Monday, 30 April 2012

Phew, that's better.

I am so pleased to have the sunshine back! The washing is on the line, the toddler had plenty of time to run to run around the garden with my neighbour's grandson, I have planted my clematis and it feels good.

Despite the rain, we had a very productive weekend which involved a massive declutter and filling a skip within 24 hours. It feels like a relief to be letting go of all the junk and crap we had held onto, "just in case". By yesterday, the kids were going a bit stir-crazy and spent most of yesterday making death slides out of cushions, while I held my breath and tried to let them get on with it without panicking too much.

Oh and on Friday, I won my first blog competition! Donna Wilson had a giveaway to win this lovely teatowel, called "Use my Tail". Isnt he cute? I named him Sebastian Seymour Squirrel.

Teal and orange are among my favourite colours ever and I think he will get on famously with my Donna Wilson foxy cushion.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Out of hibernation...

Every year on the first weekend of May, we get the van out of hibernation in the garage, empty her out, clean her up, tax her for 6 months and then we give her a spin. Luckily for me, we are having a skip this weekend so we can have a massive spring clean and declutter. This means that the van is out early, so me and my toddler have been braving the weather and giving the van her Springtime makeover.

Here is a little peek of her, which I had to take through the windows so the neighbours don't think I've completely lost the plot, photographing my van in the pouring rain.

I've also brought in all the camping plates and cups and given them a quick clean up. They were washed but have been sitting in the van for months and months. One day I'd like to splash out on some lovely enamelware or melamine from Pedlars, but these plates do the job and have been on many adventures with us over the past couple of years. Especially my plastic wine glass which you can see at the back of the photo. Whilst cleaning out the van I found postcards from my friend's wedding, festival programmes, baby sized wellies, glow sticks and all sorts, so I have had a little reminisce too.

Then after the excitement that was the delivery of the skip lorry (my little boy was beside himself with excitement and waved the lorry goodbye about 100 times!), we have been pottering around and I made some apple cake for us to take out in the van tomorrow.

Here's the recipe I used, although if I made it again I would tweak it a bit.

Apple cake

1 egg
125ml vegetable oil
125g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
splash of milk
250g, cored peeled and diced apples

Preheat oven to 180 C. Lightly grease a cake tin.
Beat the oil and the egg until frothy, then add additional ingredients.
Pour into the tin (the mixture will be thick) and bake for 45 minutes.

I have had a little piece for tasting purposes, and if I make it again, I think I would swap half of the caster sugar for demerera sugar and perhaps add a touch more spice. Overall, it's pretty good.

Hope you have a nice weekend, feels like one to spend splashing in puddles and hiding in cosy country pubs!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Raspberry vodka minatures

In about 6 weeks time, I am going off to Brighton with some friends for a girly weekend away. Although it will feel strange to be away from the little ones, I'm looking forward to it.

In preparation, I am just starting a new batch of raspberry vodka that we can drink in our hotel room before we go out dancing. I'm thinking that it will make some lovely campervan cocktails too.

In true Blue Peter Style, here's some I made earlier. This is the last few bottles from my Christmas production run. Whoops, I may have accidentally have drunk half of one of them!

Anyway, it's dead easy to make and tastes rather lovely too.

So I took a half full bottle of Vodka (I used Smirnoff as we had some lurking in the cupboard, but any brand would be fine I think), and then I gradually posted in half a bag of frozen raspberries and 1 dessert spoon of caster sugar. I think I posted the raspberries into the vodka over the space of a week. I find frozen works best as they dont seem to disintegrate into the vodka. Each time I added a few more raspberries, i shook the mixture and then replaced it in a dark garage. This helps to get a nice, bright red colour if you keep it in the dark. I also added the sugar slowly, as i wanted to take the edge off the sour taste, but didnt want it to taste sickly sweet either.

Then after 6 weeks, strain the mixture, decant into minature bottles and voila! Bottoms up :

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Lovely day.

Last night, we decided to get up and take the kids out for the day, whatever the weather was doing. Mr S suggested the RAF Museum at Cosford, as this is somewhere he has happy memories of as a child and he thought it would be fun for the kids. I wasnt too sure and so suggested we visited a National Trust property, as they have a free weekend on. Then we decided to do both and I found Attingham Hall in Shropshire was taking part in the free weekend, so we had a plan.

I have to say, both my daughter and I were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the RAF museum. It was very impressive to see the old planes in such close detail and there was a great learning area for children, where we learned about how to drop food parcels on a drop zone from a moving model plane, drive a model spitfire and sit inside the cockpit of a jetplane. There's also a huge Cold War exhibition, although I didnt get to see that bit as I was in charge of my toddler. My daughter, who is 7, accidentally let slip that she thought it was "really cool". It was a great trip out, especially as it was free of charge.

Then we went straight onto Attingham Hall. It did throw down a few showers but that didnt stop us from having a lovely, lovely time. Lots of jumping in puddles, climbing up trees, running around the amazing walled  vegetable garden, watering the soaking wet flowerbeds and playing a mouse hunt in the mansion itself.

I cant say I've ever thought about joining the National Trust before, as I'm not really a fan of walking around posh old houses, but we all had the best afternoon we've had in ages. If you get a chance to go tomorrow, I would recommend giving it a try.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

What I've been listening to today...

The Villagers are a band I've never heard of before, but I listened to this song today for the first time and I'm dying to hear more. They are headlining the deer shed festival, in Harrogate, along with two of my favourite ever bands, Saint Etienne and Cashier No 9. This looks like a very family friendly festival, I am trying to persuade my husband it would be a good idea to give it a try!

 The next song is The Wolves by Ben Howard. Each time I hear it, it makes me smile. Strangely enough, whilst secretly watching Gardener's World on my iphone (shh dont tell anyone), it was on the soundtrack so now the song makes me think of flowers too.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Campervan cooking

I have to confess, I'm not the world's greatest cook. Having 2 little ones makes me shudder at the thought of a trip to the local supermarket and I've let things slip a bit.

So, what I'm planning to do is to focus on making quick, easy recipes that dont require a lot of fancy mixers, ovens, twenty different ingredients or three hours preparation, because I havent got the time or inclination.
What I'm after is nice, tasty food with simple ingredients.

Last year I bought this cookbook for my friend's birthday and I also bought one for my myself.

This is available from amazon for just over ten pounds and is well worth the money. It is loosely based on the television series that was out last year, is full of lovely campervan and foody photography and great tips about places to see, festivals, surfing, campsites and cocktails. Pretty much covers all of life's essentials for me.

So far, I've made

Exploding egg banjos (that's fried eggs in a  bread roll ha ha)
Rocky road - very nice but oh my goodness, way too sweet! I felt a sick after eating too many pieces of this. Hmm there's a lesson to be learned there I think.
Big chill chilli- this was a big hit.

I have turned over loads of corners in the book and am going to try and make a new recipe and share it on here each week, with marks out of 10 for taste and practicality for cooking it in the campervan.

Today I knocked this up for lunch. I accidentally dropped way too much chilli flakes into it, so it was hotter than expected, but actually very nice. So I am going to call it...

Mama Sunshine's blow your mouth off pasta

Serves 2

200g fresh egg tagliatelle
100g creme fraiche
1/2 tin tuna
1 tsp capers
10 blacl olives
olive oil
generous dash of chilli flakes
1/2 ball mozzarella, roughly chopped

Cook the pasta, add the other ingredients, stir, throw in the mozzarella, add black pepper, job done!
Easy peasy.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Drool of the day!

This week has been a bit heavy going as my little girl went for an operation on Tuesday. It was the first time she had been in hospital, and my first time as a parent seeing my child being put to sleep. Anyway, she was incredibly brave and has sat very quietly on the sofa for the past 4 days. She had some lovely visitors from her friends and they were all kept extremely entertained by this Melissa and Doug Deluxe magic set:

It is a really well made, chunky wooden set, in a rather funky wooden box which is decorated with magic rabbits. My daughter learned about 5 of the tricks on the first day (she has just turned 7), which included making a silk scarf disappear, making the middle of a pencil vanish, a pot that turned one 10p into four, a disappearing ball and an invisible wooden box. I have watched about 6 magic shows since Wednesday, but all of her friends have loved it!

I'm not sure when she will be returning to school, but I've got that Sunday night feeling, so have been trawling the net for bright, colourful things that make me smile.

First I found this and thought how lovely it would be for picnics in the sun:

Rice plastic tiffin boxes, on sale at

and whilst looking at all the lovely rice melamine tableware, I came across this website. is the online store for a beautiful little shop in Totnes, called Gazebo. I happened to have a lovely day on my own in Totnes a few years ago, and stumbled across this little corner of heaven. It is filled with bright, colourful, fun and quirky items, including Cath Kidston, before she became quite so popular, Greengate ceramics, toys, bags, kitchenalia, all mixed up in a jumble of gorgeousness.

I was very restrained and bought some bunting, which still decorates my summerhouse.

These were the items that made me smile today.

These little pugs are salt and pepper shakers- how cute are they!

Hope you had a lovely weekend and if you've enjoyed the few posts I've made so far, please follow me!

Friday, 13 April 2012

What the world's been waiting for...

... or at least a large group of 30 and 40 somethings!

Today I took receipt of my Stone Roses ticket for their big reunion in Manchester in May- I am so excited, I've got butterflies just thinking about it. I met my husband when I was 17 years old and this was his favourite band. We used to drive around the hills, singing at the top of our voices and just hearing the old favourites takes me straight back to that time.

This was my favourite when I was a teenager...

and this one takes me straight back to being at Uni

Whooppee!! cant wait until July.

What songs take you back to your teenage years? Let's reminisce....

Thursday, 12 April 2012

New season's resolutions

I am so relieved to feel that spring is in the air. Just feeling that warm tingle of the sun against my skin fills me with energy and excitement for the year ahead.

I never feel like making resolutions in January as I know that all I really want to do is hibernate under a blanket and watch cheesy TV whilst eating apple crumble and custard. For me, spring is where my year really starts, when I start making plans with Mr S about where we are going camping and booking festival tickets.

So, my new season's resolutions are:

1. Get into blogging properly instead of just reading other people's.
2. Get back on a surfboard (It's been 8 years since I last went on my board- shocking!)
3. Have lots of fun in the sunshine with Mr S and my two lovely children, whenever it shines. That could be gardening, walks in the park, mountain biking, festivals and camping in the van.

In order to address resolution 3, we optimistically bought a new barbeque at Easter and this week I was a bit naughty and ordered a lovely Coleman Event Shelter. I saw a couple of them at friends' houses and at festivals and knew that I needed one of these curvy beauties in our camping kit.

Image courtesy of

and last but not least, in a couple of weeks time we will be taking our lovely yellow vw camper out of hibernation and getting ready for lots of fun adventures? I will be sure to share some pictures of her with you soon.