Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What We're Taking To Entertain Bill On The Plane

It's Saturday afternoon. Aside from the odd pair of knickers, toothbrushes, makeup and numerous electronic chargers, I think we are packed.

I'm waiting for Mark to get back from the match, and I'm toying with putting William to bed an hour earlier than normal, so the 3:00am wake-up call won't destroy him (and us) too much.

I'm so ready for this holiday (by the time you'll read this I'll of been there a few days!) but I won't lie - I'm really nervous about the flight. We fly very early, and the last flight I endured with a 16 month-old William wasn't one of my fondest parenting memories. I simply didn't realise how bored and frustrated he'd become. And I didn't have barely anything to entertain him properly.

This time, I'm prepared. I think.

I've taken on the advice of lots of my chums on Facebook (you can see this treasure trove of advice here) and I've thought ahead.

I've got some new books and sticker books - like the Pepper Pig Happy Holiday  one. Or the Mickey Mouse one that Granny and Po bought for William. I have the old favourite that is Balloonia, because this book is guaranteed to calm him down.

I have some little treats in the form of toys. I bought some cheap toy cars from eBay, which he hasn't seen before. I'll be packing some beloved animals, as they are a necessity! I got a little Moshi Monster toy to play with. And I kept an old Happy Meal toy for him to open and play with too. As well as some free Doc McStuffins domino cards I got free with a £40 shop at Morrison's (bonus!).

I've also packed an empty juice beaker, which I'll fill up once we have checked in and use throughout the holiday where needed. And I've also backed William's bumblebee backpack that is actually reins in disguise. I love these and they were so handy last time, and for moments when he wants to feel independent.

I bough these headphones from Argos. They are specially made for children and come with stickers so you can customise them. I love them and William is learning how to use them, and hopefully will understand the need for them on the plane.

Our iPad has been stocked up with plenty to watch. I've downloaded some Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse Club House episodes from iTunes, and I've also downloaded the Video Downloader Super Plus app from iTunes. 

This is so worth the investment - it's only £2.49 - as you can download any videos from online and store them on your iPad to watch offline. I have download a few episodes of William's favourite programmes, along with some of his favourite songs from his favourite YouTube channel, Super Simple Songs. I really recommend checking that channel out. He LOVES it.


I obviously can't forget to mention that Teddy and Dale the Duck will be joining us too. Teddy has flown before, but it's Dale's first time and, as you can see, he's very excited.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Butternut Squash, Mushroom & Chive Risotto

One of my most-favourite meals has to be a good risotto. Especially when the cooler months return. You can't beat a gentle steaming plate of creamy rice, with a glass of wine and good company.

This dish all came about because the cheeky chaps at Lindeman's sent me a surprise food hamper and a bottle of wine*, on the premise that I created something tasty to eat.


As you can see, I was pretty spoilt, with a bottle of the Lindeman's Bin 65 Chardonnay, arborio rice, red lentils,  walnuts, a bulb of garlic, two onions, some chives, some walnuts, some Knorr chicken stock cubes, some brown sugar, olive oil and a butternut squash.

As I cooked this the day before we went on holiday, my fridge was pretty bare, but I did have a handful of spinach, some chestnut mushrooms and parmesan to add to the mix.

And, to me, there was no choice in it. This screamed risotto.

Ingredients


A large glass of wine (and one for the chef too).
150 grams of arborio risotto rice.
Half a butternut squash, cubed.
A handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced.
One onion, finely chopped.
Two cloves of garlic, crushed.
500 ml of chicken stock (use the stock cub and boiling water) if you need more water, just add some more boiling water to your rice).
A handful of parmesan.
A sprinkle of fresh chives.
Olive oil.
Salt and pepper.

Method


Firstly, prep your ingredients as above. Done?

Pop the kettle on and get your stock cube ready in a large measuring jug (so much easier to use a jug rather than ladle your stock in) and then preheat a large frying pan on a medium heat.

Add a splash of olive oil and add your onion and garlic. Let this begin to soften.

Meanwhile, pop your squash cubes into a bowl covered with boiling water. Pop this in a microwave for around two/three minutes (test after two), until the cubes are yielding to the touch of a sharp knife. Drain them and add to the pan.

Add your mushrooms to the mixture and let this sauté and soften.

Now add your rice.

Now, add your rice. Let the rice cook dry for a few minutes, stirring quickly so as not to let it burn.

Then, pour in your wine and reduce down, keep your heat low and stir once or twice and make sure your rice doesn’t stick. Now is the time to start adding a bit of the stock at a time. You may use all of it, you may not, you may need more. As your rice starts to expand, keep tasting it for texture. You don’t want rice pudding, you want a saucy, al-dente spoonful. Learning this part is a bit of an art, but you will know. Just keep the heat on low and take your time.

When you are almost happy with it, add your Parmesan and stir through gently. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. And sprinkle a flourish of chives over the top and serve with a grin and another big glass of your Lindeman's Chardonnay - which is bloomin' lovely by the way!


*I was given this hamper of food to produce a recipe for you all. I hope you enjoy as much as we did. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

That Holiday Post


So, depending on when you read this, there's a very good chance that this may be my view.

Or perhaps William's grin as he splashes in the pool.

Or perhaps Mark's smile as we clink glasses.

Or perhaps the words of the book I'm reading.

Or perhaps nothing but the light of the sunshine behind closed eyelids.

We go on holiday today. We flew early this morning. And we'll be staying in Sa Coma in Majorca. And it's also Mark's birthday. He's 27 today. And probably grumpy because we had to get up at 3:30am.

I'm actually writing this on Wednesday evening, so writing in present tense for a future event is rather strange. I'm a cat lady tonight. Mark is prepping for holiday at his. And William is with his dad. I've been trying my best to prepare my blog while I'm away, not because I think you'll suffer without it, but because you know I'm likely to post every weekday for the most part, and I'd like to continue that.

So I have.

I may not be here in person - though you can find some holiday snaps and updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now and again - but I've scheduled a few nice posts for every weekday that I'm away.

There's a recipe, a cooking challenge, a review of some pretty decent toys, my toddler flying must-haves, my holiday must-haves for me, and a maybe a personal post too. And that's not counting this little introduction, of course.

I hope you all have an amazing week, and manage to grab some special moments with your family.

I'm devoting the next seven days to the two people I love the most. And I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.
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