Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Listography - 5 Teenage Crushes

After laughing over the entries in this week's Listography over on Kate Takes 5 I had to stop my chortling and join in.  First of all, at the risk of seeming to have completely copied Kate, my first 2 are exactly the same:

1. James Dean - I loved him and was strangely devastated about the fact that he was dead (even though he was quite clearly dead before my crush began!)  I never said I wasn't a weirdo.

2. Michael J Fox - I saw Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, Family Ties - everything and anything that he was in about a million times.  And was very happy that he was about my height!  Suspect it was because I was 14 and he was totally unthreatening (being that he resembled a teenage boy).

3. Harrison Ford - yep, from the sublime cute boy to the ridiculous!  I LOVED Han Solo and Indiana Jones with a passion.  And I definitely didn't get the whole Luke Skywalker thing (and time has borne me out on this one - compare the two actors and see who you think has aged best).  And when Blade Runner came out (or possibly, when I was old enough to see it) I fell in love with him even more.  Even the fact that he's only 2 days younger than my Dad didn't put me off (and it hasn't put Calista Flockhart off either!)

4. Prince - ah, the diminutive one - do you see a theme forming?  I watched Purple Rain (the bloody awful film) about a million times and hated Appolonia (or whatever her name was) followed by Sheena Easton (although I think I already hated her).  I didn't mind the fact he was little and wore heels - I just adored the purple midget.

5. Leroy (yep, from Fame) aka Gene Anthony Ray.  My walls were covered in Leroy posters; I bought the Kids from Fame albums (the ones accompanying the dodgy TV series, not the edgy Ridley Scott film); and I even went to see them in concert.  At end of said concert, I ran to the front and shook hands with Leroy - and didn't wash it for about a week!  

Thankfully, I'm not a teenager any more and can only blame hormones for my, quite frankly, dodgy taste in the opposite sex!  Thanks for the trip down memory lane Kate.  Now I think I need to hide in a darkened room to get over the shame.

Friday, 4 November 2011

FREE Stuff to Do with the Kids!

OK, this is a slightly short and cheats version of my fourth entry into the NaBloProMo by BritMums (essentially encouraging us all to post on our blog every day in November - only another 26 to go!!)

Anyway, my post the other day was about thrifty or free things to do in East Lothian with the kids this weekend - it's Guy Fawkes, it's autumnal, and the forecast (here anyway) isn't too bad.  So, I thought I'd do a little update (partly because I know what the weather is likely to be like and partly because I missed something...)

FREE Fireworks - if you're in East Lothian or Edinburgh, take a trip along to the Racecourse at Musselburgh for their free fireworks display - doors open at 6pm and the display starts at 8pm.  Let's just hope there's no horse racing!

Tyninghame Beach - this is my favourite beach in the whole of East Lothian so, if the kids have had their fill of their Hallowe'en sweets and need to burn off some of that sugar, get along to Tyninghame for a spot of bracing fresh air - and a view of the Bass Rock that you might not have seen before.


Hailes Castle - fab wee castle ruin about 2 miles from Haddington on the road to East Linton.  Great for the kids to explore (although next to a stream so explore with supervision only) and, if it's dry enough, a picnic in amongst the ruins is always fun.


Butterdean Wood - will no doubt be a bit muddy underfoot but get your wellies on, take along a couple of bags and get the kids collecting all sorts of leaves, seeds, acorns - and maybe even the odd chestnut.  Great for exploring with little ones as you can make the walk as long or short as you'd like.

Whatever you're up to, enjoy the weekend.  Personally, I'll be spending the entire weekend at Lennoxlove Book Festival - a book festival on my doorstep, I'm in heaven - as they are one of my clients for my 'other' job.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

It's Cold!

Well, it's November and, after a balmy October, it officially feels like autumn.  Of course, one of the first things most of us do is switch on the heating - and I'm not going to suggest that you don't - but there are ways to keep your heating costs down.

1. Turn the thermostat down - I constantly read (and put into practice) switching the thermostat down by 1 degree (or more) as it really does make a difference to your bill.

2. Wear more layers in the house - switching the heating on early or for longer can be the difference between putting on an extra layer and not, so try putting on a cardi first.  (I work from home and often find myself in my woolly fleece for outdoors simply to avoid putting the heating on for another hour - I draw the line at icicles from nasal passages or wearing gloves while I type!

3. Don't put the heating on at night - if you're all tucked up in bed sleeping (or not sleeping depending on your kids!) try giving everyone a hot water bottle and an extra blanket at the end of each bed that can be used if it gets cold in the night.

4. Shop around for energy.  Using price comparison websites such as Uswitch can help you to save hundreds of pounds a year.  I ran a cost comparison, found another supplier was cheaper than my current (Scottish Power) then phoned Scottish Power to ask if they could match them - otherwise we were walking!!  Anyway, they did.  So saving me the hassle of changing supplier while also saving us £300 a year!

5. Close the curtains as soon as it gets dark - it makes a huge difference to keeping the house cosy if you've closed all the curtains and blinds just as it's getting dark outside (don't ask me why - physics and I are not familiar bed fellows).  And that way, you won't be tempted to turn the heating up.

Any other tips you've got that work or that I've missed?  The heating companies aren't going to reduce their prices so we need to try to make sure we can avoid paying too much more, if possible.  

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Family Fun in East Lothian!

Well, with Guy Fawkes coming up this weekend there's loads to keep the little ones (and bigger ones) amused if you live in lovely East Lothian - like me!  And apologies if you don't and feel jealous - but perhaps you should visit if you're near enough?

Anyway, my two thrifty recommendations for the weekend:

Lennoxlove Book Festival - OK, now the main events are not necessarily cheap BUT you can get a Family Book Festival pass that gives 5 people (2 adults and 3 kids) entry to the Festival on either Saturday or Sunday (although I think the Saturday has sold out).  For the bargain price of £22, the 5 of you can get entry into 5 events including Julia Donaldson, Sir Charlie Stinky Socks author Kristina Stephenson and Funny Food with Nick Sharratt.  Or, if you're not sure what you're up to this weekend and would like a bit more flexibility, there are free Storytime and Bookbug Rhyme Sessions - all in the gorgeous surroundings of Lennoxlove House just outside Haddington.

Pencaitland Fireworks - the best fireworks display this side of the Edinburgh Festival, it's a fantastic achievement by Pencaitland Primary School PTA to put on THE fireworks display in everyone's calendar not just those who go to the school.  This year it's on at 6.15pm on Saturday 5th November and tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for children on the door.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NaBloMo?!? What?

Inspired by NaNoWrMo - or something like that (write a 50,000 novel in November) I thought I'd jump to the BritMums challenge and write a blog post every day for the month of November.  I shall apologise in advance for any short posts, late night posts or slightly waffly posts - but thought I'd start off the month with a cheeky wee recipe (I am after all, supposed to be all about the saving money and all that).

I was hoping to start with a pumpkin related recipe but - for anyone who read my Scary Pumpkin post yesterday, you'll know why I have failed to do that.  So, by stark contrast we have (drum roll, anticipation, excitement - OK, I've oversold this)...

Thai Style Turkey Patties! (courtesy of last month's Good Food magazine)

We love Thai food in our house and these were mild enough that the kids liked them too.  Oh, and they're healthy at a stunningly low 173 calories per portion (if you're trying to be healthy in the run up to Christmas).

400g turkey breast or fillet roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stalk
2 garlic cloves
zest & juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
small bunch coriander, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 nests medium wheat noodles (I used soba noodles)
300g stir fry veg (whatever you like/your kids will eat!)
sweet chilli sauce, to serve (optional)

1. Heat the grill to medium.  Put the turkey in a food processor and pulse until minced.  Add the lemongrass, garlic and lime zest, and half the soy sauce, coriander and chilli, then pulse again until combined.  Tip the mix into a bowl and add some black pepper.  

2. Shape into 8 patties, then transfer to a non-stick baking tray and grill for 3 - 4 minutes each side, until cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, soak the noodles following pack instructions, then drain and add the vegetables (I stir fried them first but I think the recipe intended for them to be served raw), the remaining soy sauce and the lime juice.  Toss well, divide between plates and sprinkle with the remaining coriander and chilli.  Serve with the turkey patties and some sweet chilli sauce for dipping, if you like.

This serves 4 people and made a great quick and easy Friday night tea - like takeaway but without the MSG!