Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter Simnel Tea Loaf

My favourite thing to bake at Easter has to be a simnel cake. I love the combination of fruit with the marzipan.

This year I decided to add a little twist to the traditional bake. Instead of making a simnel cake I have made a simnel tea loaf. The dried fruit has been soaked in a delicious Tarocco Sunrise Tea which contains Rose Hip peel, Hibiscus flowers, apple pieces, safflower and natural blood orange flavours. The tea adds a zingy citrus tang to the cake.

This tea loaf is a lovely alternative to the traditional simnel cake. This is what I did...

Monday, 30 March 2015

Japanese Cherry Tea and Almond Cake

If you are a regular reader you will know that I love to experiment with different tea in my bakes.

We buy a lot of our loose teas from The Tea Experience who are a local company. They stock the most unusual, delicious teas! A couple of weeks ago they kindly sent me some samples to try baking with. One of the samples that they sent was a Japanese Cherry Tea which has a lovely aroma and flavour which I knew it would go perfectly with almond.

That is how I created this cake.

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 30th March 2015

Last week I started using the Slimpod. I will be writing a post which will tell you more about what the Slimpod does. But I am noticing some big changes in how I am choosing food and when I am eating. I have noticed that I want to eat more fish than usual and craving healthier foods.

As I am wanting to eat healthier I am also cooking healthier which is not just great for me but also for my family!

Last weeks meal plan did not go to plan!

The mushroom risotto became Vegetable Risotto,

The leftover chicken curry became steak as there were no leftovers!

The tuna became a meal out with the hubby and pulled pork became and easy M&S meal for 2.

Vegetable Risotto

This is what we will be enjoying this week..

Sunday, 29 March 2015

23rd March - 29th March 2015 - One Picture Everyday For One Year

This week has been a truly eventful week which has seen the start of the twins getting more independent. This week they have started nursery, they have had a couple of one hour sessions before they start going everyday after Easter.

It has been a lovely! Here is our week in pictures...

Silent Sunday


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Thomas and Friends Take-n-Play Rattling Railss Review

Like most toddlers the twins love Thomas and Friends.

Did you know that this year Thomas and Friends turn 70?

Yes Thomas is 70 years old!

That calls for a celebration!

For 70 year Thomas has invited children to join him on the Island of Sodor for magical stories where trains are powered by steam and can talk. This world was created by Reverend W. Awdry and brought to life through books, toys and television. The Island of Sodor and the characters have an ideal belief of community, friendships, good manners, helping each other and hard work. It is the mixture of this with stories that catch the attention which has meant that Thomas and Friends inspire, excite and entertain both children and adults.

Happy birthday Thomas, here is to another 70 years!

To celebrate Thomas' birthday we were sent the Thomas and Friends Take-n-Play Rattling Railss for the twins.

As soon as they saw the box they could not wait to get it open!

Once we had taken all of the pieces out of the box I was delighted to see that it was a toy that would be easily and quickly put together. There is nothing worse than finding out a toy takes a long time to put together when you have excited twins that want to play!

Once it was put together the twins couldn't wait to get playing. They love how Thomas goes up with the push of the snakes tail. Then they watch as he come out of the snakes mouth and they choo choo as he goes down the track! They have had hours of fun with the Thomas and Friends Playset. The play set can also be connected to the other Thomas and Friends tracks that are in the range. On it's own as an individual play set or as part of a bigger set it will please any Thomas fans!

To make the Thomas and Friends set into a carry along, simply fold up part of the track and use the snakes tail as a handle!

We have found this to be a great toy that the twins can play with together. With a train each that have watched and giggled as the trains go up and down, round and round!

I would thoroughly recommend the Thomas and Friends Take-n-Play Rattling Railss for any child who loves Thomas. With a retail price of £19.99 it really is worth the money for the hours of play that the twins have had and will continue to have. The toy is recommended for children aged 3 and up.

Disclosure: We were sent the Thomas and Friends Take-n-Play Rattling Railss for the purpose of this post. No payment was received. All views and opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Word of the Week - 27th March 2015

This weeks word of the week has to be...


This week has seen the twins have their first taster sessions at nursery before their start after Easter. I will admit to feeling extremely nervous and anxious on Wednesday morning. I was anxious about what their reaction would be to being left, if they would be upset, if there would be separation issues.

I am delighted to say that there were no problems what so ever!

When we were waiting in the playground to go in Taylor was tugging and pulling on my arm. I immediately thought that he was pulling me because he didn't want to go in. But no, he was pulling me because he wanted to go in!

We waited with all of the school children and they all went in together. I walked them in, hung their coats and bag up and went in their room. I stayed with them until they were settled, which only took about 5 minutes. When I saw them happy and colouring I crept out and walked home.

I had a whole hour to myself. I have to admit the time flew, by the time I had walked the dogs and had a lovely hot cup of tea it was time to walk back up to school to collect them.

When I got there they were happily playing. Taylor was in the playground playing with the cars while Isabella was inside doing crafts. I was surprised to hear that they had both been playing independently and not together. This was reassuring as I don't want them to be too dependent on each other. The most difficult part of Wednesday was getting Taylor to leave the cars and playground to go home!

Thursdays session was a breeze! They were both keen to leave the house in the morning, in fact Taylor was telling us "come on!". When we got to school they went straight in without even saying goodbye!

It was lovely to see them both happy in the nursery environment. It makes it so much easier to leave them knowing that they are settled, happy and confident.

They are certainly looking forward to returning to nursery after Easter and I am looking forward to having a few hours a day for me. I am looking forward to seeing how the twins develop over the year. Something tells me that after Easter they will change and develop even more.

All ready to go to school!

On the walk to school and waiting to go in.

A fun walk home ending in balancing on the curb, don't worry
we live down a very quiet road!

The Reading Residence
Running in Lavender

Thursday, 26 March 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow - Week 12

This week has seen the hubby dead heading the hydrangea. I love hydrangeas and even as they are dying off they have a beauty about them. Therefore I feel sad seeing it cut back but I welcome the beautiful, green new growth that is shooting through. As the hydrangeas were cut back we were able to see the new peony growth coming through. I always love the front of our house in the summer and this year I will love seeing it develop even more. Last year we added a lot of plants that were from the bargain section so they didn't do much, but this year they should bloom. We also moved my beloved magnolia to the front. At the moment it is still tightly in bud but it is covered in buds so it should be full of flowers when the time comes.

As for the back garden, well what can I say, Opie and Jax, the puppies of anarchy, have well and truly taken over. They have recently discovered that they can dig. Thankfully at the moment they are digging in the area where we are going to be extending but we do not want them to carry on. We have found a lovely holistic dog trainer who has been to see us and she has given us a lot of tips for how to stop this so fingers crossed they will stop. Failing that the hubby will be building them a sand pit!

Anyway, this is how our garden has grown this week...

As always I am sharing how our garden has grown with the lovely Annie from Mammasaurus.

How Does Your Garden Grow

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Vegetable Risotto - Family Favourites

Risotto is definitely a family favourite. However the traditional way that I make it is not all good for you! So that is why I decided to make a healthier version which is easier and quicker to make.

This is a dish which can be easily adapted for different tastes or seasons. I enjoy using as vegetables when they are in season. So the addition of baby sprouts would not be in this meal if I cooked it in the summer. I have found that the children are more inclined to eat and try the vegetables if they are in meals like this. Joseph, who is 10, will not eat sprouts, however when I cooked this dish I was amazed to see he ate the lot! Without moaning! That is a successful meal in my book.

This is what I did...

Vegetable Risotto

Ingredients - Serves 4 -5

3 cups of rice
1 red onion, chopped
525g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
180g baby sprouts, halved
170g fresh peas
2 vegetable stock cubes


1 - Cook the rice as per instructions

2 - Bring a pan of water to the boil and simmer the baby sprouts for 10 minutes then add the peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes

3 - Spray a little oil in a saute pan or large frying pan

4 - Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and gently cook over a medium heat

5 - Once the onions and mushrooms have softened add the baby sprouts and peas heat for a further 5 minutes

6 - Add the drained cooked rice to the pan and thoroughly mix

7 - Dissolve the stock cubes in 100mls of boiling water and pour over the rice and mix into the rice and vegetables

This meal is not just healthy and a great way to add more vegetables into the diet but it is also a delicious meal. As said before the vegetables can easily be changed according to taste and season.

There were clean plates all round and even Taylor wanted to eat some more while I was taking pictures!

Enjoy x

I am sharing my recipe with A Mummy Too - Recipe of the Week

Link up your recipe of the week

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mini Egg Chocolate Cheesecake

When it comes to Easter time I always go straight for the mini chocolate eggs! They have to be my favourite. I usually use them to decorate cupcakes but thought that this Easter I would try something different. This year I have used them to top a delicious chocolate cheesecake!

If you are a chocoholic then this cheesecake is for you. The base is made from double chocolate digestives, the centre is made using Cadbury's Philadelphia and mascarpone then topped with chocolate mini eggs. I really is a chocolate feast!

This is what I did...

Mini Egg Chocolate Cheesecake


300g double chocolate digestive biscuits
50g butter, melted
160g tub of Cadbury Philadelphia cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
2 x 90g bags of Cadbury mini eggs, lightly crushed


1 - Place the biscuits in a bag and crush them using a rolling pin

2 - Once the biscuits have a breadcrumb appearance pour over the melted butter and mix in, I find it easier to mix the biscuits and butter using my hands

3 - Place the biscuits mixture into a flan tin with a removable base and press down until they are firmly compacted in

4 - Place the tin in the fridge and chill for 2 hours

5 - To make the topping simply place the Cadbury Philadelphia and mascarpone cheese in a bowl and mix together

6 - Once they have been thoroughly mixed together spoon onto the biscuit base and smooth over the top

7 - Return to the fridge for at least an hour

8 - Before serving add the lightly crushed mini eggs to the top

This is such a simply dessert to make but will definitely impress any guests that you have over Easter.

Enjoy x

I am sharing with Honest Mum - Tasty Tuesdays

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Monday, 23 March 2015

Weekly Meal Plan - Week Commencing 23rd March 2015

This week sees me start to eat cleaner, like I was when I started my weight loss journey. I have recently gone back to my old eating ways. I have started to drink a detox tea which is a two week course of morning and evening drinks. I know that "clean eating" plans tell you to cut out all processed foods, rice, pasta, bread etc but I like rice and pasta and am a true believer in everything in moderation! So I will not be cutting out rice or pasta but will limit it to once a week.

I am also really excited to start on the Thinking Slimmer Plan from today. I will be writing a separate post on the plan this week.

Here is this weeks meal plan...

Week Commencing 23rd March 2015

Mushrooms Risotto

On Monday and Wednesday evenings I go out to my fitness class so I try to cook a quick, lighter meal. This week we will be having one of our favourites, mushroom risotto.


This week I managed to pick up some fish that was on offer. I got some River Cobbler that was reduced to clear and a side of Salmon that was half price. As I am the only one who likes salmon I have cut it and frozen in single portions so when I cook the family a meal which I really shouldn't eat I can have a piece of salmon. On Tuesday I will be cooking fish for everyone and serve with potatoes, carrots, broccoli and peas.

Roast Chicken

This is another family favourie. I will roast the chicken in the afternoon and serve at tea time with jacket potatoes and beans for the children and hubby while I will have salad.

Leftover Chicken Curry

I will make the hubby and children their favourite leftovers meal while I will be good and have a stir fry.


The tuna steaks were another of my reduced to clear finds! I will be grilling the tuna steaks and serving with Mediterranean roast vegetables.

Pulled Pork

On Saturday I will cook a BBQ pulled pork. It will  be served with bread rolls, chips and salad for my family while I will have a pulled pork salad.

On Sunday we are going out for lunch so there are meals to be planned!

As always I am sharing my Weekly Meal Plan with At Home With Mrs M - Meal Planning Monday.

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Sunday, 22 March 2015

16th March - 22nd March 2015 - One Picture Everyday For One Year

Wow what a week it has been here! When I wrote this weeks Word of the Week post the only word that I could think of to sum it up was Challenging. But when I look at this weeks pictures I can see that it was not all bad, we had some lovely moments too.

Here is our week in pictures...

Monday 16th March 2015

These two are starting to settle down together. We often find the pair of them squashed into the one bed together. Monday was a difficult day. Joseph experienced an awful racial bullying moment. You can read what happened in more depth here.

Tuesday 17th March 2015

Tuesday was a wet day. Apart from taking the puppies to the vets for a check up it was just a normal sort of day.

Wednesday 18th March 2015

Wednesday was a strange day. We were expecting some work to be done on the drive that didn't go ahead. We just did regular things like the school run and stayed at home. 

Thursday 19th March 2015

Thursday was a busy day. We started the day off with the twins future nursery teacher which went well. The twins started the visit in their usual shy fashion but soon came round and were talking. Afterwards it was hair cut time for all three of us. Isabella had her first trim, while Taylor had a complete re-style! Yes his beautiful golden locks have gone. I will admit to having floods of tears as it was cut! He looks so different with short hair, we can finally see his face properly and I have fallen in love with him all over again. My baby has suddenly turned into a little boy!

Friday 20th March 2015

Friday was just one of those days. It started off ok but just went down hill as the day went on. However thanks to Embrace Happy I did manage to find my 3 good things of the day. We had fun in the morning waiting for the eclipse, we even managed to see the reflection in a bucket of water. Thankfully we had a covering of cloud which made it possible for me to look at with glasses on and captured some photographs. It may have been a down day but I did have a good hair day, thanks to my change of colour and trim on Thursday.

Saturday 21st March 2015

Saturday was a lazy start thanks to the hubby getting up with the children so I could have a lie in. After lunch we went shopping for the final bits that are needed for when the twins start nursery. I was an expensive but productive day!

Sunday 22nd March 2015

This is how Sunday has started. After lots of morning cuddles and play my little cool dude is enjoying Fire Man Sam while I finish this post! After I press publish we are planning some garden time followed by a walk out with the puppies.

Have a great week x

As always I am sharing with

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
Grab button for The Week That Was
Running in Lavender