Monthly Archives

October 2011

Halloween 2011

Posted on 29th October 2011 in Dhruv Baker/ halloween/ pumpkin carving

Today is pumpkin carving day, I try not to get too involved as I find the smell turns my stomach…. So after much bragging 😉 from @DhruvBaker1 about his pumpkin carving skills we decided to follow suit and buy a kit from @WaitroseUK to ‘aid’ us with the carving process!

While the boys were knee deep in pumpkin guts I decided for the first year ever to try roasting pumpkin seeds. I had a look at some recipes on google an discovered that people seemed to either go for sweet or savoury options. I decided to go for a simple in between version which included butter, brown sugar, salt and ground pepper.

I separated the seeds from the gunk and then rinsed them in water before patting them dry on some kitchen roll.

I mixed the butter, sugar, salt and pepper mixture in the bowl and then added the dried pumpkin seeds. Gave it all a thorough stir and then spread out onto a baking tray.

I then baked it for around 20 mins at 200. I checked it every couple of minutes so that I could stop it at the exact moment when I liked the colour!

They taste not dissimilar to toffee popcorn, light and crunchy with a toffee aftertaste. I think maybe adding chilli to the mix would have made a nice taste too.

Meanwhile, the boys are busy carving their pumpkin templates – finished articles will be shown tomorrow!

Can you guess what they’ll be?

Good stuff huh, and I think we all agree that what we wont do is mention the first batch of pumpkin seeds which I may have left in the oven for too long!

State of the planet – do we blame the older generation?

Posted on 28th October 2011 in green/ older generation

This is from an email I’ve just received from my dad, one of those which says things we all sort of already know but it’s well worth reading again. I don’t know its source but would guess it originated in America somewhere! 

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.  And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Purple Mash, Purple Mash

Posted on 28th October 2011 in playdough/ purple mash/ unusual food

Being stupidly susceptible to the powers of product placement (*ooooh something shiny*) and advertising, I recently bought a bag of purple potatoes.

Youngest child refused to even try it so I’ve ended up having to make purple mash for myself:

Anyone who has ever  made playdough will know what my thoughts were as I made it!

Although it is a little off putting in colour, it doesn’t really taste of anything at all. Found I had to really season it to get any taste but with half a ton of butter, salt and pepper it just tasted like, well, mashed potato!

Looked even weirder on the plate…

They are called Purple Majesty and I got mine from Sainsburys although I’d imagine the other supermarkets sell them too. Oh, and according to the BBC they are really good for you too as they contain 10 x the normal level of antioxidant, anthocyanins compared with white potatoes! Read more here….

Text change to make a change #CharityTuesday

Posted on 25th October 2011 in #charitytuesday/ Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia/ Thai Children's Trust

Today’s guest post for #charitytuesday is on behalf of the Thai Children’s Trust. Let me hand you over to Ruth who will explain more:

Working for Thai Children’s Trust, I am privileged to meet many of the children we help as the largest UK charity focusing solely on Thailand. Set up as a small project based in the resort town of Pattaya over 30 years ago, the Trust has grown immensely and now helps some 4,000 children all across the country. We provide much needed shelter, food, education and the chance of a brighter future to children at risk, children with HIV/Aids, children with disabilities and refugee and migrant children.

One of the children we are helping is Zin Ko, a six year old Burmese migrant suffering from leukaemia.

We are urgently raising funds through text giving and online to help provide treatment to keep him alive.  Zin Ko has taken a turn for the worse in the last week; he has been running a high fever for a few days that isn’t coming down. Rushed back to hospital, doctors informed his family that he would have to stay in their care for a month. He has had a relapse.

When they came looking for help for their poorly son earlier this year, Zin Ko’s mum and dad were devastated to learn the diagnosis, like any parent would be. Their son has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Vital treatment would cost £6,000 from a specialist at Chiang Mai hospital, some six hours away by van.

The little boy’s dad is a street vendor in the border town of Mae Sot. His mum, who has not left his side, was worried as they could not afford  the treatment to save  their son. Fortunately for the family, help was at hand from the Burma Children Medical Fund, a local organisation providing medical help to Burmese migrants, one of the projects that Thai Children’s Trust supports with the help of our donors here in the UK.

Burma Children Medical fund organised Zin Ko’s visits to hospital, translated between Thai and Burmese for the family, and even provided a small stipend and place to stay up in Chiang Mai. Until this week, all seemed to be going well and the little lad was getting regular monthly chemotherapy.

Now, given his recent relapse and severe condition, he will need more treatment. Yet despite this, I am happy to see Zin Ko so upbeat and cheerful. As a former teacher, I know how resilient children can be.

That is why, more than ever, we want to show our support for this poor family, who would otherwise be unable to pay for medical treatment. Because of their status, Burmese migrants are not given additional help by the authorities.

If you can donate towards the cost of treatment for Zin Ko, please text ‘ZINK50 £10’ to 70070 to give £10 or an amount of your choice. It’s small change to us that can make a big change to relieve someone else’s suffering half way around the world.

Alternatively you can donate online at

All money raised will go towards giving Zin Ko a fighting chance – a chance that we in the UK might take for granted.

What’s more, every single donation towards his life-saving treatment will be doubled, thanks to our supporters at Leyland SDM.

As the largest UK charity focusing on Thailand, we support projects like the Burma Children Medical fund, which care for all children regardless of where they are from. We help thousands of Burmese refugees and migrants through health, nutrition and education projects in Mae Sot. To find out more about Thai Children’s Trust and our work, please visit

Thank you for reading about Zin Ko. I hope you might be able to give him a helping hand. Thanks as well to @Coffeecurls for having me as a guest blogger.

Chocolate Christmas Crackers!

Posted on 24th October 2011 in Chocolate Christmas Crackers/ competition/ Hotel Chocolat

I’ve found the perfect decoration for both my tree and table this Christmas!

Hotel Chocolat have added some Christmas crackers to their range. Here I am reviewing the set of mini crackers but they also do larger table crackers and a ‘rather large cracker’ which would make a great gift!

The packaging is lovely on these, the look and feel like a well made classy item. With standard Christmas crackers I always find the bits of novelty plastic under chairs etc for days afterwards whereas these little beauties each contain a scrummy chocolate which I’m quite sure will be immediately gobbled up!

To see the whole Christmas range click here – as a bonus, if you spend £60 or more they will treat you to a box of Winter Treasures worth £11. What more excuse do you need to get shopping!

Would you like to win a box of 10 mini-crackers?

If so please tweet – ‘I want to win crackers from @HotelChocolat in the @CoffeeCurls comp’ or state that you’d like to enter in the comments section below. 

A comment below and then a tweet or RT of this statement will count as 2 entries!

Winner will be drawn on the 1st December so that Hotel Chocolat will have plenty of time to get your prize to you before Christmas. Good luck x      

Can You Give An Hour? #CharityTuesday

Posted on 18th October 2011 in #charitytuesday/ childline

I’ve noticed a charity initiative currently being promoted by Heart FM – which is basically suggesting that as we all gain an hour, when the clocks go back on the 31st October, if some of us gave an hour (either in time or money) to Childline then we could make a huge difference.

It breaks my heart to hear that not all the calls to Childline get answered. Just think, if we all donated one hour of our salaries this problem could be solved overnight!

Here is the appeal being run by Heart:

It is that time of year again that we all look forward, the clocks go back and we all gain an hour!

If you normally use your extra hour to sleep in, walk the dog or pop to the gym why not consider something a little bit different this year.

Click HERE to calculate how much you earn per hour. It’s very simple all you need to do is calculate your hourly wage on Heart’s calculator and make a difference by donating!

Alternatively why not give 60 minutes of your time and do something in that hour to raise money for Have a Heart?  You could have a cake sale at work, a sponsored silence at school or have some friends round for coffee at home.  There’s loads more suggestions on Heart’s A to Z of Fundraising Ideas.

A staggering 700,000 abused, bullied & worried children will contact ChildLine by the end of 2012, and without your help ChildLine can’t be there to answer or their call or be online.

The School Place Debacle!

Posted on 17th October 2011 in applying for a school place/ family/ schools/ secondary school

Who would of thought that sending a child to school could become so complicated? I didn’t, somewhat naively as it turns out as apparently it is very very hard indeed. Possibly even harder than splitting the atom.

Brief situational overview:

Child 1 – year 7 – currently at school in county A.

Child 2 – year 6 – currently at school in county A.

Family are living in county A and moving to county B but do not yet have a date for exchange of contracts.

For child 1 in county A, a mid-year out of county application must be made asap. We have been told it will be rejected and that we must then appeal and that we have a 50% chance of winning the appeal – if we can show school class is not ‘full’.

For child 2 in county A, a mid-year out of county application must be made asap and we have a good chance of getting into the school we would like.

For child 2 in county A, a year 7 place (for Sept 2012) in county B must also be applied for by the 31/10/11 – with proof of address in catchment in county B…

Admissions team at county B say we must apply through them.

Admissions team at county A say we must apply through them.

Ideas anyone?

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