Redcurrant and Raspberry Jelly

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The Redcurrants are “Red-y” to be picked. Hooray!

A few weeks ago I picked my redcurrants. And when a neighbour gave me the offer of theirs I jumped at the chance! I left with a big bag Raspberries too. Therefore I decided to make some redcurrant/raspberry jelly (no bits!)

Here is the method I used:

Ingredients

  • 1kg Redcurrants
  • 500g Raspberries
  • 2lt Water
  • 1.5 kg granulated sugar
  • 2 Oranges (optional).

Kit

  • Big pan
  • Stirring spoon
  • Muslin / Jelly bag
  • Jars (makes approx 5 large jars).
  • Wax seals / jam jar lids
  • Jam thermometer (optional)

Separate the stalks from the currants and raspberries as much as possible. Add the fruit to a large pan with a little water.

Cook on a high heat pressing the fruit down with the back of the spoon to release the juice. 

Once the fruit is almost a pulp (about 15 minutes).  Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Put the pulp through a jelly bag into a large bowl (this could be done overnight) to allow all the juice to drip.

Once you have the liquid, add this back to the pan with approximately 500g of sugar for every pint of liquid. I also added the juice of two oranges for flavour. Cook on a low heat stirring in the sugar until it is all dissolved.

Slowly turn up the heat to rapid boiling point and cook for another 25 minutes to the setting point. If you have a jam or sugar thermometer, the ideal temperature should be around 105C.

Sterilise your jars in the oven, about 10 minutes and fill them to near the top with the jam. Cover with a wax seal / cellophane or the jam jar lid.

 

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Parcelgenie

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Forgot someone’s Birthday, someone in need of a little pick-me-up or want to send something different rather than a card? Even if you are out and about? Then try the Parcelgenie App, with most gifts under a fiver the app allows you to send a little gift from tea-lights to chocolate owls.

Just choose a gift, send by text to your friend or family member. Once they reply, their gift will be sent straight to their door! You can even change the text on the message to suit what your gift is for or make it more personal to whom you are sending it too.

I sent a gift to a friend for her birthday and another to my brother who has helped us out a few times with Matilda recently. The App is really easy to use. The first time you use it you have to verify who you are which I got confused about, but once you are in, it is all really straight forward.

Sweet Treats

Retro Present

Now you can also send gift with just a text. The new text service, means you no longer even need the App to send a gift. It makes Parcelgenie accessible to a lot more people, even those without smartphones can use it. At the moment First-time users of the texting service will automatically get 50% off on their first go. See how it works here Parcelgenie Txt Service.

To get the App click here Parcelgenie.

Disclaimer : I was given to free codes to test and review Parcel Genie and give my honest option.

Sherwood Forest and the Merry Radfords

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Just before Matilda’s first birthday late last year, I was so pleased to get a call to say I had won a stay at Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nottinghamshire. The perfect way to have our first family breakaway. Sherwood Pines is made up of  82 cabins, surrounded by a pine forest. With a shop, cafe and other bookable activities.

Myself and Jamie had twice been to Centre Parcs at Longleat, Forest Holidays has no pool and the site is much smaller, unlike Centre Parcs,however this does mean it is much easier to explore…with a little one!

We arrived on a Friday just before 4pm, our cabin was not quite ready so we got a few extra things from the shop and explored the area around the retreat. Dotted around the site are dens, fairy doors, a play area, bird houses, and a bug hotel. We then walked a short distance through the trees to our cabin.

We were given a Golden Cabin and opted for a 1 bedroom so that we could have Matilda with us in the travel cot. The cabin had an little hall (for your muddy boots), an open plan dining / kitchen area (fully equipped), large patio doors overlooking the forest, log fire and an outside decked area for BBQ’s complete with Hot tub. Upstairs was the bath and shower room and the bedroom, that had a skylight with a magnificent view of the trees.

We were lucky enough to have some extras included in our prize, two continental breakfast packs and a meat pack. Which can be pre ordered and left in your cabin. Pretty useful for us as we do not drive therefore could not do a “big shop” on the way. The onsite shop although small,stocked quite a lot of items at convenience shop prices.

On the Saturday myself and Jamie had an in-cabin Spa treatment experience. Three hours of treatments (we split between the two of us so one could look after muchkin) where the therapist comes to you. Jamie opted for a deep tissue massage and me back, face and foot treatments. The lady from My Personal Sanctuary was really relaxed and chatty, perfect for us as we are not used to such indulgence!

The day after, Matilda became a “Young Explorer”. Guided by a Forest Ranger, we went for a short walk into the forest, we started by collecting “bug food” (bits of bark, pine cones, moss) then it came to collecting the bugs from under logs into our bug pots. All the time the Forest ranger was pointing out other wildlife, plants and their homes. Finally we all made our bug hotels and released the insects / creatures we  collected back into the forest where they belong. We then retreated from the rain into the cafe to paint bugs and pine cones. Although Matilda was quite young for this she really enjoyed it….she got quite messy!

A short walk from the site is the Forestry Commission activity centre with bike hire, walks and Go Ape centre. Unfortunately we did not have any more time to spare, so missed out.

Alas Monday came too soon and with our muddy boots packed we headed home. We all had an amazing first holiday, Matilda had so much fun. I would highly recommend Forest Holidays for families who want something quieter, more relaxed than some other holiday resorts in UK.

Elderflower Cordial – be quick before it is gone.

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This weekend I made a batch of Elderflower Cordial. I love making this or Elderflower Champagne in June. It’s now readily available in the shops but its so easy and cheap you really should make it yourself. Jamie even thinks it might help his hay-fever, we are thinking it may work in the same way local honey is believed to.

All you need is : 

Elderflower heads  – About a carrier bag full. Try to pick the flowers when it is sunny as they are more fragrant.

1.5 lt Water

1 Kg Sugar

2 Lemons – quartered and zest’ed with a potato peeler. 

Optional other fruit Pineapple / Orange / Lime and citric acid.

Equipment : A large pan,  potato peeler, jug, muslin or sieve and empty clean bottles, swing tops are best or plastic.

  • Place the sugar in the bottom of the pan, along with the lemons and zest. Give the lemons a little squeeze as you add them.
  • Pour over 1 lt of boiling water and stir.
  • Give the Elderflower heads a shake (to get rid of any bugs) and place on top of the sugar. Pour over the remaining 0.5 lt as cold water.
  • Leave over night to infuse, stirring once or twice.
  • In the morning, give the lemons another squeeze and strain it all through muslin into the bottles.

You could add limes, pineapple or orange they all work well.

The cordial is lovely just with water, lemonade, orange juice  or even as a mixer with a cheeky vodka. Add to an ice cube  tray with a little water for refreshing / cooling summer drinks.

The Elderflower has been out for a few weeks now and in some places already turning to seed. So be quick before it is gone. If you miss out then the Elderberries will be out later in the year and make a lovely jelly or wine.

What the mums of Tonbridge take out #ItsInTheBagBaby

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As a Mum what are your essentials? If you could say just three things to take out and about, what would it be? For me, 99% of the time, the thing a I cannot leave the house without is ….MATILDA!

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As part of Pink Linings search for new Brand ambassadors, I decided to ask for help from the mums in my own little town Tonbridge. It turns out that we are a funny lot. Surprisingly a mobile phone along with snacks and a drink, seem to be high on the list ,above traditional items such as wipes, nappies, favourite teddy or blanket.  It seems that us mums need much more from a change bag than just a place to put nappies. In total there were fourteen different things listed!

Here are some of the answers that made me laugh :

” My little one, a spare pop (lollipop) and a mobile for when things get a little crazy”

” Wouldn’t know where to start. Too much taken out every time but … Roo roo (fav comfort) blanket n phone”

” That’s a hard one I walk out the house with my house (practically) but if I had to choose it would be water, dummy and phone x”

I think most of us would like to take a lorry for all those “just in case” moments, personally my top tip is a change of clothes all rolled up or tied up using a nappy bag. Ok so you will always take your mobile/ keys and money (we did that before being Mums) but a change of clothes is for that “oh my” moment 😉 Safely all rolled up and together means you can easy grab it.

This is my entry into the Pink Lining Ambassador Search – #ItsInTheBagBaby /  http://pinklining.com/uk :

FunKids Radio – Radio for small ones

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Fun Kids   Have you got a little telly addict in your house? Have you thought about radio?

Matilda loves her Bing and Raa Raa on CBeebies, BUT I do not like her watching too much of the telly. I think she learns a limited amount from it and sometimes ends up just hypnotised by the screen. When she does watch it, I like to do a running commentary for her,telling her what is going on plus getting her to copy the actions on screen. This way I feel like she is learning too. In this house we listen to more music than watch telly anyways..

I was really pleased to find out about FunKids Radio, a Radio station for Kids. The programs are mostly designed for slightly older children (7-12 year olds,) but the station also has Fun Kids “junior” , shows for pre-school children. These shows are linked to the CBeebies channel.

With nursery rhymes, story times and even readings from Disney films (Loved hearing the Lion king) it makes for an interesting listen. I was surprised how engaged Matilda was and how she joined in the same as with watching the TV. Matilda particularly loved the animal hour because the songs featured “quacking” ducks and “ooh oohs” from Monkeys.

You can listen online to the shows here : http://www.funkidslive.com, me and Matilda will certainly be listening in some more.

Port Lympne – Wild Animal park

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Last weekend we went to Port Lympne Wild animal park. We were managing to get Matilda to say “To the Zoo” before we went.  In fact Port Lympne is not a traditional Zoo but a mini safari on our own door step in Kent. Jamie, and I, just about remember coming here as children….. however a lot has changed since then!

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Port Lympne is run by the Aspinall Foundation. John Aspinall started his famous animal collection in 1957 when he bought Howletts Wild Animal Park (Howletts being its sister park also in Kent). Now the Aspinall Foundation is an internationally renowned animal conservation charity that works in conjunction with the two parks.

Matilda’s Nan nan and Gan-dad came with us, collecting us by car early morning.Once inside Base Camp we decided to do the main Safari  first, before going anywhere else in the park. We piled onto a very big truck, strapped ourselves in  with daddy grasping hold of Matilda tightly in his lap. Off we went finding Daffs (Giraffes), Elles (Elephants) and Rhinos. It was a very bumpy ride but this was all part of the experience,even having to wait for a Giraffe to cross the road (there is a joke in there somewhere!).

We decided to walk around the rest of the Zoo, which was divided into zones. We saw Matilda’s favourite animals, Baboons along the “Primate Trail” and Lions in “Carnivore Territory”.There are plenty of shops for food and drink and toilets for all important wee stops. There is also a fun play area which is good for when your own little animals need to let off steam and monkey around…. The set up of the Zoo makes it easy to spend the whole day there!

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Port Lympne also now has a number of accommodation options. From a hotel, to glamping experiences overlooking the animals, and Pods..think of them as posh beach huts set in forest.

I think we all enjoyed this trip as much as Matilda, we hope to plan another visit in the future and to stay in one of the new accommodation experiences on site for the true Jungle VIP experience