#whatwedidthisweek – Monday was my first day back at work having had the half-term holiday off with the kids. It was a bit of a shock when the alarm went off as I always sleep really badly the night before I go back to work. The day just went downhill from there as my computer didn’t work (a bit of swapsies went down in my absence) so a few cups of tea later and a bit of a catch up and it was time to leave. Phew!
See you on Wednesday (impromptu day off on the Tuesday).
Tuesday was my birthday and I was hoping to keep quiet but my not best mate, Facebook blabbed about it to everyone! Anyway I had the day off and did some work in the morning (my choice) and then Chris took me for a lovely lunch at Five Guys.
The burgers were enormous and the cajun fries were moreish. There was no attractive way to eat the burgers as they were so big that you could hardly get your chops around it to take a bite. I would definitely never recommend it for a first date situation. We even had a weekday daytime beer to wash it down.
The rest of the day was a flurry of people and lovely presents including The Unmumsy Mum Diary which I’ve just started reading and I’ve bought a ticket to a Night Out with the Unmumsy Mum at the Puerto Lounge, Exeter. We then might have popped into the local pub for a couple of drinks (on a school night).
It was a lovely day even though I would have loved to have stuck my head under the pillow with a giant bag of Monster Munch.
I took part in a Twitter chat and won some beauty goodies which came in the post. I love getting things in the post even when I’ve ordered them and I know what’s inside. I like to shake it and prod it to guess what’s inside!!
On Saturday Isabelle went to Rainbows and got a badge for World Thinking Day. Apparently this means that she’s good at thinking. Ha ha!
Isabelle’s friend came back with us afterwards so it was a great opportunity to try out Pancake Kebab Recipe. These were really easy to make and you can just give the pancakes and a selection of fruit to the kids to construct. They both really enjoyed them, and even better you can batch make them and freeze for future yummy breakfasts.
Saturday night was watched Bad Neighbours 2 which wasn’t as good as the first one, but still worth a watch.
Sunday we started off the day with American Pancakes with Crispy Bacon and Maple syrup. I’ve never tried it before and it was a bit strange with the sweet and salty mix, but I kinda liked it. The afternoon was a trip to the pitch to watch Ryan in all his glory. It’s been a while since I watched one of his games as now that he’s nearly eighteen, it’s just not the same. It’s way more aggressive and the language and there’s only so many times that I can put my hands over Isabelle’s ears to block out the F’s and C words being flung around.
We finished off the day with a roastie. It’s been a while since we had a roast and it was absolutely delish.
These little pancakes are so cute. You can make a batch up and freeze, and then you can take a few out the night before for breakfast.
Pancake Kebab Recipe
Isabelle had her friend over to play today so it was the perfect time to test these out. Apologies for my none too professional maple syrup drizzle. I think I need a bit more practice!
To make the pancakes you will need:
135g Plain flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
130ml/ 4 1/2 fluid oz milk
1 large egg
2 Tbsp melted butter, plus extra for cooking
You will also need:
Short Wooden kebab sticks
2 Kiwi fruits
A few Blueberries
Approx 8 Strawberries
Maple Syrup to serve
Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and add the salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and melted butter.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients together then lightly whisk until well combined and lump free.
Make this mixture a little in advance as it works best if you put it into the fridge for a while.
Melt some butter in a frying pan and if you’re confident put a small amount of mixture in small blobs to make small bitesized pancakes. If not you can either use a squirty bottle or a round biscuit cutter to get the correct size.
Slice the fruit ready for construction.
Once all the pancakes are made you can make up the kebabs alternating pancakes and fruit or you could give them to the kids to make how they like.
Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup. The best bit of the cold weather are the scrummy soups, casseroles and home comfort food. I love a big bowl of soup, and it’s a great thing to make in advance, freeze and take out for work or a meal when you’re super busy.
What you will need:
600g Carrots, washed and grated
140g Split red lentils
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Litre hot vegetable stock
2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
Pinch of Chilli flakes
Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and start to smell yummy.
Add the oil, carrot, lentils, stock and milk to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have swollen and softened.
Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth, but can be left chunky if you prefer and serve with naan bread and a dollop of yoghurt.
Really easy to make and totally scrummy.
For all of our other tried and tested recipes, pop over to our Recipes Page.
It doesn’t mean that we get a lie-in but it’s so much nicer not waking up to the sound of the alarm and having to immediately jump out of bed and get ready. Non-alarm days or weekends we’re usually woken up by Isabelle climbing over us so it could be a misplaced arm, let or elbow that awakens us.
It was a great start to the week as the sun was shining, albeit it the wind was biting. Up we got at a leisurely pace and off we went to Wildwood Escot for a day of Creepy Crawly Welly Walking, walking in the woods and eating flapjack (which I’ve posted separately about).
We were really lucky with the weather as the following day it poured down with rain so we headed off to soft play in Exmouth. If you’ve been to Exmouth before then you will know that when it’s cold – it’s flippin freezing there! Isabelle had a really lovely time. We bumped into several people from school including Isabelle’s teacher. It ended with the filling in of an accident form as Isabelle got herself a lovely slide burn on her back and her arm.
We finished off that day with MacDonalds and a trip to a local farm shop where the Ostrich took a slightly liking to me and followed me backwards and forwards. I tested this theory by running up and down and it copied me. I only received a couple of odd looks.
Wednesday we had a lazy day at home and made cupcakes and Carrot and Lentil Soup.
Thursday we met up with a dog walker friend who is hopefully going to have Charlie when we go on holiday in August. This will be first time that we’ve left him so I’m a bit nervous as I don’t want him to think that we’ve left him. He had to meet the other dog that will be there at the same time as him to make sure that they would get along. I knew that Charlie would be fine as he’s such a friendly boy. He’s never shown any aggression to any other dogs or people, and just loves to play so I knew that he would be fine.
Isabelle had a playdate with a friend in the afternoon so I had a bit of a catch up with sorting washing and a little bit of blogging.
Friday was another dodgy weather day so Isabelle invited one of her friends over to play. It was the first time that her room wasn’t turned upside down and inside out. They sat and played pony hairdressers.
On Saturday we went to the cinema to watch the Trolls movie which we hadn’t got round to watching due to illness/being busy. I gave her a choice of pic n mix or Ice cream, and she chose ice cream. She opted for a two scoop tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. What flavour did she want? Phish Food, Caramel Chew, Double Chocolate Brownie? Nope she wanted vanilla. Really said the man serving. You just want vanilla? He tempted her into having one scoop of vanilla and one caramel honey.
The film was fab so we need to get it on DVD.
Today we went to Budleigh Salterton Beach with the pooch. The whole beach is just pebbles, no sand.
It’s really difficult to walk on pebbles as they move so running is almost impossible.
Charlie wasn’t keen on the beach to start with, but I think it was because the waves were quite fierce and they make a lot of noise going back and forth over the pebbles. We walked down as far as the nudey beach, and thankfully there were no nudists for Isabelle to point at and laugh at (luckily for us).
By the time we made it off the beach it felt like we were walking on fluffy clouds.
I feel like a bit of an expert on this topic as we’ve probably experienced the rough side of a cough and cold with our daughter more than the average mum and dad.
I say this not in a competing kind of way, but having Isabelle has changed so many things about what I used to believe was the ‘right way’ to look after a child.
Ryan was never a sickly child, slept and eat well.
We never avoided people with sniffles and were never really that phased when we turned up to nursery and yet another notice was on the door notifying of the latest illness going round.
Isabelle changed all of this.
We truly believe that you could sneeze across the road from Isabelle and she would catch a cold.
I hated it when I went to baby/toddler group and there were always children with coughs and colds as we knew that she would get them.
It irked me when family and friends would visit with a poorly child or ill themselves knowing that she would get it.
I can imaging you rolling your eyes at this point, but Isabelle never gets just a cough or cold. It was always to the extreme.
She would be poorly for days on end, none of us getting much sleep at night due to the crying, coughing and ultimately the projectile vomiting when she couldn’t control the cough.
She’s been given inhalers, antibiotics and steroids to help ease her symptoms mostly not helping at all. We know the signs a mile off by now so we know what’s in store for us.
So I pass on our baton of wisdom in all things ‘Cough and Cold’.
No milk. I know this one isn’t possible when little ones are little little, but milk is claggy in the throat and can sometimes promote coughing as it thickens the phlegm. Also milk sick is so gross smelling and a nightmare to get the smell out of carpets.
A nice calm bathtime routine. Adding a chamomile teabag into the water or a few drops of lavender oil to relax them and also open up their nasal passages.
No running. I know this sounds like a funny one, but Isabelle would have the most awful coughing fits if she had bursts of running around or being silly, so the run-up to bedtime has to be quiet play.
Open the windows – Even if its a freezing cold day. Open the windows during the day in your child’s bedroom to let some fresh air through. Alternatively you could get a dehumidifier.
Menthol vaporiser – We have a plug-in one that we got from boots which we put on about an hour before Isabelle goes to bed.
Raising the mattress – When they have a cough and cold lying flat is not the best thing for them so put something underneath the mattress so that they are slightly raised. I also give Isabelle an extra pillow for the same reason.
Vick’s Vaporub – Don’t be shy go for the massive tub. We get through loads of this which we apply to Isabelles back and chest. We also read on a forum to put it on the bottom of her feet and leave her socks on so we did this as well.
Water – Make sure that your child always has access to water so that they can at least try to help themselves by having a drink during the night.
Isabelle can’t seem to control her breathing very well when she has a cough and a cold and is quite often sick as a result of her panicking when she’s struggling. She now knows to get out of bed. If we can direct the sick away from the bed at least she can get back in without having to wait for the whole bed changing dance.
NEVER let them in your bed. We know only too well what happens when they’ve been sick in their own bed and thinking that it’s an easy option for them to climb in with you only results in nobody having anywhere to sleep!
We’ve also tried nasal sprays which she didn’t like at all so we keep them as a bit of a last resort to be used only with bribery.
Get some balm for their noses which get sore and red from all the nose wiping. It’s like a plaster, they love to have something to put on.
For coughs we give Isabelle ice lollies which she loves, but it also soothes her throat. If she’s not eating we can make them from fruit so that she’s at least getting some nutrition in her.
All the cough medicine that they are able to have. When things have been really bad we’ve been told by our doctor to give Isabelle an antihistamine so make her sleep.
During the day create a space where they can sleep if they want to. Isabelle won’t go to bed but if she’s comfortable she might at least close her eyes.
Have a selection of easy to play with toys. No jigsaws or complicated games which will end up in them getting ratty.
DVD’s or TV for them to watch. Whilst you don’t want them stuck in front of the TV all day some little one’s can’t seem to cope with much else.
Don’t expect them to sit and eat huge meals. When Isabelle is poorly she never wants to eat so we let her choose from a selection of things such as fruit, crackers, toast, yoghurts etc so that she can pick what she wants and is more likely to eat it.
Olbas oil on a flannel over the radiator and then dot a few drops around the room.
Honey and Lemon – Make them a cup of warm honey and lemon. Putting it in a fancy cup with a straw usually works for Isabelle.
Kids magazines always cheer Isabelle up. Isabelle’s favourite part is of course the toy on the front and it’s possibly the only time that she’s interested in the stories and activities inside the magazine as well.
Another good one is to be armed with an ipad or phone with some good kids apps. Isabelle is currently into kids youtube watching the unwrapping of ‘Blind Bags’. The voices totally drive me nuts but as each one only lasts about 4 – 6 minutes they’re tolerable in small doses.
We were sent ‘That Book’ – The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep. It was quite a long book and I’m sure that it might work on a child who stays in bed, lying down in bed and doesn’t talk all the way through, but it made me tired, and she did go to sleep quicker than usual.
We also received some finger puppets which at the moment have prime pillow space in Isabelle’s bed along with bunny.
We do all of this whilst trying to avoid the sneeze spray so that we don’t end up getting it ourselves. It NEVER works, one or both of us always comes down with it so make sure that you have a cupboard full of remedies for yourselves as well. Chris seems to like the Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray whereas Ryan opts for the Nasal Stick.
Wildwood Escot – We used to be frequent visitors of Escot when Ryan was younger so it’s nice to be invited to take Isabelle, especially as she seems to quite like mud, walking in mud, squishing in mud, poking sticks in mud……..just mud.
We started off in the Anglo Saxon Village which was really cool. It was all set out as a proper village with a kitchen area, bedrooms, fire places and is used as part of the Camp Wild setting which offers holiday camps for children aged 7 – 12 years.
The Welly Walk
This February half term they have Creepy Crawly Welly Walks running twice a day which are definitely worth going on. We had a lovely guide who showed us some rather strange looking dried animals and skulls. Isabelle didn’t seem phased by the flat squirrel or hedgehog.
We stomped through the park to a pond where we dipped to see if we could find any creepy crawlies lurking underneath. We found some little ‘slug like’ bugs on the leaves and further on we found some frog spawn which Isabelle thought looked like snot.
You know the saying that you learn something new everyday?
Well at Wildwood Escot they have a deadly predator laying in waiting.
It doesn’t have claws, sharp teeth and it doesn’t growl.
It’s called Hemlock Water Dropwart and is poisonous if eaten.
We then took part in making mud creatures using mud, twigs, leaves and anything else that we could find on the ground.
Isabelle made a squirrel, a squirrel house with a fire outside the front and an antenna on the top for the TV.
It was amazing seeing all the other children using their imagination to make creatures including an alien and a fairy.
Exploring the park
After the welly walk we went to explore the rest of the park. There are some amazing climbing trees with really gnarly intertwined branches.
It was a lovely sunny day but the wind was quite biting so unfortunately we didn’t see the squirrels, but we saw the Lynx being fed by the keeper. There was one at the back, and we finally spotted the other one which was hiding in the giant tree trunk in it’s enclosure. They really are beautiful. I could just imagine one curling up on your lap.
The Wild Boar were all foraging for food and some were outstretched in the sunlight.
We went over to the Death Slide and Isabelle was really up for having a go. That was until she reached the top and looked over the edge, and then we came back down again. Ha ha. I was totally going to show her how it’s done but I had to help her back down the steps!
I really wanted to go and watch the Otter feeding, as they’re really interesting. They obviously know exactly what time feeding time is as they were all by the door that the keeper comes in whining in unison, and running round as a group waiting for their food.
The otters were given a selection of food including turkey meatballs and cherry tomatoes which was thrown all around the enclosure so that they had to look for it. They work really fast at getting the food!
A hanging type basket filled with straw and bits of food was hung up so that they had to rummage through the straw to get the food. It was really funny to see them find something like they were dipping into a lucky dip, run over to the water to wash it before eating it.
We spent some time in the outdoor play area where there are plenty of things to climb on, and then had a go on the rope swing where I very nearly took out a child. Oops.
Coffee and cake is usually quite high up on the list of things to do on a day out but we opted for flapjack which was so yummy and chewy (big thumbs up).
Isabelle found a tree where there were loads of wine bottles hanging. We told Isabelle that that’s where the witches lived and that they hung the bottles on the branches when they finished the wine.
There are loads of picnic tables or open grassy spaces around the park which is what we would usually do in the nicer weather.
Wildwood Escot is the place for you if you like being outdoors where the kids can explore, use their imagination and play.
Wolves are moving to Wildwood Escot shortly which we can’t wait to go and meet. Wildwood Escot is a registered charity and your admission is treated as a charitable donation. You can support this further by adopting an animal to help ensure that the animals are cared for and fed as they should. It also ensures that the park can be looked after for years more enjoyment.
After last weeks coughs and colds finally lifting, normality and routine has been restored.
As it’s half term next week this week has been a bit of a drain waiting for our week off.
We haven’t really done very much aside from the usual round of dog-walking, cooking, school run and all the usual housey stuff.
As Isabelle wasn’t at school for most of last week we had a surprise Valentines School disco sprung on us on Thursday. Isabelle had a great time. She made up dance routines with her friends and they’d made a pact to all wear pink! One of her friends broke the ‘rule’ so she was mad with her. So young yet so grown up.
It SNOWED! On Saturday. I tried to take a picture but it was so fine that you cant see it in the picture.
Isabelle went to her second session of Rainbows on Saturday which she seems to like so I think we’re going to sign her up properly. We have the magazine for the uniform which is awful. I can cope with the top and the zip up hoodie, but the wide legged jogging bottoms are awful, so I think we’ll get the tops but pair it with leggings.
We also made these Aquabeads false nails which Isabelle really enjoyed making, but unfortunately they didn’t stay on for very long so some are missing, and I’m pretty sure that they dog might have eaten a couple as well.
Isabelle hasn’t been out on her bike for ages so we thought we’d go along the river and get an icecream (yep come rain or shine).
It was a disaster. She learnt to ride her bike in the summer but as she hasn’t been out on it for ages she was so nervous and wouldn’t let Chris let go of her so it was short lived, and we didn’t get anywhere near the quay to get icecream.
We’ve spent the rest of today in the warm playing and watching TV whilst the boys are out at football.
The best bit is knowing that for the next week our lives won’t be dominated by the morning alarm clock.
It feels like we’ve only just got back into the swing of things following Christmas, and yet another school holiday is just around the corner.
I’m really hoping that the weather is on our side as we have a couple of outside trips to go on. Worse case scenario we go armed with wellies, raincoats and umbrella’s. Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it.
Here are some of the things that have made our ears prick up:
This is a great place to take the kids. All week they have animal talks including Otters and Red Squirrels.
What’s on this week? Creepy Crawly Welly Walks, pond dipping and making animal dens as well as all the usual outdoor fun.
Children £8.00 (Under 3’s FREE)
What’s not to love about Crealy. There’s loads of stuff to do for all ages outside if the weather is nice, and if not you can hunch up with all the other mums and dads in the indoor play area and let the kids let off some steam. Meet the animals including Goats, Ponies, Monkeys and Meerkats. During half-term they’re running competitions for a chance to Win prizes totalling £5000 over the week. You can also camp, glamp or stay in a lodge in Crealy Meadows.
Children £6.95 (Under 92cm FREE)
Named as one of the ‘Top Ten Family Day’s Out in Devon’. This is a lovely place to take the kids where you can meet the donkey’s and stay for a grooming session along with talks about the work that they do (which is amazing). They have a maze and an outdoor play area, and I hear that the food is absolutely delicious.
They are offering a Dip and Dine offer with swimming, sauna and steam (adults only) and food in Amelia’s where they serve a selection of hot and cold food. We’ve done this before where we’ve had a swim and then a cooked breakfast which was lovely.
To launch the season’s opening, if you visit during 11th – 19th February you will be given a return ticket to visit as many times as you like during half-term. Take the little ones along for animal feeding, egg collecting, pond dipping, ferret racing and miniature pig racing. If you visit on 11th or 17th February Poco Drom will be playing which is always a treat.
A brand new adventure trail for kids and adults alike. The trail is for all ages and has a range of bridges, zip wires, stepping stones and ropes. If you’re kids like mud (who doesn’t) then this is great fun. Booking is advised.
Over 1 Metre £6.50
Under 1 Metre £3.50
There are loads of workshops during half-term week including animation workshops, Family Collage making and a Chinese Trail. Most of these are drop-in sessions but pop over the to website to check to avoid disappointment.
I’ve been meaning to take Isabelle here for a while now. Not only do they have lots of hedgehogs that have been rescued, but they have other animals such as goats, pigs and ponies. Get involved with feeding and petting the animals. This February entry is only £5.00 (including half-term).
Children £5.00 (Under 3’s FREE)
During February Half Term they are having a Beside the Seaside theme including a Shipwrek Train, a Beachside Scene, Puppet Shoes, Mac the Penguin, daily Animal talks and more.
Children £9.15 (Under 3’s FREE)
Who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo! As well as all the Fab animals, this February Half Term celebrates the launch of Cold-blooded Creatures 2017. There will be special talks, trails, Cuba the Croc mascot appearances and more!
Children £11.55 (Under 3’s FREE)
There are also lots of FREE things to do in the South West such as taking advantage of the many beaches. We love going to beach outside of summer time to find unusual things in the rock pools, and collect shells and pebbles . Put your wellies on, grab a bucket and a net and off you go.
What’s better than a recipe that you don’t have to cook. I’m pretty sure that I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like cheesecake or if I do they haven’t mentioned it. What’s not to like, Yummy creamy topping on an even yummier biscuity base (which if you’re the one serving you get to have extra – servers rights) and fruit. Fab combination!
For the base, put the biscuits in a freezer bag and using a rolling pin crush the biscuits. Add the crushed biscuits to the melted butter.
Put 12 cupcakes cases into a cupcake tray and add a spoonful of biscuit base to each case. Put into the fridge to chill whilst you prepare the topping.
Melt the white chocolate, butter and vanilla extract in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once all the ingredients are melted, take off the heat and stir to make a smooth mixture and set aside to cool.
In another bowl add the cream cheese, icing sugar (sifted) and cream until smooth.
Add the chocolate mixture to the cream cheese mixture.
Take about half the punnet of strawberries, wash and chop off the tops and cut into very small pieces before adding them to the cream cheese mixture.
Top the biscuit base cases with the cream cheese mixture and put in the fridge for approximately 4 hours. Top each cheesecake cup with a quartered strawberry and serve.
And there you have lovely little scrummy White Chocolate & Strawberry Cheesecake Cups.