Thursday, 28 August 2014

Soda Bread

Baking is something which I enjoy and sporadically takes place in our house. When I do it now it more often than not involves my now turned 3 year old. It's fun for her and I've slowly learnt to not worry so much about how messy it gets. It's a good activity when the weather is bad or a break from whatever we are doing at the time. It's usually just a simple recipe to make it easier as baking with a child but also as we're not often stocked up on lots of exciting ingredients due to lack of funds.

My mother used to make us soda bread when we were little and seeing it being made on one of CBeeBies shows recently reminded me. That along side it's simplicity and it being budget friendly meant I decided to to make it in our next baking session.


  • 250g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 250g/6oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 435ml buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it in quickly, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips. Now shape it into a flat, round loaf.
  2. Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If it isn’t ready after this time, turn it upside down on the baking sheet and bake for a few minutes more.
  3. Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to cool.

I got my recipe from and changed it slightly to suit our needs.
I didn't have buttermilk so we used normal milk and stirred a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice into it 5 minutes before using it. I also used white flour not wholemeal and left out the oats (not used in simple/ traditional soda bread recipe's) due to my health conditions. 
I altered the volume of milk to accommodate these changes.


The recipe tells you to handle the mixture very gently but this wasn't going to be something I was worried about as I wanted G to get stuck in and experience it. She often can get funny about getting messy hands but enjoyed this part and the needing as well as the earlier mixing parts. 

Getting Stuck In

We used 450ml of milk and our dough was a bit too sticky and needed more flour so I have altered my recipe to 435ml milk for this post.

Lovely warm with jam

We had our bread warm, G tried hers with margerine and I had jam (which she's not a fan of). If you haven't tried it before I would suggest only eating it warm as it's much nicer then. It would be nice to make it again in the Winter.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Llandudno day trip

Friday the 15th of August at approximately 9am G and I arrived at a local church, St. Matthews, who had organised a coach trip to Llandudno for the day.

I have fond memories of my mum taking my brother and I on a coach trip to Llandudno when we were was raining but we still tried out the beach, a cafe for cups of tea and a Welsh Library. We were older than G is now so seeing everything written in Welsh was a novelty. 
With the crazy weather we've been having this August I was worried it might be raining this time round as well but anything to get to the seaside!

Along side the fond memories, it was only £5 a seat (return) so I couldn't say no! I invited my brother a long too.
We got there just gone 11am and luckily for us the rain had got itself out of the way during the journey and sunshine was heading our way.
We walked through the central shopping area towards the North shore, pebbles and sand and the pier. All this area is comercialised and was busy with regular boat trips, Punch and Judy shows, the land train service and the usual pier activities.

The Mad Hatter, G, Uncle Matt
The Mad Hatter, Llandudno

After spotting the mad hatter - one of the carved statues from Llandudno's Alice in Wonderland trail, we stopped on the beach as that was all I had really planned....being by the sea, the sun and the sand. However the tide soon started coming in and seeing the other activities available the plan changed. We got on one of land trains for a short trip over to the West shore.

The second land train for the journey back

The Cheshire Cat by the West shore

The west shore was not comercialised and was more calm and quiet. There was a lovely play ground for the children which we took G in for a while. Great place for taking photo's of the Great Orme, however there was also a cable car ride for that nearer the north shore for the less faint hearted. We didn't have the time for that though and it's not something I'd take a 3 year old on.

Play park for children

This swing was a big hit with G

and with the adults too!

Beautiful Landscape

Beautiful Beach

The beach on the west shore is lovely and we spent some time on there playing, a bit of quick sand castle making, shell finding and also making discoveries of jellyfish and a sharks tooth.

Beach Fun

One of the many washed up jellyfish

Lots of shells

Lovely Weather 

Due to the time limit we didn't spend half as long as we would have liked on the beach or get to stop for a proper lunch (afternoon tea would have been lovely - a few venues offer that) but instead jumped off the land train back at the North shore, grabbed some chips and headed back for a boat ride on the sea jay before having the be back at the coach depot.

On the boat
There were a few different boat trips going out regularly from mid day. The Sea Jay was £4 per person and G was free. It's listed as a half an hour trip but it's about 20 minutes. There were speed boat options too for the more daring but this was choppy enough for my liking. This was G's first boat trip, much like mine and my brothers first boat trip in Tenby, Wales at similar ages. G wasn't too fond of the wobbly sensation when sat on the boat waiting for it to leave but was ok once we'd set off and once sat on my knee. A fun short trip.

A bit too wobbly for G

After that it was a quick rush to an ice cream shop and back to the coach. Would be lovely to have a longer trip there again on another sunny day, but for the price and someone else organising the coach you can't complain. Generally a lovely day. Thank you to the lovely lady at St. Matthews who organised it.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Orchard at Tesco

I'm always looking for idea's to save money and saw The Orchard at Tesco  mentioned on a local mums page I follow on facebook and had to see what it was all about. The lady who posted mentioned getting vouchers to try produce for free providing you did a quick review for the product afterwards. That was me sold - free groceries - great! Reviews - I enjoy doing them and good timing as I'm just starting up a blog again.

After signing up i didn't expect to get invited to a program for a while but after only a couple of weeks I received my first invite. It was one involving ice cream and gelato and I was sent a £3 voucher which covered all their ice cream from Tesco Every Day Value to their Finest* Range.

I decided to treat myself and try one of either the Finest range or their Cornish ice cream. I'd never tried Gelato before so I was curious about trying them out too. The store I was in had a fairly good range but only Vanilla from their Finest* ice cream (not sure how many flavours they do in that range) so looked at the Gelato. I was a bit shocked to see the price at £4.99 per 500ml carton. That's more than Ben & Jerries and Haagan Dazs normal tubs and the same price as their special ranges (core and special sensations).
£5 is expensive for one 500ml tub of ice cream so I expect they must be extra special. As I am on a tight budget, don't normally allow myself the luxury of ice cream and joined to program to save money I went for a cheaper option. Their other 500ml Gelato tubs were £3.50 and I spotted a Marscarpone flavour and knew straight away that was the one I was having. 50p for a tub of luxury ice cream, yes please!

When I finally got home from a stressful shopping trip the ice cream had defrosted a bit and after the trauma of yet another difficult grocery shop with a just turned 3 year old I thought I'd indulge myself and have a sneaky spoonful before getting on with things. The conclusion? It's the most amazing ice cream I have ever tasted! For those of you who don't know Gelato is just the Italian word for Ice cream and it is made from mostly the same ingredients but the difference is the way that it is made and as Tesco might say themselves you really can 'Taste the Difference'. I'm not sure if I can do it justice with words so I can only suggest you try it yourself. I'm looking forward to trying some more with some home made banana cake and I'm sure G is going to love it.
I can imagine it is incredibly fattening (I've not looked at the nutritional information...don't want to ruin it for myself just yet) but as a treat or part of a desert for a dinner party you can't go wrong.
I got sent a few 50p off vouchers for friends or family in my Orchard pack so I will be sharing them out and making some recommendations.

After buying and trying the product you follow the instructions on the Orchard site on how to review it. This can be done via Twitter and Facebook or just on the Orchard site. It's up to you how you do it. The more active you are and the better your reviews, the more programs you get invited to.
If trying things for free was not enough you get rewarded with clubcard points for each reviewing activity you do. I have earnt 85 clubcard points already just from the Tesco real ice cream program.

Within a couple of weeks of my first program invite whilst waiting for the vouchers to arrive (they take a couple of weeks to come after accepting the invites) I got invited to another for fruit and veg. It was late at night when I read the email so decided to join the program in the morning. Sadly by that time it was full, so my tip is to join straight away if you get an invite to a program you want to be part of. I didn't click at the time about their being limited places and how popular that one would be (I blame the tiredness - who's not going to want free fruit and veg!).

Have any of you signed up for it? What have your experiences been?

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsered post and is all my own words

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

No more Cinderella is now on Facebook

My blog now has it's own facebook page. Bare with me whilst I try and remember how to put a follow button on the blog for it. Still a bit rusty!

For now you can click here to take you there. I am also on Twitter, hopefully you can all see the follow buttons to the left of my blog, one being follow me on Twitter

Monday, 18 August 2014

Stockport & Surrounding Summer Days Out

When I started writing this post the summer holidays were in full swing. Now the end of them and Autumn it seems are rapidly approaching!

During the holidays I find days in are fine spread out. There is plenty to do but for my sanity I often find it better to go out and do something. Also at home, at the moment, it is just me and my daughter (and the cat - the child fearing cat) so it's good to go out and do something social and days out are better at burning the abundance of energy so many 3 year old's have.
We are lucky in that we live by a few different play parks ...but as a mum there are only so many times in a week/month you can go to the same old playgrounds!

Finding days out/outdoor events to keep my 3 year old active and entertained that are 1. financially viable for us and 2. are within reaching distance (with me not being a driver), could have been a bit of a challenge, but luckily living in Stockport it has been fairly straight forward the past two years.

Last year Stockport (and surrounding areas) had a lot on and I took my then just turned 2 year old to every local free/low budget event that was going. I felt like we'd had a really good run for the holidays but I ended up admitted to hospital by the end of it.
This time this year I am coping better, but also not made it to quite as many events. We have missed a couple either due to the crazy mood swings of the UK's weather stopping play, limited funds or me not pushing myself as much. Also not all events were annual.

This summer we have made it to a few that are annual including National Play Day and Handforth Paddock Fair. Luckily both were free entry and rain free.
Dig in the City was on again this year and I was hoping to make the final day but the stormy weather once again returned.

Some of the other local low budget possibilities this summer are/were:

  •  the open to all holiday sessions held at Jumpspace
  • special offer £1 sessions at the Playhouse - a small local indoor play center we hadn't yet tried. The £1 offer continues this week. Lovely and clean but best for small children with being a small play area.
  • Some free weekly local craft sessions which started last Wednesday at the Stopford open learning center
  • A day trip to Llandudno Friday just gone organised by St.Matthews Church - I will be doing a seperate blog post on this.
  •  Spinningfields Free Family Film Club on Saturdays - free outdoors cinema screen showing Disney films, deckchairs to sit on and free face painting & balloon sculptures. 
  • A few fun days at local pubs with bouncy castles, face painting, Peppa Pig, Queen Elsa etc
  • The Here's one we made earlier exhibition at the Lowry in Salford ...90 years of childrens TV, it's free, looks fun and is great for anymore rainy days.
  • An upcoming funfair at Woodbank Park
  • Stockport Summer Festival 29th to 31st August. The 31st being the best day for children.

Some useful online places for getting ideas for days out include new page Happy Days Out which I'm part of on Facebook. Family Link who have a very useful Summer activities booklet which can be accessed online and's What's On section. Many events I have found out about by just being part of local mum's pages on facebook and your local councils events page can be helpful too.
Next year I'm thinking of publishing my own list of things to do at the start of the summer if I am up and running by then! I also will be doing a post of general days out rather than one off events, these generally are further to travel to, so look out for that.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Mabyland Peg Rattle, Musical doll and Round Rattle Review

A lot of G's old younger selection of baby toys &clothes have either been bagged up to sell, already sold or given to a charity shop. However toys wise there are still a few she either still uses or wants to keep hold of. Her Mabyland toys are some in that category.
Here is the review I did on one of their products, brought up to date.

When pregnant I started entering a lot of pregnancy and baby competitions and continued to for a few months after my daughter was born. I was lucky and won several prizes over that space of time. One of them from Mabyland via their facebook page.

MabyLand have a range of gorgeous baby products based around four main characters, doggy, teddy, kitty & bunny. The soft toy items in particular are friendly, soft and colourful so your baby is bound to love them. 

My MabyLand Prize

The prize up that I was lucky enough to win, was a choice of a pair of their peg rattles; either Doggy &Teddy or Bunny & Kitty. With me being a cat lover I went for the latter and with submission of my address my prize arrived the very next day!

Appealing packaging

The packaging of the product itself is very appealing and promotes all four of the peg rattle range.
The characters are a lovely design with friendly bright faces and the colours are warm and appealing. My only criticism is that the kitty could be mistaken for a teddy if not for the whiskers, if the ears were more cat shaped (but still soft so not a hazard to the babies eyes) then it would be perfect.
They are soft and make a pleasing sound on movement, not to harsh but noisy enough to entertain a young baby.
They normally retail at a price of £9.99 and their site sells a range of other products as well, from buggy accessories to towels and their award winning baby carriers to changing bags.

Soft, happy, colourful and easy to grasp.

I did this original review before my little girl was born but she was very fond of them and they brought a smile to her face. I can't remember at what age her hands were big enough to hold the rattles as a whole but they are still good to grab and touch and for you as a parent to entertain your baby with.

Several months later (2011/2012) I was lucky again and received a voucher in a baby&pregnancy magazine for another lovely item from Mabyland at a greatly reduced price, one of their musical dolls. I chose the teddy character this time.

It is a lovely bright soft toy with a lovely tune ('Give a little whistle') which comes on by pulling the string and pulling the doll to it's full length. As the tune plays the doll shortens up again. It is nice to have a change from the usual lullabies and the pull mechanism means there is no need to buy and replace batteries. 
You can hang it from your babies cot or pram and it's great for soothing them. My little girl loved musical toys. 
They are currently available for £15.99 and also come in the same range of characters as the peg rattles. 

If that wasn't enough I got lucky a third time during another competition, which I think was run by a different site and we won one of Mabyland's round rattles. I chose the character we didn't have yet - the dog. Another lovely product, bright, soft, larger than the peg rattles and a different shape to grasp. Delivered quickly as usual.

The round rattles which again come in all four different characters currently retail at £7.99. I think that's a bit expensive for one rattle, however as my little girl is 3 now it's been a while since I've brought baby toys and after a quick research on the web it seems that is the average price for a rattle of this kind.

All the Mabyland toys I received have been very well made and stood the test of time and a fair amount of chewing! I definitely recommend them.

Family Fever

National Play Day

National play day takes place generally on the first Wednesday in August every year in the UK where community events take place all around the country. 
It originated in London and spread from just a couple local events there in 1987 to being a nationwide event with over 850 events in 2012 and being the biggest celebration of play in possibly all of Europe. 
It's aims to highlight the importance of children's right to play, something I feel is currently very important to put and keep in the spotlight. The reasons why would be a whole essay worth of a post. 

Stockports main event is held at Torkington Park, Hazel Grove, from 11am til 4pm and is generally a free event. No entrance fee, most activities free and those that are not just a very small cost of (25-50p). 
I have taken my little girl the past two years and both years have been a brilliant success. Very large turnout's (particularly last year when it was scorching hot sunshine), a surplus of fun activities to do and in general a great day for children.

There was slightly less on this year, but still with plenty to do mostly for free you can't complain! Craft activities, clowns and clown skills activities, hay stacks, emergency services attend in some form for a short while (ambulance/fire engine to educate the children) sand pit, music (provided by Pure.FM I think), soft play areas (all outside obviously), slides, hook a duck (with lovely prizes) and other similar games, bouncy castle, zip wire for older children, badge making, cardboard city, last year tribal instruments stand, smoothie stall and decorate a t-shirt stall, free balloons both years and I'm sure I've missed things out. 
There were also support stalls for breast feeding, Family Link Stockport (who gave out lot's of info on summer events/activities), local sure start centers were represented and ran a little treasure hunt (play scheme staff help run the event) and a local nursery were present helping advertise the Just for 2's nursery offer as well as bringing a long their pet tortoise for the children to see.

Besides all that there is also a great looking playground at Torkington park which we have yet to try out.

Below are some photo's of G enjoying some of the activities from both years events.


Colouring In

Slides and other fun

Not sure what this was but she liked it


Tribal instruments



Cardboard City

Crafty fun

Lovely time seeing, playing and hearing the instruments

More drumming

Clown school



Haystack fun a year on

Hook a Duck 25p and three prizes


Bouncy castle 50p

Sandpit with her cousin

Balancing skills

Fingers crossed they will still have funding to continue next year.