Schwartz Shepherds Pie Recipe Mix

We love baking and cooking here! I think sweet treats may be a big favourite but savoury recipes are welcomed by my two boys too!

As home educators cooking and baking are a huge part of our lives, the kids love getting involved! It’s a life skill they’re definitely going to need unless of course they become millionaires and hire a chef, but a back up plan is good right?!

Schwartz kindly sent us a Shepherds Pie Recipe Mix recently for us to try out and review. It was SO easy to follow and the tastiest Shepherds pie I’ve eaten! Even my fussy 7yo enjoyed it!

The recipe mix was so simple to use with easy instructions and very few ingredients.

We set the oven to preheat on gas mark 6 and boiled potatoes for 15 minutes to get 675g of mash. We used 4 large potatoes but this will vary. You can never have too much mash though!

We added the recipe mix to 200ml of cold water, mixed well then set aside for later. We browned the minced lamb with 2 diced carrots and one onion.

After browning we drained away the excess liquid and added 100g of frozen peas and our 200ml of water and recipe mix, stirred well and bought it back to boil.

It smelt delicious! We transferred it to an ovenproof dish and added the mash on top. We smoothed it out with a spatula and then created a line pattern using a fork. This is not the tidiest part of the recipe!

We baked in the oven for 25 minutes. It came out golden with a crispy top! The meat had bubbled over creating a real homemade look.

I served it for dinner with brocolli and everybody thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ll definitely be trying our the other recipe mixes that Schwartz has on sale. I really enjoyed how simple yet tasty the recipe was! A big thumbs up from us!

Have you tried any of the recipe mixes? Which ones are your favourite?

Is Your Home Smart?

We live in a time now where technology is used daily in our lives, our homes, our workplaces. But is your home smart?

There are so many options available out there; smart meters, smart speakers, smart doorbell, smart heating systems. The list is endless. You can even get a robotic vacuum! I really need to invest in one that follows my kids around all day!

Smart meters have become really popular over the last couple years and will soon be a required feature by 2024. They monitor your energy levels in your home to help you be more conscious of what you’re using and where. I don’t know about you but in my house we use a lot of electricity. We have two fans on all year round, lights are left on everywhere, tablets and phones and consoles need daily charge, we use coffee machines, blenders, microwaves, we watch tv. The list goes on and on. So a monitor would be great for us.

Certas Energy has created an infographic which details what parts of the home you can add a smart element to and teach people why they should consider bringing it into their lives, ultimately reducing our carbon output.

Do you have any of these Smart features on your home? If not, which ones would you consider having?

How To Make The Home A Safe Place

How to Make the Home a Safe Place?

The surrounding atmosphere is a vital part of the human environment. Why does breathing come much more easily and freely in the forest? The answer is obvious – the air is clean! The quality of the body’s life is largely determined by the type of air we breathe. Moreover, without oxygen, in certain proportions contained in the air, cellular energy exchange of the body is impossible. Clean air is much more necessary for people than even water or food. Despite its great importance to humans, it is the air environment that is exposed to increasing pollution during economic activity.

What Are the Main Sources of Indoor Air Pollution?

Furniture, building and decoration materials, and household chemicals are serious sources of indoor air pollution. Many of the substances released from furniture and building materials are very toxic and are carcinogens. At the same time, it is not at all easy to determine an environmentally friendly material and such materials are more likely an exception than the norm.

In addition to chemical air pollution, bacteriological pollution also occurs. In one cubic meter of air surrounding us more than 1000 units of bacteria are contained. However, not all bacteria in the air are harmful to health.

When it comes to indoor pollution, you should check every corner for the presence of mold and mildew, including the bottom side of your carpets. If you have tried to perform carpet cleaning service yourself, and you haven’t dried the carpet well before placing it again on the floor in the living room, then you may sense bad odor from your carpet.

What to do to make your home safe and breathe clean air?

Here are some useful tips:

  • Regular ventilation. Try to make it a rule to ventilate the room daily. It is enough to leave the window open so that the air temperature inside drops by 1-2 degrees. It is best to do this late in the evening or early in the morning with minimal traffic on adjacent streets.
  • Installation of an air purification system. When carrying out repairs, install a ventilation system with a filter or use home air filters. It is best to install filters on those substances that pollute the air most in your situation.
  • Degassing. From time to time, clean air from harmful substances in the room by spraying aerosol sorbents. Alternatively, use certain home plants in the right amount.
  • Air disinfection using ultraviolet radiation. If for one reason or another (decreased immunity, recovery after surgery or illness), the requirements for sanitary conditions have increased, install bacteriological irradiators that will destroy almost all the microbes and viruses known today. The effectiveness of air disinfection using such installations reaches 99.9%.
  • Turn to professionals. Consult a specialist at the stage of choosing housing, building materials or furniture. A professional will help to make your home safe at the first stage and will tell you specific ways to maintain clean air in the future. If the house is already furnished, and health is deteriorating, it is better to invite a laboratory to analyze the air and determine the source of pollution. However, it should be borne in mind that treatment is always more complicated and more expensive than prevention.
  • Use professional carpet cleaning services once or twice a year. For improving the air quality inside your home, you should make sure that the carpets inside the house are clean. They collect great amount of dust and are one of the favorite places for harmful bacteria to grow. As we mentioned above, the bottom side of your carpets may be covered in mold, so you must be very careful how you maintain the condition of your carpeted floorings. If carpets are dirty, or if they are covered in mold, then for sure it will be difficult for you to breath easily in that room.
  • By turning to Prolux Cleaning experts, you can stay calm your home is protected with quality carpet cleaning services. In their work, Prolux cleaners are applying only eco-friendly cleaning products that are odorless. They will leave your carpets completely clean, safe and fresh in order to enjoy a pleasant atmosphere in your home.

Scleich Horse Stable

We are huge fans of Scleich as you’ve probably gathered over the years. Their quality and attention to detail is next to none! So we were very excited when they kindly sent us their Large Horse Stable to test out! My 7yo loves horses and he was ecstatic!

My 8yo was eager to get building. There were a lot of pieces but the instructions were so good that he only required help for strength purposes. It took about 15 minutes for him to put together.

The horse stable has 7 animals, 2 horse boxes, 2 farmers, saddles, hay bales, buckets, a hoist, a hayloft and loads more accessories. There is also a feeding chute and transport rollers. It’s very authentic! It even comes with labels for the kids to personalise the horse boxes. It retails at £79.99 and is available at Smyths Toys.

The horse stable is a really great addition to our house. We love imaginative play here, my kids thrive on it! My boys set up a little farm scene and sensory tray with theirs!

There are lots of additional playsets and animal figures to collect to grow your very own farm world. The only limit is your imagination!

Free Airpure Scented Candle Advent Calendar

Yes we know it’s too soon! But is it really? We love Christmas at Swords and Snoodles! We cannot wait to start the decorating. And Wow Free Stuff love Christmas so much that they have decided to give away 1 of 50 AirPure Scented Candle Advent Calendars.

Just click enter now and fill in the form. There’s nothing to lose!

This competition ends on the 1st December 2019. By entering you agree to sign up to WOW FreeStuff Newsletter and must be over 18 and based in the UK.

What are you waiting for?! Let Christmas begin!

Driven To Distraction

Car journeys with kids are one of the most stressful times of any day. My two can’t even breath in the direction of each other without it causing serious chaos in the back seats! Siblings are just divine! The engine doesn’t even need to be switched on for the stress to begin. Making sure their buckled in correctly, they have a drink, the first aid kits packed and road side assistance is up to date are ALL done before the engine even begins! Sat navs are plugged in and placed in holders and your journey is calculated. Imagine if it had a stress-o-meter on it too? Mine would blow up!

Joking aside though, you see so many people still using their phones whilst driving despite the hefty fines and consequences!

Kwik Fit did a recent survey and found that 19% of the surveyed drivers admitted that they sometimes take calls while driving, 17% admit that they read texts off of their phone, and 12% send texts. All of these reasons (including using your sat nav) can result in a big penalty if the police pull you over and find that it was distracting you. Not only this, this time difference could be the deciding factor between a driver crashing or not. 

Have a go on the Kwik Fit game to test your distraction levels and responses!

It’s so important to avoid distractions, unfortunately kids don’t count, but phones do! Just don’t handle your phone whilst your engine is on. Your life literally does depend on it!

Fill the back seats with snacks, books, technology, anything too see you through the journey. My kids ate serious car snickers and it’s been a real saviour! Lunch boxes of food and water are the winning conditions here!

So on your next trip, plan ahead and stay off the phone!

Tiosebon Footwear

Tiosebon recently sent us some of their footwear and we are SO impressed! They have been so comfortable! These knitted walking shoes are like walking on air!

KONHILL Lightweight Casual Walking Knitted Shoes
About sneakers These walking shoes are perfect for indoor or outdoor any casual leisure assemble. Ultra-light upper vamp with Synthetic design provides maximum breathability and durability. Let these comfortable fashion sneakers be your new favorite casual shoes! They also make the perfect holiday gift.Your feet can breathe easy in the latest iteration of fabric upperHigh elastic MD outsole, slip-resistant, easy to manage any areaFit for various occasions, perfect for casual, walking, running, sportsPerfect accord with human body engineering, green, healthy concept design. Selection of good material, breathable, lightweight, comfortable shoes. Fashion unique durable, safe environmental protection material. 10 
colours to choose from.

These shoes have been such a good wear. They have been on the beach, to the mall, in the town, in the countryside and at home in the garden. I can honestly say I’ve never worn a pair of shoes so comfy yet they look great too!

We would definitely recommend them!

City Challenge Birmingham

We were recently gifted some spending money by to explore the area of Birmingham. Please note all views are my own.

We have loved exploring Birmingham and hope to explore a little more before August is out and maybe delve a little deeper into the bustling town on a less busy day for my 8yo. Maybe we could even stay overnight with Birmingham airport hotel? Now THAT would be another great little adventure! But for now we’ll share our first one!

It’s the summer here, but a different kind for my boys; we have left the UK education system to begin a home education journey. So this summer is about finding our feet and relaxing. My 8yo is on the autism spectrum so we asked where he would like to go as new places can be quite traumatic; A movie, a park and an icecream. And mummy decided a little visit to Brindley place central square would be a nice little snack spot too at some point during the day or the following day.

We have only lived near Birmingham for four months so we haven’t done much exploring. We decided today to check out Reel Cinema Birmingham to watch Horrible Histories. My boys love this show. It’s a cinema we haven’t used before so were a little skeptical to try it out. But it was great, even my 8yo was on board with it. It was much quieter than other cinemas in the vicinity which is a bonus to us as an additional needs family. The prices are fab too! A family ticket starts from just £16.50!

Our next port of call was Woodgate Valley Country Park on the way into the main centre of Birmingham. My boys love the outdoors and it was a perfect afternoon for it! The play area is great and there are a few little trails to follow plus a little visitors centre. They also have a little urban farm there which runs solely on donations. They suggest £1 per person upon entrance. They had goats, cows, rabbits, ducks and free-roaming chickens. It was a nice little wander for the kids. A wonderful hidden gem!

Next up was a late lunch stop. Autism can cause havoc with new places. But I explained all of the possible places and my boy chose TGI Fridays. He’s never been so it was a big deal! And he fell in love! As did I! We haven’t been for SO long! But we enjoyed it! And he got his icecream!

The following day we had a sneaky visit to the Lego Discovery Centre which my boys love! Our friend gifted us some tickets which we were so thankful for! We then had that cheeky little coffee and a potter around Brindley Place!

We loved exploring Birmingham!

Monster Jam Live 2019

We recently had an exciting invitation to go and watch Monster Jam Live! And my boys couldn’t have been more excited!

Monster Jam is one big monster truck competition full of mud, excitement, stunts and noise! (You’ll definitely need some ear defenders for the younger fans!)

We got to see some of the monster trucks up close and personal at the Pit Party, even in the pouring rain. My boys loved it and were amazed they could get so close.

The weather didn’t ruin anything for us. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! And as you can see we were all waterproofed up.

Once in the stadium we were able to watch the track and ramps be built. The boys were transfixed, as were we! It was such a great experience!

The show began bang on time and was captivating from the get go! You could even download an app to score the monster trucks which was fab! There was never a dull moment, or a quiet one!

We had a great time and would highly recommended Monster Jam Live on their tour!

Getting Rid Of Crap People In Your Life

No matter what walk of life we’ve come from we all have one thing in common and that’s people. We all have people in our lives; colleagues, kids, partners, husbands, wives, family members, acquaintances, friends. The list is endless. But some of these relationships are relentless in the impact they have on our lives. And let’s face it some people are just crappy human beings. So why do we put up with it? I literally have no idea!

I’v spent more of my life wanting to please others and begging people to love me than I have not. I look back now and think NEVER AGAIN! But in the midst of all these relationships and encounters I was blinded by their deafening roars. I believed I was not worth loving. I believed I was not good enough. I believed the world would be better without me.

In the last few years I’ve realised a lot of this was because of my untreated depression and anxiety BUT these shitty people, who by the law of DNA should have treated me better, much better, should have stepped up their game. But you can’t change people. As agonising as that is. It’s taken me a good thirty plus years to understand this.

Life is far too precious to waste it by letting toxic people ruin it and take away your happiness. Don’t let them. I know it’s not that simple but it really is that simple.

I had one major toxicity in my life. He hurt me over and over and over. Sometimes he had verbal remorse once or twice over 21 years. But nothing says sorry like changed actions, and nothing ever changed. He almost ruined my life. Almost. But he didn’t. He hasn’t. And now he’s a distant memory. A memory that will no doubt always come to haunt me but it’s something I have to bear. Because he will NOT ever ruin anything else for me. After 21 years I cut him from my life. It was an horrific time. It was hard. He made it harder. I let go of him and snatched back my worth. I realised it was not me who was the problem. I made a promise to myself that from now on I was in charge of my life.

It was THE BEST decision I’ve ever made. It was the start of freedom.

I lost a lot of people when I cut loose from this burden BUT it was still worth all I lost. The whatifs nearly stopped me but I couldn’t live in the toxic cloud of darkness anymore.

The last 34 years has taught me to accept all or accept nothing. There’s no fence for me. This had led other people to leave our lives too, but it’s been a mighty good riddance. I will never let people make me question my worth. Never. They have no right. And I most certainly will never let my children wonder about their worth. They are loved outloud. I’m fiercely passionate about that. I don’t want them to spend their adult life recovering from their childhood like I’ve had to.

I’m a big believer in second chances, but not third chances. My door will shut. Yours should too. Your happiness and peace should be your priority. You matter! You’re worthwhile. Don’t settle for a life of pleasing others or keeping the peace only for your own peace to be destroyed.

It’s never too late to change the direction of your life.