Thursday 31 July 2014

All- Bran 5 day Challenge ~ From Glum To Happy Tummy !

Thanks to Britmums I was sent a selection of tasty cereals these were All Bran cereals this was part of a #realmumsAllBran challenge in association with Britmums. The varieties were Golden Crunch, Red Berry and new Chocolate Wheats.

The five-day challenge  is more than just about taste , it is also also about the feeling in our tummy as well . Did you know that 90  to 95 percent of the 'happy' hormone serotoin is made in the gut?. A study of 1,000 UK woman found that 52% experience digestive problems, such as a bloating and gas at least once a week. Eating fibre everyday is a remedy for this

Breakfast is as you already know the most important meal of the day , I have on many occasion skipped as I didn't see myself as a breakfast type of person but with this challenge it soon became part of my routine. And routine is very important, in being able to structure your day ,it enables hopefully for you to make the most of it.

The idea was to eat the cereal for 5 days and to see you noticed any difference obviously you wouldn't be having 3 bowls in a day ! Though I did have 2 in place of a otherwise unhealthy snack or perhaps in the evening whilst watching a movie * popcorn replacement

It was easy to get into a routine and now the routine is common place.

I even found a use for the left over bits of cereal that just sit at the bottom of the packet turning it into another breakfast meal.

I found that I had less bloating and I no longer have to undo the top button on my jeans and get some relief on my tummy ! And it is love for All-Bran now part of my daily breakfast and I am ready for what ever the world throws at me !

This post is an entry for the “Real Mums of All-Bran” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs

Monday 28 July 2014

Wistful Wantings ~ The Bloglings

Hopefully by now you 'll be familiar with the concept of 'The Bloglings' which is a linky a sort of pin interest with no pictures (except the thumb nail one)  where you can get inspired by reading the posts, perhaps even tell your friends, incorporate them into posts ( no follow links are fine).

The idea came about while watching Lewis and I was inspired bu the Literary group 'The Inklings' the linky is to join in as you see fit.

This week I am wistfully thinking of the things that I would like , for instance I would like a white style enamel colander.

I call these things Wistful Wantings!

How pretty would that look ? what better presentation could you possibly have for strawberries ? that leads me on how I learnt to hull a strawberry this week via you tube. So naturally I am now wistfully wanting to learn better knife skills so I like all fancy in the kitchen and my cucumber slices like pretty and dainty when I go to make cucumber sandwiches.

And then oh my days I want a bicycle with a basket so I can wistfully cycle up and down the country lanes that surround me where I live.I know it sounds somewhat twee and as if I want to step into the 1950's but oh my days how carefree I will feel cycling down the lane on the hill with my feet off the peddles wind in my hair.

So join in any post you like just make sure it is not too rude , other that that anything goes !

Do you have a wistful wanting perhaps you can tell me in the comments

Friday 25 July 2014

5 Top Things to Do In Washington DC

I want to go with all my heart and soul to Washington DC next year for a family holiday , I am passionate about travelling it fills my heart and soul with memories. When a few years ago my computer lost many pictures from a Florida visit I was devastated but I know the memories are with me the fact that I can't show people is sad but I can pain a picture with my words.

I have read about Washington DC, I have seen the films , I have read books and yet the place is magical to me that is the wonder of travel you don't actually see the place tip you get to go. When someone tell you of  Washington as piece of Washington DC goes into my soul. There are many places that I wish to go and it will be a family road trip. I would like to take my usual photography equipment but I would also like to take a little Polaroid camera so my teen take little snaps and start a memory board just before he goes to university in a few years and he can remember those family times. You see now my sentimentality is coming out but don'tl tell my son that otherwise he will think I have gone soft !

Where do I want to visit well my top 5 is as follows

1. Smithsonian are a mind-blowing 17 museums here and I don't think I can cover them all in my lifetime! Yes I love the series Bones ! . I would have to make sure on a first visit that I go to the National Air And Space museum.

2.Whitehouse  and the other government buildings which are goes with out saying ! I would really like to be part of the Whitehouse's Easter egg hunt ! I also want to explore the U.S Capitol building and the U.S supreme court.

3. Arlington cemetery and pay my respects to the many brave souls that have fought and died for peace it doesn't matter that I am not American respect and honour will still be give. This is just outside of the Washington D.C.

4. George Town is the capital's historic waterfront and is a bustling and thriving area full of activity. There I aim to take a tour of the historic sites , enjoy a meal in one of the many multi cultural restaurants and shop shop shop if Mr T will let me.

5. We will take a tour of the national memorials and monuments ! I do think I have seen one to many spy thrillers and no doubt my imagination will be going on over drive. We simply must say HI to Abraham lincoln !

Do you have any other suggestions where I should go  ?

Wednesday 23 July 2014

How much does it cost to feed a 15 year old ?

Feeding a teen is considered expensive by many , so it seems unless you don't feed them enough they get incredibly grumpy but with a bit of magic it is possible to feed a teen cheaply.

Now Natwest considers that it will cost you £50 to feed a teenager who is 15 , I thought this incredibly generous at first as I thought that a huge chunk of this has to  a snacks allowance.

A menu for our week might look something like this, meal planning does help with a budget.

Monday Spaghetti  Bolognese

Tuesday Homemade Chicken Kiev . Dessert Eaton Mess

Wednesday Pulled Pork Salad.

Thursday Rolls made with pulled pork leftovers.

Friday Homemade burgers

Saturday Chicken and Potato Hash

Snacks made Strawberries and cream fridge cake flapjack

Natwest has asked several bloggers myself being one of them  to look at their spending habits and see how much they spend on their respective children ~ it does vary with age. Their child cost calculator estimates that J will cost me £50 a week , he is in the 13-17 age bracket.

I got to thinking about what I spent of a week on shopping and it is around £40 a week which is mainly on line. My husband does a top up shop ( which might be exciting items like shampoo, toilet cleaner or cat biscuits)  Now sometimes I will not even do a shop in one week as there is enough in reserves to keep us going for a couple of weeks, I do have to top up essentials bread, milk fruit & veg.

My son does have £10 a week for his school meals which is a cashless system and I can track what he is eating at school,  this is obviously only in term time. I could squeeze the cost all the more and sent him with sandwiches but he want to eat with his mates and I don't mind. Things will be different if you have more than one and my husband is one of 7 and has many a tale of 'interesting' foods that were eaten including milk and tripe, lard sandwiches, weetabix with butter!

As it is the holidays at the minute the money also that is saved from the shopping is used to stock up on my teens school wear , making sure he has a good pair of shoes which will cost anything from £40 to £80 in the year. The cost can be halted by buying from outlet shops or waiting for the sales only snag is the older they get the less choice you have.

And then there is the odd meal odd we never have starters or desserts instead choosing to have a dessert at home and for a family of 3 the meal at the local village pub is about 35 including drinks , price will vary according to what we have , it had come in at £15 before now if we have the lighter option.

What I am basically saying budget is largely down to choice and how you live your life , with a little planning you can still enjoy a luxury or 2 or 3 and your teen is still getting fed and there is enough in the wine pot for me *occasionally always drink responsibly *

Some of the costs  when it comes to childcare are really really scary but I have been lucky as i work in education and my husband has a fairly good job. The only thing is as I am part time I am not as well paid but I am lucky to have the job I have that has been so good with the flexibilities over the years.

The calculator says the school fees for this age group will be £40,000 which is huge and I am not at that figure as he is an a state school .I moved to get him into the school he is in in lieu of sending him to a private school which would have been all the more expensive. So thinking about it I am actually at that figure * excuse me while I cry into my pinot grigio.

There is no way I spent £150 a month on his clothes more likely £50 at times this will vary , such a the dreaded school uniform time but I have just got his blazer which is new off ebay for £8 and sewn the school badge on * well I don't sew but the husband does.

 and his pocket money is only £5 a week , transport I have left as we go all over the place for his sports , for I have left, books and technology have stayed the same.

My teenager playing football.

So what is the total cost for me having one child from 0-17 £297,078.67p


Have a go with the calculator yourself and see how you fare !

Disclosure: NatWest kindly sent me some vouchers to test out the calculator by spending on food, I have not been told or instructed what to write.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Black And White Urban Building Restorer

Black And White Urban Building Restorer

I'm writing this at 4.30 am as I have hot feet and about to dive into the freezer.

Coming back from an appointment yesterday I took some urban shots which is a departure for me.

Before I took these shots I too felt abandoned in a sense drifting , but seeing this poor abandoned building I realised what potential I have.

With photography it is all about having a go , at the moment I am varying my angles to get different prospective. One time I would have been bothered about the cars being in the shot , but I am reminded of my architectural and history , heritage  background . To breath live into our old buildings is a miraculous achievement.

Whether they are iconic landmarks 

Or as an urban canvas for griffiti form and functionality.

Monday 21 July 2014

The Bloglings

This is very very much much in it's raw state and it is my new baby and I don't even have a badge yet!

I hope it will set you on a path of self discovery and will be self peculating.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Transparent Leaf

For me many moments are flash and feeling , as mentioned before I think it , see it do it.

For me photography is a pleasure a release , I've just ordered a ring flash and I'm looking forward to playing with that.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Cheats Chicken Kiev And Eaton Mess

My son is obsessed with chicken Kiev and given half a chance would eat it every day , I much prefer him to have fresh chicken Kiev rather than ones than look like they have spent too much on the sun bed. Fresh Kiev's are available from the local village butcher but are rather pricey, so I much rather buy a packet of 4 chicken breasts and as we are a family of 3 there is one left I can slice up for my husbands pack lunch result !


4 chicken breast
cream cheese about 4 tablespoon 
3 garlic cloves or less depending or your garlic levels
You could also use garlic paste as a quick option
100g fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg/ olive oil
mixed herbs 2 tea spoons

Optional you could add some garlic to the cream cheese  and put less in the seasonings, 


Heat your oven to 200c/180c/gas mark 6 

Peel the garlic cloves and together with mixed herbs, breadcrumb whizz in a food processor.

Place the seasoning onto a plate.

Cut a slit in your chicken ( about a thumb length) carefully making sure do not go all the way through.

Spoon  some cream cheese into the slit and push down , repeat this for the remaining chicken breasts.

Spoon in the cream cheese.

You can either brush your chicken with olive oil or brush with beaten egg the choice is up to you .

Then press the chicken into the herby breadcrumbs.

Please in a shallow roasting tin.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Serve will a sale and corn on the cob.

Eaton Mess


1 punnet of strawberries hulled and chopped.

I carton of extra thick double cream

2 packets of mini meringues 

First break up the meringues in a plastic bag

Then spread some at the bottom of a glass bowl.

Put in some chopped strawberries spoon on some cream

Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used up.

Give a massive stir place in fridge.

All this can be done while the chicken Kiev is cooking and is a ideal summers desert.

Layer the ingredients.

Place to chill in fridge.

Eaton mess an ideal summer dessert.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Moroccan Chicken & Tenderstem® Tagine Cooked With Cous Cous

This time as part of the Tenderstem challenge we were off to Morroco, with the prospect of cooking with my tagine I couldn't wait.

"It's not going to be uber spicy is it " ~ said J the mild mannered teen.

The changes I made to their recipe were as follows I actually cooked it with the cous couss in it and I swapped out the chick peas for Barlotti beans and no harissa paste.

2 tbsp olive oil
800g chicken thighs, or a combination of thighs & drumsticks
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500ml chicken stock
1 tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2 tsp runny honey
300g Tenderstem®, each stem cut in half

To serve:
Harissa paste (optional)
Generous handful coriander leaf, chopped
Steamed couscous


The sweet and mild spicing of a Moroccan tagine is a really appealing way to introduce children to spices. Serve with fiery harissa on the side to spice things up a bit.
1. Add the oil to a flameproof casserole or large saucepan and set over a medium heat. Fry the chicken pieces on both sides until golden, doing this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once the chicken is all browned, return it all to the pan along with any juices. Toss in the carrots, onions and garlic along with the cumin, cinnamon and ginger and fry for a further couple of minutes, stirring well to coat the meat with the spices. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour over the stock and add the chickpeas and honey, stirring thoroughly and bring up to a steady simmer. Turn down the heat, cover with a lid and cook gently for around an hour to an hour and a quarter, or until the chicken is tender.

3. Once the chicken is cooked, stir through the Tenderstem®, re-cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until its just tender but with plenty of bite. Scatter over the coriander and serve with plenty of couscous to soak up the juice

"The spice was a little overwhelming but I liked the broccoli and chicken" ~ said J the teen now searching for the ice cream.

This is not a dish we would usually cook , but I can see how to tweak it in the future to suit my fussy teen all the more. Having the amount of spices helped the teen cous cous needs flavouring.

Gallery My View Right Now

This is always my view , admitly I have to step out my front door but it's 2 minutes away! I have ponies and horses trotting down my road , tractors and combine harvesters.

I'm very lucky I have one half of me in suburbia and the other half in the country. Instead of the sound of cars , I have the sound of sheep , chickens , horses and Shetland ponies and dogs as there is a rescue sanctuary nearby as well.

I 'm surrounded by lanes , that is why you are always seeing me photographing them. Despite having photographed the same scenes before , it doesn't matter to me as each picture is unique , the sky , the season , the mood the company.

So many combinations collide to result in the pictures I take , please do enjoy my Instagram if you wish.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Morrissey Goes to The Shops


I mean who's have thought Morrissey would have got me going of a morning ?

I am , not one for listening to music on the move, in fact the last tune I listened to as I amble alone the country lane to Grammar school was "November Spawned a Monster" which is obviously a Morrisey track in fact that might have been the last tune I listened to on my walkman before it broke.

So the other morning whilst listening to the incredibly fashionable radio 2 ,  where the folks of the 80's go to wallow in memories and power slides  awwwh. My ears pricked up to the sounds of the new album , love him , hate him , opinions left right centre I know what I like and today it was this.

Being late to the Morrissey party sums me up , I am unique have never done things by halves so me walking to the shops gently humming the Spanish undertones of "World politics is none your business"

Now where are my IPhone headphones ?

Sunday 13 July 2014

Strawberries And Cream Fridge Cake

Usually I buy flapjacks or other assorted cakes not all the time but on occasion as a treat but more and more recently I have been making my own cakes and there assorted tray bakes. And a fridge cake in particular is great to make with children as it doesn't require any baking. The only question is one square or two ? where do you stop as it quite addictive  making you nibble furiously. You can use any combination of chocolate but milk chocolate on its own may be too sweet, I 've yet to meet a fridge cake I didn't take to. And in a nostalgic twist to your school days why not add rice crisps instead of digestive and for the ultimate adult edition add booze.


  • 250g/8oz digestive biscuits
  • 300g/10z of chocolate (I did an equal  milk and a dash of dark that was lurking in my cupboard.)
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter
  • 150g/5oz golden syrup  (though certainly reduce according to taste)
  • 100g/3½oz mini marshmallows.
  • A punnet to strawberries stalks removed and chopped ( save for topping )

  1. Use cling film to line a square shaped tin, a brownie tin is ideal for this.

  2. Place the biscuits in a bag and tie then furiously bash.
  3. Melt chocolate, butter and golden syrup together in a heatproof pool over a ban Marie stirring occasionally.
  4. Take the bowl from the heat and this is where you add your ingredients for  this recipe it contains the biscuits and mini marshmallows.

    Spoon the mixture into the tin. Level the surface by pressing it down with the back of a spoon.Press the chopped strawberries into the mixture.
  5. Leave to cool, then put the chocolate mixture in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.

Turn out the cake and peel off the cling film. Cut the cake into 12 squares and enjoy!

Serve with cream or eat with your fingers or go posh and eat with a cake fork.

Casa Costello

Thursday 10 July 2014

Mortica Moggy Mafia

A cat that most aloof of pets, you tickle it belly as it ensnares you in a grasp of loving pain  ,yet despite this little nuances with we keep faith with our furry friends, reading yesterday about a cat that held a family captive in America, I can quite quite believe this, I am unsure of what spooked or triggered the cats behaviour but I hope they either welcome her back with counselling or the cats finds another family.

I am thinking of a cat on a doctors couch as well ...

Once when go to picking a cat at a  shelter, I saw a cat that was hugging the fencing , we didn't choose that cat as I couldn't quite face hauling it off the light fitting, instead we choose a big big black fluffy cat who was a powderpuff on legs and so purry and cute . We quite simply had to have her , my husband went to pick her her she was  yet unnamed , The alarm bells didn't trigger of in my husbands head when they asked him to step out off the room to box the cat up.

It still didn't register when he was bringing the cat home that the box was shaking round like it was possessed. So upon open the box out leaped a hissing bowl of fury a very very angry powder puff, we really did try make "Mortica" the devil  feel at home but herding a cat with a broom is not the way to go and drawing short straws at night to see who would go lion taming at feeding time.

It was neither far to "Mortica" the devil  or to us so we arranged for Mortica the devil to go to live on a farm this is not the  muggy mafia and us issuing "Mortica" with the feline equivalent of concrete paw boots  but more simply she deserved better.

Sadly we have pictures of Mortica   the devil ....

Mortica   the devil was so named after the Adams family.

This is Jack

*Names have be change to protect the innocent

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Gallery : The Great Outdoors

The great outdoors is a place that I feel very much at home, for there is beauty upon my doorstep , a stone throws upon where I live. I can be in the middle of a field with corn bending and waving in the wind within 2 minutes , though the time I stay in the countryside is considerably longer.

The great outdoors never judges you .

You can wander down it's lanes and streets of your own free will , I feel as if I am a mere guest in the fabric of its time. I find that being outdoor frees my mind and soul and when I came upon the river I saw the swans gliding down with their young cygnets. I get asked why go back and photography it again and I say

"Why not, the light is different the time , sky, sunlight, clouds the season the mood everything is different "

I always spot a lane or path I have yet to travel or a footpath , indeed the other week I was hot footing back over the fence literally pole-vaulting as a herd of angry cows trotted towards me.

I enjoy photography in the outdoors I like to think of my picture taking as object watching much akin to people watching. I take pictures of the magnificent houses and cottages and think I would very much to live there an lollop out on the lane to find my little row boat tied up to row merrily down the river.

In the great outdoors always look forward and then again look back you will see and hear a world that you never knew about , like a flight of dragon flights whizzing past my ear.

If you are weary would you like to rest a while and take tea upon the lawn in the great outdoors.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Chicken Potato Hash

Tea , dinner or what ever you call it supper, perhaps there are times when you can feel unspired but a little reflection and just going with what feels right can work wonders. And if the most staple basic of cupboard , freezer, fridge ingredients can lead to a momentous feast.

"What's  for tea mum ?" said J the hungry teen

"Chicken Potato


Enough chicken breasts for 3

1 1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon or fresh

1 tea spoon mixed herbs

1 clove of garlic (optional ) crushed

2 tea spoons of dry vegetable bouillon

First cook your salad potatoes for 10 minutes just so they are par boiled, then slice the potatoes

Heat oil in frying pan until sizzling; add potatoes, onion and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 12-14 minutes or until potatoes are browned. Remove from pan keep warm. 

Place chicken in same skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once, 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan. Keep warm. 

Place potato mixture and chicken back in the pan .  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 6-9 minutes next add tarragon ,mixed herbs and dry vegetable bullion. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 1-3 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. 

Serve with garlic bread 

"Garlic bread it's the future"said J the full teen - though I am sure someone else said that !

Mexican Beef & Tenderstem® Fajitas But With Minced Beef

The other day it was Mexican night I announced In the household, not that we were going to grow bandit moustaches and wear Mexicans hands and strike up a mariachi band.

"Hurrah said J" the optimistic teen

"It contain beefs " said I ( Mrs Ninjacat )

"You know I am not keen on that sort of beef "Said J the now slightly disgruntled teen.

"I will rethink the recipe" said I the slightly disgruntled Mrs Ninja cat

For the beef & Tenderstem® filling:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp paprika
a pinch or two of chilli powder, to taste (optional)
1 tsp caster sugar
2 rump steaks, about 500-600g total ( I used minced beef instead)
300g Tenderstem®, each stem cut into 3 pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced

For the guacamole: ( just me and Mr T had this )

2 ripe avocados
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp sour cream
Juice ½ lime
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa: ( the teen was ok with this big hurrah )
150g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander, leaves & fine stalks finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar

To serve:
a handful of grated cheddar cheese
2-3 tbsp sour cream
6-8 tortilla wraps, warmed in the microwave or oven ( we used cripsy baskets instead for a change)

"I like this and the broccoli makes it  " said the happier J ( not longer a disgruntled teen)

Disclosure this is part of a Tenderstem broccoli challenge and I received shopping vouchers to my ingredients)

Do-it-yourself wraps that kids adore, this is a great recipe for relaxed weekend family feasting. Featuring a Mexican mildly spiced steak & Tenderstem® stir fry filling, with salsa, guacamole & cheese to add to taste. If you are short of time, feel free to substitute ready made guacamole and salsa in place of the recipe, and up the quantities of spices for old kids and brave eaters!
1. Mix the olive oil, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli and sugar in a small bowl. Use half to brush over both sides of the steaks. Add the Tenderstem®, onion, red and yellow peppers to a mixing bowl and stir through the other half of the marinade. Set aside for 15 minutes whilst you make the guacamole and salsa.

2. Make the guacamole by peeling the avocados, scooping out the flesh and mashing with a fork in a small bowl. Stir through the garlic, sour cream and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Make the salsa by mixing the tomatoes, coriander, lime juice, chilli (if using) garlic and sugar.

4. When you are ready to eat, place a large frying pan over a high heat. When it is hot, add a drizzle of olive oil and let it get hot for a few seconds before adding both steaks. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, depending on how well done you like your steak. Set aside on a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

5. Add the vegetables to the frying pan, season with a little salt and pepper to taste and stir fry over a high heat for around 5 minutes until they are cooked but still with plenty of bite. Turn off the heat.

6. Slice the steaks thinly across the grain and return to the pan, stirring briefly to mix together before tipping into a warmed serving dish. Serve the filling, salsa, guacamole, cheese and sour cream in separate bowls at the table for everyone to build their own wrap.

Why not try it with...
You can replace the beef with pork tenderloin strips, or chicken breast strips - stir frying these first in the frying pan and making sure they are cooked all the way through before setting aside on a plate whilst you cook the vegetables.