Sock Mountain!

This is something that we have in our house – but I don’t think other households do.

Some of my friends and family think I’m crazy for doing it this way, but I find that it really is much easier and works for our household.

Basically I have a specific bag hanging in my utility room (the room is basically a closet that fits the washing machine and a basket of clothes!!) and when dirty socks end up in the wash pile I take them out and put them in this bag. The ideal is that the socks are paired up before going into the bag! Every few weeks when I notice the sock drawers are running low, I do “sock mountain”.

I pour out the bag of socks, and find pairs and put the pairs (separated) into an empty laundry basket. When I have found all the pairs, I put the odds back into the bag and put the basket of dirty socks into the washing machine.

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When washed them come straight out and into the dryer, making sure none escape! When dry I bring them into the sitting room and dump them out on the floor in a “sock mountain” and get the kids to do their part!

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They sort through the pile of clean socks, putting ones that look alike on top of each other – all pink socks together, all Daddy’s black socks in one pile, school socks in a different pile – you get the idea.

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Then its back to me. I come back in and actually pair them all up, and put in piles for each different room.

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Then the two older kids bring down their sock drawers, fill them and bring them back up. And I don’t have to think about socks for another few weeks!

What do you think of that? Crazy or genius?!

One of my friends thought it sounded like a lot of work. A family member was horrified about how many socks we all have (which we need for them to last a few weeks!). I love the fact that I don’t get odd socks coming out of the washing machine – I still have odd socks, but I know that its not the washing machine that has eaten them! (They’re usually hiding down the side of the bed now!) It used to really annoy me having odd socks coming out of the wash in dribs and drabs.

It is a bit of extra work all in one go, but then its over and done with for another few weeks. It works for us!

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Spinach Cannelloni (Slimming World Friendly!)

I’ve realised that I need to have decent food on hand throughout the day, or else I pick at anything I can find – so I’ve been making up batches of this spinach cannelloni.

Because on Slimming World you eat 1/3 “superfree” (fruit or veg) with everything you eat, I’ve been trying to beef up the original recipe by adding more vegetables, such as onions, celery and peppers all chopped up small and added to the spinach mix inside the tubes!

I buy a box of cannelloni tubes, a packet of fresh spinach leaves and a tub of Quark (extra low fat soft cheese) – and then whatever extra veg, garlic, tins of tomatoes and cheese that I usually have.

The way to cook the spinach is to put it into a pot with a tablespoon or two of water (I actually just wash it and put it straight in to the pot without drying it)  and pop on the lid and let it cook down for about two minutes until its gone soft and limp. Then I take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and drain all the excess liquid off it and chop it up.

Next is to cook up whatever other veg you’re adding – lets say an onion, a stick of celery and a pepper, all chopped up small. Fry these up (in Frylight if you’re on Slimming World!). Once they’re cooked, I normally let them cool down a bit, before adding in the chopped spinach, and then the full tub of Quark. This is the mix that you’re going to fill your cannelloni tubes with.

Usually while the veg is all cooling down, I make a tomato sauce – just fry up a bit of garlic and add a few tins of tomato (or passata) and some fresh basil. I do try and almost squeeze the tomatoes with the spoon while they’re in the pot – because you really do need as much liquid as possible.

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The next step is quite messy – filling your tubes. You basically just have to roll up your sleeves and dive in 🙂 Make sure that you fill them as much as you can, I usually put my thumb over the base of the tube and push the filling down until it fills up completely.

When you have all the tubes filled, you put a layer of the tomato sauce (about half the sauce) across the bottom of the dish you’re cooking them in. In this case I decided to use a roast pan because I was making a large batch!

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On top of the sauce, put your filled tubes, and then top them all with the rest of the tomato sauce and add a scattering of grated cheese. If you’re doing Slimming World, you will need to use the cheese as a Healthy Extra, or syn it.

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Put it into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, at around 180 degrees. You will need to make sure there’s enough liquid on top of them for the cannelloni tubes to cook properly. At times I have had to add a bit of water to help soften them up properly.

Of course I forgot to take an “after” picture of it cooked, I happily started eating it! 🙂 But it is delicious, and very handy to have in portions the fridge (or freezer) to take out and snack on (or have as a lunch or dinner!).

Chocolate Biscuit Cake!

I’ve made this chocolate biscuit cake a few times now, for special occasions. It is really simple to make, and so delicious! Friends and family have got the recipe from me and have been making it since, so I decided I’d share it here.

Here is a picture of the most recent one that I made for Princess P’s communion last week, this was much thinner than usual because I used a larger tin!

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I used the Odlums recipe http://odlums.ie/recipes/chocolate-biscuit-cake/ as a base recipe, and then made some changes (used a bit extra chocolate used a mix of digestives, bourbon creams and a few rich tea, my kids don’t eat raisins and I wasn’t sure who’d eat nuts – so I used the raisin allowance in crunchies, and I used the nuts allowance on mars bar and I added a few extra maltesers too!

Below is the rough recipe that I used after changing the base recipe:

275g  Butter

150ml  Golden Syrup

250g Good Quality Chocolate

200g Packet of Digestive Biscuits (roughly crushed)

200g Packet of Bourbon Biscuits (roughly crushed)

125g Crunchies (roughly broken)

125g Mars Bars (chopped)

120g Packet of Maltesers (chopped in half)

METHOD:

Base recipe recommends to line a 15cms/6″ round cake tin or a 2lb loaf tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper, but I’ve tried it in different size tins with no problem. Because you’re not baking it, the tin size doesn’t matter as much.

Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed together. Add in the chopped mars bars so they soften slightly.

Add the crushed biscuits, maltesers and crunchies. Stir well.

Transfer to prepared tin. Level it on top and press down well to avoid “air gaps”. Allow to get cold and hard.

Again the original recipe said wrap completely in greaseproof paper and store in a fridge, however I was told that if the cake was iced (in a sugarpaste icing) that it would be good kept out of the fridge for up to two weeks. (I also discovered that you don’t store a cake covered in sugarpaste icing in the fridge because it goes sticky)

This cake is just delicious. Even before it sets – I have a big problem keeping my spoon out of the pot when the butter, syrup and chocolate are melted together. Mmmm.

Here’s one I made for Baba Z’s christening, so you can see they can be decorated any way!

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How much exercise?

Can anyone help me on this one?

I’m wondering how much exercise is too much? I did an exercise DVD this morning, thinking I wouldn’t have a chance to get out on the treadmill – but then my other half arrived home at lunchtime and said sure go on out on the treadmill, which I did for my 30 minutes. And now this evening I actually would have a chance to get back out on it again, I have the time and the energy. But I’m thinking that might be overdoing it. Would it?

I’ve been using Dr. Google and coming up with all sorts of different information. I’ve decided I will leave it for tonight because I haven’t done an exercise DVD for about six years, and I’m worried I’m going to be sore tomorrow anyway so I won’t push my luck! I’m just wondering going forward – is exercising twice a day too much?

I’m back!

I’ve been a bit quiet the past week or two because I’ve been arranging the celebrations for my Princess P who made her First Holy Communion this weekend. The school and the children put a lot of work into the religious side of the celebration, and I just had to do the planning, cooking and cleaning for the families to come and celebrate with her!

But that is done and dusted, so I’m back! The next celebration will be our wedding… in 13 weeks… so need to get to planning that! 🙂

Sick baba’s

Yesterday I sat under my baby all day. Or so it felt. Reality is it wasn’t all day, but it felt like that because until 5.30pm I didn’t get a chance not to be minding sick kids.

Baba Z did not sleep a wink the night prior, and finally fell asleep for an hour at 7am on her Daddy’s chest on the couch downstairs. And while they were on the couch The Boy was throwing up in the bathroom, so I was taking care of that – while unable to keep my eyes open from the exhaustion of no sleep the night before (its catching up from last week too of The Boy having croup and Baba Z screaming through the nights).

So yesterday morning we swopped over and I took Baba Z on me, and Daddy brought Princess P to school and headed on about his day. The baby did actually go for a short nap after our doctors visit but I was with The Boy, who was pretty much better but I still wanted to make sure he knew he could also get my full attention when he wasn’t well.

When the baby got up, she was very sad and she was not well. She tried to play, but just cried and cried. I got her up on my chest and got her to sleep. And thats how we stayed until 5.30pm. I had to call the other half to leave what he was doing and collect Princess P from school because I didn’t want to disturb the baby.

Even though I hate the kids being sick, I enjoyed the cuddles and the snoozing together. Baba Z is extremely independent, even though she’s very attached to me and her Daddy, she does not want to cuddle and snuggle, she wants to be adventuring and moving on to the next piece of divilment she can. So to have her cuddled up on me, asleep, was lovely. Of course though I was relieved when she started to feel better, but I enjoyed the few hours of just sitting under my baby.