My obsession with all things chocolate and peanut butter continues with this amazing brownie recipe. Like peanut butter on brownies is a total game changer. They taste SO GOOD. The recipe is based on my usual brownie recipe but with a few tweaks. And of course the addition of salty peanut butter which balances out the sweet chocolate brownie perfectly!
Josh first made these a few weeks ago and I have already made them twice since! They are just THAT good. My colleagues all absolutely loved them and I have a feeling they may be badgering me to make them again very soon! This recipe makes 12 good sized slices or you could always cut it up into bite size pieces to serve at a party like I’m planning to!
200g dark chocolate, I normally use the supermarkets own brand
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g light brown sugar
130g plain flour
6 tbsps of crunchy peanut butter (approx half a jar)
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees / gas mark 3 and line a 33cm x 23cm baking tray with parchment paper.
Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth.
Remove from the heat and add in the sugar and stir until well combined.
Stir in the flour and mix well.
Add in the eggs one at a time and stir until thick and smooth.
Pour your brownie batter into your prepared tin. Using a teaspoon evenly distribute little blobs off peanut butter on top then try to swirl it into the batter.
Bake in your preheated oven for around 35 minutes. Your brownie should be flaky on the top but still soft and deliciously gooey in the centre.
Leave the brownie to cool completely in the tin before removing and cutting into chunks. Enjoy!
It feels like only last week Bella was preparing to start school, and I can’t believe that she is now coming to the end of her first year. This time last year we were starting to thing of ways we could help her with the transition. The school sent out some really helpful leaflets of things we could do to encourage independence. Of course we all want our children to be well-rounded human beings and the school systems plays such a huge part in this. But there are also many things that are the parent’s responsibility to teach them too.
Bella is one of the older children in her year and after three years at a very good Nursery, I felt like she was more than ready to start school. But there were quite a few things on the leaflet we received that I hadn’t even considered. Things like buying zip up dresses rather than button down to make it easier for her when getting changed for PE. And that she would need to be able to use the toilet independently and to carry her plate or tray at lunchtime! Other bigger things I felt were important were things like…
Health Consciousness This is something I am super passionate about. Teaching my children the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. We started doing this from a very young age. When Bella was a baby we used to go for plenty of walks together with her either in the buggy or I’d wear her in a baby carrier. We also did baby swimming lessons. And then at 18 months Bella started Ballet lessons which she still does now and we have recently started horse riding together too. We also got a dog at the beginning of the year which has really helped to encourage us all to get outside walking more!
As well as being active I really want my children to have a good relationship with food by teaching them the importance of a balanced diet. We don’t deny the children treats as I personally don’t think that’s the best way to go about it. By telling I child they cannot have something, it makes them want it even more. Instead we try to eat healthily most of the time so that they can enjoy the odd treats. We cook most of our meals from scratch using plenty of lean meat and fresh vegetables to ensure the children get all the vitamins they need. The fruit bowl is always well stocked too for snacks.
Time Management My sister bought Bella a watch for Christmas and this has been great for teaching her to tell the time. Its been really helpful for gently teaching her about time management. For example in the mornings she knows that we all need to be up, dressed and downstairs by 8am for breakfast and out the door by 8.45am. Then in the evenings she knows what time she goes to bed so this helps give her an idea of how much time she has to play or read before it’s time for lights off. Schools obviously operate on a timetable so just by making Bella aware of these things at home, it will hopefully help her understand how her school day works. Time management is one of those skills that benefit us for life after all! As she gets older she’ll be set homework with deadlines so hopefully this will help her to manage her time with that too. I suppose that time management is one of those things that is a very subtle blend of pressure and rewards.
And, of course, there are so many other skills needed, like money management, decision-making skills, and even the importance of saying “no” to someone. Something that I have re iterated to Bella many times. Just because she is in full-time education now, I can’t just rely on the school and her teachers to provide all the information for her to live a well-balanced life. It’s just as much up to us as parents too!
I hope these tips have been helpful, is there anything you would add?
*Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*
Hugo’s second birthday is fast approaching so I have started to think about what gifts we might get him. I always found it so easy buying for Bella but I really struggle with ideas for Hugo. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a boy or if it’s just a second child thing. His favourite things to play with at home at the moment are the play kitchen, shopping basket, babies and cars. He loves the playmobil at his childminders too! The garden slide that Bella got for her third birthday is a big hit with him too. He is also Peppa Pig obsessed but I try to avoid too many character things as children change their mind so frequently!
So I have been scouring online and have come up with a handful of bits that I think he would love. I’ve tried to keep everything fairly unisex too so these ideas should suit everyone.
ONE Bella has a scooter similar to this and Hugo is obsessed with it. This lovely yellow one also comes with a folding seat which I think will be so handy for his age. This will be Hugo’s main present along with a helmet too!
TWO I love personalised gifts and there is almost always something personalised on my own birthday list. I think this breakfast set would make a lovely birthday gift for Hugo! The Gift Co had loads of fab ideas for both children and adults.
THREE Toddler vans are just super cute and I think they’ll be great shoes for the summer as they’ll go with both leggings and shorts.
FOUR As Hugo’s a summer baby it’s nice to be able to buy him garden toys for his birthday. I think he would love this little lawn mower!
FIVE This water table would be great for both the children to play with together during the warmer weather! I’m a big fan of little tikes toys, they’re always so well made.
SIX It’s a bit of a tradition in our house that we always buy the children a top and/or some pjs with their age on! This 2 stripy tee is ADORABLE.
SEVEN Hugo has just got over his fear of the bath so I thought a new bath toy featuring his favourite little pig would be a hit!
EIGHT And last but not least is this diggers magnet book! Hugo has a Peppa one of these already and loves it. He’ll sit for ages playing with it so I think he’ll enjoy this one too.
*This is a Sponsored Post but all opinions and words are of course my own*
I shared a photo of these Chicken Wraps on my Instagram stories last night and had SO many people message to ask for the recipe so I thought I’d share it here for you to enjoy too! Apologies for the lack of photos but I wasn’t expecting to share it as a post. I will definitely be making it again though so will add some more photos then!
The recipe came from our Gousto box this week. We used to do these a while back but then stopped after Hugo was born but have started again as we’d got stuck in a bit of a rut with meals.
This is our third meal from this box and we have loved every single one so far! The kids have been really enjoying them too. These Shredded Hoisin Chicken Wraps were so quick and easy to whip up. The perfect Saturday night dinner and much cheaper than a takeaway!
Ingredients (Serves 2, double all ingredients for 4)
1/2 a cucumber
2 spring onions
6 small tortilla wraps
1 red gem lettuce
320g skinless and boneless chicken thighs (you could use breast if you prefer)
40g hoisin sauce
15ml soy sauce
5g sesame seeds
Heat a large wide based pan (preferably a non stick one with a lid) over a high heat. Once hot add the chicken thighs to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Once golden, reduce the heat to low, add a couple of splashes of water to the pan and cook, covered with the lid, for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile shred the lettuce. Cut the cucumber into discs and then slice each disc into matchsticks. Trim the spring onions and slice them lengthways until you have thin strips.
Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a clean chopping board and shred it apart using two forks.
Return the chicken to the pan and add the hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Cook for 2 minutes until warmed through.
Place your wraps on a plate and heat in the microwave for around 30 seconds.
Enjoy your wraps filled with the shredded lettuce, spring onion, cucumber and hoisin chicken. Finish off by sprinkling the sesame seeds into your filled wraps! Now, tuck in!
On the Fourteenth of March 2019, in the early hours of the morning, my darling Dad passed away. He was just 61. And it has turned my whole world completely and utterly upside down. It’s been seven weeks now and it still doesn’t feel real. This is an incredibly personal post to share but it feels almost cathartic to write all the details down. And I also hope that it might just help spread a little awareness too.
Rewind to a few days before and I arrived at my Dad’s with Hugo in tow to be informed by his carer that Dad had been throwing up and had a suspected sickness bug. This continued for a few days. I made sure to go and check on him daily and to call him regularly to check on him and remind him to keep a close eye on his blood sugar levels as he was diabetic.
By day four I insisted Dad asked his GP to come out to see him, which she did. His Doctor said it was just a vomiting and diarrhoea bug and prescribed some anti sickness medication to help ease the nausea. The next day I convinced Dad to eat something and made him some scrambled eggs which he only managed half of. He kept them down so I figured he was probably over the worst of the virus now and he would hopefully improve.
The next day Dad called me at work mid morning and told me he was struggling to catch his breath. I told him to stay put and called him an ambulance before jumping straight in my car and driving to his. The paramedics arrived and did their usual checks while I reeled off Dad’s medical history to them. I knew it better than even he did. I expressed my concerns to them but they didn’t seem overly worried but agreed they would take him in for some extra checks. I got out his holdall and chucked in his toiletries, medication and some fresh clothes.
I then returned to work and called the hospital as soon as I got home with the children at about 4.15pm. The A&E Doctor I spoke to told me they thought Dad had Sepsis and stressed I needed to understand the seriousness of the matter. I obviously knew Sepsis wasn’t good news but I didn’t know all that much about it. I hung up the phone and sobbed. I called my sister who came straight over and drove us both to the hospital.
When we arrived Dad was hooked up to a bag of fluids and was sat up eating some soup. His skin already looked brighter than when I had seen him a few hours before. We spoke to a different Doctor who seemed much less worried than the one I spoke to on the phone. He told us that they were taking all the precautions of Sepsis but they wouldn’t know for sure if that’s what it was until they had blood tests back. He said that it was a good sign that Dad’s blood sugars were stable and he didn’t have a temperature.
We sat with Dad for a while, relaying to him what the Doctor has told us. As soon as I mentioned the word Sepsis, my Dad looked terrified and muttered ‘but Sepsis kills you‘. I reassured him and told him he’d be okay, that he was in the best place and he needed to rest. I kissed him on the cheek and told him I would be straight back up the next day. He was nodding off to sleep as we pulled the curtain round him.
As my Sister and I walked back to the car we both said how we felt that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as we’d originally feared and that he’d hopefully bounce back like he always did.
I was feeling pretty drained so headed up to bed for an early night. But I woke with a start thinking Josh’s alarm was going off, when in fact it was my phone ringing on my bedside table. It was 1.45am.
No Caller ID
I answered sleepily and a lovely male Doctor quickly and gently explained that he had been called to my Dad’s bedside half an hour before because he had suddenly deteriorated. I knew what was coming but I willed him not to say the words.
‘By the time I got to him, his heart had already stopped beating. We did everything we could. I’m sorry’
And just like that, it was like my world stopped spinning.
After I hung up the phone I ran to the toilet because I thought I was going to throw up. I was in total shock. I returned to bed and Josh held me while we both just sobbed for hours until the sun came up. I tried to call my sister but she was sleeping. It felt like I was trapped in some horrific nightmare and nothing made sense.
The days that followed are a bit of a blur. I felt numb and was on autopilot. Josh made lots of phone calls, we collected my Dad’s wheelchair and personal belongings from the hospital and I cried a lot of tears. Telling Bella her Grandpa had died was honestly the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to do.
We were informed that the coroner wanted to do a post mortum as Dad’s death was sudden and unexpected. We had to wait over a week for this to be done which was horrible. And when my phone rang again ‘No Caller ID’ with the results, my heart sank once more.
They confirmed my Dad died from Septic Shock. Which had been caused by severe ulcerative gastroenteritis with peritonitis.
I have spent a lot of time researching Sepsis over the past few weeks and I naively didn’t properly know the signs. I will always carry guilt with me and wish I had got my Dad to the hospital sooner. But I took reassurance from the Doctor that came out to visit Dad at home who clearly never suspected Sepsis either.
I was shocked to read that every 3.5 seconds, someone in the world dies of sepsis. In the UK alone, 52,000 people lose their lives to sepsis every year. This is more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. Globally, sepsis claims 6 million lives a year. Yet with early diagnosis it is easily treatable. Please have a look on the Sepsis Trust website and get yourself clued up on which symptoms to look out for.
I’ve been playing Easter Bunny and putting together a little basket of goodies every year since Bella was born. I think Josh thought I was nuts going through the effort when she was just 5 months old but it’s just as much for me as it is for the children. Things like Easter, Birthdays and Christmas were never really a big deal in our family when I was growing up and I am determined for that not to be the case for my children. I love any excuse to celebrate and do something special for them.
So I thought I would share some ideas for filling an Easter Basket. I did share a similar post a few years back here. As I have done this a few times before now, I actually already has most of the bits around the house. It certainly does not need to cost the earth or be super extravagant. This year I have kept it simple and just put a couple of Easter books in, a stuffed toy each, some bunny ears, a bag of Easter themed marshmallows and lastly some Kinder chocolate goodies from their Easter range which is available in all major supermarkets (apart from the Giant Eggs which are exclusive to Tesco and Ocado).
Other good non chocolate items to include are things like hair clips/bows, play doh, craft supplies, bubbles, stickers and even clothes. In the first one I ever did for Bella I put a little Easter romper in there.
We have some lovely plans with both family and friends this year and I can’t wait to celebrate Easter with our loved ones. There will be roast lamb, Easter egg hunts, my annual Easter cheesecake and lots of country dog walks I’m sure!
***The lovely people at Kinder very kindly gifted us a hamper of Easter goodies in exchange for a mention in this post. All photos and words are of course my own***
When we first viewed our house back in October 2017, one of the first things we agreed was that if we were to buy the house, we’d want to change the layout downstairs. It originally had a large open plan living and dining room but we knew we would prefer a separate lounge and a kitchen diner instead. We moved in just before Christmas and lived with the existing kitchen for what felt like the longest few weeks ever. The kitchen wall cupboards were so shallow that our plates didn’t even fit in them!
We started the renovation process almost a year ago now. It was a long and very hard couple of months but my god it has been SO worth it. I love the open plan kitchen and dining space we have created. And we spend the majority of our time in here these days! So I thought I should finally document how we got to this point including some before and afters. Let’s start with the ‘before’ shall we? The first photo is the original kitchen which we knocked the wall down and is now our dining area. The second photo is what was the dining area of the lounge / diner and we then built a wall and this space is now our kitchen!
Josh did most of the work himself, bar things like plastering and fitting the worktops and doors. The first step was to rip out the existing kitchen. Annoyingly we couldn’t get a skip into either of our gardens. So we ended up dumping it all in the back garden then doing a million tip runs.
Once the kitchen was out, we then had to rip out the old larder cupboard which was particularly stubborn! It was then time to rip down the wall between the old kitchen and dining space. I think Josh secretly enjoyed this part the most. Then the ceilings came down, the floors came up, the plumbing was done and we were left with what can only be described as total devastation. I remember shovelling piles of rubble out of the kitchen and wondering how an earth this was ever going to all come together!
The next step (I think) was to build a new wall to separate the lounge. Josh did this and I remember I asked him ‘have you ever built a wall before?’ his response was ‘No never, it’ll be fine’. I think I just laughed at this point!! Once the wall was up, we had to put new ceiling boards up and then the plasterer came and worked his magic. Josh did all the electrics around this time too and put all the sockets and spotlights in. We then spent many late nights painting both the walls and ceilings ready for the kitchen to arrive!
We bought our kitchen from Wren and I have to say, they were very good from start to finish. After much deliberation we chose a handle less gloss kitchen in the shade Pebble. This was very much out of my comfort zone as I had always loved more traditional style kitchens. But in the end we decided that for this style of house, a modern look would probably work better. For worktops we went for the luxury laminate in ‘Black Sparkle Gloss’. Josh and his Dad fitted the kitchen over a weekend. We sourced both the sink and tap ourselves as it worked out much cheaper. I was slightly hesitant when Josh suggested a black sick but I absolutely love it. It’s also super easy to keep clean!
Next they then laid the laminate flooring. I would have loved tiles but to keep costs down we ended up getting this Albero Grey Oak laminate from Wickes. It was on offer when we got it so worked out super affordable. We’ve also run the same flooring right through the hallway, utility room and downstairs loo too.
I always knew I wanted subway tiles in the new kitchen. I had my heart set on bevelled ones but Josh was adamant flat would work better. As he was going to be fitting them, I let him choose in the end! They were also from Wickes and on offer. But we had a bit of a nightmare with them when the order arrived lots of them were smashed! They were pretty good about it though and replaced them fairly promptly. We paired the subway tiles with a dark grey grout and I really love how they look together.
For appliances we decided not to get an integral fridge freezer as we already had one and it worked out quite pricey once you’d added the cupboard in too. We did however get an integral dishwasher included with our kitchen price so that was a bonus. We kept our old oven as it was fairly new still and bought a new induction hob and hood from AO.com.
Moving onto the dining room end, firstly we had a radiator put in under the window when the central heating was replaced. We also decided not to replace the door into the dining room end from the hallway but instead to have it as just an opening instead to save space. The door into the utility room was replaced with an oak effect one from Magnet.
Our dining table was a sale bargain from Next, it is the Bronx light range (this is similar). It seats 6 but also extends to seat 8 which is so handy from when we are entertaining. The white eames style chairs were a pack of 6 from Amazon. These ones are similar. I love the contrast between the wood table and the plastic chairs, it gives a real Scandinavian feel to our dining space. The galvanised tray on the table is also from Next.
Our white chest of drawers was originally Josh’s grandparents as we have had it a few years. We gave it a new lease of life with a lick of white paint and some super cheap new handles from IKEA. It holds all our place mats and table cloths and is super handy to have in there for extra storage. The print above is from Desenio and was part of a previous collaboration with them.
This Spanish Chicken and Chorizo tray bake is one of Josh and I’s absolute favourite dinners. Its so quick to prepare and you then just bung it in the oven. And also only the one tray to wash up! It couldn’t be easier. The secret ingredient in this dish is definitely the chorizo. As it cooks it releases lots of gorgeous oils which then coat the veggies and it’s absolutely bloody delicious. The beauty of this dish is that you can literally chuck whatever you have that needs using up in the fridge in it. I often will add mushrooms, beetroot and aubergine too! Pretty much anything goes with this dish. You can also use white, sweet or even new potatoes if you like. Or leave out the potatoes all together and serve with rice instead! I have used chicken breasts in this recipe but its also lovely with thighs too. We always have enough for leftovers too and I can confirm that it is just as tasty reheated for lunch!!
Whenever I share a photo of this meal on social media, I always get so many messages asking how to make it! So I thought I would finally write down how I do it so that you can recreate it too! Like all of my dinner recipes, it’s healthy, quick and super easy. I hope you enjoy it just as much as we do.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and prepare all of your vegetables and then chuck them into a large baking tray along with the chorizo. Toss it all around and season with a few grinds of salt and pepper. Put into the oven for around 10 minutes while you prepare your chicken.
Remove any unwanted bits from your chicken breasts. When the vegetables are ready to come out of the oven, place the chicken directly on top of the veg and chorizo. Sprinkle the whole dish with the spanish seasoning and then return to the oven for a further 25 minutes.
Serve the chicken with the roasted vegetables and then top with a good lot of crumbled feta! Enjoy!