Wednesday, 29 July 2015

7 Days of Vegan Breakfasts - Scrambled Tofu on toast

Recently on Facebook I asked my friends to ask me anything about veganism, and one person asked "How many years of practise does it take to get used to the taste of tofu?" I trumped their jovial sarcasm with an equally droll response of  "what taste?"

It's true, tofu has a bit of a bad reputation, but it is unfounded because tofu has the remarkable property of being able to easily adopt and marry the flavours added to it, meaning you can make it taste delicious.

In honesty I haven't been that adventurous with my use of tofu but there is one breakfast choice that  is hard to replace with a vegan alternative in many recipes - the egg, however, my one escapade into tofu use has yielded delicious results in the form of scrambled tofu, which when flavoured appropriately, makes a delicious scrambled egg alternative.


Scrambled tofu is great if you prefer a savory breakfast option rather than sweet (I usually go for sweet for breakfast, so happily this also makes a great lunch option)

It has that unmistakable eggy wobble, and a very similar colour, the taste is achieved by a mixture of spices and a pinch of salt.



I served mine with potato cakes and vitalite today because I like to mix things up every now and again and switching bread for potato cakes is about as exciting as it gets round here. 


So I used half a pack of Cauldron Original Tofu for this recipe, I cooked it in a cast iron skillet with some vitalite spread.  I seasoned it with:

  • 1/2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder,
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric.
  • A pinch of pepper,
  • A pinch of salt. 
I literally just tip the tofu in, stir it around with a spatula and then add the flavorings. I served it with a good dollop of tomato ketchup as I would with scrambled egg. 



A delicious breakfast high in protein, it contains all eight essential amino acids, and is also high in calcium, iron and a variety of micronutrients. It is thought to protect us from many cancers and heart disease, it's free from saturated fat, contains almost no cholesterol and is low in salt. (A diet high in these things can lead to cancer and heart disease).

So, I dare you, try some tofu and dispel your own myths about it, it CAN be tasty, it IS nutritious and is a great way to start the day without harming any animals in the process. Yey!

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Day to Myself

Yesterday my husband took our boys to his parents for the day, this only the second time I have spent a day without them since my first was born, and let me tell you it was much needed.
I had a wonderful long lie in, then had pancakes in the garden reading a magazine, followed by an Epsom salt bath and hair wash.
I then started a cleaning mission. I know what you are thinking, what was I doing cleaning on my "day off"? I have been wanting to get the kitchen sorted for ages, it was getting grimy and there were bits and pieces everywhere.  Is it just me that gets little bits and bobs lying around?  Screws, batteries, blunt pencils, broken bits of plastic waiting for their host; I had lots so I re-homed or disposed of them all, put a stereo in the loft that wasn't sparking joy (will do another post soon about objects sparking joy or not and tidying generally) took down some tired looking children's art work and scrubbed all the walls.
It felt soooo good.  So good in fact that I decided to photograph its splendour and share it with you!

So here it is in all it's tiny glory.  Yes it's a very small kitchen, and we still have the original units installed in the 80's when the house was built. (That means it's almost back in fashion! Practically vintage.)


To the right of the door is this notice board which is just the cupboard door with wadding and fabric covering it. It's still a bit messy looking because there are some paper bits that need dealing with, but it's much better than it was before with bits dropping off all over the place.




This is my little space in the kitchen that I really like, housing a few of my possessions that really spark joy.  Some cake tins, crockery, glassware and recipe books. I love my hen crock (meant for holding eggs) my grandma had one that was similar, when I saw this one in a charity shop I had to have it.  Now it reminds me of her whenever I look at it.


This is the control room of my house, I have my calendar and wall planner on the right hand wall.  I haven't used the wall planner much but I like the visual reminder of how far through the year we are and how much longer I have left to achieve my annual goals. 


So there you have it, my little kitchen, maybe one day I will do a post on the living room, but right now it is waaaay too messy to be made public.  Happy Summer holidays everyone!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Reflections on camping with toddlers

Arriving at the campsite, playing with the boys while the dads set up the tents, having a tasty dinner together, putting the boys to bed the sitting out in the setting sun, drinking wine a chatting with friends till we take ourselves off to our cosy tent for a restful nights sleep.  Have you read the blog Junkaholique?  This is the vision I had in mind. 

This was the image I had in my head of camping with my family and some close friends for the first time.

Ok you can stop laughing  now!

Of course it was nothing like this!  The reality was somewhat different to my imaginings.  To begin with putting up the tent was an absolute nightmare.  It took about two hours, and our children lost their patience long before the tent was erected. The problem? We borrowed a beautiful bell tent off a kind friend but failed to do any research on how to put it up.  This combined with me thinking the tent needed to perfectly even all the way round, no sags or unevenness, was a recipe for a very stressful tent erecting experience.
Because it took so long to get the tent up, dinner was eaten in a fragmented, disjointed way, not the coming together, laughing, joyful event I had fantasised about.
Bed time was another issue, we decided that we should try to get the boys to sleep in the same way we would normally at home, (mistake) so I laid down to feed Biscuit while my husband read stories for Boris.  This started off ok, but soon Biscuit got restless and started wandering round the tent distracting Boris who then decided that he wanted to go home and sleep in his own bed and didn't want to sleep on the floor in a tent after all.  After something like an hour we gave up trying to get them to sleep and decided to just sit outside with them on our laps watching cbeebies on my husbands tablet.  Why didn't we do this to start with?  It would have saved a lot of stress and tears.
The night was fine, we were warm and cosy and dry in the bell tent though bizarrely in spite of my tiredness I couldn't get to sleep?! Waking up in the ethereal light coming through the thick canvas in the morning was a beautiful thing and everything else went well that morning even though we had to get the tent down in the rain.

So lessons learnt from this camping trip:

Be prepared -  As the scouts say, and by this I mean plan ahead.  Find out the arrangement of the camp site (is it fenced in, can a gate be closed or is it always open etc), research how to erect your tent, (maybe even have a practice run in the garden), plan what activities you want to do during the day so you have something to look forward too, and one added stress removed, Find out what the showers and toilets are like so there are no hidden surprises when you are expecting a flushing toilet with all mod cons and you are presented with a porta loo and a hose pipe, or when you are expecting free showers and find you have to pay 20p and you have no change.

Be well equipped - Roughing it can be fun when you are a young single at a festive or a couple biking it round the uk for the summer or such like, but when you are camping with children there are a few pieces of equipment that I highly recommend packing with you.  A table - (thankfully our friends had the foresight to bring one as it didn't occur to us,) it keeps the stove, knives, raw meat (not that we would be eating any of that but you know what I mean) etc out of children's reach and clear from the ground, something to hold water, (three small drinking bottles is probably not enough), chairs, because when you are old and creaky (and just spent 2 hours erecting a tent) sitting on the floor is no fun at all. Wine of course needs no explanation (did I mention it took 2 hours to erect the tent?),

Good enough is good enough - Regardless of the type of tent be it bell, dome or teepee, it doesn't have to be perfect, so long as it doesn't let in any rain or wind the odd wrinkle or fold here and there is completely fine.  The same applies to meals, sleeping bag arrangement, washing and so on. Perfection is neither necessary nor does it add to the enjoyment of the experience, if it's good enough then that's good enough.

Manage your expectations - (read; lower your expectations) The children aren't going to behave in the way they do at home, everything is different and exciting and tiring to them, if they resist washing, eating, going to bed etc don't fight it, go with the flow, maybe your children go to sleep in ten minutes and maybe they won't and if they won't that's ok, one night of no teeth brushing isn't going to result in any teeth falling out, and a meal of marshmallows instead of the delicious pasta dish you prepared in advance isn't going to do any harm as a one off.

Bring entertainment - (and don't feel bad about using it) Be it games like cricket, football or throwing a Frisbee, some toy cars, colouring books or the trusty tablet with some pre downloaded episodes of Charlie and Lola, entertainment for the kiddos is important, and there is no need to beat yourself up for letting them watch cbeebies on the tablet if it helps them calm down of an evening or keeps them safe whilst dinner is cooking.

Be there for your children:  Camping for the first time can be both exciting and scary for a small child.  They may get upset for what seems to be the most irrational reasons, but it's important to remember that their feelings matter especially when they are in a new and strange setting.  It is more important to be present for your children than to get the tent up in record time, even if it means stopping for a cuddle now and then (did I mention that the tent took two hours to erect?? TWO HOURS).


All my own work

In spite of this somewhat pessimistic sounding reflection of camping with toddlers, I would actually go again because the camping side of it I really enjoyed.  There is so much freedom in leaving behind your worries and possessions and being much closer to nature, it is easy to leave your problems behind when you can watch a sunset or sun rise and enjoy the peace of being surrounded by trees and the feeling of grass underfoot. I didn't even mind the midnight walk to the porta loos (thanks tiny bladder) or the three minute shower (the motion detector light went off halfway through), there is a certain novelty to be found in cooking on a single ring camping stove and drinking wine from an enamel mug, I hope it doesn't wear off and I hope that there will be many more camping trips for our family in the future.




Special thanks to Neill and Hannah for being so kind, patient and organised. And to Charlotte for lending us her beautiful bell tent.


Friday, 10 July 2015

THE WINNER

Congratulations to Fiona McCormick who has won the brilliant Lion King activity kit,



Please message on Facebook me and I will send you your prize.

If you are interested in buying one of these kits you can now order one online at a bargain price of £18.00 and for a limited time I will be selling them with FREE POSTAGE!  Check it out!



Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Home Preschool - Under sea cave hideaway

As part of our Seaside theme that we have been following this summer I decided to create a little under-the-sea cave hideaway for my boys to play in and explore.  


Because we have a ridiculously small house, we don't have enough space for a dedicated corner for something like this so I re-claimed that mostly dead space under the dining room table to create an under-the-sea den.


I simply pinned some grey fabric to the underside of the table (no worries about damaging the table because no one sees the underside anyway), I also pinned some strips of chiffon, some grey netting and some other spangly kind of fabric (I am sure it has a proper name but I have no idea what, it's the sort of thing that people use to make dance outfits).  
I wanted the cave to have a bit of a magical, mystical feel which I hope the chiffon and net etc gives, I chose shades of green to suggest some sort of seaweed. 


Inside I put a big piece of drift wood to start giving it a more coastal feel, I also added three baskets of objects for the boys to explore, one contains pebbles, another shells and the last contains driftwood. 



I also included a little box with a sliding lid (I wanted to use a treasure chest but don't have one) and filled it with some cheap beads and shiny buttons as treasure, I also added a greet bottle containing a treasure map that Boris and I made together in the winter (its even more tatty now so more authentic looking).


Finally I put a basket of sea themed books into the cave, the titles are:

Three by the Sea - Mini Grey,
The Boy on the Beach - Niki Daly,
Don't be Afraid Little Pip - Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman,
Milly and the Mermaids - Maudie Smith and Antonia Woodward,
Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave - Quentin Blake,
Melrose and Croc Beside the Sea - Emma Chichester Clark,
Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey,
Splash Anna Hibiscus - Atinuke and Lauren Tobia.

Give a woman and hand and click on one of my affiliate links if you are interested in any of these books!



Don't forget everyone I am still running my GIVEAWAY till Friday evening so get over to Facebook and join in the fun!!

Click HERE to take you to my Facebook page.

Monday, 6 July 2015

LION KING GIVEAWAY!!

GIVEAWAY DAY IS HERE!!

Today I am giving away this fabulous kit containing everything you need for a fun Lion King themed activity week that we did a few weeks ago.


The kit includes:

Jungle shaped playdough cutters,
Silicone bug cake/ice/jelly mould,
Six plastic bug toys, 
Six plastic jungle/safari animal toys,
One dropper pipette,
Instructions for making jungle play dough
Cotton drawstring bag to keep everything in.

This kit is worth £18.00 and I will be taking orders from anyone who wants to buy one after the giveaway is finished.

To enter you need to:

Like the Facebook post about this giveaway,
Leave a comment on the facebook post about this giveaway. 

The giveaway closes on Friday 10th July, I will announce the winner, chosen at random, here and on my facebook page that evening. 

Here is a reminder of some of the brilliant activities you can do with this kit:








Good Luck!!




Sunday, 5 July 2015

COMING MONDAY - LION KING GIVEAWAY!!!

Tune in on Monday evening for my first giveaway on this blog!!

I will be giving away this fabulous kit containing everything you need for a fun Lion King themed activity week.


The kit includes:

Jungle shaped playdough cutters,
Silicone bug cake/ice/jelly mould,
Six plastic bug toys, 
Six plastic jungle/safari animal toys,
One dropper pipette,
Instructions for making jungle play dough
Cotton bag to keep everything in.

This kit is worth £18.00 and I will be taking orders from anyone who wants to buy one after the giveaway is finished.

Details of how to enter will be shared on Monday.




Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Home Preschool - Sand hand print

Quite often when I come up with an activity for the boys I get caught up in the moment and forget to take photos of the process, sometimes it's only after that I think "Oh I had better take some photos for the blog!"  so please forgive the serious lack of development photos, I will try to describe it as best as I can so you get get the picture. 
Following on with our Seaside theme, and thinking about hand and foot prints in the sand I thought it would be interesting for Boris to help make a permanent memento of his little hands in plaster of Paris, but with a beachy, sandy effect to make you think of holidays on the beach. 




To to do this activity I began with a small plastic bowl that I pressed some sand in to.  I then got Boris to press his hand into the sand and I neatened it up after he took his hand away, I had to press it quite firmly in and press in each finger.  

Next in a separate bowl I mixed up some plaster of Paris by pouring in some water then adding the powder until I got a creamy texture, I got Boris to help me scoop the powder and pour it into the bowl and give it  stir with a wooden spoon.   

Next Boris helped me pour it onto the sand and I gave the bowl a little nudge to get any air bubbles out.  

I left it about 15 minutes to set then carefully tapped it out.  I have it a little brush with a dustpan brush to get the lose sand off, and there you have it!  A lovely sandy hand print. 

Don't forget to stay tuned for my brilliant GIVEAWAY coming soon.