Friday 30 December 2011

Battle of the Toys Guns v Swords!

I'd like to think you can never be over diligent when it comes to child safety, though I am aware that due to my line of work I am exposed to extreme cases.  When it comes to - dare I say it - "boys toys", I have never been a fan of either toy guns or swords.  Yes I grew up with them, and a brother running after me shouting bang bang you're dead *charming*, so yes I may be being over-sensitive.  However, in this current climate of knife culture, I thought I'd share with you an interesting conversation I had with a policeman on the matter!  His words were extremely enlightening when he informed me that if a child had to have a "pretend weapon" then he recommended it be a gun over a sword anytime, his reasons being!
1) A gun is not a contact sport, whilst a sword lends itself to being 1!
2) A gun can rarely - we hope - be found, whilst a knife from the kitchen can make a really good pretend sword!
This information left its mark on me, and far from trying to be a killjoy just thought I'd pass it on!
All comments would be welcomed!
Annie x

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Leftover Turkey Curry for 2

Update: Sept 2015  I first published this recipe on the 27th December, to use up the Christmas roast.  I have since used it for leftover roast chicken, and also roast venison, and was as delicious!

This recipe is for 2 but can be easily doubled up for four!  I have adapted this from many other recipes to use ingredients I had in the fridge, and it was fabulous!
1 tbsn sunflower oil
1 onion peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
2cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated, or cheat ginger if easier
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or 1 chilli deseeded and chopped
4 cardamon pods, slightly crushed (back of a knife will do)
1/2  tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsn ground turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
250ml turkey or chicken stock/gravy
2 heaped tbsp of yoghurt - I used 0% Fat Greek
3 large handfulls of roast turkey, or chicken chopped
1/2 tbsn Coriander chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot, add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes.   Then add the garlic, ginger, chilli, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and ground coriander, cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft.

Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for around 15 minutes.

Stir in the yoghurt, then add the turkey to heat through.  Add the coriander and serve with rice.

As an alternative, which is what I did, after adding the turkey, I added some rice to the pot and cooked for another 10 minutes or so, before adding the coriander and serviing.   It was more like a one-pot dish and was fab!
Annie x

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Some of you may remember that Jasper was lucky enough to be cast in an advert, which I am pleased to say is finally on T.V.  A version of it is also on the website of
I just wish I'd known about this company when I needed a new seat for my Peugeot 2 years ago, great idea :)
Annie x

Monday 28 November 2011

Portable North Pole, personalised video message from Santa

We've used this link to provide a personalised video message from Santa for the last two years, it's just adorable and free of charge.  I'm guessing an American site but the Santa still manages to pronounce our kids names properly - enjoy, its very special!
Santa Message Site
Annie x

Lego City Rocket/Space Shuttle review for Cuthbert Toys, St Albans

We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity by Cuthbert Toys St Albans, to build and review the Lego City Rocket/Space Shuttle.   My son Jasper is a huge lego fan, and couldn't wait to get it home and build it.
With other toy shops closing in St Albans, it is great to have such a lovely shop in Christopher Place, which is well stocked, competitively priced, and staffed by young, fun people, who clearly love their job!
Rather than me waffle on,  I thought I'd film Jasper talking about it.  It was done in one take so forgive my making up of new words - dexteritry?????

Monday 21 November 2011

In Seach of a 10" Android Tablet, sub £200 with 2.3 OS

24th November 2011
I appear to have bought said machine after consulting many more informed pals around the cyber city, I'll let you know when I've had a play :)
Thanks for listening :)
OK, fickle me, am now interested in the Samsung Galaxy 10" Tab, refurbed at around £250 looks a whole lot of kit for a good price.  Only problem is the mixed reviews on the Amazon site?  Anyone got one?
Below is my original post, having investigated further I feel I now *need* the following out of a tablet!
2.3 OS
10.3 flash - required for Moshi Monsters and iplayer
Capactitive screen
USB port/s
Having spoken to A1CS they have a new tablet being launched this weekend for £184 including shipping.  They are unsure of its name yet.  Whilst it has all the above spec they say it won't play iplayer? BBC website says as long as 10.3 flash and a minimum 2.2 OS it should?  Will need to investigate further, but getting there!!
Yeah I did really put that in the title, those of you who know me know that my knowledge of these things are limited.  However, a shout out on twitter has helped immensely and have narrowed gap down.  Have learnt a lot of stuff along the way too!  Many thanks to @padja1 @madbouncydogs @itsmewizard and @kingskykemark
My wish list is:
10" screen
2.3 OS (thanks to Patrick I vaguely sound like I know what I'm talking about - 
possibly 2.2 thanks to @madbouncydogs other half who is happy with it)  Review here!
Sub £200
Wifi Mifi USB ports
-  now to add the yes I'm thick bit, make sure I can have Yahoo on it etc.!
Been narrowed down to the following!
A1CS Tablet via Amazon
Flytouch 16 GB 
I discounted a Momo cos it had Resistive screen and capacative is more like an iphone screen which I'm used to?  Not sure on the capacity of the A1CS tho at the moment?
Would love your reaction to this, via twitter if you like @annieqpr
Thanks for reading!
Annie x

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Nostalgic Food

I came across this competition at My Dish where you can win £100 of Marks and Spencers vouchers, which would be very handy since I've been tasked with cooking the Christmas Dinner this year!!!!
I've thought long and hard, and at first couldn't get past boiled eggs, mushed up with butter and served in a cup, with soldiers.  Doesn't sound all that but mum used to make it when we weren't well and it was very comforting.
Thinking further I decided it was a full Roast Lamb dinner.  My dad was a creature of habit and would insist on it *every* Sunday.  My brother and I would take turns to either lay the table and make bread and butter (don't ask, possibly an Irish thing, but had to have at every mealtime) and the other would do the washing up.  Dad worked long, silly hours, so it was about the only time the family ate together.
When I eventually left home I couldn't bring myself to cook a roast lamb dinner, in fact lamb in general was very much off the agenda for many years.
However, after dad passed away in 2004, its become something rather special, and though I don't cook it very often, it is always done with dad in mind and I imagine he's smiling from above!
I must admit I have in fact dropped the bread and butter aspect tho, as that's just, plain silly!
Would love to know what your nostalgic foods would be by the way?
Annie x

Friday 21 October 2011

Rent A Villa In Crete

My latest venture, with the greatest invaluable help from @mediocre_mum is
I'm very excited to see if I can direct traffic with my own site rather than paying to be on others - we will see!  We are going out on Sunday so will be taking lots more pics.
Thanks for looking!
Annie x

Friday 23 September 2011

Tangle Free Locks forever!

My daughter has lovely long, fine hair.  However fine hair quite often means tangled hair.  We've had the battles of hair-brushing and the tear-invoking tangles pulling at my heartstrings.  
I therefore jumped at the chance to have a play with the Supersoft Detangling Spray and 2 in 1 Shampoo.
I had to convince Scarlett that it would work (crossing fingers) but the fact that it had the lady Smurf on the front gave it instant approval!

I have to say, it did work, instantly!  No idea how or why, but it does, and it smells gorgeous too!
Mornings are stressful enough getting two children to school, but this has helped enormously!  At Sainsburys they currently retails at £2 per unit.  I have been using for a while yet and haven't run out so figure that it's very good value!

Thursday 22 September 2011

KiCK Magazine - Special Subscription Discount

I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to review KiCK magazine, a football magazine aimed at children between the ages of 6 and 14.  
I received the first copy and really enjoyed flicking through it, it was jam-packed with features and pictures, including those of our own Adel Taarabt and Joey Barton, and I was impressed with the amount of quizzes and competitions.  My Jasper is 7, and although he loves going to the Arsenal with his father, its more of an outing with Daddy.  So I decided I would like to share this experience with 9 year old Harry, the son of a very good friend who is mad about football - sorry Arsenal fan again, but thought it would be good to get his first hand experience of it.
Whilst I await his opinion, I thought I should pass on the chance of a discount on a 6 month subscription! Each magazine retails at £2.60, but you can get 6 months for just £9!  Gotta be worth  the pocket money I'd say!  The code for this magazine discount is K71 KiCK 
Will update as soon as Harry can tear himself away long enough to give me some feedback!
Thanks for reading!
Annie x

Saturday 10 September 2011

Mum can you wipe my bum.......

My talented neighbour (well round the corner a bit), who is responsible for the brilliant 
tunes 4 toddler tantrums CD, has come up with the following!  A must see, particularly if you have young children of your own! (YouTube)
Mum can you wipe my bum.....
And has now added her latest song : Comedy Twinkle
Annie x

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Holiday in Germany, via Belgium 2011

Scally loving the train :)
We normally go to our Villa in Crete for the Summer, but this year we went earlier in May and decided to visit Germany instead.  A tad random, but Chris used to work with a guy who left his job to renovate a 16th Century house he'd bought in the Mosel Valley, which they turned into rental accommodation.  The promise of good wine and good company was too much to turn down!
I don't do boats, so we decided to take the Eurotunnel instead.  I love it, drive your car onto the train and 35 minutes later you're in France!
We'd booked 2 nights accommodation in Belgium to break the journey up, as we figured going direct to Germany would have been a nightmare with the children, and besides we had 10 days to play with.  We stayed in a little studio room on a farm.  The lady was lovely, and the food was good, but the room was a bit basic for the money.  However, location-wise it was excellent, and that afternoon we went to Breskins in Holland, and had a lot of fun watching the kids jumping off things from the lookout point!  Silly game really but got some cracking photos.  Breskins itself had a nice feel to it, but apart from that it was just a little seaside town, though too cold to enjoy the seaside!  Forgot to mention that it was freezing and I had packed for high Summer - silly me!  I did enjoy the fact that in one day we'd been in England, France, Belgium and Holland, blessing the Euro currency!  The next day we decided to go to Gent as so many people had said how lovely it was!  At first, driving around, we weren't so sure, but eventually we found the centre and was blown away by everything! We thought we might be there a couple of hours, but we stayed until 6pm and had a fabulous time!  First of all we took a boat trip, the sky looked iffy but the clever lady said they had umbrellas!  Indeed 10mins into the trip the heavens opened, and yes, thankfully they did have umbrellas.  It was a great tour, fun and informative.
Looking over the river
The old Brothel
Big Ben/Westminster
Steps from the Bell Tower
We found out that the Marriott used to be a brothel!  The two swans in their frontage - who normally mate for life - are deliberately not facing each other!  We also found out that two of the other buildings are modelled on Big Ben and Westminster Cathedral, the first is a little short of our own and hmmm on Westminster!  After a very reasonable lunch we went to investigate the castle, with its display of torture equipment, including a guillotine - with original blade!  All sorts of other nasties were a great attraction too  After that we went to a Bell Tower with a fab exhibition on how the bells are made - most extraordinary, and then up to see the bells in situ.   We chose to take the lift back down, but Chris took the 225 stairs route!
Ended 8-2 whoops!
Oh dear!
Lastly, as we had found an Irish bar earlier showing Sky Sports, Chris decided he would quite like to watch a bit of the Man Utd vs Arsenal game.   If you know what happened I think these pics say it all! That night we decided to go out for a nice meal.  The local restaurant, The Red Mouse, was about 20 mins walk away. We'd ordered silly for lunch on the first day, but being a bit better informed we had a successful 2nd go.  Chris had an amazing steak and I had some wonderful garlic Gambas - the kids enjoyed spaghetti and the wine and ales were good.  Along with the double rainbow we saw the evening ended better than I expected!
The next morning, after breakfast we began the 3 hour drive to Germany.  Between my iphone, loaded with Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Jasper's DSI, it all went swimmingly!  Apart from the row I had for being overcharged in the services, don't ask!  We eventually, finally arrived here and I was geniunely open-mouthed!  You can see from the website for Zur Alten Weinkelter why!  Will update further when I have time :)
Thanks for reading!
Annie x

Friday 26 August 2011

Herman Friendship Cake

This was new to me.  One of Chris's colleagues gave him a share of her Herman cake. Which is a German sourdough friendship cake. 
The idea is that you grow it and feed it as instructed, over a period of 10 days.  
Some days you just stir it and on others add sugar, flour and milk.
On the 10th day you bake one quarter of it, having first shared out portions with three other people!
I have to say I was sceptical, but Chris followed instructions, and the cake turned out to be pretty delicious!
Nurturing and feeding!

Finished Cake!

Magnetic/Blackboard Wall Paint - That's Magic!

Recently I visited my friends gazillion pound house in Gurney Court Road, NCT Capital of St Albans - IMHO, and one of the many things I lusted over, that was actually achievable, was her magnetic wall!  To me it's genius!
Since Jasper started in the school system we've had loads of letters and dates and basic "stuff".  We used to use a corkboard and hang stuff but to me it looked ugly!   Obviously not including the QPR Calendar in that statement!
The Magnetic/Blackboard paint was the obvious answer.   It goes on black, obviously, and you can keep it like that if you wish, but I like the idea of being more subtle and painted over.
I'm loving it!
The magnets we had didn't all work as were not strong enough, but I found these brightly coloured ones on the net for around £10 for 16!
I love it, and thought I'd share :)
Enjoy! x
Brightly coloured magnets!                   

Monday 22 August 2011

Lollibop 2011

I was lucky enough to win family tickets from @mediocre_mum blog to this years Lollibop event in Regents Park.  I have a 3yo girl and a 7yo boy, and as it is pitched as being a Festival for Under 10's it sounded perfect.
We made the day of it.  Drove as far as Shepherds Bush - which I know quite well of course - then took the train into Regents Park.  For my two the train ride is generally as exciting as the destination!
When we arrived we decided to have a walk around to get our bearings.  Everything the kids wanted to do appeared to have extremely long queues and to be honest we were mumbling about it being too busy and that Lolllibop were letting too many people in.   
Then, however, we discovered some places to play that the kids could walk right into.  The odd shaped inflatables, and a fantastic craft stand provided by Oxfam!
Scarlett really wanted her face painted, which was being sponsored by Littlebird and although the queue was huge, due to the number of artists they had on the stand, we were assured it wouldn't take very long.  Indeed it took 15 mins, during which Chris took Jasper off to make Lollibop badges.
We started to get a little hungry so we looked out for lunch.  The offer on display was out of this world and we really were spoilt for choice.  The kids had corn on the cob and we had the most delicious homemade burgers!  (Maybe should have eaten pre face painting but hey)!
We had to then make out way over to meet Ben and Holly, Scarlett was very excited, and Ben was giggling with Jasper which made him blush!  Later on we also saw Peppa and George Pig, with the same reaction.   Although it was a smallish meet and greet area the characters stayed out long enough for everyone to see and get some good pics!
Then we made our way over to the band stand to watch some of the shows.  It was being hosted by Cbeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell who was a real hit with all the children.   We were lucky enough to catch the ZingZillas doing bangla dancing and also our favourite Rasta Mouse :)
From there we went on to scoring a few goals at the Spurs stand - Chris being a little too excited being an Arsenal fan - video here if can bear it, and then also watched a Gorilla show which was explaining the endangerment of the species and how recycling our phones can help them!  A clear message before letting the kids pet the (pretend shhhh) gorillas. 
We played hoopla, did some painting, made butterflies and watched more displays.   Before we knew it it was time to leave and the kids were buzzing about what they had experienced.
Jasper playing on the Hopperz
I'm glad we didn't end up walking around humfing about the queues, as although we didn't get to do everything we wanted, we didn't stop all day and had a great time.
Every day since the kids have been pining to go back, and I've had had trouble explaining it was a one off and its not there permanently.
What a fab day out, and cannot wait to go again next year!
Here are some more pics and videos to show the fun we had on the day, gotta love a Rasta Mouse :)
Annie x

On the Hopperz

Rasta Mouse yeah!

Rasta Mouse Yea

Scarecrow Festival - Flamstead 2011

Flamstead Scarecrow Festival 2011
The Scarecrow Festival in Flamstead started in 2002 as a means to raise money for the village.   We've been going for many years and the standard improves year on year.  This year was no exception, so thought I'd share some pics with you!   The kids love it, the food and ales (apparently)  are excellent and its a thoroughly good day out!  If you missed it this year I recommend you go next time, or to a local one to you?
Only Fools, clear winner for us!

Mr Men, close 2nd!

Seb Crow!
Cheryl Crow
Go Compare
Naughty Knights
Knight Nurse
Rebecca Brooks
Jasper on the train!
Little Steam Train Ride
Evicted Crow
Mr Grumpy Gooner!
Pretty Cemetary, made me smile!

Gotta love Boris on his bike