Sunday, 25 September 2016

Quorn & Mozzarella Burgers - Recipe

Evan has been a vegetarian since birth and I love him trying new foods as he is incredibly fussy and doesn't like new things!

I often just make something and hope that he will be in the mood to give it a go and thankfully he just loves the burgers that I make.

I thought I would put the recipe up and you can try them for yourselves!


500g Quorn mince
1 onion
1 tsp garlic paste
3 eggs
90g breadcrumbs
1 tsp veg oil
Oxo cube (for meat eaters)
240g Mozzarella

Place the mince in a large saucepan and cover with water, add salt and pepper (and oxo cube if you are using it) and bring to the boil. Strain and set aside.

Chop the onion finely.

Heat the tsp of oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, at this point if you like you could add finely chopped peppers/chillies and any herbs you may like. You can also season a little more at this point.

Stir for 3-4 mins then add the mince. Stirring all the time cook for a further 5 mins. Let COOL enough to handle.

In a bowl place the breadcrumbs.
Beat the eggs.

Add the mince mix into the breadcrumbs mix and then add the beaten eggs.

Mix well.

chop the mozzarella into cm size cubes (or if like me just tear into bite size pieces) then add to the mix, mix well.

Now the messy bit, the mix should hold together in a ball of you squidge it together in your hands, if it is too dry add a VERY SMALL amount of water until it does bind.

This makes 8 large burgers.

I made rectangles as you can see; as I had that shape roll (and an excuse to pig out!) I also added a large piece of mozzarella inside the patty for extra cheesy goodness!

Fry in a saucepan turning once; browning on each side.

Served with Mushrooms and chunky chips!

*If you find they break up when in the pan try wrapping in cling film and putting in the fridge for at least 30 mins before cooking.

Yummy :)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Nutrition for Older People - Barchester Healthcare

For 8 years I officially was the main caregiver for my disabled Mother. During that time one of the hardest things I had to deal with were her meals and tempting her to eat.

In the beginning it was much easier as she was far more capable and when I first moved in, her meals came in at a shocking average of 5000 calories a day! Mostly carbs in the form of mash dripping in butter!

By any standard that  is a huge amount but when you can do little or no exercise to counteract that type of intake no wonder she was 16 stone and gaining!
With her bad heart that was no good at all so I set about redesigning her meals but it took a great deal of effort and research to find great content on the subject; but eventually I did and in 2 years she had lost 4 stone and was much brighter and mentally healthier.

Nutrition is exceptionally important for the elderly, they deteriorate so quickly that it is imperative to make sure they get the recommended daily intake of Protein, carbs, Vitamins and minerals as well as avoid any foods which interact with any medication (such as grapefruit and blood pressure).

Barchester are a Nationwide provider of care within their residential homes and one of the main points that is clearly found on their website; is that of nutrition and great food being a priority.

I was lucky that I could look after my Mother at home but so many cannot. Knowing that your loved ones are in an environment where they are cared for in so many ways is just so reassuring.

Barchester have produced a wonderful document available to all, to download. It goes into depth about great nutrition and includes some amazingly delicious recipes!

As you can see from the contents page the information covers every aspect, so if you are currently looking after an older loved one it could be really useful!
You can download the booklet HERE.

I think the section on finger foods and how to encourage are particularly helpful, as I know how difficult it became to entice my Mum to eat and stimulate her appetite.

We need to look after our elderly, and we need to know they are cared for if in a residential setting. I think any company that goes to this much trouble in regard to such an important subject is already 5*!

This post was sponsored by Barchester but the opinions and content are my own.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

At What Cost? - Concentrix Tax Credits Scandal

I am angry.

Extremely angry.

I am not alone.

Thousands of people that are in receipt of Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits are facing yet another week of no money. Why? Concentrix.

Concentrix are an American company employed by our HMRC to implement compliance checks on their behalf.
Compliance checks are 'random' checks or based on information gained from the Electoral roll, bank accounts, tenancy agreements etc

Although it is actually not clear what reasons trigger a check it seems these are common place:

  • Bills that are still in joint names, eg mobile phones, utility bills
  • Credit cards still in joint names
  • Joint bank accounts (even if they are not used)
  • Electoral roll records still listing your ex-partner as a resident in your home
  • Council tax bills that still show an ex-partner’s name
  • Tenancy agreements in joint names registered at your property
  • Your child’s details appearing in financial records (if they are an adult but still living at home).

Suddenly and often with no warning, your payments can stop.

This is what happened to me; I went to my bank and nothing in there. I telephoned HMRC to be told my case was now in the hands of Concentrix and I needed to telephone them. 4 hours later I spoke to a very hurried, uninterested individual who explained to me that they needed a full tax year of pay slips for the previous tax year and any other documentation regarding a period of self employment. As my company never opened how do I exactly prove a negative? I asked. Write a letter fully explaining everything. So I rounded up the payslips and wrote an extensive letter doing just that.
5 weeks passed without a word, my direct debits are bouncing, bills not being paid. I phoned whenever  I could and very rarely even got a hold message and even that usually ended by being systematically being cut off or my credit running out.

During this stressful time I found hundreds if not thousands that are in the same situation, all crying out for help on social media; very rarely getting a response from anyone. It is a truly heartbreaking read.

These are hardworking people, Mothers with children, families just trying to make ends meet! These are the people that the Osborne promised tax credit cuts would have affected but those cuts were stopped were they not? Is this not just another way of doing just that, stop payments for months and in some cases; don't even backdate, thus allowing HMRC to hold that money and gain the interest x thousands of cases!

I was moved to start an online e-petition; I sign enough of them, why not actually implement one. So I did; in just 24 hours it had over 500 signatures but it is NOT ENOUGH. We need 10,000 for a response from Government or 100,000 for it to be read in Parliament. A long way to go. I have asked so many well known and politically active 'celebs' (can't stand that term) to RT just so word gets out; but to no avail, it seems UK POVERTY is not as important as a latest book, gig or appearance on 'Big Brother 987'!

There is a comment section on the petition and I want to share a few quotes here:

"HRMC outsourced their compliance obligations to a company that is poorly performing against its contract, the net impact of their poor performance is to adjudicate claims in the negative and wait for claimants to fight to have their claims reinstated, generating huge overpayment which they can then claim against their PBR targets as money prevented as loss, despite knowing many claimants will not be able to pay a penny of their overpayment since Concentrix use ATLAS or some other method of notifying local authorities of their decision which often then stops their other income related benefits such as income support or housing benefit. 

This issue is not confined to people claiming tax credits who are stay at home parents, it is also preventing working parents from going to work to earn a living, when their childcare element of tax credits is stopped, leaving many unable to attend work as they have no childcare."  Natalie.

"I have had a large amount of money taken off me weekly which is leaving my family scrimping each day and struggling to fuel my car to actually work. We have sold what we can to get by, used the money saved away for Christmas which wasn't a lot and cashed in my copper jar £33! I have to do mandatory consideration and a income and expenditure but that does not help now. I was paying a direct debit monthly to HMRC for overpayment which I have now cancelled so I don't get bank charges. Struggling to see how anyone can survive through the nightmare of Concentrix." Laura

"I know what it feels like to feel like you don't have enough to exist. To feel human." Emma.

Lisa has allowed me to share her story:

"I am a single parent with 2 boys. One has autism and at present is unable to attend school due to social anxiety. I left a full time job at the council due to this as I am home schooling him for the time bring. I am self employed. My children's father left 3.5 years ago but he still has mail coming to my address. We split under d/v so I haven't challenged him on it! I did receive the initial Concentrix letter but I was late returning it and my payments were stopped. I have been trying to call Concentrix daily as I don't even know why. My housing benefit stopped as a direct result but fortunately the council are easier to deal with and it was quickly reinstated. Please return everything straight away and sign the petition. The letters from Concentrix don't even look real and many have dismissed them as a hoax. We should not be expected to send sensitive information in the post either. I discovered that Concentrix have targets on cases closed which makes me wonder...."

There are 100s of comments all telling a similar story, people left so out of pocket they cannot afford to get to work, pay the child care, pay rent and EAT!

WHAT is going on people? It is 2016! How can we just sit back and allow this type of atrocity to take place?

Why can you not go through the procedure without losing your payments? I have nothing against any checks, I have nothing to hide but I do have something against being penalised whilst those checks are being made!

The never ending cycle of guilty until proven innocent is upon us and woe betide you if you are caught on the wheel!

ACT now - you may not currently be affected but how would you cope if next week it were you?

Sign the petition: Sign HERE

Use the Hashtag on Social Media #

Sunday, 4 September 2016

#MySundayPhoto - Happy Food!

Couldn't resist posting this up as I was about to eat dinner when I realised my food was smiling at me!


Sunday, 14 August 2016


I thought I would sign up this week to the #MySundayPhoto linky!

Cyber Punk Son-day


Thursday, 11 August 2016


Wicked Uncle approached us and asked if we would like to try out a gift of up to £40 from their website. I handed the whole project over to Evan and let him choose and order the item he would like to review.

Evan chose the X-cam Quadcopter Drone as he is a skateboarder and wanted to see if it would record him whilst he skates.

He has split the review in to two parts so you can see the unboxing video below:


Part two will be live shortly so please make sure you check out the flight footage!

Wicked Uncle's ordering process is probably one of the most informative I have come across. From the instant you order you are kept in the loop via email and text; letting you know exactly where your order is and how long it will be. I was really impressed!

Gifts for kids get harder all the time and I love how Wicked Uncle have sourced quirky and unusual items that you wouldn't come across normally. Evan loved loads of items on there, so if it grabs the attention of a 14 year old,  then they must be doing something right!

I absolutely love the T shirts that you can write on then they light up via LED at night, I want one for myself!

You can search via age of whom you are buying for, sex, interests etc so it really is simple to narrow down what you are looking for.

So I will update with Evan's Part 2 and see how the drone flies! 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat on a Budget! #CampBestival #2

Festivals Shouldn't Cost The Earth -

I love festivals, my first was Glasto age 12; year of the SMYTHS [sic] #ahem followed by years of one dayers, 2 dayers and then spreading out to; more recently, 6 days at Glasto...

In the hedonistic days of pre- child and only caring that I had a tent and glitter (and being fed by the Buddhists)

since then I grew up a little, I have always is gone prepared - my friends used to refer to my tent as the Mary Poppins as you could find everything from a toaster to mixed herbs. Cooking whilst camping is a love of mine and I have been known to serve up 13 fry ups for breakfast on one fold up army stove - the type with the little fire cubes!

This year Camp Bestival was going to be a struggle financially as I am brassick so I sold some stuff on eBay and manged £65 to take with me.

Evan is now 14 so he had £30 spending money which he earned by washing cars and saved the money to take with him. It is so much easier once they get older as they are far less inclined to go for the festival 'must have' tail or hat!

So over the year I pick up bits, just one or two at Poundland like extra pegs, water container, heat blankets, ponchos etc and put them away ... this saves loads as Cosy Camper for instance is not cheap if you have forgotten the essentials!

Biggest saver if you have little ones is to buy bubble guns/ wands/ shapers from Poundland / eBay and hide them until you get there. I was caught out in our 3rd year as Ev really wanted the gun and I remember paying £9 for it plus liquid and it was IDENTICAL to the £1 gun!

Fire toys sell some amazing gear but you can pick up diablos and LED poi for a fraction of the cost on eBay.
If you have girls - pick up pots of glitter when you see them going cheap - glitter is a MUST HAVE!

So this year for 5 - FOOD

Years ago (think it was 7/8) I invested in an IGLOO cooler - it has been the single best investment yet. If you fill it correctly it stays frozen for 5 days - I freeze all I can so milk, sausages, ice pops, bacon etc etc it all gets really frozen and packed in with the ice packs.  Before you freeze things, take them out of the boxes and separate into freezer bags in portions.
The IGLOO is on wheels and pulls along like a suitcase, Ev could manage it age 7 at Glasto - so it is awesome!

We ate full English brekky every morning, lunch was BBQ or sarnies and evening meal was cheesy chicken pasta with salad etc it varied but you get the picture. Snacks and yoghurts/fruit etc that can easily be taken out with you. Ev is veggie so I have to think of that too - he did get his annual Corn on the gold plated Cob but it is darn good!

Beers/ ciders / soft drinks were bought in advance when on offer at the supermarket, then put in the igloo and were chilled all weekend along with the £2.99 bottles of Bucks Fizz!

If you do run down low on anything, there is a Spar in Wool (also has cashback facility and atm) just a couple of miles from the site & Holmes Nursery sell the best cider ever! Getting out and back in on the Sat/Sun morning is never a huge issue!

I take a small bag of spuds and slice thinly then boil then transfer to the frying pan for chips.

I cook it all on one stove and butane case (4 tins for £3.99 This is it).

Toast when you are camping is for some reason so much more tastier! It took years to find the perfect toaster and the Gelert Folding Toaster is the biz! Bread & Bagels no problem!

Gadgets are now amazing for camping - Biolite stove (charges your USB devices whilst cooking) , Roccbox oven and the incredible toasty maker from Ridge Monkey  (which Matt brought along this year) are all just incredible and with kids makes things so much easier! I'm going to try and  invest in all 3 for next year.

Just a tip if you want to make it fun saving for your kids spending money next year - start saving 5p's in a bottle - I did this last year for Xmas and a Jack Daniels bottle (1.5 litre) holds approx £115 !!!!

Visit the W.I tent - coffee/tea & cake for a fraction of the cost of buying in the Castle field. The Fika Volvo stand with the beautiful Vanessa and crew - provide free drinks and buns in comfy, cool surroundings!

Copyright Camp Bestival

We all chipped in for 1 programme bag and then photographed the schedule so we all had a copy.  If you can't afford the extra £10 though just ask somebody to let you photograph the lanyard - I certainly wouldn't mind!

Solar showers are really cheap and this year heated to almost boiling point, bring swimming costumes for little ones and voila, much nicer than wet wipe washing, or get a collapsible washing bowl and hot strip wash!

ALWAYS take far, far more socks than you need!!

There is still no way to make the rides/ bouncy castle etc any cheaper - this is one gripe I have as I am so used to other festivals never charging for anything on top of the ticket. I always feel bad that if you have a few children, the cost of this on top is awful and they are obviously going to want to have a go!

T shirts etc... well Ev had a few over the years but he is not really bothered and the last 2 years spent his money on the skating wear Ezo stand.

I did buy myself a treat of an anklet, the adult 'Must Have' ;)

All in all though it depends what you are getting out of the festival - if it is your main holiday then eating out and trying new things is part of the whole experience. Festival / Event food has always been high - Wembley in the 80's would bankrupt you for a cheeseburger; so things don't change!
Children will always want stuff - Ev was ALWAYS set a limit and his money kept separate so he could see how he was spending, he didn't ask for one thing this year - so maybe I am doing something right!

I would however like to see more in the form of Welfare - if people are struggling and it happens! Unexpected occurrences can leave people frantic, so somewhere that the kids could have a hot meal, plasters for FREE (and not £5 unless you see the Doc!) etc would be a great asset and support to those who may need it (even knowing it is there is sometimes enough!).

It is a beautiful festival in gorgeous surroundings, it is hilly though as it is countryside! I completely understand the whole trolley issue... I never used one. I couldn't pull one if it was filled, and I know this so when Ev was tiny I bought one of these off a friend for £50:

Bike Trailer/Double Buggy

Only second to the cooler in best investments, they glide over terrain like it is nothing, will fill well over what you would expect and make excellent beds for babies at night. Pushing it up the hill of death at Glasto is no problem, well no more than walking up it!
Ours has now done 32+ festivals and still going!

So I hope any of these tips may help you if you decide to do CB in the future. If I remember anything else I will add it on; and if any of you have any tips to add please do so in the comments and I will credit it on here!

Maybe see you there in the future! #SilentDisco!!

Song For This Post HERE (Just HAD to) 

L xx