It was a bit of a surprise to pop into the local supermarket this morning for some essentials, only to discover trolley-loads of reduced Christmas fare. Everything from 10p red cabbage to half-price free range turkey was going cheap after the Christmas rush.
Feeling inspired, I thought it would be good to spend a bit of time getting ahead for when we’re all back to school and work in the New Year.
Thursdays are a particularly busy time at Willow Cottage; in between the commute to work and what feels like half a dozen clubs, there’s need to make sure everyone has had dinner, whatever time they are around. We tend to make great use of the slow cooker on Thursdays, so whether it’s chilli, curry or casserole – there’s benefits to getting ahead with a bit of sneaky prep work for our own version of ready meal.
That’s where the half-priced turkey came in. As well as the roast for tonight and some risotto tomorrow, I’ve lined up another four evening meals for busy January evenings. I simply carved off the breast meat from the bird…
Turkey butchery in progress, butchers look away now!
Then added the meat to four freezer bags filled with a variety of flavourings and pastes. These bags live in the freezer until needed, and I can just pop them in the slow cooker with a jar of passata or a tin of tomatoes. I add a little note to the label so I don’t forget what to do.
Our own ready meals for the slow cooker
With some rice cooked in the microwave they make for a tasty ad speedy meal on busy evenings.
When the boy turned eight whilst we were living in the garden, it was only natural to hold a campfire birthday party for him. It seems so long ago now but the evening was fantastic and the boys all loved it.
We had a birthday tent for sleeping…
We had a campfire tea and breakfast. This was cooked mainly by the boys: some had only ever seen a BBQ before so looked quite startled when we told them to make a fire if they were hungry.
They toasted marshmallows on the campfire too.
We went on a night hike with torches. The boys ran off loads of steam and were tired out when we got back and certainly ready for bed.
We had a donut cake tower for supper and everyone was asleep by 9.30pm.
It was a great concept for a party and one we will all remember for a long time. Partly because of the building work, partly because it was so different, and partly because the boys loved it so much.
Posted in Family
Tagged 8th birthday, birthday, birthday ideas, birthday party, boy party, campfire party, campfires, camping, camping party, children, Family, ideas, ideas for a boy's birthday party. Party ideas for boys, kids, outdoor party
The garden is soggy but productive. We have not spent as much time out there as we would want to; the rain has been horrid and the packing has kept us busy. I thought I would have a wander down the garden this week to see what I could find.
I was delighted to pick the following selection of lovely garden yummyness.
If you look carefully you may spot courgettes, baby carrots, celery, fennel, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli, new potatoes and spring onions.
This all inspired me to turn it into a hearty minestrone soup.
I only added some tinned tomatoes, chorizo (to provide a depth of flavour), ready cooked leftover pasta and some stock. The result was delicious and is always a favourite in our house. It’s never the same twice and is a great way of using up a vast selection of pickings.
This is even better the next day, so we make plenty!
To top it all, as I was picking the spinach I noticed a glimmer of red in the fruit cage, could it be? Yes, we have our first ripe strawberries!
The other berries were not quite ripe but these tasted great as they were.
Posted in Cooking
Tagged allotment, Family, first harvest, food, garden, gardening, grow your own, GYO, how to, how to grow your own, ideas, minestrone, plants, recipe, using up garden veg, using up garden vegetables, veg growing, veg patch, vegetables
It has been a hectic few weeks. We have been living our usual everyday lives as well as fitting in all the extra tasks of packing, setting up a base in the garden and liaising with builders.
We now have a house full of boxes.
…most of them packed with the contents of our cupboards.
But the camping stuff remains in the bag. The weather is just rubbish. We have had so much rain that the builders have delayed the start of our build!
So here we are, living in chaos, ready to move into the garden at a moment’s notice, waiting for the weather to improve. Come on summer, make an appearance soon! The children are raring to start living outside, the outdoor adventure we talked about was supposed to have started by now. Instead, we are in a semi-camping state, living in our house with everything packed away.
I picked a bunch of garden flowers today, then realised I had packed all the vases. I had to make do with a jam jar, they still looked pretty and cheered up my empty kitchen.
Birthday cakes in our house are long thought about creations that the birthday child gets to choose.
Last year’s cake had a long story behind it. It was a wonderful creation produced by a lovely friend. This year it was going to be hard to beat it, so I didn’t even try, I just let my daughter decorate her cake herself. She did a wonderful job and the end result was fantastic.
We had bought some food colouring pens that provided the initial idea. We made a chocolate cake and iced it with a plain ready roll icing. The rest was up to her…
She was so careful and creative. It was a wonderful way to involve her in the party preparations and the other children have already requested a decorate- your-own cake for their next birthday!
She also made some thank you party biscuits to give out at the end of the party.
It was a great day and a great way to celebrate a 10th birthday!
Posted in Cooking, Family
Tagged baking, birthday, birthday cake, birthday cake ideas, cake, children, decorate your own cake, easy birthday cake, easy party ideas, Family, girl's 10th birthday cake, girl's cake, girl's party ideas, ideas, kids
We have just celebrated a 10th birthday in our house. It was fab and the Big Girl absolutely loved it. She particularly loved getting involved in the preparation for the party. I thought I would share some of our ideas.
These are chocolate chip biscuits with a cut out of ready roll white icing stuck on with apricot jam. They are decorated with some fantastic food colouring pens. My daughter enjoyed making these all herself!
These are the food colouring felt tip pens. I am not a big fan of food colouring usually but as it’s a party, I thought a little couldn’t hurt!
After decorating they were packaged in little cellophane bags ready to give out to the guests at home-time.
Even the rest of the family wanted to have a go…
In fact you could use this idea to make biscuits for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter or just as gifts.
Posted in Cooking, Family
Tagged 10th birthday, baking, birthday, birthday party ideas, cake, children, christmas, decoarting biscuits, Easter, easy party ideas, Family, food colouring, food colouring pens, foodle doodle, girl's party, homemade party bags, ideas, kids, kids activity, party bags, party ideas, shaped biscuits, valentines, valentines biscuits
Birthday’s can be a really tricky to get right. I really like a good home party and have put together a list of things we recently did at my daughters 10th party. It was a huge success and we have had loads of requests for a repeat next year. The party lasted two hours and we filled the time perfectly.
Meet and greet over fruit cocktails.
We printed out a menu and the girls enjoyed mixing up their own drinks.
We provided plenty of juice and mixers for the cocktails.
We provided water play in the garden.
We had a water slide that you plug into the hose pipe. This provided endless fun. It was helped along by some washing-up liquid to make it extra slippery!
We ate party food.
After a few savoury snacks we provided all the ingredients for ice cream sundaes. The girls loved inventing their own desserts!
We served the ice creams in my vintage ice cream bowls and used a random selection of glasses too. The overall effect was beautiful and was appreciated by the girls. I think they noticed we trusted them with glass rather than the usual paper party bowls.
We had cake.
We ended with party bags and thank you biscuits.
The party bags contained a tatoo, bath confetti ( from a multi pack I split-up) and a few sweets. They looked great with some printed labelled attached – all put together by my daughter!
I will post separately about these biscuits – they were so easy and can be adapted for any occasion!
I can’t believe my Big Girl is 10. The time has flown by. The children are growing faster than the weeds in our garden.
Posted in Cooking, Family
Tagged baking, birthday, birthday activities, birthday ideas, cake, children, cocktails, easy birthday ideas, Family, food, fruit cocktails, ice cream, ideas, ideas for a 10th birthday party, kids, party activities, party bag ideas, party bags, party ideas, thank you biscuts