Sunday, 29 September 2013

Souper Sunday - roasted butternut squash (New Covent Garden)

Today Elf went to football training (scored two goals, one left-footed again) and then went conkering (as opposed to conquering) with his mate up the road. Left with all of this free time, I entertained my old friend who was staying, along with her 19 year old neice, who we were trying to help make a life plan. Greasy haired, we sat in our PJs, ate a brunch and gossiped. My friend used the make-up I bought yesterday to give me smokey eyes. I wondered if Mr Humdrum would notice; he did but didn't say anything as he thinks I look weird with anything other than nude eyeshadow on. Anyway, after this I decided to do some baking and made the oaty cookies from my previous post, but swapped the apricots for chocolate drops, and I made soup which I would take to work this week.

Roasted butternut squash from the New Covent Garden Soup for Every Day book. Yummy! We had a cupful with our cheese on toast dinner; Mr Humdrum approved and even Elf said it was yum! The cookies were nice too. I made some large ones and smaller ones for Elf's lunchbox this week.

I wondered on the phone later with my mum why I was feeling all organised and calm and whelmed (rather than overwhelmed). My blood pressure continues to be low (for me) and that's good. My mum wondered if my blood pressure and my calmness were linked. But which came first? Did the lower blood pressure make me feel better, more organised and able to cope? Or did my newly-found inner domestic goddess lower my blood pressure? Who knows?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Selfie Saturday - I need a makeover

I'm sure I've seen a linky for selfie Saturday but I can't locate it. Here's my first pic using the new iOS 7 camera edit feature. Trying to make myself look like a 60s model! I need a makeover ...

Next week I'm going for a spa weekend as a real treat (I don't do this very often) with four friends. No kids and no blokes. Bliss! I'm having a mini facial and mini mani. In preparation I have bought some new make up - purple eye liner, silver/blue shadow and a pink gloss called Turkish Delight. I feel like I need a teenage bedroom night in where I shut myself in, armed with make up and hair stuff to experiment!

Do any of you ever feel like you need a new look? How do you go about it?

Monday, 23 September 2013

The search for new food and Oaty Energy Cookies recipe

Last week's article by Polly Williams in the Guardian's Family section, entitled The Munch Bunch, explained the reason for the £12,000 extra that a boy costs to raise than a girl - appetite. Polly states "a magic porridge pot would be the perfect solution" and she lists two omelettes, Weetabix and toast as her teenage son's breakfast.

This was exactly what I'd been thinking. Well not exactly, as my boy is 7, but man, can he eat? Polly's friend states a boy needs 4 meals a day. That's my boy too. Breakfast - 3 Weetabix. Either a packed lunch (with 6-7 items) plus snack bar, or a cooked lunch and a snack bar, snacks after school, dinner, topped off with Weetabix for supper. And he can eat in between this too. My mother-in-law told me that there will come a time when you can't get enough bread or cereals down them. And there's nothing to him, not one ounce of fat. It all gets burnt off.

I'm always on the look-out for home-made solutions. I tried flapjacks. Many, many times. They always break up. I know you probably have the fool-proof recipe for me, but I've probably already tried it. Brownies - now mine are fab - but they are quite expensive to cook and do you really expect us to keep loads leftover for your packed lunches and snacks? No. Buns go down, well they just go down the hatch. They're not favourites.

So today I looked through my recipe file under Baking (here I just put absolute favourites that I know work) and found Oaty Energy Cookies. I think they came from a BBC Good Food magazine, and they are definitely in the Cooking With Kids section. Great, easy for me, can whip them out in no time.

Well I was right, it was a very easy recipe, with all but one being store cupboard staples. The condensed milk in a squeezy bottle is the only thing you might not have. It honestly took about 5 mins to prep, 10 mins to put together and 20-25 minutes in the oven.

Here goes!

Oaty energy cookies

50g apricots snipped small with scissors
50g soft butter
50g light brown sugar
2tbsp condensed milk (I buy it in squeezy bottles and it keeps for ages in the fridge)
50g rolled oats
85g self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add condensed milk, beat well, then add oats and apricots.
4. Add flour and mix until it starts to disappear (you can use your hands too).
5. Bring the dough together and break into 6 equal lumps.
6. Make 6 balls, then squash each one slightly onto a baking tray covered with baking parchment.
7. Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden on the edges. Leave to cool on the tray.

You can make 9 smaller ones, or double up the recipe and make 12. I'm going to add chocolate chips next time instead of apricots. Racy! I'm also going to see how to cut down on the sugar. I have lots of that agave stuff in the cupboard - I'll investigate.

Best thing? My son liked them and he is fussy. I liked them. I gave one to a friend for her birthday tonight... haven't heard if she's still alive! I could knock these out once a week, have enough for packed lunches and one each for a treat. Go me!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Football frenzy

Up until now, it's just been sports day and 10-length time trials at swimming that have moved my heart into my mouth and rendered it painful to watch. You desperately want them to do as well as they can, you don't want them to be upset with their performance, you wish you could take their place etc etc. 

Well now I can add competitive football matches to this list. Elf has just started in his under 8s team. Two friends play, and we are getting to know the others in the 7-strong team. We know some other parents very well, and it's a good opportunity to catch up over the dodgy bar coffee.

Last Sunday they played for the first time as a team. They'd not even trained together before as a unit. One mum's other son had started the week before in the under 9s and had endured an excruciating 15-1 loss. It's not that they're bad players; they just haven't had the chance to gel, nor to receive the specialised team training yet. So this week we fully expected the same. It has been explained to us that our teams are not about winning at any cost; they know they're going to lose quite a few before the training begins to show. They lost a good player last year as his parents were concerned the team weren't winning enough. It's more important to develop the individual, success will come. 

Will it today, we asked last Sunday? Not quite, they lost 4-0 but they held their own and played (in everyone's opinion) very well. For that mum, she could watch without hiding her eyes! Her other son's match was lost 2-1 but with her son as the scorer! For this mum, I had the added potential pain as Elf was in goal for the second half. Yes he did let in two goals, but he saved many, many more and did his team proud. I am proud of him. Roll on the next match this Sunday!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A Humdrum A-Z of summer holidays A-D

A is for Are we there yet?
One and a quarter hours into our four hour trip I hear it. It's not actually Are we there yet, more How long? I was driving and Elf was in the front seat, so we were able to converse in between bouts of DS, PSP, reading and listening to his iPod (he kept asking me to turn my music down!). I did take the opportunity to explain miles per hour and distance covered. He's seven, but he understood that if I'm going at 70mph, then it's going to take just under and hour to go 60 miles.

B is for beaches, hence the photo.
We are not a theme park family, I tell people. Don't get me wrong, they have their place. We use Paulton's Park as a meeting place with my best friend's family once a year, and the boys have been known to go to Legoland on an inset day. But not at the expense of the countryside and certainly not the beach! I spoke to a boy at school the other day who said he'd been to a seaside town very near where I grew up in Cornwall. I asked him about the town and what he'd done there. Turns out he'd been to all of Cornwall's theme park places, but had not been to the beach in the town! What???

C is for caravan.
Yes I know. We normally camp. We are campers. Glampers if we can get electricity. But this year we borrowed my in laws' caravan in Cornwall. Wow! It was certainly a nice change to be warm at night. I think we are about to book up next year too...

D is for dirty.
I don't know how many days I wore the same sundress for. Or Elf wore the same tshirts. We lived in swimming costumes and wet suits!

E is for everyone happy - to be published in a few days.