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Our FUN MONSTER BURGERS #RustlersHack


As a general rule, I prefer to cook meals from scratch, but there are certain days when that just isn't possible. Fridays for example. For most people, Friday night is a case of 'the weekend starts here' but for us it's a crazy-busy day. After school, D has his guitar lesson, followed by Miss T's girl's brigade (where I also volunteer as a helper), next it's J's piano lesson, finally followed by both the boys going to Boys Brigade (where Richard volunteers as a helper). That takes us from 3.15pm through to 10.15pm on Fridays when the boys get home from Boys Brigade. So where exactly does dinner fit in? You do the math as they say...there is very little time to get a meal ready at any point throughout the evening.

We used to make Friday a takeaway night - but even trying to squeeze in the time to pick up a take-away was throwing all our timings out. And the rest of the weekend isn't always much better with Miss T's drama class on Saturdays, zooming around Tesco for our grocery shopping, church on Sundays, and J's special needs club too to fit in.

So it really was a case of Rustlers to the rescue when we realised that these Southern Fried Chicken Burgers can be ready in just 90 SECONDS! Yep, 90 seconds in the microwave! Wow! That is certainly going to help with the weekend mayhem in our household.

As the Chicken burgers take such little time to prepare, it gives us time to get a few other ingredients ready to make these a really fun family meal where the kids can get involved too.

I put together a big platter of ingredients - Mainly the usual items we have in our fridge and store cupboards. For example, my kids adore gherkins and olives so I've always got jars of those to hand.

Some of the veg I cut in different ways eg. carrots cut both into slices and batons. Cucumber cut into zig-zag spikes, That way it gave the kids the flexibility to get creative in any way they wished.

So we ended up with fun MONSTER BURGERS!

All 3 different, but all three super fun and convenient and tasty.

Here's a little video to show how the kid's got on...





In case you fancy having a go at this #RustlersHack to make your Rustler burgers super fun (and it's a great way of upping intake of those all important veggies), here's a list of what was on my platter:

  • Gem lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato / cherry tomatoes
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Mango
  • Coriander
  • Spring onion
  • Olives
  • Gherkins
  • Grated cheese
  • Cheese slices
  • Avocado
  • Crispy kale (lightly oiled and baked in oven for 8-10 mins)


We also had:

  • Potato waffles
  • Cocktail sticks



D's 'dino-alien' burger called 'Jeffrey'



Miss T's 'Monster Beak-Beak' burger

We didn't end up using all these ingredients as you can see from the video and photos but I wanted to have plenty of choice for the kids creative juices to run wild. So even if you only have a few ingredients, there is still the potential to make your own monster burgers. Just go with whatever you have in the fridge at the time. It's loads of fun!
D's 'Jeffrey the dino-alien' burger and Miss T's 'Monster Beak-Beak'

I was impressed to find out that the chicken used in Rustlers, the UK's No1 Micro-snacking brand, is traceable to farm and their factory is BRC accredited which is mega-important in the food industry. They are available in loads of supermarkets and grocery stores. We picked ours up at Tesco.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Rustlers Burger Hacking Challenge’, sponsored by Rustlers (http://rustlersonline.com/)


Disclosure: We were sent a £20 Tesco voucher to purchase Rustlers Southern Fried chicken burgers and ingredients for this challenge. All opinions are our own. 
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Do herbal remedies really work?

Aarrrgh! I found myself yelling in the night as I awoke again with crippling pain in my left hip. It was frozen with pain and stiffness and I was unable to move it. The weight of the quilt on it was making the pain worse. I woke Richard and asked him to lift the quilt gently. Arrrghhh! I yell again 'don't wobble the bed!'. Any movement caused more excruciating pain.

I'd forgotten how bad it got. This horrible thing called Arthritis. I'd assumed my hip just had the leftover consequences of being damaged from the JIA I had when I was 10 and that's why it had such limited movement but I wasn't used to these levels of pain in my hip for the past 30 years ago.

Back pain I know all about as, with my hip out of alignment over the years, my back has got progressively worse.

It was my back pain at the start of last year that triggered me to ask my rheumatologist about going onto methotrexate in the hope it may work the way it has been helping Miss T. One discussion led to another with long waits for consultant appointments in between and then in November it became clear that the only hope of resolving or improving my back pain was to have a total hip replacement of the left hip.

That surgery has been scheduled for this coming week.

In turn this meant coming off all my herbal remedies that I had been taking. I'd taken myself off my prescribed medication, Arcoxia, as I found that it was pushing my blood pressure sky high. So instead I was taking GOPO rosehip supplement which I'd continued taking since doing a trial back in June 2014.

I added curcumin extract and boswelia extract to my herbal meds intake when I came off the Arcoxia last year. I was also using magnesium oil intermittently applied directly to my back and magnesium citrate orally in the evenings. I'd have Vitamin D spray of 3000 IU. I even had some bespoke tea and herbal medicine made up by a herbalist to help. Occasional krill oil and omega oils also added to the list.

In my early years of having JIA I'd tried so many alternative remedies - basically anything and everything that anyone suggested, my parents would be keen to try to see if it helped. I wore a copper bangle for years. "Drink cider vinegar and honey" someone said. So I did. "Rub stinging nettles over the affected joint" was someone else's suggestion. So yep that happened too.

I've seen chiropractors, osteopaths and massage therapists. Each time with a hope that "this time it really will help". But none of it did.

So in all honesty, whilst I sensed that all my herbal remedies were helping a bit in improving my pain and symptoms, I hadn't realised just HOW MUCH they were helping.

It is only since stopping them that I realise how much pain I am in now without their help.

Initially the thought of such major surgery was a worry. Was it really necessary, I wondered. But last night after so many nights of pain becoming progressively worse again, the surgery can't come around quick enough. How many more nights can I bear. Of screaming out in pain each time I wake through the night and find myself unable to move. Once moving through the worst of the pain into a new position and then feeling pain throbbing all down my leg - right down to my ankle I could feel it, and all around my back of course as a hip that is unable to move ends up moving using the back in a way that it shouldn't be moved.

There were always going to be mixed feelings when the time for the hip replacement came but now I feel ready for it. 




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Mauritius Memories - Round up post


We spend a wonderful couple of weeks in Mauritius last summer and it seemed to take me forever to get the diary blogposts up afterwards. One final thing I like to do is have a summary blogpost which has links to all the others in one place so that I can find it all easily again!

Mauritius Diary - Post 1 - Getting there, accomodation, beach, giant tortoises, glass bottom boat, pool.

Mauritius Diary - Post 2 - Breakfast on the beach, snorkelling trip, pool

Mauritius Diary - Post 3 - Archery, balaclava, treasure hunt, kayak, pool

Mauritius Diary - Post 4 - tour of the island, wild monkeys, rain!

Mauritius Diary - Post 5 - Tennis, animals, pedalo, kayaks, paddleboard adventure!!!

Mauritius Diary - Post 6 - Horses, Tennis, MiniGolf, sunburn

Mauritius Diary - Post 7 - Archery, animals, parasailing!

Mauritius Diary - Post 8 - Rain, scuba diving, more rain!

Mauritius Diary - Post 9 - horseriding and D's horseriding accident

Mauritius Diary - Post 10 - animals, beach, spa, sunset

Mauritius Diary - Post 11 - successful snorkelling, pool

Mauritius Diary - Post 12 - Archery, animals and home again





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Miss T at the ArcelorMittal Orbit


I've missed this blog. Any blogger knows that keeping a blog going takes time and commitment and as easy as it may look, by the time the words are written and photos uploaded - it always ends up taking me longer than I thought to write a blogpost. But so many of our memories are captured on this blog and when I've tried to pinpoint times of events and experiences that haven't made it onto the blog, I'm at a total loss as to where to look to find the photos - Which year, which month, which date to start looking.

Miss T wanted to put together a book about herself in London. She's always had a thing about London and an obsession with London landmarks. She's been lucky enough to visit the London eye, the Shard, the Thames RIB speed boat (which we did get around to blogging about here and here), and Tower Bridge. But where to start with pulling together the photos she wanted for her book!

Before I start looking I thought I'd add her latest London experience to the blog so that at the very least we'll have a record of that.

Although at age 5, she was too young to 'ride the slide' at the Orbit (you need to be at least 8 years old), she loved seeing the views and she enjoyed the experience of being there at another London landmark. Just look at the excitement on her face!


The boys enjoyed the views too but they were REALLY looking forward to the slide - the world's tallest and longest tunnel slide.


Just look at those turns - eek!





There are two floors - the top floor where you can see the views from inside and outside and the first floor where The Slide starts from.

You're given safety gear to wear - a padded soft helmet and arm guards and you slide down in a kind of bag. The staff were brilliant and very reassuring about it being so much fun. It is a 40 second descent with plenty of twists as you go down and dark and light sections of the slide. They recommend allowing an hour for your visit which we found to be just right.

So another fab attraction to add to our list of fave London landmarks!







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When is an Advent Calendar not an Advent Calendar?

My kids have never been the demanding type at Christmas. They don't have big long lists of presents they want and have always been patient for Christmas day to open any presents. The same goes for advent calendars...They've always understood that it is only one door at a time that you open on each day.

But when you're off school feeling unwell and you receive an advent calendar that is SO good that you want to open it all at once - you know its more than just a regular advent calendar!

Miss T received the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar to review and hasn't stopped smiling since! As today is the 4th December, she was able to open doors 1, 2, 3 and 4 all in one day and she loved it so much that she begged to keep going. Mean old mummy said no though to save the rest of the magic for the days ahead.




She is THE biggest Star Wars fan as we wrote about here and here. Having brought up two boys who weren't particularly into Star Wars, it always puzzles us how and why Miss T loves it SO much that we've all ended up being Star Wars fans now. Whilst the LEGO advent calendars are available at good toy retailers in 3 themes...LEGO City, LEGO Friends and LEGO Star Wars - this really was the best one for Miss T to receive.

When it comes to LEGO, that IS something that the whole family has been into for many many years. We have boxes full of LEGO that used to belong to daddy when he was younger and that collection has been added to over the years as the kids have received LEGO sets for Christmases and birthdays over the years. LEGO is simply timeless and I'm sure the pieces that we have will be passed to our children's children and beyond.

Let's first take a peek inside the LEGO Star Wars advent calendar and then look and how this advent calendar is no ordinary advent calendar...

Inside each door you'll find the instructions printed as a simple illustration to follow to put each item together. There is a small bag with the pieces you need to make each small LEGO model. Miss T was able to put the mini figure one together all by herself (see photos above) and we worked together on the others (mainly because she's better at LEGO than I am!)


We noticed that in some of the sets there are a few pieces spare (unless I've gone majorly wrong in putting it together). This seems to be the norm to get a few spares whenever we buy LEGO as sometimes those important pieces can go missing.

Once sets 1-4 were put together to bring us up to date on today's date of 4th December, she was entertained for ages playing with them. Two hours later she was still making up her imaginative play stories.


And all that before you even get to the special twist that these advent calendars have...

With these LEGO advent calendars, LEGO aims to save around 1 million plastic trays from going to landfill because the tray inside these calendars is made from 100% Forest Stewardship Council certified paper and is recyclable along with the outer box.


We've always known that playing with LEGO offers endless opportunities and now the box can become part of that too! The cardboard inner tray can be used for crafts or even gardening by using them as seed trays.

You can find out more in this fun video by LEGO here. And here's a sneak preview photo of just some of the possibilities:
this image courtesy of LEGO


And being such a huge Star Wars fan I'm sure you can guess by now what Miss T decided to make...



Disclosure: Many thanks to LEGO for sending us this advent calendar for review. All opinions remain our own honest opinions. 

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Mauritius Memories - Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd August 2017

So Monday was our last day in Mauritius. We weren't being picked up for the airport until 6.20pm so we could still pretty much do a full day of activities. 

I've been really impressed with the departure lounge here. A separate spacious room for guests departing once they have checked out of their own rooms. It has 4 separate shower rooms with loos and hairdryers too. 

The all inclusive option applies until departure time too so we were able to have a final lunch in the Belle Vue restaurant and still have any drinks and snacks we needed to.


We had booked a final archery session this morning. It was Jerry doing it again - he was our instructor for our first archery session and he's brilliant as he helps Miss T enough so that she can join in and have a positive experience of archery too. 
 
look at that arrow fly through the air! 
After archery there was a rain shower so we took cover in the quarter deck bar for a round of the card game Uno. After lunch we went to see the animals for an emotional final goodbye. 
 
Miss T with Silver - True love! 
Monday is the day off for the horses to give them a day of rest after so many rides during the week so they were all there. 
 
Miss T and Suzi
We said goodbye to our favourite horses - ponies Silver and Suzi and horses What-a-hit and Ghostbrook. 
 
J with What-a-Hit
Jean Christophe was amazing and let each of the kids into each stable to give a final hug and goodbye to each of 'their' horses. So What-a-hit for J who he had two rides on. Ghostbrook for D who he had bonded with for his lesson and the helicopter incident and Miss T's favourite, Silver. 
 
D saying goodbye to Ghostbrook
We'd booked the tennis court for a final tennis session too. The weather went from really hot to clouded over and we could sense another rain shower coming. 



Saying bye to Lavender (our kids named her Lavender as she didn't have a name)





Saying bye to Bruce the dog - again named by these 3! 

Once that shower blew over me, Miss T and D went for one last speedy swim in the pool as we knew it was home time soon. 

After getting showered off in the departure lounge time for a final drink in the quarter deck bar. We said our goodbyes to 'afternoon tea man', whose name I found out to be Seewoodruth, who had so lovingly prepared the crepes, cookies, cakes and savoury treats for afternoon tea each day.  

We ordered a few snacks as we weren't sure if there would be time to eat at the airport and they arrived just in time for to grab and eat on the go in the taxi. 

Our first flight - Mauritius to Dubai went smoothly. I watched The Kings Speech and even managed to doze a little. 

The 5 hour wait at Dubai was what we'd all been dreading but actually felt like a real blessing.  Miss T needing special assistance for her arthritis enabled us to rest in the special needs departure lounge so by pushing chairs together the kids managed to have a proper sleep. This was pretty much the only sleep J had as he'd refused to sleep on the plane. 

We woke them at 730 for a quick snack and drink from Costa and then at 840 it was time to board ready for the 940 flight home. 

I know delays can't be helped but having over an hour's delay meant we'd had 2 hours of sitting on the plane since boarding time which felt rather clostrophobic for me. It wasn't a great start as I felt anxiety during the flight then a further delay of circling before landing made me feel sick. As soon as the plane landed I couldn't hold it in any longer and I vomited in the sick bag. 

Not the most pleasant return and I'm feeling annoyed at myself and frustrated that 2 of the 4 flights were so difficult for me when I've never had an issue with flying before. 

That wasn't an end to the sickness either with D feeling nauseous in the taxi home - we stopped at the services where he then sat in the front passenger seat and fell asleep. Miss T was then actually sick. I felt rotten the whole journey home and had my sick bag at the ready. 

Soon after arriving home I vomited and vomited for what felt like ages. Before an early night (well it was late on Mauritius time but early in the UK)

Wednesday is washing day and generally recovering from such a long journey. We all woke up early on Mauritian time so it's only 8am now but we've all been awake for hours!

The plus side of that is that I've already got 3 loads of washing done. 

And so it will be back to routine but we'll all have the most wonderful memories to remember thanks to an amazing granny who made it all possible and arranged everything. 



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