Learning: Take the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge

We are getting quite into STEM crafts and activities at home now. We’ve been busy with jellybean architecture, made a sponge house to grow cress on and this week we’ve been using the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards from Mrs Mactivity and seeing what we could create.

Lego play is well known for having all kinds of great developmental benefits, these include –

  • Promoting fine motor skills
  • Encouraging team work
  • Improving creativity
  • Developing problem solving and mathematical thinking
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing lateral thinking and planning skills

Crafts: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

Developing STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Maths) skills and encouraging an interest in these areas is so important for all children. I’m lucky that my son is very keen on science and engineering; not so much maths, but we’re working on that. He absolutely loves playing with Lego too, so these Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards were absolutely perfect for him.

We printed out the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards and gathered a few boxes of Lego together. We each chose a challenge and got to work. I made the heart, the present and spelled out the word LOVE. He did an arrow, a heart and he also wrote the word LOVE in Lego.

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

It was really interesting for us to do something a bit different with our Lego and nice to build something which wasn’t a Lego City or Ninjago set. I can see how it worked his problem solving muscles, trying to find the right piece to go in the right place, picking and choosing colours and carefully following the visual instructions on the cards.

I think it’s also helped to show him that he doesn’t just have to build the sets, that he can be a little more creative with his Lego. He especially enjoyed writing with it and went on the write his name and mine. This is definitely something we can build on together at home.

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

This was most definitely a fun thing to do together and the learning is obvious to me, but it’s just fun for him!

The Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards are available to download on the Mrs Mactivity website. You can also find a good selection of other activity sheets there – all designed to be fun and educational too!

 

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

Children’s Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

When my son was just 3 months old he had his first Valentine’s Day. To mark this occasion I bought him a copy of the much-loved classic, Guess How Much I Love You. I’ve read it to him regularly ever since (and he’s 7 years old now).  Guess How Much I Love You and the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” has stuck with us and grown over time; he now loves me to the moon and the stars and the planets and back; and I love him all of that and a little bit more. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here is my selection of five lovely books about love…

Five Lovely Books About Love

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is an absolutely gorgeous book which perfectly sums up how much a parent loves a child. Featuring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare; they take it in turns to try to measure how much love they have for each other. It’s lovely, it’s heartwarming and it’s about the most famous book about love you could think of, for good reason too!

Children's Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. Eric Carle’s books continue to be adored by children, their illustrations are so beautiful and unique and the stories are appealing. The Very Quiet Cricket is one of his lesser known books, but one we all enjoy reading. It’s a wonderful little story of a tiny cricket who can’t make a sound. As he grows, he meets lots of different insects and can’t chirp hello; until he meets a lovely lady cricket and in the moonlight they chirp hello, hello, hello to each other. It’s a lovely, heartwarming story with a chirping surprise at the end!

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury is gorgeous little picture book about babies from all around the world. One thing they all have in common is they have ten little fingers and ten little toes. My son loved me to read this to him, probably because he liked to look at all the children, but I liked reading it because it was really about how much I love my baby.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams’ timeless picture book classic has been read and cherished by many generations of children and their parents. The Velveteen Rabbit is the sometimes sad story of a stuffed rabbit’s wish to become a real rabbit; something he can only achieve this through the love of his owner, a sickly little boy. The book was first published in 1922 and remains loved by generations of children.

I Love You Just The Way You Are by Tammi Salzano is a story which will make mums of boys go all gooey inside. The story follows a day in the life of a mother and son. Their day is packed with activities such as dressing-up, reading, painting, having a bath and saying goodnight. The story has a lovely rhyming rhythm which is great to read aloud. It’s the perfect story to read with your preschooler before bed.

If you’re looking for a lovely book about love for Valentine’s Day; or if you just want to share the most wonderful feeling in the world with your child; then this selection of books about love is a pretty good place to start. What’s your favourite book about love?

Children's Books: Five Lovely Books About Love

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my other children’s book round ups!

This post contains affiliate links.

Breakfast Ideas: American Style Blueberry Pancakes

Pancakes are for life, not just for Shrove Tuesday. I mean, it’s the law to have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, but we also like to have them at other times of the year too. We’re big fans of a weekend pancake breakfast and I love them as a little treat. This week, using a Sweetpea Pantry Grainy Brainy Pancake Mix, I knocked up a quick and easy batch of seriously good American Style Blueberry Pancakes.

The best pancakes I’ve ever had were in America, blueberry pancakes covered in syrup and blueberry compote. I’ve tried several times to replicate that joyous plate of pancakes and I’ve cracked it. Thick, fluffy pancakes with my homemade fridge blueberry jam spooned over. They’re a thing of beauty!

Breakfast Ideas: American Style Blueberry Pancakes

The Grainy Brainy Pancake Mix from Sweetpea Pantry is made with protein-rich buckwheat, quinoa, Omega-3 loaded, heart-friendly flaxseed and teff grains for fibre, calcium, iron and vitamin C. It’s much healthier than any pancake mix I could make!

This pancake mix is a great base on which to build flavour. I mixed it up according the instructions on the box and added 100g of fresh or frozen blueberries and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. I then melted some butter in my good pancake pan and cooked the blueberry pancakes in small batches. The mix made 8 American Style Blueberry Pancakes.

To serve them, I spooned my lovely homemade jam over the top, whipped cream or yogurt are optional but recommended. For extra sweetness if you need it, you could also drizzle over a bit of syrup; this is a treat after all!

Breakfast Ideas: American Style Blueberry Pancakes

The Grainy Brainy Pancake Mix from Sweetpea Pantry (and their other mixes) are available from Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Booths, Marks & Spencer and a range of other retailers. Each mix costs £2.75 and they’re delicious, family friendly mixes with a healthy and nutritious twist.

I was sent a Grainy Brainy Pancake Mix in return for this post. All images and opinions are my own.

Recipe: Fridge Blueberry Jam – perfect with pancakes!

With Shrove Tuesday on the horizon I’ve been busy in the kitchen making my annual pot of Fridge Blueberry Jam. I call it Fridge Blueberry Jam because it’s not quite a set jam and it’s not quite a fruit sauce or compote; it’s somewhere in between. It’s a simple recipe which doesn’t require any great skill, but the results are worth a bit of pot watching and stirring.

Recipe: Fridge Blueberry Jam - perfect with pancakes!

I only make this jam once a year, it’s really easy to throw together and I use frozen blueberries which make everything a little bit more economical. My recipe makes a big jar of jam, but I have to hide it because if I don’t it mysteriously disappears before Pancake Day. The Fridge Blueberry Jam is to my mind at least, the perfect accompaniment to pancakes. My favourite thing is to make American style blueberry pancakes and then spoon this runny, oozing jam over the top. Sometimes I might have some cream, sometimes I might have some syrup. Sometimes the blueberry jam is enough!

Fridge Blueberry Jam

Ingredients
500g blueberries (I used frozen but fresh is fine too)
250g preserving sugar
30mls water
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon

Method
In a large pan ( a preserving one if you have one, don’t worry if not) over a medium heat; tip in all of your ingredients and stir until the sugar melts. Feel free to bash some of the blueberries about a bit with the back of a wooden spoon; this will help them release some juice.

Bring the blueberries up to a low rolling boil. It’s better to take this slow and steady than rush it and push it too far. At this stage put one or two clean jars in a low oven to sterilise them.

Keep an eye on your blueberry jam, keep stirring and after a while you should feel it start to thicken. Scoop any foamy scum off the top (this is just impurities from the fruit and the sugar, it’s not harmful at all) and discard.

Take a cold plate (if you put it in the fridge to chill, that’ll help) and put a dribble of the blueberry jam on. Leave it to cool and if it sets to the consistency you want, then your fridge jam is ready to be put in the jars. If not, keep stirring and testing the jam regularly.

Recipe: Fridge Blueberry Jam - perfect with pancakes!

When it’s ready, carefully remove your jars from the oven (they will be incredibly hot) and pour in your blueberry jam. We use a wide necked funnel for this, but filling a jug and pouring it into the jar works just as well. Work quickly and carefully and get the lids on your jars while everything is still hot.

Leave your jam to cool and them pop it in the fridge for when you need it. I’d take it out of the fridge an hour before you need it if you can. It just takes the chill off it.

Enjoy spooned over pancakes, or it’s excellent on crumpets!

If you enjoyed this fruity recipe, you might also like my recipe for Plum Jelly.

Recipe: Fridge Blueberry Jam - perfect with pancakes!

Giveaway & Review: A New Stylish Slate House Number

There are many ways for your home to make a great first impression; an attractive front door, pots of flowers, a neatly swept path and an easy to read and stylish house number or nameplate.

Since moving to our home seven years ago, we’ve been slowly changing things to how we want them to be. The house has just been freshly painted throughout; the avocado downstairs loo is still on the to do list and this week, we finally put up a slate house number. We’ve been numberless since we moved in, visitors have for seven years been counting down the houses to find us. But the days of receiving texts saying “I can’t find your house” are hopefully now over.

Giveaway & Review: A New Stylish Slate House Number

We ordered our slate house number from The House Name Plate Company. They have been handcrafting house signs and numbers for over 30 years from their workshop in North Wales. I love a slate house number, we had one in our old house and we’ve been meaning to get a new one made up for years.

They have a huge range of signs, and numbers; available in many different colours and in materials such as natural slate, cast brass and aluminium, hand fired ceramic, solid granite and contemporary acrylic. It’s so easy to order; just choose your preferred sign or number style and use the online sign builder to preview and order your own house sign or number.

My sign arrived within a couple of days and was well packaged. We’d chosen a smooth slate and needed two digits engraving onto it. It cost just £20.99 plus £3 postage and packing. The slate came with all the fixings too, so all we needed was a drill with a masonry bit and ten minutes to put it up.

It looks so smart now and really finishes off the front of the house. Even the postman has said very complimentary things about it. I have no idea why it took us seven years to order and put up our house number plate!

To see the full range of house number and name plates, visit The House Name Plate Company website.

Giveaway & Review: A New Stylish Slate House Number

WIN A house number plate worth £25

To be in with a chance to win a house number plate worth up to £25, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a house number plate worth up to £25.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 28th February 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

I was sent a slate house number in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are my own.

Recipe: Showstopping Turkish Delight Cake

Turkish Delight is one of those things people love or hate. I am firmly in the love camp. For me, it’s always had a hint of the exotic about it, those romantic Laurence of Arabia style adverts from the 80’s mean that this rose (or lemon) scented sweet is wonderfully evocative. What could be a more romantic tea-time treat than this showstopping Turkish Delight Cake?

I love Turkish Delight in all its forms; from the chocolate covered Fry’s version, to the sugar dusted boxes of these jellied fancies you get at Christmas. During my weekly shop I spotted a box of Turkish Delight thins from Morrison’s and I knew exactly what I’d do with them. My Turkish Delight Cake was born!

Recipe: Showstopping Turkish Delight Cake

It’s a stunning looking (and tasting) cake. It looks fancier and harder to bake than it really is. If you can bake a sponge cake and mix up some buttercream, then you’ve got all the skills needed to make this cake.

Showstopping Turkish Delight Cake

Ingredients:
8oz butter or margarine
8oz caster sugar
4 eggs (large)
8oz self raising flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of two lemons

For the buttercream:
250g icing sugar
250g butter (softened)
3 drops of Holy Llama Rose Extract Spice Drops
Red food colouring

To decorate:
Turkish Delight Thins (or similar)
Traditional Turkish Delight pieces

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and grease three 9 inch cake tins.

Cream your butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and using a hand mixer combine until the batter is smooth and airy.

Divide your cake batter equally between the three tins (I weigh my filled tins to make sure they’re roughly equal) and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool.

While your sponge cakes are cooling, sift your icing sugar and beat together with the softened butter. Add your drops of rose extract, beating thoroughly and tasting as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away!

Once you’re happy with the flavour, add a few drops of the red food colouring and mix well and add more colouring until you’re happy with the shade of pink you’ve got. Make sure your buttercream is well combined and smooth.

On a cake stand or cake board (or wherever your cake is going to sit) put a heaped teaspoon of butter cream in the middle and position your first sponge cake on top of that. This will anchor your cake in place and stop it sliding about.

Cover the top of that sponge layer with a thin spread of buttercream and put your second sponge on top of that. Repeat the process with the third sponge layer.

Now for the slightly time consuming bit; using a palette knife spread the rose buttercream around the sides of the cake. I found it easier to plaster on more buttercream than I needed and then smooth it off. It doesn’t have to be a perfect finish, but cover it as best you can, this is easier if your buttercream is soft. If if’s too hard, give it another beating.

Once the sides of the cake are covered, spread a thick-ish layer of buttercream on the top. I usually ripple the buttercream with the knife, but you can do a smooth finish if you’d prefer. Cut the Turkish Delight Thins in half into triangles and do the same with the Turkish Delight pieces, although they will look more like pyramids.

Arrange the Turkish Delight thins and pieces on top of the cake in whatever way you think looks good. I did haphazard rows of thins with the pieces dotted about.

Recipe: Showstopping Turkish Delight Cake

My Turkish Delight Cake is a real treat. It’s rich and sweet and absolutely packed with the traditional flavours of Turkish Delight; from the light lemon zested sponge, to the sweet rose scented buttercream – it’s a treat and a half for Turkish Delight fans!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my Romantic Rose Cupcakes.

Recipe: Showstopping Turkish Delight Cake

Valentine’s Day Crafts: 52 Reasons Why I Love You

After 23 years of Valentine’s Days with my husband, I’m not saying romance is dead, but the budget has been somewhat slashed. We have for a number of years had a £5 gift and a card policy; which means that Valentine’s Day often requires a bit of creativity. His favourite of the homemade Valentine’s gifts I’ve made for him was the 52 Reasons Why I Love You pack of cards. It’s a favourite of mine too, because it’s so darn cute!

Valentine's Day Crafts: 52 Reasons Why I Love You

It’s remarkably easy to put together. All you need is a pack of cards, a permanent marker and a list of 52 Reasons Why I Love You. That last one is the tricky one. My advice would be to take a few days to list some of the reasons why you love your partner. I found that I could find 30 or so reasons pretty easily, but then I started to write things like “I love you because you take the bins out”; which is a valid reason but lacks a little romance.

You can use a normal pack of cards. I found a nice heart shaped pack of cards and used them, but you can find a similar pack here on Amazon. Using your list of the 52 Reasons Why I Love You; neatly write a reason on every card in the pack. You may want to write the biggest and best reasons on the heart cards, and make sure you write it on the suit side, not the patterned side of the cards.

Here are a few of my reasons to give you an idea of what I wrote –
  • You cook amazing meals
  • You work so hard for our family
  • You’re ace in every single way
  • You’re generous with everyone
  • I love snuggling with you
  • I’ve known and loved you forever
  • I love the way you tuck me in at night

This 52 Reasons Why I love You gift is such a lovely thing to give someone. I know my husband looks at the cards often. The reasons are full of our shared history, our shared interests, our family and all the special things about him which I love and appreciate.

It’s such a small, inexpensive and simple gift. But it’s something that your partner will probably really appreciate and treasure for many years to come.

See what other Valentine’s Day crafts you could make here.

Valentine's Day Crafts: 52 Reasons Why I Love You

Kitchen Hacks: 7 Time Saving Cheats for Busy Cooks

I’m one of those cook-from-scratch types who cheats and feels no shame about it at all. I will happily spend hours watching over a bubbling stew, just don’t ask me to make some mash to go with it. I’ve been thinking about the kind of time saving cheats I use in my kitchen

I have certain rules for cheating which I’ve imposed on myself. For example, I won’t use a jar of pasta sauce, but I will use a jar of pesto. I can knock up a decent tomato pasta sauce in a few minutes; but pesto requires a blender, a garden full of basil and a whole load of ingredients I generally can’t be bothered with.

Kitchen Hacks: 7 Time Saving Cheats for Busy Cooks

I also have my ability (or rather lack of ability) to stand in the kitchen for hours prepping meals. I have a spinal injury, chronic pain and neurological problems which can make hours of prep intolerable for me. Sometimes my hands and arms can go numb too. The idea of peeling spuds with numb hands sets off a number of health and safety alarm bells in my head. Sometimes it’s just better to choose convenience over cut fingers. In short, there are some time saving cheats I’m prepared to forgive myself for, here are some of my favourite ones.

7 Time Saving Cheats for Busy Cooks

One – Frozen mashed potato. I first discovered frozen mash on a trip to Ikea and I’ve been buying it from supermarkets ever since. It costs around £1 a bag and each bag is enough for two meals for our 3 person family. It’s just frozen mashed potato with milk and a bit of seasoning. I usually add more milk and butter, a few minutes in the microwave and you’ve got beautiful, smooth, lump-free mash. There’s no going back to mashing my own from scratch now, and I’m not even sorry.

Two – Ready to roll pastry. I can and do make pastry from scratch when I want to and have the time, but the ready rolled stuff costs about £1 and saves about half an hour of prepping and cleaning up afterwards. If I’m throwing a quick pie or tart together, this is such a time saving ingredient. There’s no shame in using shop bought pastry, no shame at all!

Three – Lazy garlic/chilli/ginger etc. There’s no doubt that fresh is probably better in this case, but unless I’m doing serious batch cooking, then buying a whole bulb of garlic for one or two cloves is a bit wasteful. My garlic tends to start sprouting before I get round to using it all. Tubes or jars of ready crushed garlic, chilli or ginger are a great store-cupboard staple I wouldn’t be without.

Four – Frozen, ready prepared vegetables. Frozen veg has always lived in my freezer, but in recent years it’s taken a bit of a step forward. You can get ready chopped onion which saves you tears and oniony smelling fingers, I like frozen sliced mushrooms and frozen sliced peppers. They’re so handy if I’m making a quick pasta dish and need to up the veg content. My freezer is also always home to a bag of frozen cauliflower. The cauliflower makes a quick and hearty soup or gets thrown into macaroni cheese to make it more of a balanced meal.

I can also recommend frozen butternut squash pieces. Trying to cut a butternut squash is like trying to finely dice a brick, save yourself time and a trip to A&E by just buying it ready diced and frozen. It tastes no different but it is hard to find, so buy a couple of bags, you won’t regret it.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Five – Microwavable rice pouches. My husband makes beautiful rice, I don’t. I have given up trying and usually use boil in the bag rice; although I do flavour the cooking water with stock or turmeric. These days I always have a couple of microwavable pouches in the cupboard. They’re quite expensive and not as healthy as rice you’d cook yourself, but they’re really handy if you’re rubbish at cooking rice or need a speedy supper.

Six – Grated cheese. I use grated cheese a lot at home. You can buy ready grated cheese, but I find that it behaves a little differently to normal blocks of cheese. This is because it’s usually coated in starch to stop it clumping together. I do sometimes still buy it; but often I’ll buy a big block and run it through the grater setting on my food processor, box it up and use it when I need it. Sometimes I just grate by hand until I get bored, and put it in a box in the fridge until I need it.

Seven – Breadcrumbs are part of so many meals I cook. If I know I’ll be getting the food processor out for some batch cooking chopping, then a few days before I’ll buy a crusty loaf to go stale, chunk it up and whizz it in the food processor until it’s crumbs. I put the crumbs in a tub in the freezer, if you give it a shake every so often the crumbs should separate beautifully. You’ll have enough fresh breadcrumbs for a few months for almost no effort.

And if all else fails, order a takeaway! What are your time saving kitchen cheats? Do you worship at the altar of frozen mash too?

Kitchen Hacks: 7 Time Saving Cheats for Busy Cooks

Giveaway & Review: Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps

I have a monthly get together and craft night with some friends, we each take turns to host it. Craft night means three things, prosecco, crafts and crisps. This week it was my turn to host. I chilled a couple of bottles of fizz, dug out some craft stuff and revealed, with something of a flourish, a large bag of Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps.

“They’re microwavable!” I announced. “They’re hot crisps!” I said with a bit of a fanfare. My friends were understandably quite curious and keen to try this new style of snack.

Review: Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps

I opened the bag, took out the dip and microwaved the crisps for 30 seconds. We tried the Fairfields Farm Cheese and Chive flavour Heat & Eat crisps. Inside the bag is a small tub of delicious caramelised onion dip.

The Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps are good crunchy, thick cut crisps, the kind I would buy anyway as they’re great for dipping. I like that they come with a little pot of dip included. The caramelised onion was so good, I’d quite like them to sell jars of the stuff.

Review: Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps

There are two flavours – Sea Salted with Tomato Salsa Dip and Cheese & Chive with Caramelised Onion Dip. Each bag contains 125g of hand-cooked crisps and a 50g dip. When the crisps are hot, they are what I imagine freshly cooked crisps taste like, fresh and crunchy. You do have to eat them fairly quickly because they do cool down; but they’re still excellent when they’ve cooled and the hot crisps are a real talking point. The girls were impressed and they all said they would buy them again.

Fairfields Farm which is in East Anglia have been making crisps from their potatoes since 2006. The Heat & Eat Crisps were launched just a few months ago and are hand cooked on the farm using renewable energy.

These new Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps cost around £1.85 a bag, which I think is a very good price for good quality crunchy crisps which come with a dip.

Review: Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps

Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps are currently available in a wide selection of Tesco Stores across the UK to find your nearest stockist visit http://fairfieldsfarmcrisps.co.uk/

Win a selection of Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps

To be in with a chance to win a selection of Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a selection of Fairfields Farm Heat & Eat Crisps.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 25th February 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Meal Planning Monday: Shaking off the January Blues

It’s the end of January and I’m shattered. If it were just me, I’d happily exist on a diet of things on toast; but the boys need a proper meal on the table and I need to eat a bit better too. January is about as down in the doldrums as it gets. There’s not a great deal of seasonal veg about and the dark evenings lend themselves to stodgy comfort food dishes. We love a hearty stew as much as the next family, but we’re all starting to crave slightly lighter meals.

I don’t write a meal plan every week, because I don’t do a shop every week. I do a big online shop about every 2-3 weeks and plan 12 meals or so for the next fortnight. The meals are not fixed to specific days, I just cook what I fancy depending on what needs using up and how much time I have to cook. I’ll make quick meals like pasta on days when dinner time needs a speedy turnaround. We almost always eat at the table and I like to cook a nice family dinner a few times a week so we can sit, chat and take our time over it all.

My big shop will arrive on Monday evening and I’m more excited than I should be that my empty fridge will be full again. I’ve spent a smidge over £100 on my shop and it should be enough for 12 meals. I’m blogging a weekly recipe post (each Friday, keep an eye out as some of them are really, really lovely). In my shop this week I’ve also bought baking things for six new and original recipe blog posts. I’d say 12 meals and six bakes for around £100 makes me a slightly smug but very frugal shopper!

This coming week feels like a bit of a lazy one for me. Most of what I’ve planned are meals which are quick to prep and cook; or things I can throw in a slow cooker and forget about.

Meal Planning Monday: Shaking off the January Blues

Saturday night is Dad cooks night and he’s promised us his signature dish – the Full English (sausages, beans, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast). It might not be the healthiest meal, but he does make an effort to cook things without fat and loads up our plates with the healthier veg.

I think veg is going to be a real focus for me over the next few weeks. Whatever meal I’m serving, I’ll make sure there’s a big pile of fresh veg to go with it. I’m really craving a fresh, zingy salad with lots of herbs too. I’m so done with boiled carrots right now.

If you’re looking for meal planning inspiration, check out my 55 family meals your kids will actually eat!
Hijacked By Twins