Wednesday 22 May 2013

#QPR #PreSeasonParty - 29th June, The Springbok - See you there I hope :)

Well that's that Season done then, we've debated, argued, laughed and cried.  We've also met some really good people, people who know what it's like to be a QPR fan, and that's a damn fine thing to come out of a bad situation.

We didn't have an open bus parade when we got promoted, and my Player of the Year Awards dress from 2 yrs ago still hangs *unworn* in my wardrobe.

SO many fans muted about meeting up in the Summer, with enough time behind us from our exit from the Premiership, and some time ahead of us to look forward to (yes I did say that) us being back in the Championship.  Don't see the point being miserable any more, it's done - onwards and upwards I say.  Remember, I live with a Gooner celebrating finishing fourth, I need to get out more :)

Having spoken to the lovely Tina Moran at the Springbok, the #PreSeasonParty is on!

29th June 2013, from 5pm (seemed appropriate)
"DJ Damo" spinning his usual tunes
Some food laid on courtesy of The "Bok"

Thanks to @OfficialQPR for putting on the QPR website here!
all the staff at QPR have been invited too :)

So get yourselves down there, we'd love to see you, might not recognise some of you outside your hoops, but let's do this!

Entry is Free, just come with a smile on your face and a hug for your fellow hoops (or at least me)!

Purely for numbers, would be grateful if you could either comment on this blog, or tweet me @annieqpr

QPR Staff have all been invited, Tony Fernandes kindly replied to me, and @OfficialQPR will be putting notice on the website for us too.

Come on you Super.......................HOOPSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Annie x

Thursday 16 May 2013

Villa Carton - Genius Idea!

We were lucky enough to be sent a Villa Carton Dancers Costume to review.  It's more than just a dress up costume though, as the children get to colour it in themselves, and once completed you can make the colours permanent.
We were sent the costume back in April, and I've taken this long to post a review as the girls are still happily playing with it and colouring it in a bit at the time.
I will publish a pic of the final article, but in the meantime take a look at the other products they do, or visit their facebook page, where you might be lucky enough to win some for yourself!

Genius idea, very innovative, the gift that keeps giving as they say - Colour, Wear and Play :)

Annie x

Monday 13 May 2013

#SpecialK30 How I've Changed (Am Happy Now Honest)

As Special K is 30 this year, I was invited to join in the Britmums/SpecialK  "How I've Changed Linky Challenge".

Back in the day I didn't actually eat cereal, or in fact drink tea, as I have a bit of an aversion to milk.   These days I drink black tea, and enjoy cereal as a healthier alternative to crisps.   I would also add that I was sent a packet to try, but had to buy another packet as the kids devoured it before I could!  I really liked it, and if the kids like it too then its a win win :)

And now to me hmmmmmm.   30 years ago I was 16, quite an important age in the grand scheme of things,not so sweet 16 I'd say, more one with many issues that took many years to get through.  I went in search of a picture of me at 16, and found this one.   It's a blistering hot day in August, and my friend Louise and I were off to Chessington for the day.   What is evident immediately is that I'm wearing a very large, unattractive jumper!   Those who know me now will see a resemblance to today, only today the jumper has been replaced by an over-sized fleece.

I guess a rewind is in order.

I was a very active girl, from a young age, I swam most mornings at 6am, had dancing classes a couple of times a week, then a show on a Saturday daytime, followed by a gala somewhere in the country.  I became Southern Counties Butterfly Champion and by the age of 12 I had all my dance exams, just my teachers to go, which you had to be 16 for.

Unfortunately, like a lot of children, puberty brought on more of an interest in boys, booze and fags, so at 15 I dropped out of everything.  I continued eating as I did whilst in training and a hard, cruel lesson was learnt. I couldn't eat the way I did without the exercise regime I was used to.  I just didn't understand the whole food in versus energy out thing and I got very down about it.  I stupidly got myself into a pattern of eating disorders, and my twenties were consumed with said battles.  I was lucky enough to be chosen to dance in a lot of films at the time, and whilst I am happily smiling with Keiffer Sutherland, I know the pain and anguish I was putting myself and my body though. I hated myself.

When I turned 30 there was a huge change, an ex husband down, I met Chris and I honestly just changed.  It was evident that Chris didn't actually care about my size, and I stopped the bulimia almost overnight?  Maturity, being settled, being happy?  Who knows, but I do know that having stopped all that, I lost weight naturally and was back in a size 12 (this had become my holy grail). Many years of stability followed, but it's fair to say that I will always be conscious of what I eat - the one thing have suffered eating disorders has given me is a vast knowledge of food types, and I constantly check nutrition details for calories, sugars and fats - ok Carbs too and protein, ok the lot, well that's not such a bad thing is it?

Anyhoo, FAST FORWARD - am now 46 (has it really be 30 years) married with 2 children, I had my first at 37 and my second at near 41............

2 sections at my age took their toll.   I tried to lose that blasted apron through exercise, but frankly the body had given up.  SO, I did what any other rational(?) person upset with themselves would do - that's right, book a tummy tuck (I blogged it here).
Today, I feel FANTASTIC, I'll admit I am still wearing the baggy jumpers and tops, I'm back to the holy grail in trousers, but I still have to sort myself out shopping-wise - I could do with a bit of Aunty Gok to be honest, cos I've no idea what to wear, but in the meantime, on the inside I am very, very happy :)

If you managed to get to the end of this post without falling asleep, then well done you and thanks for listening.

Here's to another 30 years!

Annie x

Sunday 12 May 2013

Slow Cooker Nepali Mutton Curry with Spinach and Cauliflower

Nepali Mutton Curry with Spinach and Cauliflower

In 2001 Chris and I travelled to Nepal.  It was a fantastic place, we did some great trekking, and thoroughly enjoyed their local fayre.   Unfortunately our holiday was cut shot by the killing of the Nepalese Royal family.   As the news spread, all the men shaved their heads and we even saw the funeral pyre, as it is custom to burn the bodies immediately.   We basically got the last flight out of the country!   I feel for them as tourism has been majorley effected, but I would definitely be back in a heartbeat!

This is a variation to the original recipe I did here but with peas and cauliflower.

tbsp Oil - tho I use 1 Cal
1kg mutton
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves                                                        
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 tbsp sliced ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
3 green birdseye chillies (to taste)
4 garlic cloves chopped                                           Frozen peas (optional)                                  
1 small cauliflower
160g spinach

Put the mutton in a bowl, combine all the other ingredients, except the cauliflower and spinach. then add to the mutton and mix with your hands.  Leave to marinade from 4 to 24hrs.

Preheat the slow cooker to low.  Heat oil in a large frying pan, add the marinated mutton and seal.  Add to the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours.   Add the spinach and cauliflower and peas (if using), stir well to coat, and then cook for a further 45 mins to an hour.

Annie x

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Walkers NEW Hoops and Crosses :)

As a QPR fan my ears prick up at the mere mention of the word "Hoops" (my teams strip are blue and white hoops).  I was very pleased therefore to accept an invitation to review Walkers new product "Hoops and Crosses".
I was sent this cheeky monkey - which Scarlett has adopted, and the kids and I set about sharing the packet.  Maybe I should have tried them on my own, cos we ended up with this little lot after shopping last night!
To be honest though, at 85 calories a bag, and being made from Wholegrains, with no artificial colours of preservatives, I'm not worried about treating the kids with this kind of snack.  They are also suitable for vegetarians.

I may have to snaffle some out of sight for my own late night indulgence :)

Annie x

Monday 6 May 2013

Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Lamb and Tomatoes

I've been a subscriber to Easycook Magazine for as long as I remember, I love it dropping through the letterbox, then everything stops as I have a leaf through.  I generally find something there and then to cook for that night's dinner, and the last edition was no exception.
I immediately liked the look of the Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Lamb and Tomatoes.  It was for 4 people, but I easily halved it for Chris and I, and added a birds eye chilli to the tomato sauce to give is some zing.  It was WOW!  And only 200 cals per portion!  Had it twice since.

@EasyCookMag have given me permission to blog it, so here goes.

For 2
2 large courgettes, halved lengthways (mine were not that big unfortunately, out of season)
1 tbsp olive oil
small handful coriander leaves

For the Tomato Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
half tbsp olive oil
half tsp each ground cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coriander and cumin
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
1 green birdseye chilli (straight from frozen, I keep them there now)

For the Stuffing
250g lean minced lamb
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon
half tsp cayenne pepper

1. Make the tomato sauce
Turn oven to fan 200C/conventional 220C/Gas 7
Fry the garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the spices and fry for 1 min more.  Add the tomatoes, 1/4 can of water (use the tomato can), birdseye chilli, and simmer for 20 mins, until thickened.  Season.

2. Bake the courgettes
Scoop out a little flesh from the courgettes with a teaspoon to make a shallow cavity.  Lay them in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

3. Make the stuffing
Lightly mix the lamb with the spices and some salt, with your hands, until just combined.  When the courgettes are ready, pile the lamb into the cavities and drizzle on the sauce.  I found it easier to form long sausage shapes with the lamb to fit the length of the courgette cavity.  Bake for 15-20 mins, until the sauce is bubbling.  Top with coriander and serve.
We served ours with a Greek Salad and it was divine.  Perfect for the Summer evenings that lie ahead - we hope!

Annie x

Thorpe Park with a 5yo and a 9yo..........

This is an unsponsored post, which I felt compelled to write.
The girls riding Rocky Express for the fifth time!
This year we took the plunge and got our Merlin Passes.  We got a really good deal back in January, at £75 per person, and we've already done Chessington (twice), Legoland (twice), London Eye, Madame Tussaurds (twice) and Warwick Castle.

Yesterday we were due to meet with 2 other mums @mediocre_mum and @ChelseaMamma and their families at Thorpe Park.  From my memory it was mainly a water park - which was fine as it was due to be a hot day, but having googled suitability for a 5yo, everything I found online was suggesting that it really was for older children.

Well, I can happily report that this was not the case for us at all.   There were far more than just water rides, and we thoroughly enjoyed Depth Charge, Rumba Rapids and Logger's Leap, and as the rides are restricted depending on height, with our 5 year olds being between 1.1m and 1.2m, there were loads of rides that they could go on.

The map provided gave a clear indication as to what was available, so we didn't promise a ride only for them to be disappointed when we found they weren't tall enough.
They were even allowed to go on some of the rides without us!  The Rocky Express they went on 5 times - as pictured, and the Flying Fish they went on 3 times.  Proper little ladies.  My husband was able to take my 9yo off to do some of the bigger rides so between all of us we all got on the rides we wanted and managed to stay from 10am to 5.30pm without anyone moaning about queuing or being bored.

I loved Nemesis Inferno but refused Mr Monkey's Banana Ride - go figure!

If I was to add a criticism it would be that the queues for the food and drink took way too long,   It took the same time to get a hot dog, even though the queue was quite short, as the time for the older ones to queue and ride on Stealth - which looks awesome by the way!

We shall definitely be going back, map in hand :)

Annie x