Under The Sea Themed Birthday Party

My daughter recently turned one and we had an ‘under the sea’ birthday party for her. This party was lots of fun and I am going to share with you how we decorated the house and what food we served.

I wanted to make this party visually appealing so that there was lots to look at and to make the theme come to life.

We had lots of decorations hanging from the ceiling including shiny coils with fish characters on and we also hung string across the rooms and draped with pieces of crepe paper to create seaweed, coral and sea.

We also decorated the lamp shade to make it look like a large jellyfish hanging from the ceiling!

I made some salt dough fish characters and painted them, these were used to decorate windows.

For the table, I bought a set of mermaid tableware which included tablecloths, napkins, cups, plates, bowls, party hats and party blowers. It also came with bunting which we hung up in the rooms.

I made some shaker bottles for the children to play with. These had water that was coloured blue in them with glitter and seashells.

I made up simple party bags for the children. Each child had two small tubes of bubbles and a party blower. The under ones got a fish soft toy and the older children got two packets of under the sea themed stickers. Each guest also took home some birthday cake.

For the food, everything we made fitted to the theme. We had fish shaped pizza, sea creature shaped potato, sweet potato and butternut squash chips and a coral reef vegetable tray.

The pizza dough was all homemade and covered with a variety of colourful toppings. The recipe for this pizza was from one of my old recipe books that is based on Bible stories.

For the chips, we bought some metal cutters in the shape of a seahorse, shell and starfish. Once the vegetables were cut they were then coated in a little oil and baked. These were cut the night before and left in water.

I found the coral reef idea online but made it up using different vegetables to those I had seen to create my own version of a vegetable coral reef.

For dessert we had blue jelly with fruit shaped fish in, a turtle watermelon with fruit salad and banana dolphins. We also had fish shaped biscuits.

The birthday cake was a turtle on the sand. This was a madeira cake decorated with buttercream and fondant icing.

I hope you have enjoyed looking through the photos of the party food and decorations and hope that I have provided you with some inspiration to throw your own ‘under the sea’ party!

A Year of Activities for Baby/Toddler – Jar Idea

My daughter is rapidly approaching her 1st birthday and is at the age where she needs a variety of activities and things to do to keep her occupied and help her to learn new things.

I decided to come up with quite a few different themes for us to do focussed activities. Each theme will last 2 weeks, except for Christmas which will last the whole month of December.

My idea is to put the different themes into a jar and pull out a new theme every 2 weeks. The exception to this being Christmas and Easter – which I will do in the lead up to these. I have enough themes for this to last for a year.

The plan is to go to the library and borrow books relating to the theme and have those to read for the 2 weeks. I will also plan focussed activities such as making play dough and using shaped cutters that match the theme. Singing songs and watching videos that link in. We could also have visits out that relate to the theme. I am hoping to do painting and other crafts as well. I will also have toys out for playing with that match to the theme.

This way my daughter is learning about new things and is constantly being stimulated by the variety of activities. It will also help me to be more creative with activity planning and to come up with new ideas.

I am hoping to start this next month.

I am really enjoying using jars as a way to be more proactive and motivated to do new things.

A New Recipe A Week – Jar Idea

Amongst my collection of books I have a large amount of recipe books. I really love recipe books and could easily keep adding to my collection. I could spend hours just flicking through the recipes looking at all the lovely pictures which inspire me to cook.

I am always keen to try new recipes but often don’t get round to choosing a recipe before we do our food shop so I don’t normally have the right ingredients available.

I have decided to choose 52 recipes from my books and write them down on a piece of paper. I will cut these out and put them into a jar. Each week before our food shop I will choose a recipe at random out of the jar and that will be the new meal we will try that week.

This way we are getting to try something new each week and also build up our collection of ingredients as we buy what is required for each recipe.

I am hoping this is a good way of finally getting round to cooking and eating all of those tasty looking meals!

This will not be my only recipe jar. I also intend to do the same with desserts and also cakes and biscuits. I hope to blog about those soon and also more jar ideas that aren’t food related.

What has Been Cooking in the Kitchen this Week?

I wanted to share with you some of my home cooking over the last week.

I made two different cakes – an orange syrup cake. I actually used satsumas instead of oranges. The recipe required the oranges (or in my case satsumas) to be coarsely chopped, boiled, drained and then blended in a food processor. This was then added to the cake mixture. I thought this was a very good way to get the citrus flavour throughout the cake. On the top was a sugar syrup flavoured with satsuma rind. The cake also had semolina in it which gave it a lovely texture. Definitely a recipe I would repeat.

The other cake I made was a Lemon Yoghurt cake. This was a very light cake made up with whipped egg whites to give the light texture. It also had a lot of yoghurt in which gave it a lovely flavour. I made this cake in a bundt tin – unfortunately it didn’t come out of the tin too well but I managed to patch it up! I had enough mixture left to make small cupcakes as well.

For our Monday night dinner I made turkey meatballs. These contained leeks, courgette, turkey mince, oregano, paprika, black pepper and tomato puree. I mixed these ingredients together and then rolled into balls and baked in the oven. I then made up a simple tomato sauce and added in the meatballs.

The turkey meatballs were light and soft and had a great flavour.

For lunch time I made a roasted squash soup. The roasted squash was blended with leeks, stock, herbs and a little chilli powder. A simple home made soup.

The squash roasted really well. When baked, I scooped out the seeds and then scooped the flesh from the skin and chopped into chunks.

Another successful meal I made was a Parsnip Quiche. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this as it was all eaten up rather quickly! The filling consisted of caremilised leeks with a little brown sugar and then topped with sliced parsnips and an egg and milk mixture with cheddar cheese. For a final touch I added sliced goats cheese on the top and then baked. This was all encased in a homemade shortcrust pastry.

I enjoy trying new recipes and making my own recipes up and I get pleasure from seeing loved ones enjoying the food I have prepared for them.

Using up Veg to Make a Tasty Lunch

Yesterday evening we did our food shop which meant that we didn’t have a lot of food available at lunch time . I knew we had some vegetables that needed using up so I decided to make a coleslaw and use up the last bit of cheese to make cheese and coleslaw sandwiches.

In my coleslaw I used cabbage, carrot, apple and kale. The dressing was made from a little mayonnaise with a few splashes of soy sauce. I like a sweetness to homemade coleslaw which is why I chose to put an apple in it.

I also had half of a sweet potato that needed using up so decided to make some sweet potato crisps in the oven. I sliced the potato thinly and just added a little oil and salt and baked for 20 minutes.

I like to try and be inventive with food and try to eat different things. I find that lunch foods can become quite boring and it is nice to have a change sometimes.

This lunch was also good as it meant we were incorporating more vegetables into our diet.

Proper Homecooked Meals

When I think of a housewife, I always think of delicous home cooking, freshly baked cakes and bread and other tasty delicacies.

I want to be able to provide lovely meals and treats for my family and to fill the house with aromas of delicious cooking.

I think that a meal that has taken time to make is filled with love and nutrition and always tastes so much better.

At the moment it is sometimes difficult having the time to prepare a meal and entertain my 11 month old at the same time! However, I do try my best to make sure we eat well.

This week I made a bolognese that was simmerimg for over an hour on the stove. I followed a recipe but tweaked the ingredients slightly. Often I just cook down some mince and veg and tip a tin of tomatoes on the top and it is done! – there is absolutely nothing wrong with this but there is a huge flavour difference in a bolognese that is made with stock and left to simmer for all the flavours to really come through. I also get more satisfaction knowing that I have taken my time over a meal.

I also made a roast chicken dinner on Sunday and with the leftover chicken made a chicken cobbler on Monday. I am so pleased that I have been able to get these meals made this week and that we can enjoy them together as a family.

I also think good homecooking is important as it can be really healthy and nutritious and as a family I want us to eat well and experience new flavours together.

Obviously cakes aren’t too healthy but a homemade cake is so much better than a shop bought one and I often reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe to make it a little healthier.

I aspire to be the housewife who always has homemade cakes, biscuits or bread available whenever anybody comes round.

Hello – I am Back!

It has been nearly a year since my last blog post! Since then my husband and I welcomed our new daughter into the world. She is 10 and half months now and has been keeping me very busy. I am really enjoying life as a Mum!

Those of you who read my blog posts before are probably aware that I am a very private person – which seems odd seeing as I have a blog available for all to view on the internet! I feel that I have a lot to share that doesn’t have to include personal details. For example, baking, gardening, home projects etc. I really enjoyed blogging about those things and look forward to getting back into it.

You will probably also noticed that I didn’t blog about my pregnancy and birth journey. This is because I want my blog to be more about home lifestyle and homemaking.

I am sure there will still be some posts about life as a new Mum but as you know I won’t be sharing photos or personal details.

We have lots planned for the next few months and I have lots of new ideas for blog posts.

Thank you for reading and sticking with me! I look forward to restarting my blogging journey.

Happenings over the last month

Over the last month the focus has been on getting the house prepared and ready for the new arrival!

The nursery is almost complete, it is just in need of some soft furnishings, however the baby won’t be sleeping in there for the first few months. The furniture fits in really well as it is quite a small room.

We have also redecorated the downstairs toilet as the paint was peeling off and it looked messy. We have changed the colour which makes the room much brighter and have gone for wallpaper to cover the problem patches on the walls.

Another room that has had a good clean and tidy is the pantry. It was in need of a good tidy and freshen up and is now the perfect place to store the pram.

I have been doing a bit of harvesting in the garden and have picked over a dozen apples from my Braeburn apple tree. They are very tasty and make lovely apple scones. I have also picked a few grapes from the grape vine and have pulled up all my parsnips. I certainly wouldn’t win any prizes for them but they do taste good! I have chopped and blanched them ready to go in the freezer for whenever we want them.

I have also had a tidy up in the garden. I have raked over the vegetable beds that are no longer in use and have pruned and tidied some of the fruit bushes and trees. I still have kale, leeks and brussel sprouts in one bed so I shall see how well they turn out over the winter months. It is looking quite bare out there now.

Our dog, Maple turned 1 yesterday! She is no longer a puppy! We got her at the beginning of December when she was 8 weeks old. She is very good and loves lots of fuss!

I haven’t been baking as much as I used to but did make some tasty Challah bread a couple of weeks ago and also made some heart shaped apple scones.

Monday’s Bakes

I haven’t had a baking Monday for a long time now and really wanted to get back into it. I think the last time I made bread was in February!!

I went out in the morning and made sure that I had yeast and flour. I also had a large number of eggs that needed using up so this was a good incentive to bake.

I decided I would make a savoury bread and a fruit bread that can be toasted for breakfast. I chose to make Challah breads as I have made these before and my husband and I both enjoy them. (The recipe also uses 5 eggs)! I find that this bread bakes really well and is always soft and fluffy. 

The recipe made two loaves so I have one in the freezer ready for another week.

For my fruit bread I followed a recipe for sultana bread but used dried mixed fruit instead and added a little mixed spice. 

I also made a fruit cake in a loaf tin so that it is easier for packing in a lunch box. It will keep well for a week so I don’t need to make any other cake. As there are only two of us we struggle to get through homemade cake so I prefer to make smaller items or things that last longer.

I also made a quiche which was a great way to use up my eggs and leftover cauliflower and broccoli. I sliced and par boiled the vegetables and let them cool. I then arranged them in my short crust pastry case that I had just baked. I topped this with an egg and milk mixture to them with seasoning, thyme, a little mustard and some cheddar. 

We had half of this for dinner and then I have put the other half in the freezer for a meal another day.

I am very pleased with my bakes and feel like I had a productive Monday afternoon.

Preserving Fruit and Veg

Yesterday I had a good tidy up in the garden and harvested the last of my carrots and beetroots. I also picked a few green beans and lots of sticks of rhubarb.

There wasn’t a huge amount of produce but I have made sure it hasn’t gone to waste. I have chopped and blanched the carrots and green beans and frozen them. The beetroot has been fully cooked, peeled, chopped and bagged ready to be frozen. It is nice to know that I can eat seasonal produce throughout the year because of preserving it in the freezer. 
I also have other fruit in the freezer from earlier in the season which I will be able to use in desserts and jams.

With the rhubarb, I am currently making a rhubarb and orange jam which ,once jarred, will keep for about a year.

I also have a food dehydrator that I am hoping to experiment with more over time. I have used it to make prunes from the plums I grew and have also dried tomatoes and some herbs in there. I am wanting to make some apple crisps soon and have a tree full of Braeburn apples that are not far off being ripe enough to pick. 

Elsewhere in the garden I have grapes ripening on the vine, I was hoping that a whole bunch would ripen at the same time but that doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment! I also have parsnips that are growing well and a few leeks. Some of the sweetcorn looks ready to be picked so I will hopefully be enjoying that next week.