Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spicy Quorn Chicken Jambalaya

This is a gorgeous Cajun style recipe. Perfect for when you fancy something a bit spicy and it's so quick and simple to make. I make this regularly and whats great about this recipe is you can choose to add or take out what ever you like, such as substituting the quorn for chicken, or adding in some different vegetables. Plus for all you fellow Weight Watchers out there, this recipe serves 4 and is 10pp a serving.

Ingredients:

250G Brown Rice (You can choose white if you prefer)
1 Large red onion
3 Sweet bite peppers (I like to use one of each colour)
Button Mushrooms - Chopped (As many as you would like)
Cherry Tomatoes Halved (As many as you would like)
Frylight Oil Spray (Or regular oil)
2 Teaspoons of Cajun Seasoning or Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder More if you like it hot!)
500g Quorn Chicken Style pieces
Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Start by preparing your rice. Depending on the type of rice you are cooking , methods and times will vary.

Once your rice is on. Gently heat your frying pan adding some sprays of your oil. Add in the chopped mushrooms, onion and peppers. (Chopped small - No big bites)
about 4 minutes then add in your quorn chicken pieces. Next add in your spices (I also like to add a few chilli flakes at this point) and continue to stir fry together until the quorn cooks through, is coated and starts to brown. Be careful not to let the food stick. The coating will get slightly sticky, make sure you constantly toss/stir to prevent sticking. Now chuck in your halved tomatoes for the last few seconds or stir frying.


Next you want to add in your cooked rice and give the mixture a really good mix, making sure you are scraping all the spice residue from the pan and getting the rice nice and coated. Season with some ground pepper and add one more dash of Cajun seasoning to the mix. Give it a gentle stir fry for a few minutes and serve immediately.




Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How Do You Measure Up?

OK, So today I did something I have never done. I went and got a professional bra measuring/fitting service. Its shocking that this is something I have never done before, given the fact that I have lost so much weight since last year and was quite obviously wearing the wrong sized bras. It has always been guess work when it came to choosing a bra. I would guess the cup size and just judge it by eye so decided that now was the time to get a "proper" measuring. After doing a bit of research online it seemed that BHS and Debenhams seemed to be the best judging by the reviews. After visiting BHS and being told there was no "fitter" available for 3 hours! (pointless) I decided to give M&S a go. I didn't have to wait to be seen and the lady that dealt with me was really good. There was no embarrassment or awkwardness at all.

I was measured around the under bust area to be given my back size and then informed that they no longer measure your cups as its just not accurate so basically it simply came down to someone else judging my size by eye and a lot of trial and error, trying on different bras. Yes the lady was very helpful, but it seemed she was more like a personal shopper and I could have quite as easy managed to get a good fitting bra myself by trying lots of different sizes on. (Because that's all I actually did!)

It was nice to get some advice but it all proved to be somewhat pointless as I was told that I could go into Debenhams after for a fitting and be given a completely different size as much like a dress or pair of jeans each size comes up different dependent on the shop/brand its from. So basically I had stood in a dressing room for half an hour trying on bras, found out my size which unless I purchased a bra from M&S actually wouldn't be my size elsewhere. Which did in fact ring true as I purchased 2 bras elsewhere which were both a cup size bigger.

I was also given some fairly drab and dreary things to try on which made me feel quite ancient. I'm 29 for gods sake!! But was being offered some very elderly woman looking, lacy, camel coloured horrors that were in this woman's opinion, their "Best Sellers" .. Why should I wear the bra that looks like it belongs on a 90 year old just because I have a large bust? Needless to say the bra I purchased afterwards was "SHOCKING PINK!"

I am glad I went and got measured finally but I can't say I got much out of it. Have you been measured? Do you find you differ from shop to shop? 


Thursday, 27 February 2014

In Her "Print Worthy" Words

As most of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will know, I regularly post boastful updates regarding Aalliyahs academic achievements. Being that this is her final year in primary school , she is currently working really hard ahead of her SATs. Now obviously being her mum I have an overly bias opinion when it comes to Aalliyahs work but to say that I am pleased with her current level of work is an understatement. I am absolutely thrilled with how far she has come and when I read her homework or listen to her reading at night I am astounded and blown away by what I see and hear. It never gets tiring to hear how well she is excelling in her school work and I will continue to encourage her as best I can as I truly believe she has an amazing academic future ahead of her.

One subject which she is excelling in is English, which comes to no surprise as this is by far one of her favorite subjects. In particular her writing. Aalliyah has always been a bookworm and can always be found either reading or writing a story. She is regularly writing wonderful pieces at school and literally soaks up vocabulary like a sponge. A thesaurus is her favorite tool and she is forever researching new words and definitions. 

The class were assigned the task of coming up with a short story. The stories will then be published as a collection into a book. I had read a few sentances here and there as she was doing her planning, but finally got to see the finished draft that she brought home yesterday and I was amazed.  So amazed in fact that I felt inspired to share it with you all. 

So here goes...

Immersed in the baffling history of the ancient vase, Zachery sat down to have a well deserved rest. Just then pandemonium broke. The noisy phone rang and Zachery answered it. It was work. Zachery was an archaeologist, which meant that he was given historical objects to observe. However this particular assignment seemed especially intriguing.

Trudging moodily the slush on the cobblestone path, which was to be cautiously trod upon, Zachery thought about the historical wonders that awaited his observation. As he unlocked the door to the lab he spotted a locket with a note that read "Zach, this locket was uncovered in Pompeii: we suspect that it was involved with the volcano. Good luck, Sam" Zachery then set out for home to examine the mysterious locket with a cheesy grin of utter excitement on his face.

Gathering mountains of dust, it sat there. Still as a snowman. Slowly rotting. The complex engravings and patterns embellished this already gorgeous locket. Finally Zach uncovered his magnifying glass and began to examine the historical masterpiece. Now utterly immersed, he surveyed his back-story sheet and discovered that the design originated in Rome, which was where the incident of Pompeii happened. WOW , He thought to himself, as he read the previous owner was in fact a roman emperors daughter! He had to learn more...

Abruptly, while Zach was in the middle of a deep slumber, the phone rang. (again) The young archaeologist sleepily answered the phone. All that could be heard- Silence ."Pranksters", Zach laughed to himself. "What do they think, I was born yesterday"? Just then hunger struck and he strolled into the kitchen for a quick midnight snack... BOOM!

The fridge had exploded! Now crouching on the floor Zach squinted into the distance, which was easy as he had 20/20 vision. What was that? He spotted a light in the distance. It was a ghost! Oh no. It had come for the locket. Zachery knew this because of the extravagant purple toga that hung around her body. She was also wearing a leaf crown interwoven with minuscule strips of twine. "Who are you"? Zach stuttered. "Please leave me alone!" However the ghost was in no debating mood. "GIVE ME MY LOCKET" The ghost screamed. Oh no, where had he placed the locket? Probably burrowed deep inside the pigsty he tried so desperately to keep clean. Zachery panicked , frantically scouring his apartment, which was only four rooms. The archaeologist kept glancing behind him only to find that the ghost was getting angrier and angrier! WHERE WAS THE LOCKET? Oh no the ghostly figures eyes were as red as a fiery pit of lava. She had lost her patience..

"ENOUGH"! the awoken dead bellowed, "YOUR TIME IS UP" She impaled Zachs shoulder with the golden scepter she held with pride, "AAAARRGHHH" Zach wailed in utter pain and fear. He lifted his weary arm to his shoulder only to find that it was wet-Wet with blood. Bright red, precious blood. All of a sudden felt a surge through his veins. Blood unhurriedly trickled down his sweat coated arms and onto the oak wood floor: Now this was seriously becoming a problem.

At this point he found himself crouching on the floor and begging for mercy."Please spare me" he howled. She cackled, "Very well. Any other day you would be gutted and your insides fed to the gods! the ghost threatened. The vulnerable victim gulped. The ghost let out a sickening smile.

"THE POWER OF THE TIME LOCKET SHALL BE BROUGHT UPON YOU!"The ghostly monarch warned."YOU SHALL RELIVE THESE CRUEL MOMENTS OVER AND OVER AGAIN; RIGHT BACK FROM WHEN I RANG YOU!"

That was her Zach realized. Immediately he backed away."Please don't put me in a time loop!" Zach pleaded. "I'll find it I swear" However it was too late and before he knew it, he found himself lying on his sofa, among all the rubbish and dirt.

Abruptly while Zach was in the middle of a deep slumber, the phone rang (again). RING RING! The young archaeologist got up and moodily answered the Samsung house phone. All that could be heard- Silence...


I am really impressed with her short story and look forward to seeing the finished thing in print. I could easily see some thrilling novels in her future ;)




What do you think? She would love to hear your thoughts as much as I would.

I am linking this post up with the Prose for thought linky over at Verily,Victoria Vocalises #Prose4T


Prose for Thought

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

10 Tips To Reduce Waste When Cleaning Your House

It doesn’t matter what season it is, spring cleaning can bring out the best in your home and make you feel a lot better about yourself. The only problem is, once you’ve finished, you can be left with piles of stuff to get rid of. It’s up to you what you do with your rubbish, but here are ten tips for reducing waste. If you’re lucky, you could pocket some extra cash for rainy days or for dealing with rising gas or electricity prices.


1. First sort out anything metal, which you can either sell to a scrapyard, or arrange for a local scrap dealer to collect it from you free of charge.

2. Sort any remaining waste into boxes. Fill the first box with things to sell, the second with things to swap or give away, the third with things to recycle, and the fourth with things to throw out.

3. With any luck, your biggest box will be filled with items to be sold. Just because you’ve dieted out of your favourite clothes doesn’t mean they’re necessarily destined for the bin. Spend a few minutes setting up an account on an auction site like eBay and prepare to be pleasantly surprised at how much money your unwanted clothing can earn.

4. If you find yourself with unwanted or unused electrical items, DVDs, phones and suchlike, you might like to try a buy-back schemes. Simply go online, register your items and then post them off in return for a cheque or online payment.

5. Many large towns and cities have shops that buy and sell used goods and this can be a quick and convenient way to clear your clutter and fill your purse at the same time. Make sure everything is clean and in good working order first. If you have the original boxes and instructions, make sure you include those too as they will make a better impression.

6. Your second box will be full of items that still have some life in them, but that aren’t really in saleable condition, such as toys that aren’t played with any more. These are perfect for a swap-shop session with your friends and neighbours. This can be a particularly helpful way to dispose of outgrown school uniforms and equipment in an environmentally friendly way.

7. If you don’t have time for swapping, then there are many outlets for donations. Schools will often take uniform and equipment in good condition to sell on or loan to people on low incomes.

8. Alternatively, you can donate to a wide variety of charities without leaving your home. Many charities deliver collection bags. Simply fill the bag with your unwanted items and leave outside your door on the designated collection day.

9. Watch out for recycling points. Many local convenience stores and larger supermarkets have recycling points where you can donate clothing and shoes. They may not be in excellent condition, but charities can still sell them on for recycling and raise money.

10. When you reach the third box, this should be items that you can recycle. So watch out for things like cardboard, plastic milk containers, glass jars and bottles and recycle them in your appropriate bin. Most recycling bins are full of air, so squash plastic bottles and flatten boxes before recycling.

After following these ten tips, you should be left with hardly anything that can’t be sold, swapped, donated or recycled. So, you can put the little that’s left into the refuse bin with a clear conscience.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Finding The Time

Like a lot of mums and dads out there I struggle to keep the balance of working and being a parent. As a mum who has recently returned to work I find that my days just seem to pass by like a speeding bullet. Now granted I have only returned to work on a part time basis and have a huge respect to those that work full time and still find time to get everything else done, but it still feels like mission impossible to cram everything that needs doing into a normal working day.


Normally I work all day on a Sunday and Aalliyah usually goes round to my mums or sometimes my sisters for the day. On the weekdays that I work its only usually a 4/5 hour shift so she will go to school then go to after school club until 6 oclock. I always finish at 6 so she would normally get picked up and stay round my mums for half an hour or so until I come home. Although these are the days I work the shortest hours and I have school and school club, these are the days I hate the most. 

The mornings starts like any other. I get up, sort out breakfast, make Aalliyahs school lunch and then make sure she gets off to school OK and on time. We live on the same street as the school so most mornings she likes to assert her independence by walking alone. By the time I have had a quick tidy round the flat and got ready for work, I barely have time for a coffee before having to run for the bus. Then its straight to pick Aalliyah up after work and by the time I get home Its literally only enough time for dinner before its her bed time. I absolutely love my days off as I am not so rushed and get time to spend with Aalliyah even if its just a few hours play time before bed.

Have you ever seen that movie "Click"? The one with the universal remote control? How great would that be? Not so much to fast forward anything. I think life goes by far too quick without the need to help it along its way but it would certainly be great to stop the clock sometimes and have as much extra time as we needed to get things done or to simply savor our most precious memories. Well sadly no such thing has been invented yet, but hey you never know what the future holds right?

However the super smart people at Hive have come up with a fantastic new device that lets you monitor, control and alter your heating from your smart phone or computer. Meaning you can control your heating at the touch of the button where ever you are. Now this may not give you endless more hours to enjoy in the day but it certainly saves time and hassle by allowing you to preset your temperature schedules,adjust levels or set up helpful alerts when your temperature drops below a certain amount. Is there any better feeling after a long day than coming home to a nicely warmed house? I normally have to switch my heating on when I get home and it takes ages to warm up.



The only other thing I like to come home to more is a cooked meal ready and waiting. Thankfully something has already been invented to help with that.... A slow cooker! My godsend when working late!

If you fancy learning more about Hive Active Heating and how it can make a difference in your home then click here to head on over to their site. 

*This post was written in collaboration with Hive Active Heating 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Top Tips For Choosing A Personal Injury Solicitor

Making a personal injury claim can be a stressful, time consuming and sometimes very expensive process. The number of people making personal injury claims is constantly growing and with so many different companies offering all sorts of promises and guarantees how can you be sure who to turn to? If you are in the unfortunate position that you feel it is necessary to file a claim then you need to make sure you choose a personal injury solicitor that will be best able to represent you. Following these simple tips will ensure you are able to make an informed decision on who's best to take on your case.


Firstly you need to assess your situation/injury. What happened? Did you have an accident at work? Slip or fall in the street? Or was it a motoring accident? By assessing what type of accident you have had this will steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a specific company/solicitor over another. 

Don't just go with the first solicitor and or company you come across. Take the time to research them. Most of them can provide testimonies from previous clients. Any solicitor that is qualified in England or Wales can represent you, but that doesn't mean that anyone should. You need to take the time to get to know your prospective solicitor and find someone you are comfortable with.

Finally, find out the fees upfront! With so many companies offering different deals and no win no fees, often you can get caught up in all the confusing jargon and not really understand what you will end up paying at the end of it and no one needs a nasty shock of a huge bill when it is all over. Ask for an estimate on the fees. Most will give you a rough guide and a breakdown of all the costs you can expect to incur including the smaller things which you may over look like telephone calls, photocopy and letter charges. 




Whatever your situation, choosing a solicitor can be daunting task so follow these 3 simple tips and you can be sure to find one that is perfect for you and your personal circumstances. 

*This post was written in collaboration with LeoClaims.com

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Why is Invasive Ultrasound Important? *Guest Post*

Traditional ultrasound scans are non-invasive. The doctor or ultrasound operator uses an instrument called a transducer on the mother’s abdomen. The transducer emits soundwaves and collects them as they reflect back at different speeds and frequencies. The ultrasound software then translates this data into an image of the inside of the patient’s abdomen. This creates a picture of the fetus growing inside the uterus, and details like the sex, the position, and the heartbeat can be clearly ascertained.
There is an additional form of ultrasound that is more invasive, call Transvaginal Scan, or TVS. During TVS, the transducer is inserted into the patient’s vagina, rather than pressed against the abdomen. You may have heard about this form of ultrasound being required in some states before the pregnancy can be terminated. Its association with the politics surrounding abortion have made the procedure seem distasteful at best, or scary and violating at worst. Leaving the politics aside, TVS can be an important and useful tool as you progress through your pregnancy.
While TVS is more invasive than traditional ultrasound, sometimes it is necessary to be able to determine important information about the pregnancy; especially in the early stages. Traditional ultrasound will only provide readable, useful images after about 10 weeks’ gestational age. Prior to that, the only way to see what is going on with the embryo is with a transvaginal scan.
A scan in the early stages of pregnancy can be very helpful. It can determine the viability of the fetus and how well the embryo has implanted in the uterus. The scan can be used to date the pregnancy, such as if the patient is unsure of the date of conception or their last period, or if the patient has a history of irregular periods. Another reason for an early ultrasound scan would be to check for multiples (twins, triplets, etc.). These pregnancies can be risky all on their own, so it’s good to know if you have multiples as soon as possible.
The truth of the matter is that a transvaginal scan is a medical procedure, just like the traditional ultrasound is a medical procedure. They both allow your doctor to observe the fetus growing inside of you and provide you the best and most up-to-date information, so that you can plan accordingly.
If your doctor recommends an invasive ultrasound and you have concerns, be sure to voice them and have the doctor talk you through exactly why he or she is recommending that particular procedure. If you are still uncomfortable, remember that you are the patient and you get to decide what happens to you, your body, and your baby. If you feel uncomfortable, it is your right to seek a second opinion.
That said, again, the transvaginal scan is an important tool in the prenatal toolbox. Doctors can use it to see things that a traditional ultrasound can’t. If it is very early in the pregnancy and you think there might be as issue, a TVS could be the way to go.

This post was written for My Sidekick and Me by Glenn Josephik. Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC , the industry leader and premier business source for used ultrasound systems. You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+  .