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Showing posts from 2017

Garden Ready Winter Bedding Plants

This summer the large border we created was filled with summer bedding plants. These have all gone over leaving the border looking empty and sad, we needed something quick and easy for the winter months.




Then an e mail popped through from Thompson and Morgan who had a flash sale of winter bedding plants, even better they were garden ready. Pansy and Dianthus barbatus (sweet Williams) in a range of colours, we would receive 60 garden ready plants 30 of each for £10. We spent £30 and got a lot of garden ready plants that should grow over the winter and give us some early colour.

A couple of weeks later they arrived and when unpacked looked like this and then all you have to do is plant them out.




Here are a couple of tips from the lessons I lernt.

Remove the plants first and not as you go along. I was taking one out and then planting. This was a bad idea as it took forever.

When removing be careful, either do this with no gloves or very thin ones, the plants can easily break. I found that sli…

Meal Plan Friday 24th November 2017

We have a manic week ahead of us with play dates, dentist appointments and the garden being finished. Lots of simple food is needed.

Friday - Hot Dogs for us all

Maple glazed hot dogs

Saturday - Thai Curry - Ready made meal. Boys chicken fingers, chips and salad

Sunday - Roast Beef

Monday - Roasted Gnocchi - never tried this before. We will all have this.

Roast mushroom gnocchi

Tuesday - Fish, Rice and roasted vegetables. Sausages and beans with jackets for the boys.

Wednesday - Chilli via the slow cooker. Going to try the boys on this one and we shall see

Chilli Marrakech

Thursday - Pie, new potatoes and salad. Nuggets, mash and peas for the boys.

Honey Roasted Cartot, Parsnip and Beetroot

I was given a lovely bag of soup vegetables from our local farm shop, Isfield Farm Shop, as part of a promotion. There was a leek, beetroots, parsnip, carrots, potato. Mr MC&W does not like soup so I decided to see what we could use the veggies in our meals that week.

Now you could easily increase the quantities and I am considering cooking this for Christmas, as it is a big bowl of tasty veggies cooked in one.

Pre heat the oven 

200 fan 180 Gas mark 6

1 Parsnip

2 Carrots

2 small beetroots - uncooked

2 teaspoons of honey

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Squeeze of garlic paste or two cloves of garlic

50ml orange juice

Peel and Cut the parsnips and carrots into batons 

Peel the beetroot and cut into quarters




Put the beetroot and carrots into a roasting tin with half the oil coat them well and roast for 20 Min's. 

Add the parsnip and roast for another 10 Min's. 

Take from the oven and mix in the honey, garlic, orange juice and oil and roast again for 10-15 Min's.




They ended up sweet, sticky an…

Meal Plan Friday 17th November 2017

We have Grandma MC&W down this weekend, so its going to be all rather busy, but lots of fun for us all. The meal plan got rather late and ended up being a bit of a rush.

Friday - Smoked Mackerel Salad with roasted new potatoes and beetroot. Boys will have a picnic dinner as it was fish and chips at school.

Saturday - Ham, Egg and chips for us all

Sunday - Roast Pork

Monday - Puff Pastry Tart topped with aubergine, goats cheese the boys will have one with cheese

Tuesday - Spicy Harissa Chicken. Boys chicken curry.

spicy harissa chicken and lentils

Wednesday - Tuna Pasta Bake

Thursday - Mushroom Risotto

Making Leaf Mulch

When the leaves start to fall from the trees you will hear a lot of gardening folk talking about making leaf mulch. From what I can gather, it is excellent for the soil, it can be used as top dressing in autumn and the worms will take it down into the soil over the winter, it is easy to make and free. So how easy is it to make? I decided to have a go.

We have a couple of trees in the garden and I spend most of this time clearing leaves and putting them in the garden waste bin. So I thought I would try to make one bag of leaf mulch.





According to the google searches, you need leaves, black bin bags, some water and a place to pop the bin bag full of leaves for a year or two. That is it in simple terms. But when reading more they kept saying the leaves needed to be shredded, hmm that is not as simple as I first thought.

So I have swept up my leaves, yes you read that correctly, I swept up the leaves. I do most of the gardening with the toddler and an outside hard broom means if he grabs it n…

Meal Plan Friday 10th September 2017

Yet another week has passed and I have no real idea where it went. The meal plan starts with ready meal after ready meal due to being rather busy. I always want this post to reflect the busy times we all have, the microwave will be working hard this weekend.

Friday - It is the school disco, the boys are having picnic dinner. Mr MC&W and I will both be having a microwave meal, both of us will be sharing the driving and getting various children to bed.

Saturday - Mr MC&W is going to the the rugby and will be no doubt eating burgers and drinking beer. The boys have requested pizza and I am going to have cannelloni via the microwave while watching strictly.

Sunday - Moussaka thanks to charlie bigham with a large Greek salad. The boys will have sausages, beans and jacket potatoes

Monday - Chicken Chow Mein

Chicken chow mein


Tuesday - Tomato, Mozzarella and spaghetti bake

Tomato and mozzarella spaghetti bake

Wednesday - Having a friend for tea so its pizza for the boys and Spanish rice and …

Meal Plan Friday 3rd November 2017

This week our local farm shop where I buy all our meat from started a promotion for 10% of vegetables when you brought your meat. This was started with a free soup bag, as you can see lots of lovely seasonal veggies. 





Now the problem is Mr MC&W does not like soup that much, even as a warming lunch. So I got thinking, treat this bag as a use up and see how many recipes I could use bits with and cam up with this

Friday - Scampi, Chips and peas, Boys had Fish and Chips at school so had picnic dinner

Saturday - Lasagna - shop brought, Pizza for the boys

Sunday - Roast Chicken served with honey roasted beetroot, Parsnips and Carrot, along with roast potaoes and broccoli

Monday - Chestnut mushroom, Fennel and bacon Pasta . Bacon and tomato sauce pasta for the boys

Chestnut mushroom fennel bacon fusilli



Tuesday - Mango Chicken with Spiced Rice. Curry for the boys.

Mango chicken with spiced pilau


Wednesday - Leek, Mushroom and Goats Cheese Strudel. Tortellini with salad for the boys.

Leek mushroom …

Meal Plan Friday 27th 2017

This week is a little crazy in the Mud, Cakes and Wine household. ATM has been invited to a trial for a gymnastic club, I was rather proud and then I discovered half the class have been selected. But it is an hour and a half after school. I am dreading it with the toddler and the eldest having to hang around for the whole time. 

Friday - Fish, Chips and Peas
Saturday - Fajitas for Mr MC&W and Homemade macaroni and cheese for the boys
Sunday - Slow cooked lamb shanks with roast potatoes, orange juice carrots and green veggies
Monday - Mary Berry Tuna Salad and the boys will be having tinned spaghetti on toast. It is the trial day.
Tuesday - Chilli in the slow cooker
Wednesday - Ham Cobbler

Ham and leek cobbler
Thursday - Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Broccoli with garlic bread



Tidying away Annuals and Hanging Baskets

The eldest two are at school and the toddler is safely tucked up in bed for his nap. The sun is trying to peak through the clouds and I need to get outside into the garden.

Type 1 is ruling our lives at the moment, OBs blood sugars are crashing every night. This means he is having a very dangerous hypo, if missed he could fall into a coma and never wake up. We have a Dexcom, this continuously monitors his blood sugar levels and sounds analarmwhen he is about to hypo. It has now been over two weeks this has been happening and we are exhausted. We wake to an alarm, that you never know when it will go off, feed him apple juice and then, in theory, go back to sleep. But you are awake and worried, sleep is light and combined with constant waking up to check his levels.

We are working with our amazing hospital team and think we have identified why this is happening. We are reducing his long-lasting insulin but each decrease takes a week to take effect. 

With all this going on I really needed t…

Meal Plan Friday 20th October 2017

Wow how did we get to half term already? We are having a very peaceful holiday as next term is always so crazy. 

The food this week seems to have a theme of me not wanting to start winter quite yet.

Friday - Pizza and Salad for Mr MC&W and myself. It will be a brought pizza and time to chill out after a busy week. The boys had fish and chips at school so its a picnic dinner for them.

Saturday - Pizza for the boys and for us a Cannelloni (brought in)

Sunday - Mr MC&W is playing a spot of golf and we have friends over so its a simple dish of hidggy pies with new potatoes and coleslaw. The boys are having chicken pies with mash and peas

Monday - Roast chicken, Peppers and feta - though I will be using chicken breasts not a whole chicken. Boys will have chicken curry

Roast chicken with peppers and feta

Tuesday - Halloumi and Flatbreads. The boys will have pinwheels

Halloumi flatbreads

Pizza puff pinwheels

Wednesday - Take out treat. The boys will have spaghetti carbonara

Thursday - Ravioli, …

Planting Snowdrops and English Bluebells

I came up with what I thought was a brilliant and simple idea. To plant snowdrops and bluebells under the LolliPop Trees Elaeagnus ebbingei and Viburnum Tinus trees. It would look beautiful in the cold winter months, white snowdrops peaking up in late January and as we begin to enter spring the bluebells would then come into flower. We have the perfect woodland setting and I felt the Snowdrops and Bluebells would compliment the trees. As I like to think about nature, I chose the snowdrops hoping it would provide any early bees with much needed flowers in the hard late winter and early spring.


I ordered some English Bluebells and single flower Snowdrop bulbs from J Parkers, 75 of each. I could do with more but they do naturalize, so in theory we should get more every year. This is enough to start with and the bank balance had to be considered.

There I was all excited and ready to plant, as I attempted to get the bulb planter into the ground the reality of what I was attempting to do hit …

Meal Plan Friday 13th October 2017

October is flying by at the moment, last week it was ATM birthday and this week it is Mr MC&W birthday.  We have another family get together on Sunday. School next week is rather crazy I had to get organised.

Friday - Charlie Bigham - Sweet and Sour Chicken. It has been a long week and needed an easy put in the oven and feet up meal. Boys had fish and chips at school so picnic dinner for them.

Saturday - Is Mr MC&W birthday so it is his favourite meal - steak, chips, mushrooms and peas covered in a peppercorn sauce. Boys are having pinwheel pizza

Sunday - Charlie Bigham again, our feeling was that I should not be in the kitchen cooking the whole time. Mr MC&W decided upon Beef Stroganoff, followed by cheese and biscuits

Monday - Ham and Potato Hash

Ham potato hash baked beans healthy fried eggs

Tuesday - Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake

Sticky-chinese chicken traybake

Wednesday- Lingune and Tuna Sauce

Linguine with tuna sauce

Thursday - Saucy Roast Sausages with lentils

Saucy r…

Meal Plan Friday 29th September - Friday 6th October 2017

I can not believe how time has flown past. We have had ATM birthday and it is Mr MC&W birthday next weekend. The meal plans have been a bit of a nightmare and done very last minute. If your wondering about the two squash meals, the school had a farmers market and the boys brought a massive squash for 50p.....

Friday 29th September - Pizza - Waitrose do an amazing sour dough one, we will have this with a salad. The boys have fish and chips at school so it's picnic dinner for them
Saturday - Treat of a Charlie Bigham Spanish Chicken for us and the boys pizza
Sunday - Mushroom risotto, boys have risotto with peas and ham.
Monday - Slow cooked sausage casserole with mash
Tuesday - Fish Curry - a made up one with lots of coconut milk and curry powder
Wednesday- Gnocchi bake

Gnocchi and tomato bake
Thursday - Slow cooked Mexican chicken

Mexican chicken stew
Friday 6th October - Four cheese tortellini for the boys. We are having a bacon and mushroom salad

Warm new potato salad with baco…

Hanging Basket Review Summer 2017

At the start of the summer, I was very excited about the prospect of some spectacular hanging baskets. Last year I have to admit they were beautiful, full of colour and interest right until late September.




I had chosen to clash pink petunias to trail down a wall basket, purple and white petunias for a contrast. A wonderful basket showcasing lots of pinks with a hint of white and a bold yellow and orange mix.

However, this summer it did not work out quite as I had planned.


None of the trailing flowers really trailed, the petunias that were meant to tumble did not tumble, in fact, the plants did not really grow very much. The purple one's barely flowered, it left me with lots of pretty white flowers but no purple to contrast against. The  Calibrachoa Cabaret in white, Calibrachoa Goldrush and the Bacopa Snowflake were supposed to gently trail down the side of the baskets, they produced some pretty flowers but again they never really seemed to flourish.


However, some of the more unusual …