Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Recipe time - Easy chicken stir-fry

A totally delicious recipe that is fabulously easy to make.

Ingredients (to serve 4): 
3 chicken breasts (chopped into strips), 3 tbsp dark soy sauce and 3tbsp light soy sauce, 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 cm fresh ginger (finely chopped), 250ml chicken stock, 1 red chilli (cut into rings), 1 red pepper (cut into strips), 200g sugar snap peas (topped and tailed), 1tbsp cornflour (mixed with a little water), dry egg noodles (3 blocks).


  • First, make sure your toddler is stationed ready for action.
  • marinate the chicken in the soy sauce for at least five minutes
  • start cooking the noodles
  • heat some oil in a wok and fry the ginger and garlic for a minute.
  • Add the chicken and marinating juices and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the cornflour paste and then add the pepper, chilli and sugar snap peas and cook for another 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve on a bed of noodles.

I made a couple of changes to this recipe:  

  • I used frozen stir-fry chicken from Tesco, so took it out of the freezer a couple of hours before cooking and put it with the soy sauce to let it start defrosting and marinade at the same time.  This also meant that I fried the chicken for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger, and then added the marinading juices.
  • I also used some chopped chilli that I keep in a small zip-lock bag in the freezer rather than cut into rings - you know how supermarkets only sell chillies in packs and you only ever need one or two so the rest go manky, I just chop them up and stick them in the freezer to use as and when required.
  • I cooked for longer than specified, partly because of the frozen chicken, and partly because I have a baby and toddler, and don't like to be rushed because you never know what might happen to interrupt everything!
My little monkey, part way through cooking, spotted a box of Jacobs biscuits for cheese - the cheeky monkey looked at them, looked at me and came out with, "Would you like some biscuits?" (read - I would like a biscuit mummy, but this is a cunning way around it!)  He's not even two yet - how did he learn such cunning?  Of course I gave him a kiss and a biscuit!  Here he is enjoying the biscuit, and below, stirring the cornflour paste.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Ideas for a two-year old's birthday

So it isn't very long (three weeks yesterday) until my little man turns two.  Now that the holiday is done and my topsy-turvy brain seems to be functioning again it's time to come up with some ideas for his birthday present - yikes!
Mighty mini trikeFrom Mummy and Daddy we'd like to get him a pedal trike, but so far I can only find the ones with the handle on the back for the parents, or character ones.  I'd like a sturdy one that he can bomb around the garden on, the type that you often see outdoors at nurseries, but I can't find one cheaper than about £75 and I'm not spending that!

I'd also thought about a set of sports equipment that he can grow in to.  A collection of wooden cricket bat, small tennis racket, bean bags, a hoop, tennis balls and so on - I think I'll probably go down that route, so will need to get my head around it.

In terms of other ideas.  It's difficult because I think most children have far too many toys.  So many that most don't get played with, the children are overwhelmed by them all, and have little appreciation for them.  I think Little C has plenty of toys already, he plays with them all, and also has the opportunity for creative and imaginative play exploring the environment around him.  Having said that, these are some of the things that I'd be happy to see added to his shelves:

  • Anything from this website: 
  • junior magnifying glass or bug collecting and viewing equipment
  • animal figures  - zoo animals, farm animals or dinosaurs
  • more wooden track for his trains
That's all I can think of really!

Monday, 27 June 2011

My aims this week...

I'm feeling pretty good because it's Monday evening and I've already managed to complete two of the three jobs that I set myself this week!  Also I think it's fair to say that I'm also feeling pretty good because following my diagnosis with post-natal depression and anti-depressant prescription, the medication has kicked in and I'm back to feeling positive and bouncy - you have no idea how much I've missed myself.

Anyway, here are the three jobs:

  1. mow the lawns - we have quite a bit of lawn, and after a fortnight on holiday things were looking somewhat jungle-ish out there.
  2. Jet wash the patio - what a difference this job makes - clearing in between all the cracks in between the brick paving and dislodging bits of pine needle, moss and weeds, weeds, weeds.  I'll actually be able to sit out in the garden without feeling compelled to pick weeds from the patio.
  3. Move mountains... of laundry.  Yes, the laundry basket was already full before we went away, add to that two weeks of holiday laundry, plus it's raining so I can only wash things as fast as I can dry them on airers around the house.  I'm trying to get to the bottom of a washing and ironing pile.
It's fair to say that I'm pretty tempted to add things to my list since I'm doing so well (I've done the first two!), but that wouldn't be fair on myself, and self-esteem has been a bit fragile of late, so I'm sticking with the three, celebrating if I achieve them all, and anything else (aside from looking after the children) is a bonus.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Places to go and things to do in and around Scarborough...

Beaches - in the rain and in the sunshine.  We went to beaches at Sandsend (near Whitby), North and South Bay of Scarborough, Robins Hood Bay (for rockpools) and Filey.

Trains - big ones and small ones, diesel and steam.  We caught the train from Seamer to York where we visited the National Railway Museum.  We went on the North York Moors Railway from Pickering to Goathland (where Heartbeat was filmed) and also caught up with it at Grossmont where they have an engine shed to visit.  We went several times on the North Bay miniature railway - where my mum even got to have a turn at driving the engine!

Cafes and Pubs - lots of these for elevenses, lunches, afternoon snacks and dinners various.

Culture - Whitby for it's old town and Abbey, Robin Hood's Bay for awesome windy streets, Scarborough for the castle.

Walks in the Woods - where we were staying there were plenty of woodland walks to discover with the dog.  Just watch out for bullocks in fields!

Friday, 10 June 2011


Holiday time has come around and we're off for two weeks to:

I'm taking my laptop and dongle, but the latter hasn't been working the last few times I used it, so I may not post on here for a couple of weeks now.  I am also taking husband, two children and a dog.  And we'll be joined by in-laws and out-laws a-plenty.  I might also take some clothes, and I'd better not forget a bucket and spade.  And a sultana cake for my father-in-law (better get on and make that).

Big C can't wait for tomorrow.  He holidayed in Scarborough as a boy, and has many fond memories which he wants to rekindle.  He'd like for Little C to remember this holiday as happily.

We are looking forward to:
donkey rides on the beach, steam trains, walks around the castle, visits to the pub, sandcastles and much more.  I am looking forward to having Big C around all day every day.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Thursday, 9 June 2011

My best photos from May

Anybody at home?

"Got big hat on"

How's that for a face full of concentration!?

very apt T-shirt

has he inherited the rugby gene?

we went to visit Thomas the Tank Engine...

...and went for a ride in carriages pulled by one of his friends

what's that you're pointing at me?

dressing up time

and sleeping time

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Frog Pots

We seem to be going a bit froggy mad here just lately - I'm not sure why!

The instructions for these pots come from "Make It" the excellent book from Dorling Kindersley which I reviewed recently.

You need: 
  • lots of torn up magazines, with several bits in green colour set aside.
  • 1 cup of flour and 3 cups of water for the paste
  • a brush
  • a small plastic bowl (or 2 identical ones)
  • petroleum jelly
How to do it:

  • Make two bowls, one will be your pot and the other will be the lid.

  • Make the paste by mixing 1 cup of water and 1 cup of plain flour in a saucepan until smooth.  Add the other 2 cups of water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  Then pour into a bowl (still stirring to try to keep it smooth) to cool down.  Actually this recipe made more than enough paste for four bowls, so just scale back but still in the ratio 3:1 water:flour

                                                                • Smear petroleum jelly on to the inside of the bowls - this stops the papier mache from sticking.
                                                                • Now lay on a layer of newspaper / magazine scraps.  Brush with a layer of paste.  Top with another layer of paper, then brush with paste and repeat until you have about six layers.


    • Completely allow to dry.

    • Now remove the plastic bowl and trim off any scrappy edges.

            • Paste the inside and outside of the bowl and cover with green scraps of paper.  Brush with paste again.  Use torn up orange and black scraps to make eyes and nostrils on the outside of the bowl that will be your lid.

  • Allow to dry again.
  • Cut a slit in the top of the lid, and then push the ends of a folded long strip of thick or folded paper through the slit and tape in place on the inside to make a handle. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Reasons to be cheerful - Part 1

Oh yes, I know it looks really messy, but I can see my in-tray and that represents progress!  I might even get to the bottom of it one of these days...

Ignore the weeds, this is my beautiful garden.

Again, I'm no perfectionist, I know it's a bit of a mess, but my fruit cage is finished!  A place to grow my rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries in safety from the birds.

My beautiful girl (thanks for the lovely cardigan mum)

My handsome boy - he's suddenly claiming to be shy of the camera.

The view from my sitting room

creativity and art

cluttered and eclectic yes, but the scene of painting, baking, cooking, dancing, singing, kissing and just a wonderful family kitchen.

my boys
Oh yes.  There are many reasons to be cheerful right now.  Blog your reasons to be cheerful and post me a link in the comments bit here.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Musings, and targets for next week

Just sitting here musing, and tapping away on the mini-puter while Little Sister (overtired) sucks away but refuses to completely drop off.  
Reverie - Sunset Musings
George Cochran Lambdin - Reverie - Sunset Muings

I'm tired.  I keep waking up at 5 or 5.30am for some reason, and then sleep from then on is fitful and disturbed by very odd dreams.  It's not Little Sister's fault.  She very rarely wakes before 7am.  I don't know.  All I do know is that it's making me grumpy and not at all my usual positive and smily self.  Big C even commented today that I seem to be struggling to keep my patience with Little C, who is after all only being a toddler.  It's odd and unnecessary because I'm very happy, satisfied and content with my life, with the direction it's taking and with my lovely family.  I abandoned the housework this week, that didn't help much - I hate seeing it mount up and the house look such a tip.

I set myself 4 targets last week.  Here's how I did:
  1. mow the lawns (did it this lunchtime while the wee ones were sleeping - so that's one ticked off already!) - yay, success before I even started!
  2. cement posts into fruit bed in garden so that I can put up netting (I've been meaning to do this since last Summer) - this one felt so good.  Sounds daft, but what a weight off my mind to get something done that has been eluding me for so long.  We had a lovely day on Friday and spent pretty much the whole day outside.  I managed to dig the holes while Little C pottered nearby (also digging) and Little Sister had her morning nap, then played with him and Little Sister for a couple of hours, then managed to get them both settled for their afternoon nap and got the posts cemented in - yay!
  3. start making my niece's first birthday present (another doll like these) - yes.  This is now beside my armchair to keep my hands occupied during my 9-10pm nightly TV rendez-vous with Big C (The Mentalist or CSI usually)
  4. go out jogging or on the exercise bike at least once - didn't manage this one.  I'll try again next week...
This week's aims:
  1. sort out my clothes as per this post.
  2. Get the house sorted and clean and tidy so that I can relax on holiday knowing that it's clean when I get back.
  3. Finish preparing for the Module 16 training course I am running on Tuesday night (Introduction to Residential Experiences) for 19 participants.  Run it to the best of my ability.  Gather feedback for my portfolio.  Getting ready for this will take me tomorrow naptime, tomorrow evening and Tuesday naptime.  These things always take longer than you expect!
  4. Still aiming to get that jog or exercise bike thing done...
High Hopes
I found this picture on this website, but am not sure what the original source is.  It's beautiful, I hope they don't mind me pinching it.