Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer Holidays Week #1

I can't believe that the first week of the summer holidays is already over! We have had a busy week, but it's all been good fun! :) Lots of days have been spent out of the house without a camera - luckily I have a few iPhone photos - via Instagram - to share!


On Monday, Izzy and I went to the beach...

We had lunch at my Mum's beach hut (egg mayo salad pot) but on the way back I had to stop at a new shop I'd spotted on the way down to the beach...our town now has a frozen yoghurt bar!!!

I had Berry Alert - fro yo with strawberries, blueberries & strawberry sauce...

Delicious! :) I think my fruity one worked really well with the frozen yoghurt. Izzy had a chocolatey one - with maltesers, crumbled flake, marshmallows and chocolate sauce, but I thought it tasted a bit strange in contrast to the tangy yoghurt. She still liked it though! :)


Most of Tuesday was shown in my What I Ate Wednesday post. I didn't actually do that much that day - it was mainly a housework/gardening day for Liam and I...

but Izzy had a great day - going to the play park and lunch with my Mum, and then going birthday outfit shopping with my little sister - she was out the house 11am-5pm!! My sister texted me various photos of Izzy trying on outfits, but this was the one they decided on in the end!


On Wednesday, we'd planned to have a relaxing day with not too many plans. But at 9am I got a text from my friend, and by 9.30am we were on our way out of the house! My friend and I took the kids on the bus to a local garden place with play areas. The children had great fun...


We waited until Liam finished work on Thursday, before heading down town for frozen yoghurt. I had the same berry option I'd had on Monday...

but supplemented it with Lizi's chocolate granola and honey rice puffins!

The others had the chocolatey version, of course!

We then headed to the local park which has recently had a big re-vamp. This was our first visit since the new stuff had been put in (although Izzy had been twice on Tuesday, with my Mum and with my little sister). There is now a zip-wire...

Some kind of spinny thing...

And a rock-climbing wall...

Very cool! :)


Most of Friday day-time was spent decorating butterfly birthday cakes, but in the evening Liam and I got to go on a rare night out! We first headed to a vegetarian/vegan food van to get my dinner...

where I bought a pitta filled with lots of different salad, falafel, tahini and houmous...

before heading to the pub to meet my sister and her boyfriend for the evening. My Dad was there at the start as well, before going back to ours to take over from my Grandma on the babysitting front, and bought us all our first round of drinks as well as hog roast for everyone else - thanks Dad!

Despite appearances, my drink is actually a Pimms and Lemonade, and Liam's in the background is a pear cider! We spent the evening with my sister and her boyfriend listening to live music and chatting to each other and the various people that popped by - busy busy! It was a really good night :)

On the way home, Liam and I couldn't resist the pancake van! Liam had a pancake with Nutella and marshmallows...

and I chose one with banana, sliced almonds and brandy toffee sauce...

Clearly it was delicious - a great end to the evening!!


I have already blogged about - it mainly consisted of Izzy's 5th birthday party!


Today we have had lots of visitors to see the birthday girl!!

We started with a fun breakfast though - Izzy requested a smoothie, but in reality her favourite part is the toppings, so I set them out in little bowls for her to put on herself. Lizi's chocolate granola, fresh cherries and desiccated coconut...

With Cocoa-Raspberry "Pudding" Smoothies as our base, Izzy started topping...

She was loving the coconut - "just one more handful"...

but did eventually move on to the other toppings - at the end she said her smoothie was better than mine as hers was more "snowy"!!

Luckily, unlike the second breakfast in this post, this breakfast got the thumbs up...

and Toby wanted to get in on the smoothie action too (I did offer him some of mine, but seemingly that wasn't good enough!!)

Haha, funny photo!! She did actually happily give him a few mouthfuls, but he can be a bit pushy (!!)

After breakfast, the visitors began - this morning my sister and her boyfriend came round, as well as my Grandma. This afternoon, my Grandma & Grandpa popped in. They all wanted to see Izzy and give her pressies! They also came for cake too - this morning we had the whole 2nd cake untouched, but luckily it has gradually been eaten...

More has been eaten since this photo - we now just have the body and the left-hand side left for tomorrow. Phew! Maybe we wont be stuck eating cake all week!!

Right, that is me done for the night! I've also spent hours writing a very photo-heavy post that I will publish tomorrow morning for Izzy's birthday - it's been fun looking back at all her baby photos!!

What has been the best thing you've done this week? I've had so much fun, I don't think I can even pick just one day! The beach on Monday and the night out on Friday were probably the most relaxing times, and of course the arrival of fro-yo to our town is always a good thing!

Also, in case you missed my request at the end of yesterday's post - any offers of guest posts would be appreciated - please email me at Thanks! :)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

5th Birthday Beach Party

Today was our daughter's birthday party. Her actual birthday isn't until Monday but she seems to have a whole birthday weekend going for her - tomorrow we have various visits from relatives wanting to see the birthday girl as well so she will be constantly entertained!! :)

She changed her mind for breakfast this morning - she had said she wanted to have a smoothie, but decided to make the most of Liam - our chief pancake-cooker - being home to have pancakes! The others had theirs with lemon juice & sugar, but I decided to have mine with some stewed plums and lemon yoghurt...

2 of these completely filled me up - the fruit & the yoghurt made them way more filling than usual!!

Late morning, we took the butterfly birthday cakes, as well as various other party bits, down to my Mum's beach hut to set up for the party. Loads of our family helped today - thank you so much to everyone! :)

The weather wasn't as sunny as I would have liked - in fact it was really quite windy and chilly - but all the children still had fun playing in the sand and paddling in the sea which is the main thing!

There were lots of other children there (14 children and 15 adults in total I think!) but I'm reluctant to post photos of non-family members, so I've had to be really selective with the photos I use - difficult when most were group shots, so apologies if this post doesn't seem to give the full picture!!

As well as playing on the beach, we also had lunch (thanks to my sister's boyfriend who was in charge of the BBQ!)...

birthday cake...

and presents...

Izzy had such a lovely day, and I'm so glad that so many of her friends were able to make it despite it being in the school holidays, and so many of our family came down to help out! Quite a few parents thought we were very 'brave' to host a party on the beach, but all the children were so well behaved and we had enough adults to "allocate" them one child to watch each, so it all worked really well :)

Izzy was also completely spoiled with all the lovely presents she was given...

A big thanks to anyone who happens to be reading it, she loves all her gifts :) Lots of new things to play with, and it's not even her actual birthday yet...such a lucky girl!

Liam and I are absolutely exhausted this evening - as I'm sure the rest of our family must be - no matter how successful a party, it is still quite stressful! I spent most of the time counting heads to make sure we hadn't lost anybody!!!

Also, whilst I remember, would anybody like to write a guest post for me? I've never written or hosted a guest post before, so I'm not entirely sure how it works to be honest but I'm sure between us we can figure it out! We're going away for a few days at the end of the week, so it would be great if I had a couple of posts I could put up on the blog while I'm internet-less. Email me at if you're interested. Thank you :)

Butterfly Birthday Cakes

Ta da...!

I hired this tin for a local store...

and used this madeira cake recipe. The first cake I made, I followed the recipe exactly - only using 3 eggs - but it didn't even half fill the tin!

So for the second cake I increased the recipe to use 4 eggs, and it worked much better. I also put a lemon drizzle on the second cake, although I must've made it too thick as it didn't really drizzle and the cake therefore has random white blotches on it...luckily I made them vaguely symmetrical!

I was really pleased with how these turned out! I made them on Thursday night, and then yesterday morning the (almost) birthday girl helped me ice them!

Obviously white icing is too boring...

and everyone knows that the best part of cake decorating is licking the icing whisks...

but eventually some cake decorating did happen as well!

Our daughter - Izzy - painted the bodies of the butterflies and stuck the sweets on, whilst I had the task of piping on the details...I'd forgotten how much my hand always shakes when I try to pipe difficult!

We got there in the end though, and I'm quite pleased with the results :) Butterfly #1...

and butterfly #2...

& now we're finishing off final party preparations before heading down to the beach! It's a little cloudy but warm enough for everyone to have fun - lucky as it looks like the weather is going to turn at the start of next week!

Liam and I were reminiscing yesterday about our birthday cakes as children. My Mum had a cake decorating book which she used for great ideas - I  particularly remember a Humpty Dumpty cake using milky ways for the wall; a 'Jaws' cake using brown sugar for the sand, blue icing for the sea and jaffa cakes for the shark; and a spider cake using huge rum truffles for the spider bodies - all delicious!! Liam had a Spider Man cake that sticks out in his memory, and Izzy has already decided she wants a Tinkerbell cake next year!! Any childhood cakes that you remember fondly? I enjoy making the children birthday cakes, but need more practise for some of the more adventurous ideas I think!!

Anyway, enough chatting, I better get on with cucumber slicing and pass-the-parcel wrapping!! Have a great day everyone! :)

Friday, 29 July 2011

Breakfast For Two

One of the things I love the most about the school holidays is the relaxed mornings. No rushing to get everyone dressed, breakfasted and out the house. We can take our time. We can make 'special' breakfasts that we can all enjoy.

In the Easter holidays I posted about daughter and I enjoying Carrot Cake Smoothies For Two, and these summer holidays have already got off to a good breakfast start as well.

Yesterday we shared baked oats.

Coconut Baked Oats
(serves 1-2)
  • 50g oats
  • 160ml coconut cream
  • 1 medjool date, chopped
  • 10g coconut
  • few drops coconut extract (optional)
  • splash of milk if necessary
  • 1 chocolate Alpro pudding (as topping)
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the Alpro pudding and divide between 2 mini loaf tins (I put about two thirds of the mix in mine, a third in daughter's)
  2. Bake at 190C for 20 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto plates.
  4. Top with a chocolate Alpro pudding, if desired. (This would of course also be great topped with coconut butter, melted chocolate, peanut butter etc!)
Before turning out:

Before topping:

And the finished product:

I loved how coconutty this was. Delicious. I think daughter agreed...

This morning we also had time to cook for breakfast. My Mum had stewed the plums I'd given her and loved them, so I decided to do the same with mine.

Mum's Stewed Plums
(serves 3-4)
  • 425g plums, stoned and halved
  • 115g brown sugar (roughly 25% of the weight of the stoned plums)
  • 2 tbsp honey (my idea of a tbsp may have been a bit larger than Mum's!!)
  • splash of water

Cook gently for 12-15 minutes until it looks something like this...

I served some of the plums on cinnamon raisin bagels with a blob of lemon yoghurt on top...

This was so delicious - the plums were sweet, but still with a slight tartness, yum!

Unfortunately daughter didn't agree...

but luckily baby was more than happy to eat her portion instead!

Ah well, you win some, you lose some!! Tomorrow daughter has requested that we make smoothies, and apparently as it's the "day of her party" I have to agree!! :-D

Did you get to choose special breakfasts when it was your birthday? I can't really remember what happened on mine - except that I was usually at school during exam period - but daughter is getting to choose breakfast tomorrow and has also, of course, chosen to have pasta bake on Monday - her actual birthday. I like getting her involved in choosing our meals anyway, so the fact that it's her birthday just makes it extra special in her eyes.
Right, off to decorate cakes!! I baked them last night and they turned out really well, so daughter and I are going to decorate them now whilst baby naps. I think lots of deep breaths are going to be needed on my part - I sometimes struggle with her helping me with baking as I want things to look how I imagine them...but they are her birthday cakes, so if she has fun helping to decorate them then (I guess!) that's more important than them looking perfect!! I'll show you photos of how they turn out tomorrow! :)
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