Let the Games Begin!

Tonight's the night for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony!  It has been so long coming, the wait is finally over and as a Brit I am very proud that we are hosting the Olympics for the 3rd time in London.  

The Opening Ceremony has been kept under wraps, I read that it would not be as spectacular as the Olympics in Bejing but I heard from a friend who went to the dress rehearsal yesterday who said it was truly amazing and a lot of fun! 

Bells were rung all over the country today when Big Ben struck 8.12am, TC and I rang ours to join in the symphony of bells, she thought it was fun but thats all, in another 4 years I expect she will wonder why I love the Olympics so much, I have many stories to tell her.

I was offered tickets to the swimming yesterday but at such short notice I cannot go as we are still celebrating TC's birthday with family at the weekend!  I had already resigned myself to the fact that I would not be going, but I see on the news that tickets are now available at reduced prices, watch this space, I may be going after all.  If not, I shall be glued to my TV for all the track events, will not miss them either way.

Best of luck to Team GB!


Very Berry Summer Smoothie

Summer is the time when it is good to eat lighter and when the weather is as hot and sticky as it is right now, I often don't feel like eating anything much, so a smoothie packed with summer berries for breakfast is a really good start to the day.

I love berries of any description, for this smoothie I used blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, all of which are prolific in the shops right now.  Pomegranate juice, full of heart healthy antioxidants, avocado and a potassium rich banana. 

1 cup blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (or more or less to suit your own taste)

½ banana

1 small avocado - cubed

50 ml pomegranate juice

50 ml  coconut water (or water)

juice of  ½  lemon or lime (optional)

few cubes of ice, to your own taste, I blend 3 or 4 then add a couple of cubes
to my glass for a lovely cool, refreshing drink, full of antioxidants, vitamins and good fats from the avocado.

Blend, sip slowly and enjoy!

Today you are 2....

Gorgeous Miss TC, today you are 2, 24 months have flown by in a whirl of nappies, milk, potties, kisses, cuddles, playgrounds, swings, roundabouts, love and laughter.  This time last year I was on week 39 of my pregnancy, I was huge, it was summer and you were happy to stay where you were.

You are a very independent, feisty, lively little girl whose "do it meeself" attitude is admirable, you never give up trying, even if it takes you many tries.   You like to take your time with most things, perfecting everything till you get it right, like walking.  17 months came and went with you still speed crawling and cruising around the furniture until one day I did a double take as you marched up the hallway as if you'd been doing it all your life!

You love to run and climb and are constantly on the go, chasing seagulls, chasing boys on the football field trying to kick their ball, racing up and down the fields near our home, the beach is the only time you slow down, your face was a picture when you first tried to walk on the pebbles, I expect soon you'll be racing off towards the seashore with me hot on your little heels!

You copy everything I do, so I am careful what I do these days!  You wear my sunglasses Eric Morecambe style, you try to put my bra on but end up wearing it dangling from your arm like a handbag, you've even tried to put my undies on superman style over your trousers but gave up & wore them on your head instead.

You love our doggie who sadly became diabetic a few weeks after your birth and has gradually gone blind.  I was so grateful he got to see you at least for a few weeks.  You like to stroke him, tweak his nose, cuddle him in a gentle head lock all of which he accepts as your love for him.  I love how kind you are to him and hope that carries on in your life as you grow, you seem to know he is different now and make allowances.

You make us laugh, you make me cry, tears of joy at your very being and sadness that you will never meet one of your siblings (although I think you may have, your first word was her nickname when you saw a photo). You have no idea of the impact you have made on our family, a jewel of a little girl child who makes everyone smile wherever you go.  You make me, daddy and your big brother very proud.

I still look at you in wonderment sometimes, watching you change every day and thinking how did I make such an amazing little girl, it certainly was destiny and meant to be that you came into the world.  Thank you for choosing me to be your Mummy.

The weather this summer has been more rain than sun but today it is glorious, the sun is out, the sky is so blue to match your eyes and the sea is twinkling like diamonds - summer has finally arrived and what better day for it!

Happy 2nd birthday baby girl !!!


30 Seconds with the Olympic Torch

As you may know I am somewhat of an Olympic fan and this morning the Olympic Flame passed through near to us, but 7am was a little too early for me to get organised (read I was asleep!) and get down to the seafront for a glimpse.  My friend JJ on her way to her nursing shift at the hospital on the seafront got a very jammy surprise view without even having to jostle with the crowds!

So off we all trotted (me, Mr J & TC) to a nearby town this afternoon to join the throng and blinking marvellous it was!  We found a parking space merely yards from the high street where the procession would be coming through and I left Mr J & TC having a snack at a well known cafe whilst I found my place in the crowd.  I was determined to get something on "film" for TC and her memory box, she has no clue what the Olympics are but maybe some day she will be pleased to see this, but this afternoon her snack pot and daddy's frothy foam on his coffee were far more interesting.

Of course it was over in a flash, after the procession of sponsored buses and police riders sauntered past, the torch bearer negotiated a very steep hill and when he got to us he decided to sprint past, but I got all 30 seconds of it on video! (am I still allowed to say video??).

It was a great moment, everyone in the crowd was happy and there was laughter everywhere.   Then it was off for bite to eat in the fresh air, the sun was out and the warmth made a perfect end to a very special afternoon.


Chocolate & Vanilla Caramel Icecream

Decided to take part in the icecream challenge set by Kavey Eats Bloggers Scream for Icecream this month which is to make an icecream with condensed milk as the base. 

I ♥ ♥ ♥ icecream, anytime, anyplace, anywhere, in hot weather or the middle of winter on a windswept beach (or our English summer!).  I cannot pass by Thorntons without having a dollop of Chocolate Heaven, luckily for my hips I don't pass by one very often!

I don't have the luxury of an icecream machine, so usually make a very fast tub of icecream by just whipping up double cream and then adding flavours and textures, literally ice cream.

My favourite is one with chocolate and caramel with chocolate pieces running through it, I also love vanilla, could not choose, so this is the result!

Melt 100g of dark 70% Green & Black's chocolate over a bain marie.
After beating together 300ml of double cream, 200g (approximately half a tin) of Carnation condensed milk, add a very large sprinkling of small cocoa buttons and a splash of vanilla extract.

Split the mixture into 2 bowls and add the melted chocolate to one bowl and beat for a further minute to combine.  Line a tub with a layer of the vanilla base, then pipe a layer of Carnation caramel onto the vanilla.  Follow with the chocolate mixture and just in case there isn't enough chocolate in this icecream sprinkle a few cocoa buttons on the surface.

Place into the freezer overnight.  The result is a deeply chocolatey, caramelly, choccy button crunching vanilla icecream!  I shall be using condensed milk again!
melting fast, eat me quick!


Vegetables in Disguise

I really love tomato based sauces, I can find a use for a tomato sauce in so many dishes that we eat.  The one I make the most at the moment is the vegetables in disguise version for my toddler girl, she eats plenty of fresh vegetables but occasionally when she is fussy this sauce packs a lot in!  My personal recipe goes something like this:

Take a good glug of olive oil and gently fry a medium onion with a small clove of crushed garlic, I see some slicing of garlic in recipes but I prefer the good, intense garlic taste that crushing gives a dish.  TC is well used to garlic and onions in her food thankfully as we eat a lot of them!


Next grate 2 medium carrots, ½ a large courgette or 1 small one and a 2" chunk of sweet potato and saute with the onions and garlic for a few minutes without browning. 

Add chopped tomatoes, I really love Sainsbury's Polpa Fine, they are just right in texture, the 500ml box is perfect for this recipe, but if I have a glut of tomatoes I will roast some the day before, whiz them up a little in the blender and use those with some passata.  Even if I don't have a glut I will often use fresh tomatoes, just depends how fast I need to whip this up!

Then add around 200ml of vegetable stock (I make 300ml in case I need a little extra), I like the Kallo brand, its gluten free too, a teaspoon of tomato puree and ½ teaspoon each of basil and oregano completes the dish. 

Simmer for around half an hour, then freeze into small batches and either add to other dishes or add rice to make mini toddler "chilli" with kidney beans or pasta for a "bolognaise"-type meal.   This recipe is ideal for toddlers - you can do so much with it and it makes a lovely sweet sauce that is chock full of vegetables in disguise!