Blogging Burnout

I began the year full of promise and ideas. I had planned on being consistent with my blogging, creating lots of new content and hopefully increasing my views and followers.

I have gained a lot of support through my blogging this year which I am really grateful for. I managed to blog a lot in the first three months of the year which I am happy about.

As we approached April, I began to slow down with my blog posts. I got to a point when I realised that I had run out of inspiration and that my blog content wasn’t particularly interesting. I had began to get fed up with all of my ‘what have we been eating posts’!!

I have seen many fellow bloggers taking a break from blogging at the moment. I think that we are all similar in that we have tried so hard with blogging from the beginning of the year and now we are a quarter of the way through it is hard to keep up the pace. A break is definitely needed to gather thoughts and reconnect with what makes us happy.

I don’t have a great deal of spare time. All of my blog posts are written on the WordPress Reader App. Which isn’t the same as writing and editing posts on a laptop. I find it quicker and easier but I suppose I am not able to use as many tools by doing it this way. I probably need to spend more time looking at the layout of my blog and editing it.

I have been trying to figure out what sort of things to blog about and ways to improve on my writing style.

My goals from this point are as follows,
I would like my blog to look more professional in design, layout and content. I would like my photos to be attractive, sharp and professional looking. I need to focus on backgrounds and styling of the things I photograph.

These are my basic goals to begin with – perhaps as time goes on I will work more towards having a blogging schedule and planning what I am writing in advance. Also I think that I need to interact more with fellow bloggers.

I have been wondering recently whether blogging is for me. I don’t have a lot of online presence – I don’t particularly use social media and I’m not an outgoing person or confident with using social media outlets. I also feel that I am running out of ideas to blog about!

Have you found that taking a little time away from blogging has helped?

Thanks for reading, and I appreciate any input. Although I began my blog in 2016, I blogged for about a year and then didn’t get back into it until the end of 2020 so I still feel very new to blogging.

Katie

Last Supper Meal

It’s Maundy Thursday, the day that Jesus sat with his disciples and shared the Last Supper.

This year I decided that I would make a Last Supper to share with my family as a way of connecting with our faith and exploring what happened during Easter week. In a way it was like a reenactment as we discussed what was in the scripture and what happened during the Last Supper. This was on a basic level as my daughter is 3 so was aimed at her level of understanding.

For the meal, I researched what sort of foods would have been eaten in Israel during Jesus’ time and tried to create dishes that reflected that.

We didn’t drink wine but did have red juice and also red grapes as part of our meal instead.

For the bread, which had to be unleavened, I made some simple wholemeal flat breads.

The main component of the meal was couscous with lentils and red peppers. This was garnished with parsley and lemon zest and a scattering of pomegranate seeds.

I bought some smoked mackerel for the fish part of the meal and then I created a board of fruits, olives and tomatoes to serve with the fish and mackerel.

I chose dates, figs, grapes and pomegranate seeds and also bought some mixed olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

Whilst some of the food wasn’t to everybody’s tastes, it was a really great experience and was lovely to try different foods and connect with what Jesus would have been eating at the Last Supper. Obviously nobody knows exactly what would have been eaten but I tried to serve foods that may have been eaten during those times.

It was a lovely time of reflection about how the events of Easter unfolded. I found this a really family friendly activity to help learn about the story of Easter together.

I wish you a happy and blessed Easter weekend.

Katie

Easter Gingerbread Biscuit Gifts

It’s been a week since I last made a blog post! I guess I haven’t had a lot of inspiration this past 7 days!

However, I have done some more Easter baking – this time it was treats to send out as gifts.

If you read my post …Easter Biscuit Traybake , you will see that this was where the original idea and inspiration came from. I wanted to make this idea better so decided I would make gingerbread dough this time to give the biscuit slab a smoother finish.

As I wanted two contrasting colours, I decided to make a plain gingerbread and a chocolate gingerbread. I found recipes for these online and went ahead and made the dough. I chilled the dough for several hours before rolling and cutting into my designs. As before, I cut out shapes from the rectangles I made and replaced them with shapes of the contrasting dough. A little fiddly but I think the effect is worth it.

I made 3 different biscuit slabs, one was kept as a tester and the other 2 I have sent out to family members who should receive them in the post tomorrow. I fear that the biscuits may be a little soft but perfectly edible I’m sure!

These were Easter themed so used the Easter cutters to create a nice picture out of the gingerbread dough. Here’s how they looked before baking.

After the biscuits had baked and cooled, I decorated them using icing pens. Once decorated, I wrapped in foil and packed carefully into a small letterbox size box.

I feel that these biscuits still need to look neater and more refined. Also some of the gingerbread didn’t fully merge together when baking so did break a little.
However, making these has given me so many new ideas for this style of biscuit. AI may try shortbread next…

The gingerbread tasted really good – the chocolate gingerbread was very rich but full of flavour and worked really well with the spices.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Three Favourite Meals from this Week

Here is this week’s edition of what I have been cooking this week. I have included some recipes and hope that they provide some meal inspiration for you.

Corn and Bean Casserole with Sweet Potato Scones

This was a good hearty meal full of veg and flavour. I decided that sweet potato would go well with it and found a recipe for sweet potato scones.

For the casserole I used
-1 tin of taco beans in spicy sauce
-1 tin of tomatoes
-1 diced shallot
– Half 1 red pepper diced
– 1 garlic clove minced
-1/2 cup of frozen sweetcorn

I cooked these in an oven proof pan and made up the scones. I followed a recipe book for this. It involved cooking and mashing sweet potatoes and adding them to a savoury scone mix which I made up following the recipe. I cut the scones into large circles and added on top of the casserole and baked for about 15 minutes.


Cheesy Leek and Spinach Pie.

This was another lovely meal. I cooked leeks, spinach, green beans and peas and seasoned well. I made a cheese sauce and covered the greens in it. This was encased in a shortcrust pastry and I baked in my heart shaped dish.

I served with fried new potatoes and greens.

Sausage and Bean Bake with Baked Eggs,

This was my favourite meal of the week, here’s how to make it;

Ingredients
– 2 sausages chopped up
-1 diced shallot
-1 finely chopped garlic clove
– 1 tin of kidney beans
-1 tin of tomatoes
-1 tin of baked beans
– 1/2 tsp of hot paprika
– 1 tsp of dried oregano
– 1 tbsp oil
– salt and pepper
– 4 eggs
– grated cheddar for sprinkling on top

Method
1. Gently fry shallots and sausages in the oil until lightly browned and then add the garlic, oregano and paprika.( Use an oven proof pan)

2. Add the beans and tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season as required.

3. Crack the eggs into the pan and bake in the oven at a high temperature for about 6 minutes.

4. Once dished up add on the grated cheddar.

I served this with some sweet potato wedges. This meal could be made without sausages to suit vegetarians.

The eggs were cooked so that the yolks lovely and runny.

Hope you had great week and have eaten some lovely food!

Katie

Easter Activities for Children

Easter is a lovely time of year with so many things to celebrate. While Easter is traditionally a Christian festival many people also use the time to enjoy family meals, celebrate spring, have egg hunts and eat chocolate!

All of these things are wonderful and I hope to incorporate them all into our Easter celebrations this year.

I have a 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son so want to do crafts and activities that are suitable to their ages.

Here are some ideas of Easter activities to do with children.

Make Easter cards
Card making is fun and easy to do with young children and a whole range of different craft supplies could be used. I have some stick on Easter shapes and ribbons that can be used. Also hand print flowers or sponge stamps to create bunnies, chicks, flowers etc. These would all make lovely cards to send out to loved ones.

Easter Baking
There is a whole range of Easter baking that could be done. The most obvious one for young children is to make bird nests out of cereal and melted chocolate. These are normally filled with mini chocolate eggs. I will be making these soon but have chosen to use Jelly Babies Chicks to put in the nests as these are more suitable for young children. (Not that I give my children sweets frequently) Mini eggs can be a choking hazard, so it is best to avoid these when making with young children.Cereals that could be used to make the nests are rice cereal, cornflakes, shredded wheat or even oats.

Easter shaped cookies are also good for young children to help make and decorate.

Have a Last Supper Meal
This is something we are planning on doing as a family on Maundy Thursday. There will definitely be red grape juice and flatbread. I am still researching what other foods we could eat that would be similar to what Jesus would have eaten. If anybody has any ideas or suggestions I would be grateful. We wanted to have this meal as a chance to connect with our faith and explore the Easter story in more depth.

-Make Easter Bonnets
I always remember making Easter Bonnets when I was a child and really enjoyed the activity. I have a distinct memory of making a green dome shaped hat which was a hill and then I added 3 crosses to it. I was about 7 years old when I made it and was very proud of it! For my daughter I have bought a pink hat from a craft shop and then together we have stuck on bunnies, chicks, bees and ribbon. If you have several children you could have an Easter bonnet parade where they parade their handmade/ hand decorated Easter hats.

Make Easter Decorations
It’s lovely to decorate the home for different festivals and Easter should be no exception. In lots of craft shops you can buy eggs for decorating. These are great for hanging on houseplants or if you have an Easter tree. I am thinking about different decorations we can be making over the next few days and hope to share them with you. In the past I have made daffodils from card and used cuttings from card egg boxes to be the centre of the daffodil.

-Have an Easter Egg Hunt
This is one of the most traditional things to do with children at Easter. For this I will be hiding small foil wrapped eggs around the home for my children to find and collect.

Make an Easter Play scene
If you read my last post… Easter Story Play Scene, You will see our playset involving some paper mache pieces. Paper mache is a great craft to do with children. I chose to make a play scene of the Easter story but you could make other play scenes based on spring time, eggs and the Easter bunny. Imagination is key and lots of different things can be made from paper mache.

Enjoy a Springtime Walk
This time of year spring flowers are emerging and it’s lovely to see them growing. Perhaps you could make a checklist of different flowers and have a walk around your local area and see if you can spot them growing in gardens and parks. Also if you live near the countryside it’s a lovely time to see lambs in the fields. Ducks and other waterfowl may also be nesting soon, so if you live near a pond you could look out for that.

I have so many ideas but if I shared them all it would be such a long blog post! Perhaps if I have any more Easter ideas I will write another blog post!

As we move forward towards Easter we will be reading the Easter story more and also learning about spring time and baby animals.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and that I have given you some inspiration! I really enjoyed writing this post to share with you.

Katie

Easter Story Play Scene

In the lead up to Easter I am wanting to do different activities with my 3 year old. This will include different things such as baking, crafts, reading the Easter story and learning the Easter story through play.

Together myself and my daughter made a paper mache tomb and stone and also made a hill and crosses.

With the help of Playmobil, I made the rest of the Easter Story. I really love Playmobil – it’s great for imagination and so many different stories and characters can be made from them. A bit of imagination is needed here as we have tried to make the Playmobil figures into disciples, Jesus, Roman soldiers and various other people.

They don’t have costumes and always have fixed smiles so this is where the imagination is needed as we have firefighter disciples, female disciples and so on. The angel is a fairy and the Roman soldiers are 2 Playmobil women who look nothing like soldiers!! Also the wine is not red and the bread is cheese!

However, we have managed to find enough figures to create the scenes from the Easter story and I would like to share with you our Easter Story Playset, with the help of Playmobil.

I actually find some of this photos quite moving and I am quite pleased with how the scenes turned out. I will keep these pieces out until Easter for my daughter to be able to play with. She knows the story quite well and it will be lovely to see her acting it out with figures.

The Last Supper
Praying in the garden of Gethsemane
Judas and Roman Soldiers arrive
Judas betrays Jesus
Jesus is crucified
Jesus’ body is placed in a tomb
Soldiers guarded the tomb
An angel rolled the stone away
Jesus has risen

I hope you have enjoyed seeing how I have created an Easter Story scenes for my 3 year old.

Maybe you will be inspired to create something similar?

Katie

Easter Biscuit Traybake

Ever since I made the Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding I have been thinking about other Easter bakes that I can make.

I bought some Easter Biscuit cutters a little while ago and wanted to be able to use these but I didn’t want to make just shaped biscuits. I had an idea in my head that I wanted to test out…

Sometimes an idea in our heads doesn’t always quite work out how we imagined but I am happy with my first attempt…

I found a simple biscuit recipe and adapted it to make two lots of dough, a vanilla dough and a chocolate dough.

After 1 hour chilling in the fridge I rolled a little of each of the dough out and cut out 4 Easter shapes from each. All the remaining dough was put together and rolled into a rectangle.

I then put the rolled out dough into a large baking tray – it broke a little and I did have to press some of the dough in place! I then used the cutters to remove shapes of dough from the tray and filled in with the shapes I cut earlier. (This sounds confusing doesn’t it)!? There is probably an easier way to achieve this effect which is why this is attempt number 1 and I shall learn from this!!

Before baking

Next this went in the oven to bake and came out looking like this.

Not the neatest looking I admit! I decided I would use some icing pens to decorate it.

After this I decided it needed some colour so drew on some flowers with orange and pink icing pens.

This was just a fun baking experiment for me and I am quite pleased with how it looks for a first attempt and I am already thinking of what I can do to improve it. The ideas was completely in my head – I haven’t seen anything quite like this before which is why I thought I would give it a go.

It makes a great treat for a family. Smaller letterbox versions of these could be made which would make a great gift to post to loved ones.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding

Yesterday I made a Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding. It was a great success and I wanted to share it with you.

I had a couple of of Hot Cross Buns that were a little stale and I decided that they would be good in a pudding.

I found a bread and butter pudding recipe and adapted it, here’s what I did;

I sliced the buns into 3 slices, so I had 6 slices of of Hot Cross Buns. I layered these into a well buttered dish and drizzled melted butter on them.

For the custard mixture, I whisked 2 eggs with 225ml of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.

I poured the custard mix over the buns and allowed to soak for 20 minutes. I then drizzled a little golden syrup on top and finished with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

This baked in the oven at 180c until it was golden and had a firm wobble.

I really enjoyed this dessert, it was a lovely tasty treat. I love to eat Hot Cross Buns at this time of year and I am looking forward to doing more Easter cooking and baking. I enjoy Easter as a religious festival and find it such a poignant time of thought and reflection.

Hopefully I will be able to share some Easter Crafts soon.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Under The Sea Birthday Party

This week I posted about my son’s 1st Birthday Party..Gruffalo Birthday Dinner…. As promised here is a blog post about what I did for daughter’s 1st birthday in 2018…. (Obviously in 2018 Covid-19 didn’t exist so we were able to have lots of party guests) We had an ‘under the sea’ birthday party for her. This party was lots of fun and I am going to share with you how we decorated the house and what food we served.

I wanted to make this party visually appealing so that there was lots to look at and to make the theme come to life.

We had lots of decorations hanging from the ceiling including shiny coils with fish characters on and we also hung string across the rooms and draped with pieces of crepe paper to create seaweed, coral and sea.

We also decorated the lamp shade to make it look like a large jellyfish hanging from the ceiling!

I made some salt dough fish characters and painted them, these were used to decorate windows. For the table, I bought a set of mermaid tableware which included tablecloths, napkins, cups, plates, bowls, party hats and party blowers. It also came with bunting which we hung up in the rooms.

I made up simple party bags for the children. Each child had two small tubes of bubbles and a party blower. The under ones got a fish soft toy and the older children got two packets of under the sea themed stickers. Each guest also took home some birthday cake.

For the food, everything we made fitted to the theme. We had fish shaped pizza, sea creature shaped potato, sweet potato and butternut squash chips and a coral reef vegetable tray.The pizza dough was all homemade and covered with a variety of colourful toppings. The recipe for this pizza was from one of my old recipe books that is based on Bible stories.

For the chips, we bought some metal cutters in the shape of a seahorse, shell and starfish. Once the vegetables were cut they were then coated in a little oil and baked. These were cut the night before and left in water.

I found the coral reef salad idea online but made it up using different vegetables to those I had seen to create my own version of a vegetable coral reef.

For dessert we had blue jelly with fruit shaped fish in, a turtle watermelon with fruit salad and banana dolphins. We also had fish shaped biscuits.

The birthday cake was a turtle on the sand. This was a madeira cake decorated with buttercream and fondant icing. My Mum made this cake – it looked really impressive.

I hope you have enjoyed looking through the photos of the party food and decorations and hope that I have provided you with some inspiration to throw your own ‘under the sea’ party!

Kitchen Creations This Week

I like to end the week with a post about what I have been cooking and baking, so here is this week’s…

Evening Meals

On Sunday we had a lovely roast pork dinner, my husband cooked most of this so I can’t take the credit for it. He is a good cook too and I often refer to him as the Weekend Chef as that’s when he has the time to do cooking.

Because we had roast pork on Sunday, it meant we had leftovers. I chose to use the leftover pork in a risotto. I made a risotto with pork, yellow pepper and beans and flavoured with paprika.

Tuesday was the birthday party tea – you can read all about that here

Wednesday I made Toad in the Hole – I mentioned that we like this meal in my post Roasted Vegetables in Yorkshire Pudding. This time I used sausages and cooked them in the Yorkshire Pudding batter in my heart shaped dish!

Thursday was root vegetable pasty night. I made a mix of thinly sliced carrot, parsnip and potato and seasoned with lots of black pepper, salt, thyme and some melted butter. These were the filling to the homemade shortcrust pastry I made.

Friday I made vegetable lasagne – the filling was made from red lentils in passata with courgette, green peppers and chopped spinach. I added dried basil and oregano. The sauce was cheese sauce made with cheddar. I really like this version of lasagne and don’t miss having beef mince in it at all.

Lunches

I have had a few salads this week. As I don’t like to waste food, I saved all the offcuts from the Woodland Salad I made on Tuesday – This made the perfect salad for me on Wednesday with a few added extras. Talking of leftovers, I had some of the pasty filling leftover so fried that and ate it with my lunch on Friday.

I made a tuna pasta which my husband and daughter took in their lunchboxes one day this week. I like to eat a variety of things and wouldn’t want the same lunch everyday!

Breakfast

I have been making overnight oats this week which are really yummy and super quick! I love that in the morning you can just take it out the fridge and eat it straight away as all the preparation is done. This is good for my husband as he leaves for work early. I have also been enjoying berries with yoghurt and chocolate porridge with bananas.

Baking

I made the Gruffalo birthday cake at the beginning of the week and then later in the week I made Banana and Ginger Slices. These are really tasty and have a strong ginger flavour. I have frozen half of these for later as they will dry out quite quickly.

Cake Jenga!?

This week has been filled with tasty home cooking and comfort foods. I like variety and try to create different meals every week as well as cooking some old favourites.

Hope you’ve had a great week,

Katie