22.10.13

A Rather Royal Date Day

On Sunday we were lucky enough to be able to indulge in a date day. After a lot of suggestions of what to do we finally decided on our original idea of heading up the Norfolk Coast and going to Sandringham, something we've wanted to do for a long time.
The estate closes to the public in a week or so and we didn't want to wait until next year.
So after an hour and a half drive we finally arrived and I was so excited. I felt little butterflies in my tummy, which might seem weird but castles have always been fanscinating to me and here I was now about to enter a house the current Queen owns and lives in, even better than that, spends Christmas in!
We bought tickets for the House, Museum and Gardens and opted for the woodland walk to get to the house. The woodland was so beautiful that it deserves it's own post.
Once the house was in view we were amazed by the beauty of it. For some reason I expected it to be bigger, not that it isn't big of course! 

You're not allowed to take photographs inside but if you've seen photos online at all, there was a book written by Prince Phillip for the Jubilee (I believe) which includes photos, and it is exactly the same.
We wondered what would have to be done to the house once it was closed to the public and awaiting the arrival of the Royal Family. We wondered if they would rearrange the furnitureat all but everything is set out as it always is, except they remove the rope seperating you from the sofas and so on. 

Everything is beautiful. A complete mishmash of styles, colours and designs which in our house would look a mess but in this house looked faultless.
Whilst we were stood behind the very sofa the Queen sits on to drink her tea in the mornings, in front of the only fire they now light in the house, I felt oddly emotional.
When you stand and think of where you are, and who will be sitting and standing in that room in 2 months time, it's incredibly overwhelming. 

We stood in the beautiful dining room, surrounded by beautiful china which will be packed away once the house is closed to the public, this is because the piece of furniture this gorgeous blue china set was placed on is used for serving food and drink throughout the day at various meals.
The table they will sit around everyday was laid for 9, and we were told how it can be extended to fit 22 people around it for Christmas Day lunch.
We wondered if a place would be set for Prince George and if a posh wooden highchair was hidden in storage within the house. 
We joked about baby proofing the house too. He may br a Prince but one day he will crawl and I'm sure will be enticed by the beautiful objects around the house and on the walls.

The final room we went in was set up with personal photos. I loved looking at these and it  made me proud of our Royal Family, the relationship they have with each other, with us and with their country.

We then decided it was time for tea and cake and headed off to the stables which was converted into teabrooms. Oh the lemon drizzle cake was amazing! As was the tea.

Once finished we looked around the museum and also got to have a look in the garages, which will soon be busy with cars transporting various family members around the estate. 
We spent rather a long time looking at the various Range Rovers and Land Rovers tucked at the back ready to be driven out.

We walked around some more of the grounds, finding some beautiful views of the house through trees and over lakes, and visited the church on the Estate before visiting the gift shop and buying a Sandringham Mug and a couple of glass baubles for the boys. 

We had a really wonderful time and will take the boys with us next year for them to share the excitement too.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Royal Family this is really worth a visit. It's too beautiful to miss out on.

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18.10.13

On a Grey Day

Despite living right on the coast we didn't visit the beach once during the summer this year. That's pretty awful I know, and I'm quite ashamed of it.
The funny thing with us is that we spend more time at the beach during the Autumn and Winter than during the warmer months. The atmosphere is totally different and, for us, slightly more inviting.
It's relaxed, fresh and a lot more fun to explore.
Last weekend we had to visit Southwold to pop to one of the gift shops on the pier. We stopped for Sausage and Chips and then went on to look for some woods. We were looking for some in particular, we visited them back in 2009 and haven't been able to find them since, but eventually decided to just go to the beach at Walberswick.
I last went to Walberswick in the Summer with my brother to go crabbing, so it was nice to go back and to explore the beach.
The whole surroundings had changed SO much it was almost unrecognisable, which was also a little unnerving because I couldn't quite get my bearings.

After having lots of fun on the beach we headed to the local pub, which is a really lovely cosy, warm, local pub. We visited there back in 2010 and sat and had fish n chips in the beer garden and listened to live music. It was one of the best days we've had as a family as it was spur of the moment and totally relaxed.

I indulged in a pint of lager and lime....mmmmm and the boys had a juice and half a pint of local bitter for my husband.

A walk back to the car gave us the opportunity to get this months Me and Mine photo, third time lucky, then it was back to the car, back home to put Jumanji on and to make a Roast Dinner.

It was one of those perfect family days, when you have plans to do something but you're not sure what.
I can't wait for more days like this.

(I desperately wish this photo was in focus!)
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15.10.13

Trying Something Different

We live on the coast and have a lot of wonderful, and beautiful beaches just short drives away. Norfolk beaches, Suffolk beaches, sandy beaches, stony beaches, busy beaches, deserted beaches.
We don't go there nearly as much as we should, and shamefully we didn't visit at all in the Summer. I hate myself for that.
But we did go on Sunday, whilst it was spitting with rain and was almost blowing a gail, but it was a really wonderful lovely lovely day.
We ran away from the waves, threw stones in the sea, searched for old bits of rope and old shells, ran down the stony mounds and wrote our name in the sands.
And I almost got my camera soaked in the name of art. But it was fun to try something different.

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12.10.13

A Woodland Adventure with Extra Special Treasure

Once upon a time there were two young boys called Charles and Harry.
One day Charles and Harry decided they wanted to go on an adventure, they wanted to go and search for treasure.
The two young boys headed off to a nearby woodland with their mummy and their nanny, armed with carrier bags to place all their treasure in.

The boys walked for miles and miles on the hunt for special treasure.
They collected pinecones, acorns, different colours of Autumn Leaves, sticks and stones, but they were missing the very best piece of treasure.
Soon the boys legs got tired.
Harry had a lay down in the soil and leaves, and both boys jumped on their nanny's back wanting to be carried.
Charles wrote his name in the soil, just incase they got lost and someone would be able to find them.
Taking it in turns to have a piggy-back and feeling defeated they decided to give up on their hunt for the special treasure, and headed for the car.

On the way they gasped, as shining on a branch, sat upon a tree, they saw a bear.
They grabbed the bear as quickly as they could, hoping no one else would beat them to their special treasure. For this was not just any bear they had found sitting in a tree. They had found the legendary Barny Bear.
A soft bear shaped snack filled with either a milk or chocolate centre.
Barny Bear proved a welcome treat for two very tired boys, and gave them a litle more energy to make it back to the car walking by themselves.


This post is an entry for Britmums 'Little Adventures Challenge' in partnership with Barny, the bear-shaped snack providing a little discovery in every bite. Find out more about Barny here.
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11.10.13

The Art of Not Caring

I've always been one of those people who cares about what others thinks of them.
Do people think I'm fat, scruffy, pretty, ugly?
Do they think I have a funny accent, or do they notice the fact that my tongue is too big for my mouth (really!) and that it causes me to speak funny sometimes?
Do people think I am a good mummy, a bad mummy or a lazy mummy?
Do people think I'm mature, childish, intelligent or stupid?
Do people think I'm a good friend, or a bad friend, or not good enough to be their friend?
Do people think the photographs I take are rubbish, or good, or really good?
The list goes on....
and on....
and on...

Recently I've had doubts over my blog.
Last week I was pretty much ready to give up. I'd had enough.
I reached out for support on Instagram and had some really lovely people gave me a little kick up the bottom, but a doubt was still in my mind. Friday was going to be the end.
I would never delete my blog, but I was pretty certain that I would stop right there. No more posts.

Then I reminded myself of what I would say to someone in the same position as me.
Who cares if people don't like you?
Who cares if people don't like what you write?
They don't have to read.
No one is forced to read your blog. And if anyone complains about what you write, well, that's their problem because you are not sitting them down and forcing them to like every single thing you write.
I have a few people who like my blog, and like what I write, and although it may be a teeny tiny number (we're talking under 10) that's still more people than I ever expected to even read this anyway.
So I carried on.
Someone recently advised me, when I doubted myself, to "up my game" and that kept going round in my head.
For months I've been planning on starting to write about beauty. Something I've always been interested in, stemming from my days working at Boots and Superdrug, and way before that too.
It was something I lost when I became a mother. I didn't have time to keep doing my make up nice everyday,  I didn't have the money to keep buying the latest products, and I didn't have the time, or patient enough child, to be able to browse various cosmetic stands.
Back in April I took photos of products I had fallen in love with, I edited them and was really really proud of them. I stuck the photos on posts and placed them in drafts, ready to add text, but then doubt crept in.
Would anyone think I'm good enough or worthy enough to write about this stuff?
I didn't start out writing about it so why am I writing about it now?
Would anyone read those posts?
Is anyone interested?
Will everyone think I'm writing about products I've been sent to review, or will they be interested in items I felt good enough to purchase with my own money? 

And those posts have stayed in drafts, until this morning when I finally posted about the Maybelline Color Show Nail Polishes.

I've just decided to accept that people won't like me, won't like what I write, might not think I am worthy enough to write about certain things, won't think I'm a good enough photographer to be able to host a weekly photography series, won't think I'm a good enough mother, won't think my children are good enough, won't think I am worthy enough to win a blog award, but, what does it really matter?
Really?
If I can't do anything about it then why worry about it?
I can't make people like me, I can't make people think a certain way about me, or my children, or anything I do.
I want to write about beauty, I want to write about crafts and lifestyle.
I want to write about things that make me ME. Not just focusing on my children, because I don't feel comfortable with that anymore. I'm more than that and I want my blog to be more than that.

I'm slowly learning the art of not caring.
Turning my mind onto things I really do care about.
Turning off the things I don't.
And walking away from things that really don't matter.
And it actually feels quite good.


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9.10.13

Tasty Carbonara {Recipe}

When I worked I got into the habit of making quick and easy dinners. Once a week this involved me sticking on some spaghetti and then mixing in a jar of Carbonara sauce.
Eventually my husband asked me to take it off the menu as he was so bored of it.
I really like pasta so it was frustrating for me at the time to remove one of my pasta dishes from our weekly menu but at least it saved us wasting food.
Then a year ago I decided to try and make my own, simply using Pasta, Creme Fraiche, Parmesan and some meat. It worked! My husband would eat Carbonara again, except I was ordered to refer to it as 'Tasty Carbonara' so he knew he wasn't getting the jar of sauce.
Things I love about this recipe is that it's easy, it's simple, you don't have set measurements so you can add as much Creme Fraiche as you like depending on how much sauce you would like, Parmesan depending on how much of the cheese flavour you want, but you can also add a few different ingredients along the way.
One of our essential ingredients for this recipe now is ground peppercorns, again, as many or as little as you like.

I also like how versatile this recipe is when it comes to meat. I usually use either chicken, bacon or salmon, but recently after being sent some Prosciutto di San Daniele and being challenged to come up with my favourite recipe using this ingredient, I thought I would try it out with the recipe.
We are fans of Cured Meats and will usually have them added to a salad in the summer, or a picnic, we are yet to have them alongside a hot meal too.
I thought the saltiness of the cured meat would work well together with the creme fraiche and also alongside the Grana Padano Cheese, which we were also sent as part of a hamper/challenge.
Despite many recent "from food to fork" campaigns focused on improving clarity surrounding the sourcing of ingredients, confusion still remains about the origins of the food we consume.
The "PDO- The taste of origin and tradition" campaign was launched in partnership with the Consortium of Prosciutto di San Daniele and the Consortium of Grana Padano Cheese, is designed to promote Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products.
Now in it's third and final year, and funded by the EU and Italian government, it is focused on sharing unique qualities and characteristics of these products in the UK and raising awareness of what PDO status means.
For more information on the PDO programme visit this website.

I'm interested to know the origins of the food we eat. Through various campaigns over the years we have changed the food we buy considerably. We look at meat content of sausages, we only buy free range eggs and chickens, and we buy our Turkey local.
I was sent some information about Grana Padano Cheese and the history behind it, which I found really interesting.
In short, Grana Padano Cheese was invented by monks around 1,000 AD as a clever way to use excess milk. Due to it's grainy structure it was given the name "Grana".
It soon became famous as a highly esteemed ingredient at Renaissance banquets held by Princes and Dukes.
Wheels of Grana Padano cheese were used as local currency, given as gifts and even accepted by banks of assurance for a loan.
There are different vintages of the cheese from nine months until over 20 months.
Prosciutto di san Daniele is created by the same ancient drying and ageing process first used by the Romans, using salt to preserve meat.
The Prosciutto is hung, and cured, for a minimum of 13 months to create the delicate flavours.
As with the Grana Padano Cheese, Prosiutto di San Daniele was also considered to be very high value from the beginning of it's creation and was used as payment (pairs of ham). From the thirteenth century onwards, the prosciutto was used as barter for goods and was given as a precious gift.

When I cook Carbonara I don't stick to any measurements. As I said before, with this kind of recipe I find you can just make it to suit your taste, so we may have a lot more peppercorns than most, and a lot more cheese than most.
I love how quick this is to cook. It only takes around 15 minutes to cook and is so full of flavour. It can also be made using just one saucepan, which is great when it comes to washing up.

You will need:
Pasta. For this we used fresh Tagliatelle Verde. We have also used spaghetti or dry tagliatelle.
Creme Fraiche
Peppercorns (ground, I crushed mine using a Pestle and Mortar)
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Grana Padano Cheese (grated)
Prosciutto di San Daniele
Sea salt

First, cook your Porcini mushrooms. These should take around 10 minutes. Once they are cooked, place them to one side and sprinkle with some sea salt.
Then cook your fresh pasta. This should take around 4-5 minutes. Once that is cooked, strain and leave to the side in the sieve whilst you make the sauce.
Pour your creme fraiche into a saucepan, add the mushrooms, peppercorns and stir over a low heat.
You can either add your Grana Padano cheese now or the pasta, the order doesn't matter.
Again, stir over a low heat.
Once cooked, arrange on a plate.
Then, take your Prodscuitto de San Daniele and simply lay it on top of the pasta. I would normally combine other meat in with the pasta and sauce but I wanted to keep this meat as fresh as possible and found this really helped to keep the flavour strong.

I also made some Grana Pandano 'crisps'. These are easy to do. Simply grate some Grana Pandano cheese. Place onto a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Separate into small piles with plenty of space between each one.
I added a sprinkle of Pumpkin Seeds to each crisp to give it a slightly different texture.
These were baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. Once the 10 minutes is up take them out of the oven and leave on the side to cool slightly so that they crisp up and are easy to remove from the paper.


I was sent a hamper of goodies for the purpose of this post. The recipe above is completely my own.
Prosciutto di San Daniele is available at Tesco, Partridges, Harrods, Harvey Nochols, Fortnum & Mason, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Selfridges.
www.prosciuttosandaniele.it

Grana Padano Cheese is available in Waitros, Marks and Spencer, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis, Sainsbury's and Tesco, as well as independent delis.
www.granapadano.it
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