Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday weigh-in : Stuck in a rut

Well, the good news, I didn't put any weight on this week, but the bad news is, I haven't lost a single gram in the last three weeks. My scales seem to have got stuck ! Oh well, I suppose it could be worse !

To be fair, I haven't made much effort this week, through lack of time rather than motivation. (As you can probably tell from the fact that I'm posting this mid afternoon rather than in the morning - I've just finished my marking !) Every single one of my half days off got gobbled up so there was no time to squeeze in the wii fit - on Monday I finish at lunchtime but I stayed at work until 3pm phoning around the parents so I got home just before the school run; on Tuesday afternoon we had an inset training session for the new school reform; on Wednesday I spent the morning running errands and the afternoon walking around with Sophie to sort out her work experience, then taking Pierre to a party at McDonald's and picking him up again. I felt like I had flu in the evening, all achey, but my FitBug informed me that we'd racked up 18km (over 11 miles) - eek ! And the rest of the week, I finish at 5.30.

I've given up saying things will settle down - next week is a normal week but the week after, I have three parent-teacher evenings so I'll be shovelling whatever Madhouse Daddy can find in the freezer into my mouth when I get back home ! After that it's the holidays though so I'll make a concerted effort then.

Positives of the week

- The scales aren't moving but I'm eating pretty well and getting in lots of walking.

Current targets 

Last week's target : Find the time (or make time) to squeeze in at least one wii fit run - stay in the 80's (half done)

This week's targets : Find the time (or make time) to squeeze in at least one wii fit run and listen to the Slimpod - stay in the 80's (third time lucky ?!)

Short-term targets 

(1) get back into the 80's
(2) get my "lbs lost" back into double figures
(3)  get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's 
 (4)  get back to 87kg, my pre-holiday weight 
(5) get my "kg lost" badge back into double figures 
(6) get my "weight loss" badge higher than my "still to go" badge
(7) get back into my (smallest) bright blue jeans comfortably
(8) get back to 77kg - my lowest weight since my pregnancies

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 70kg.

START WEIGHT :93.7kg (BMI 34.8)
WEIGHT TODAY : 89.9kg (BMI 33.4)
STILL TO GO : 19.9kg

Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

 MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

Globecooking recipe : Egg Hoppers (Sri Lanka)

Hoppers are Sri Lankan pancakes made from a fermented batter that can be topped with a vast array of sweet or savoury toppings. Traditionally, they are made in a curved pan and you swill the batter around the pan so that it covers the bottom and the sides, creating a bowl-shapped pancake for the filling. I used a small frying pan and they still worked fine, although they came out a bit flat.

 I served these with Kadai Chicken (or you could make Kadai Tofu for a veggie option) - click through for the recipe.

Egg Hoppers

ingredients :

100g rice flour (I think normal flour would work too)
25cl coconut milk (+ coconut water if needed)
1tsp dried yeast
1tsp sugar
50ml warm water
1 egg per person (the batter should make enough for 3 or 4 hoppers)
a drizzle of oil
pinch of salt

Put the dried yeast in a little bowl with the sugar and warm water. Stir and leave for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Now, I've used coconut milk many times before, and it's usually more liquid than this can, which was totally solid. I therefore added a glug of coconut water to get the required consistency (like pancake batter).

Stir the coconut milk into the rice flour.

Add a little coconut water to create a smooth batter if needed. Stir in the yeast mixture and a pinch of salt. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a small frying pan or wok then pour in a ladleful of batter. Pour it around the sides to create a bowl-shaped pancake

Cook for one minute then crack in an egg. Again, tilt the pan so that the egg white covers the whole surface.

Cook for a few minutes until the white is set and the yolk remains runny. Carefully slide onto a plate with a flish slice.

The recipe from the Sri Lankan-themed Kitchen Trotter box mentioned that it is the egg that holds the hopper together. I had enough left over for an extra hopper after cooking our meal so I made an extra one without an egg. It was impossible to get out of the pan though, as you can see on the right !

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

If you fancy trying some more Sri Lankan cuisine, how about Kadai Chicken or Crispy Medu Vada-style Lentil Fritters ?

Aldi Bonfire Night Specialbuys

dreaming of new beginnings
Photo by Palo

Halloween is on the way, but if you find that too American (or scary !) and want to keep more in tune with the traditional British celebrations, Aldi have got that covered too. They recently sent through the press release for their Bonfire Night Specialbuys and I was impressed with their prices.

They have some lovely child and pet-friendly selection boxes that are packed with colourful displays, minus the loud bangs. You could opt for the Astro selection box (£4.99) or Merlin (£19.99), which comes with a firework safety lighter.

The Blasting Barrel (£9.99), lives up to its name, erupting with high silver plumes while changing colour and creating loud crackling white flashes. And if you’re aiming high, why not go for the Air Strike (£19.99) which lights up the night’s sky with rockets that can reach up to 80 metres! Not too sure about the name though, which seems in pretty poor taste, given current affairs..

The 100-shot Detonator comes in at under a tenner or, if you're looking for wow-factor, you might like the Detonator (£39.99) which fires mixed coloured stars across the sky with loud crackles and coloured bursts.

For younger children and the young-at-heart, you'll love Aldi’s 18” Giant Sparklers (£1.69) which are extra-long and last up to two minutes so the fun can last even longer.  Remember writing the name of the object of your affection into the darkness before the sparkles ran out ?! Just don't forget the gloves to protect little fingers.

You can't have Bonfire Night without a bonfire so make sure that yours is the best on the block by picking up Aldi’s essential Heat Logs (£2.99), Kiln Dried Logs (£3.99) and Firelighters (£0.79). Don't forget to check around the base for hedgehogs before lighting and maybe shove some foil-wrapped spuds in the embers for a tradtional feast.

With products ranging from £1.39 to £39.99 and with celebrations such as Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali just around the corner, there has never been a better time to stock up. Aldi Specialbuys Fireworks and Bonfire ranges are on sale on 15th and 18th October 2015, but be quick as once they’re gone, they’re gone!

If you have children, you might like to watch this Bonfire Night safety advice and video featuring Fireman Sam before the big day.

(Speaking of safety, all Aldi fireworks adhere to the BS7114 British Standard or BS EN 15947:2010)

Fireworks - On sale 15.10.15 while stocks last
Detonator £39.99
Air Strike £19.99
Merlin £19.99
Power Finale £19.99
Gemini £14.99
Jet Blast £12.99
Blasting Barrel £9.99
Mega Blaster £9.99
Power Storm £9.99
Astro £4.99
Loud & Clear £4.99
Star Striker £4.99
Screeching Serpent £3.99
18" Giant Sparklers £1.69
10" Sparklers £1.39

Bonfire - On sale 18.10.15 while stocks last
Kiln Dried Logs £3.99
Smokeless Coal 3.99
Heat Logs £2.99
Kindling £1.99
Firelighters £0.79

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Globecooking recipe : Kadai Chicken or Tofu (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka is obviously a great country for vegetarian dishes. After trying out the Crispy Medu Vada-style Lentil Fritters last week, today I turned to another vegetarian recipe from my Kitchen Trotter box for Kadai Tofu. However, as nobody in The Madhouse is keen on tofu, I decided to substitute it for chicken - kadai chicken is another genuine recipe (I checked on google !) so you can choose if you want a veggie option or not.

The fried egg pancake is a hopper and you can find out how to make those here.

Kadai Chicken or Tofu

ingredients :

250g chicken breast or tofu
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4 tomatoes
3 onions
a large knob of butter
10g dried tamarind
a pinch of saffron
10 curry leaves
5 cardamom pods
1tsp paprika
1tsp ginger
2 tbsp black curry (or just use normal mild curry powder)
a pinch of salt

Split the cardamom pods to release the flavour.

This is dried tamarind - weird stuff. It looks like monkey poo with undigested whole nuts in it !

Put 10g of tamarind in a bowl, cover with 50ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for 15 minutes while you chop the veg and chicken/tofu into large chunks.

Strain the tamarind through a sieve, pressing down on the pulp to squeeze through as much as possible. Discard the remainder.

Melt the butter over a low heat and throw in the herbs and spices (saffron, cardamom, black curry powder, paprika, ginger, curry leaves). 

Cook for 1 minute to release all the wonderful flavours and aromas. Make sure the butter doesn't burn.

Add the chicken (or tofu), onions and peppers to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until the chicken is throughly cooked through. Add a pinch of salt.

Add the tamarind and tomatoes and cook for a further five minutes.

This could be served on its own, with rice or, for a more exotic accompaniment, with egg hoppers which are like coconut pancakes, garnished with a fried egg.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

Link up your recipe of the week

#BathroomBlitz #1 : Time to declutter the bathroom

A few weeks ago, I spotted a post on one of my favourite blogs showing all the empties of beauty products that the blogger had got through during the month. (I've tried to find it again but failed miserably so if it's you, give me a shout so I can link through to you !) I commented to say that I needed to do this too  ... then decided that I would. After the #KitchenClearout, the #BathroomBlitz is born !

I've set myself a challenge of using up ten products per month from the bathroom - that might sound like a tall order but I'm including samples and also the cleaning/laundry products in the cupboard just outside of the bathroom. I should also point out that I have a large collection of half used (or even almost empty) bottles and tubes that never get finished off before the next lot of products arrive to review ! This first round-up has been really easy (and gratifying) because I've been hunting out all the almost-empties then finishing them off. It's amazing the amount of clutter that has got rid of already so I'm looking forward to getting on to my free samples drawer and really blitzing the bathroom !

So here's what I've managed to finish off and throw away this month :

1. Artistry by Amway Advanced Skin Refinisher - I've been using this at night and/or in the morning and it leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft but not greasy. It's great if my skin is feeling tight or tingly due to being dried out or irritated by the cold weather. Would I buy it again? Not sure I could justify the price tag, even if it is lovely (£53.35 for 30ml) (see my review here)

2. Colgate Total Pro-Gum Health Toothpaste - A great all-round multi-purpose toothpaste. Love the flavour, my teeth feel nice and smooth on my tongue and it keeps my mouth feeling fresh as a daisy ! Would I buy it again? I already have !

3. Mystery Floor Cleaning Product - No idea what it was as it was for a product test but it did the job and had a nice lemon fragrance. Would I buy it again? No because I don't know what it was !

I managed to use up two ends-of-bottles in one shower - go me !

4. Herbal Essences  Smooth & Soft Shampoo - It's OK but nothing particularly special. I was hoping for a big, brash Herbal Essences fragrance so I found it a bit bland.  Would I buy it again? Maybe, maybe not.

5. Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Repairing Conditioner - Nice enough but I'd have preferred a stronger coconut fragrance and I found it hard to get out of the tube because it was very thick. Would I buy it again? Possibly if it was on offer.

6. Surf Flirty Shades of Surf with Scentsual Oil - The Fifty Shades inspired bottle made me smile every time I saw it and it got the washing clean but the fragrance could have been stronger. Would I buy it again? Probably, if it was on offer.

7. Sure Maximum Protection Sport Strength - This comes out as a cream which I wasn't sure I'd like but it doesn't feel wet or greasy. I like the fact that you put it on at night before bed rather than in the morning and that it still gives great protection. Would I buy it again? Definitely.

8. Radox Mango Mayhem Shower Gel - Love the sunshiney orange colour and the zingy fruity fragrance that is guaranteed to get me in a good mood after a long day at work. Would I buy it again? Definitely.

9. Tesco Squid Soap - A fabulous idea. When you press on the soap dispenser, you get an ink spot (squid ink, get it ?!) on your hand which means you have to wash your hands thoroughly for 30 seconds to get it off. The only trouble was, our ink spotter didn't work which was a shame. Would I buy it again? I would if the ink spot works next time.

Well, I didn't quite make it to ten but nine's still pretty good going ! I'm already peering in drawers and cupboards to see what else can be decluttered this month ...

Fab freebies of the week 3/10

And we're into October - how did that happen?! I can't quite get my head around how fast the weeks are whooshing by at the moment ! Oh well, time for another freebie round-up !


 If you go to the Weekend Box homepage and take a 4-question survey, they'll send you your first kids' craft box box for free at the moment.

Ella's Kitchen have 1000 prizes from their new kids' snack range up for grabs

REWARD YOURSELF WITH A FREE COCA-COLA ZERO. It's easy to claim your free 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola Zero. Just submit your mobile number or email address and they'll send you a voucher.

New Covent Garden soup is currently on offer for £1 at ASDA and there is a £1 off voucher here.

Get a 2 week trial of dog food worth up to £21 and pay just £1 delivery

Pick up two Annabel Karmel Chilled Toddler Meals from Tesco and they’ll send you a FREE copy of Annabel's toddler classic worth £8.99. Find out here how to get your oven mitts on this unique stand-up flip over recipe book favourite here.

M·A·C accepts returns of its primary packaging through the Back to M·A·C Program. By returning six [6] M·A·C primary packaging containers to a M·A·C counter, you will receive a free M·A·C Lipstick of your choice as our thanks to you.

You can also get a free sample of Origins Natural Skincare when you bring any amount of empty cosmetic packaging from any brand to your nearest Origins counter.

Request some Ariel Liquitabs samples on Super Savvy Me

They also have a £1 off voucher for Lenor which is enough to get a free bottle at ASDA

It doesn't say that everyone's a winner but fingers crossed you might be able to nab a free bottle of Sunny D here

You can join the Pontins kids club for free online (£5 in their camps) which will give you a welcome pack if you holiday with them, but a birthday card evenif you don't !

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my giveaways :

Giveaway #509 : Win a Braun New Series 3-3080 shaver worth £139.99 - closing date 8/10

Friday, 2 October 2015

Madhouse Diaries : Who's afraid of the Big Bad CLOWNS ?!

Photo credit : Ian Aberle (Flickr)

Yesterday, Juliette mentioned that she was scared of walking home from school on her own (just around the corner and she only does it once a week) because she was worried about killer clowns following people home with a chainsaw. It's not as crazy as it sounds because last year, there was a spate of people dressing up as evil clowns and attacking people in the street with knives, not in our town but not that far away. I checked online and couldn't see ANY new stories so I told her not to worry, it's old news and it's just people sharing horror stories. Sophie showed me a Facebok page where "Come Back Clowns" say that "they're on the way to the north - watch your backs!" but I told her it's probably written by ten year olds getting their kicks by scaring people older than them.

As Pierre was off sick today, I did the morning school run and there was a gang of primary school kids screaming "there's a clown around the corner" and then running off to look, then saying there was blood all over the lampposts and generally having great fun scaring themselves silly. I told Juliette that they were making it all up and if there WAS anything on the lamppost, it would be ketchup or fake blood, as the shops are starting to stock Halloween goodies.

What worried me more was the fact that they were running along in the middle of the road minutes before the school run when cars would be arriving left, right and centre. I had a word with them to say they were more likely to get run over than attacked by a clown, then had a word with the teachers who'd started arriving so they could mention it in class. Pierre was a bit worried too so I told him it's like Scooby Doo, it's just people who dress up, not real evil clowns. Juliette came home for lunch and said that her teacher had said that the next person to mention clowns would be punished. End of story.

But then there was a story on the news tonight (you can see it here but it's in French) - on Tuesday, three 11-year-old girls in Boulogne (about an hour away) were followed home from school by a bunch of people dressed up as evil clowns, armed with kitchen knives, insulting and threatening them. They were picked up, in tears, by a passer-by who took them to a nearby chemist's to safety. The clowns (in reality three 18-22 year old boys) have made a statement on their Facebook page to say that they don't intend to create mass panic, they just want to "do like in America" and scare people on film "for a laugh". They've said that they'll be back for Halloween - but as they target school home times and that's during the holidays, I'm not sure how that will work. 

How do you convince your kids that the bogey man doesn't exist when some sick individuals think that scaring children half to death is funny ? They may be laughing on the other side of their faces (or graves) if they carry on though because lots of people are now threatening them on Facebook. 

#KitchenClearout recipe : Old Mother Hubbard's Pasta Bake

We do our weekly shop on a Saturday morning so by Friday, the fridge is looking pretty empty. That's not usually a problem because Juliette and Pierre eat at the school canteen, Madhouse Daddy eats with some friends in a little restaurant in town, I eat at my school canteen or with Madhouse Daddy and Sophie is happy with a ready meal for one or whatever leftovers she can scavenge in the fridge ! Today, however, Pierre was poorly so I took a sick child day off and needed to rustle up something for everyone to eat at lunchtime from the (minimal) contents of the fridge and cupboards. I made a poor man's version of a pasta bake, using up odds and ends, which I thought was quite bland but the kids loved it.

Old Mother Hubbard's Pasta Bake

ingredients :

a few handfuls of macaroni
knob of butter
1 leek
2 mushrooms
can of sweetcorn
a pack of hot dog sausages
1 pack cheese sauce mix
1/2 pint milk
end of a bag of grated cheese
crème fraîche/milk

Gently fry the leek and mushrooms in a little butter. Toss in the chopped hot dog sausages for the last couple of minutes. Put the dry pasta in an ovenproof dish and toss in the mushrooms/leeks/hot dog sausages and the tin of sweetcorn.

I usually tend to make cheese sauce from scratch but there was hardly any cheese left so I used a packet mix that was in the cupboard. Follow the instructions then pour the cheese sauce into the dish with the pasta and stir. Top up with crème fraîche and/or milk until the pasta is nicely covered.

Put in the oven at 180° while you go on the school run - probably about 40 minutes. Scatter some grated cheese over the top 15 minutes before the end.

Linking up to this month's #KitchenClearout linky

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2/10/15

How are we into October already ? Definitely tim to dig out some more winter warmer recipes !


lunch - I think a trip to McDonald's and their soft play might be in order

dinner - Kadai Chicken with hoppers (as it didn't get made last week) or homemade soup


lunch - roast dinner - maybe chicken, maybe pork - with roast potatoes, carrots, peas, gravy ...

dinner - sandwich or soup


dinnersausage and lentil cassoulet


dinner - cottage pie


lunch - crispy chicken & veg sticks with beans & mash

dinner - I think there will be a fridge full of leftovers, if not pasta bake


dinner - Zharkoye (beef stew)


dinner -  Chinese orange chicken with noodles

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Meal Planning Monday

Want to see what everyone else is eating ? Head over to Meal Planning Monday at Mrs M's blog !

#KitchenClearout September roundup and October linky

It's the end of the month (how did that happen? I swear the kids only went back to school a week ago !) so it's time to see what we've been decluttering out of our kitchen cupboards this month.

I love the way that having a #KitchenClearout involves getting a bit inventive so this East Meets West BBQ Rice was a cross between Oriental Fried Rice and a Tex Mex dish.

Galina's Coconut Orange Cupcakes look delightful and saved the day when she had to rustle up some sweet treats quickly with what was in the kitchen !

I branched out into Overnight Oats - something I've been meaning to try for ages, and a great way to use up some of the sachets of porridge that were lurking in the cupboard. First I tried Coconut Water Overnight Oats with blackberry and apple compote.

The cooking juice from the compote made up a second batch - Very Berry Overnight Oats, which were very purple too !

A bag of microwavable popcorn was transformed into these gorgeous Toffee Popcorn Cookies

These Cheese, Bacon & Mushroom Muffins provided a savoury option.

My Moroccan Chicken with Apricots & Almonds started off as a #readcookeat challenge and ended up as a #KitchenClearout too !

Jane's Tomato & Crispbread Salad looks so simple and tasty and also uses up things that are cluttering up my cupboards, so I'll definitely have to try this one out.

I'm still loving how inventive we all are with our odds and ends. A few months in, I've cleared quite a lot of kitchen clutter so I think I'll have to move on to my spice rack soon - that's an even bigger job !

I can't wait to see what we all come up with this month. Feel free to link up as many posts as you like and if you could add my badge and link people back to this post, that would be fine and dandy ! :)