance of some warm sun hitting our skin during August and I do so like to have that to look forward to when I am sitting wrapped in a blanket on a cold, soggy campsite in Dorset.

This week we’ve come to the tough decision to not go abroad next year and this makes me sad.

I really enjoy holidays – including all the planning – and my children get super excited about going, packing their bags themselves etc It’s something we all look forward to as  a family. I enjoy the heat, the food, the culture – they enjoy getting in the sea or pool.

However things have changed.

When did holidays get SO expensive? I’ve blinked and they’ve increased by about £3k!

Last summer we went to Italy. I love Italy. It’s still your best chance I think of reasonable flights, good food and culture however Northern Italy, which is our choice destination, is not really a pool holiday type of place – and if they have them, they come at a premium. After a few years of hectic holidays, we’re all craving a total relaxation break but alas it appears not to be.

Now, I know we have to pay a premium to go in the school holidays and as a parent of two school age children, I’ve always accepted that but your average 2 week holiday in Spain, self-catering, is about £3k now. That’s outrageous. And I’m sorry, but I am just not paying that for two of us to sleep on a sofa bed, sitting around a pool with only British people  to talk to (where you will have had to leg it at 6am to even get a  hope of a sun lounger…forget about a brolly!) eating overpriced egg and chips and watered down beer.

Who is paying that? Honestly? Clearly lots of people are but I’ve got to the point now where I’d just rather not go on holiday than waste that much cash.

We’ve made the decision to not be tempted into a Brits abroad  holiday and save our money for a better holiday, so in 2016 we will skip the holiday and save for a trip to America or Canada in 2017. I costed up two weeks all-inclusive at a good 4* resort in Spain and it came back about £1k cheaper than two weeks at Disneyworld Florida with meals and park tickets – I know what I’d rather do?!  We’d book for 2016 but again, flight prices are so ridiculously extortionate that we’ll save for a year – I won’t put holidays on credit cards.

I’m sorry for the rant, but is it just me? How is everyone affording these holidays? We’re not poor by any means but it just seems like such a criminal rip-off and waste of money.  So this year will stay at home and I don’t mind that really, I love England, there’s nowhere like it in the sunshine but you know, the only thing we’re guaranteed is that it will rain 6 days out of 7, which is slightly depressing.

Would love to know your thoughts and what your holiday plans for 2016 are – inspire me!

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PS Can someone please remind me of this rant when I am bemoaning the English weather and whinging about going camping yet again next year?

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Slow-cooked Beef and Broccoli


I’ve had a few people ask about this recipe recently since I posted about it on Meal Planning Monday.

I’ve rediscovered my slow cooker recently and am LOVING it. Seriously, cannot understand why I haven’t been using it more!

I stumbled across this recipe, and several different variations, on Pinterest a while back and made a couple of adjustments – was delicious. One of the things I was asked recently was about the broccoli – seems that some people have had mixed results with broccoli in the slow cooker. This recipe only sees it being added right at the end so, personally, I didn’t find there were any taste or texture issues. I can’t imagine that having it in there from the beginning would be a great idea – though, I am partial to soggy broccoli, much to Mr M’s disgust!

This recipe will serve approx 6, depending on how large you like your portions and can obviously be very easily halved!

Slow-cooked Beef and Broccoli


240ml beef stock
50ml light soy sauce
60ml oyster sauce
40g light brown sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1kg diced beef (I used thick cut rump steak)
2 tbsp cornflour
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets


Whisk together the beef stock, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil and minced garlic.

Lightly oil your slow cooker and place the beef into the bottom. Add the sauce and gently mix everything together to combine. Pop the lid on and cook for about an hour and a half on a low heat.

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together 60ml of water with the cornflour before stirring into the slow cooker and adding the broccoli. Cover again and cook on high for another 30 minutes.

Serve immediately.

We served this with rice, spring rolls and prawn crackers and it was so good – perfect weekend food. Not as easy as getting a takeaway but certainly as tasty!

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Halloween Fire Safety


I was recently contacted by fancy dress company Escapade who were sharing their Fire Safety Guide in the run-up to Halloween. I decided that this was something I wanted to share with my readers because I am sure many of you, like myself, were horrified to hear about the trauma that poor Claudia Winkleman and her daughter were faced with last year.  It was horrible to read about – there but for the grace of god – and really hard viewing her interview with Watchdog earlier this year too.

Escapade told me that recent statistics reveal that in 2013 there were 401 injuries and 6 deaths from accidental candle fire and in the same year, 82 fire-related injuries occurred between Halloween and Bonfire night in London alone.

Obviously Halloween and Bonfire night are times for fun but it’s also really important to be vigilant about fire safety at this time of year.

Escapade consider it hugely important to work with suppliers who share their values and their shops and warehouses stock children’s costumes that have been rigorously tested by manufacturers and suppliers to make sure they fully comply with European regulations on flammability.  They’ve also created a Fire Safety Guide, speaking to experts such as St Johns Ambulance, London Fire Brigade, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.  You can read the guide here and discover what to do in the event of a fire-related injury, which is essential reading as my first instinct would be to panic.

In return for sharing this information with you, Escapade are sending me one of their LED Pumpkin Lights. This is the first time they have stocked these lights, which have seven colour variations. Everyone, not only Escapade, is urging families to replace candles in their pumpkins with an LED light so that children and pets will not be at risk of injury and I think they are a great idea, in fact I have been using LED tealights in mine for years (and at Christmas too for that matter). Escapade are providing 1000 complimentary Pumpkin Lights to people purchasing costumes store as well as to all customers who order online. A fantastic initiative!

Do check out the guide and in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this infographic about safe costumes.

Happy Halloween!

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Escapade Fire Safety v2

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