Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Big Barmouth Knit 2013 in aid of Wales Air Ambulance & the RNLI

The Big Barmouth Knit 2013 in aid of Wales Air Ambulance & the RNLI.  

To raise money for two very valuable resources which are used daily throughout Wales, with your help, we are going to knit an epic, super-length scarf for our friend on the beach, Bermo Moai.

Doesn't he look cold and lonely just stood there.... naked?

So how do we join in?

Grab your knitting needles and crochet hooks and get knitting or crocheting!

Please ensure the knitted or crocheted squares are 6” square (or as close as you can get!) so we can make the scarf as beautiful and seamless as possible!  Any colour and type of yarn is fine!

Then, please send your completed square(s) to:

c/o Crystal House Hotel
19 Marine Parade
LL42 1NA

You can donate just one square if you like, but the more squares the merrier!  The aim is to make a super-long scarf to help keep Bermo Moai warm(er!) than he is!  The grand dressing ceremony will take place on Easter Monday (1st April) 2013 at 2pm... please be assured this is not an April Fool!

All squares must be received at the address above by Monday 18th March 2013 to be included and to enable the final stitching to take place.

Please pop a note in the envelope with your email address on if you wish to receive an email acknowledgement of your contribution.

Great, so how are you raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance and the RNLI?

Once all the squares have been received and stitched together, we will measure the total length of the scarf (to the nearest inch) and  the person who has guessed the correct length will win 1/3 of the total amount raised with the remaining 2/3 being split equally between the Wales Air Ambulance and the RNLI.

Anyone can buy a “guess” at the (laid out not stretched) length of the scarf for £1... more than 1 person can guess the same number of inches – the prize in this case will be split equally between the winners.  There will be a PayPal account available for anyone outside of the area to donate and have a go! 

The competition will go live via the Katie Cupcake Cymru Facebook page once all of the squares have been received and stitched together – we will give you ONE clue as to what the length is... the total weight of the scarf! 

The official measuring will be verified by an independent adjudicator and the winner announced at the dressing ceremony.  In the event of more than one person correctly guessing the total length of the scarf, the winner’s prize fund will be split between the number of correct guessers.

Following the official photographs, the scarf will be donated to a local animal rescue centre to provide snuggly blankets for the animals they care for.

Please share this post to help us raise lots of funds for charities essential for the safety of everyone out there.  Following the recent floods, the RNLI and the Wales Air Ambulance have been involved in many rescue situations - and not just for families living by the sea.

Anyone all over the UK (and worldwide!) can get involved so let's get this on everyone's news feed!  Ready, steady, GO!

EDIT 29th Jan 3pm: 
We've had a suggestion to offer a prize for the winner(s) so that the charities can recieve all of the money raised.  So if anyone can offer a prize to this great cause, it would be gladly welcomed.  Please comment below and and I will be in touch, or alternatively email me at katiebeech71@hotmail.com.  Many thanks x 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Fried rice with garlic and ham - Recommended Recipe!

Fried rice with garlic and ham - serves 1, preparation 20 minutes.

50g long grain or basmati rice
1tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 slice ham, roughly chopped
2 tbsp frozen peas
1 spring onion, trimmed and finely chopped
Pinch hot chilli powder
1 meduim egg, beaten
dash of light soy sauce
fresh coriander, to garnish


  1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.  Drain, rinse and cool quickly.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the onion and stir fry for 1 min, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the ham and peas and fry for a minute, then add the rice and cook for 3 minutes.  Toss in the spring onion and chilli powder and fry for 1 minute.  Add the egg and stir fry for another minute.  Finally stir in the soy sauce.  Garnish with chopped coriander.
Per serving - 430 kcal, 48g carbohydrate, 18g fat, 4g saturated fat, no added sugar.

Source - Asda instore magazine.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Finger-licking chicken wings - Recommended Recipe!

Finger-licking chicken wings - serves 4.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp clear honey
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp English mustard
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
8 chicken wings, tips removed
2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/fan 180C.  Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the onion and the garlic for 3-4 mins until softened.  Stir in the honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and Tabasco sauce and simmer the mixture very gently for a minute or so.
  2. Dust the chicken in the seasoned flour then brush liberally with the sauce.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until well browned and cooked through.  Transfer to a serving plate and keep those napkins handy, or just lick those fingers!
Source - unknown.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Pasta peperonata - Recommended Recipe!

Pasta peperonata - serves 4.

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
2 yellow peppers, seeded and sliced
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped, stalks reserved
2 tsbp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 handfuls of grated parmesan cheese
2 heaped tbsp mascarpone cheese or creme fraiche (optional)
455g/1lb rigatoni, penne or spaghetti


  1. Put all the peppers in a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place a lid on, and cook slowly for 15 mins until softened.  Don't rush this too much, as cooking the peppers slowly like this really helps to bring out the flavour.
  2. Add the onions and cook for a further 20 mins.  Then add the garlic and parsley stalks and toss around, keeping everything moving in the pan.  Cook for about 3 mins more.  Have a little taste, and season with a bit more salt and pepper.
  3. Add the vinegar - it will sizzle away, so give everything a good toss.  Then add one handful of the grated parmesan and the mascarpone or creme fraiche (if using) and turn the heat down to minimum while you cook the pasta.
  4. Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water on to boil.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the pack instructions.  When cooked, drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water.
  5. Put the peppers, pasta and parsley leaves into a warmed bowl.  Give them a good toss together, then add a little of the pasta cooking water and a few good glugs of extra virgin olive oil to coat the pasta nicely.  Serve straight away, sprinkled with the rest of the parmesan.
Source - unknown.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Quick and Easy "hidden veg" Spaghetti Bolognese

Sometimes it's quite difficult to get your little (and big!) ones to eat the recommended 5 portions of vegetables and fruit per day.  I've never really struggled with my son as he will eat basically anything - except for chips, but that's no hardship!

My daughter, however, can be very fussy - apparently she takes after me but I can't see it really.... !  So anyway, this is how we sneak extra vegetables into our spaghetti Bolognese.

500g minced beef (or lamb) as lean as possible
1 onion, very finely chopped or grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, very finely chopped or grated
50g ish of mushrooms, wiped and chopped as small as possible
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
 Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
approx 300g pasta - spaghetti or penne is best (but my daughter does like "butterflies!)
Grated cheese to sprinkle on top if required

  1. Fry the mince until browned in a large frying pan - I don't use oil, just start on a lower heat to allow some of the fat to escape from the meat, then there's enough to fry in.  Add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.
  2. Add the carrots, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika and chilli powder and mix well.
  3. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until all the veg is soft and "disappeared"!  Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta and grate the cheese.
  5. Serve and enjoy with a green side salad!
There are 5 different vegetables in this recipe, excluding the salad, so a great boost for your vegetable intake.  Grating the veg is the best way to make them disappear - just mind your fingers though!

For the fruit side of things, in order to get my children to try different fruits, we like to experiment by making fruit kebabs.  Just buy a variety of fruits (most supermarkets stock a good and ever-changing reasonably priced exotic fruits) and let them choose, try and make fruit kebabs on cocktail sticks (make sure you supervise little ones with the cocktail sticks).  As a treat, you can drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve with ice cream!  Enjoy!

I am entering this recipe into Mummys Little Peeps healthy eating competition in attempt to win a £50 Sainsbury's voucher.

Saucy chicken and spring vegetables - Recommended Recipe!

Saucy chicken and spring vegetables - serves 2, ready in 20-25 minutes

2 chicken breasts. skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
200g/8oz baby new potatoes, thinly sliced
500ml/18floz chicken stock
200g pack of mixed spring veg (broccoli, peas, broad beans and sliced courgette)
2 tbsp creme fraiche
handful of tarragon leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Fry the chicken in the oil in a wide pan for 5 mins on each side.  Throw in the potatoes and stir to coat.  Pour over the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked through.
  2. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high.  Boil the stock down until it just coats the bottom of the pan.  Scatter the vegetables into the pan, cover again and cook the veg for about 3 mins.
  3. Stir in the creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce, season with salt and pepper, if you want, and then add the tarragon.  Serve straight from the pan.
Make it tangy... For a mustardy sauce, stir 1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard in with the creme fraiche.  Use 1 tbsp dried tarragon instead of fresh.

Per serving - 386 kcal, 38g protein, 23g carbohydrate, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 3g fibre, 1.5g salt, no added sugar.

Source - BBC Good Food magazine.

Friday, 18 January 2013

GiftsOnline4U - great gift ideas at your fingertips!

Are you ever a bit stuck for what to buy for the person who has everything?  Or want to buy something special as a gift to treasure?  There's a lot of choice out the on the high street and the web... but where do you start to look?!?!

GiftsOnline4U provide fabulous gifts for all special occasions. Their range includes an array of personalised gifts, including personalised mugs and other such personalised gift ideas at a range of prices. You can also choose from over 1,000 engraved gifts including engraved tankards, engraved dog tags, engraved Zippo lighters, as well as engraved hip flasks and personalised photo frames. Not only this, but you can choose from a number of unusual gifts that friends and family would be happy to receive.

The website is very easy to navigate, with full drop down menus for each category of gift choice.  You can search by occasion, people, price and gift type - covering a multitude of possibilities and eventualities for whatever gift you are searching for!

With Valentine's Day creeping up on us and Mother's Day not so far behind it, there's time for us Mum's to have a browse and drop some large hints at a wish list!
I love this Engraved Compact Mirror - perfect for any occasion really and as it can be engraved, it's an extra special gift to treasure.

I wish I had found this website before Christmas as there are some lovely gifts for Christmas, including a Secret Santa section - when the going gets tough, get choosing with GiftsOnline4U!

And with a new baby due in our family later on in the year (not me, by the way!) I can't wait to choose a gift from the lovely selection of gifts on the website.
Alex... boy or girl - only time will tell!

Many items fit into more than one category and so can be found through various menus on the site... I always find this helpful as sometimes you need extra inspiration and your recipient may fit into more than one category themself!

And you can even help a deserving charity along the way - Vulcan to the Sky benefit from 20% of the sales (minus postage) of the items listed on the charity gift page - plenty of ideas here for the man in your life.

And with free UK delivery - what more can you ask for?!  You can keep up to date with new products and great competitions over at their Facebook page here... pop over and say hello!

Off to browse some more lovely gifts..... bye for now!

"A Grand Adventure" with MoneySupermarket

When an offer of 3 of my favourite things was waved in front of me - I couldn't resist.... planning, holidays and saving money (a little secret - certain members of my family call me Katie Coupon!), I just had to enter this great competition from MoneySupermarket!

So, where would I go, what would I do and how would I make my £1000 last as long as possible?  And what epic activity would we do?

Well, here we go - we (hubby, 2 children and I) would hire a campervan and drive across America following most of Route 66!  Starting in Los Angeles, California, we would travel by road visiting 8 states before arriving in Chicago, Illinois.  A total of 2448 miles!   Although we would be driving it from the end to the beginning(!), we would still capture the essence of America in one epic journey!  This icon of American culture and widely varied landscapes, for us, is a once in a lifetime experience.  I'm pretty good at making my pounds & dollars stretch as far as possible, so here's how we would do it!

We checked out the cost of hiring a campervan and was pleasantly surprised to find that you can hire a campervan (or RV if we're getting into the spirit of things!) for just £22 per day, so for the 14 days hire this would cost us £308 from STA Travel - being frugal about it, this may reduce further due to my husband being a student and STA Travel have great rates and offers from students.

The fuel for the trip would cost about £338 ($541) and the one-way hire fee is about another £126 ($200) so the total cost of the vehicle and fuel is £772.

As the vehicle hire is a large chunk of the budget, we would take advantage of the many, many things that are situated on Route 66 that you can see and visit free of charge!

We would plan to drive about 175 miles per day - some days a little more, some days a little less.  The basic plan goes a little like this....

Los Angeles (California) to Las Vegas (Nevada) to the Grand Canyon (Arizona) to Holbrook (Arizona) to Albuquerque (New Mexico) - slight detour to Santa Fe! - to Amarillo (Texas) to Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) to Tulsa (Oklahoma) to Springfield (Missouri) to St. Louis (Missouri) and finishing in Chicago (Illinois).  I can feel a song or two coming on after that list!

A few must-sees on the way... free, of course!
Amboy Crater - California

The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Rainbow Forest Museum - Arizona

St. Francis Cathedral - New Mexico

The Big Texan - Texas
U-Drop Inn - Texas (the inspiration for Ramone's House of Body Art - Disney/Pixar Cars)
Ramone's House of Body Art - Disney/Pixar Cars

Cadillac Ranch - Texas

The Leaning Water Tower - Texas

Devil's Rope Museum - Texas

The World's Largest Rocking Chair - Missouri

Hayes Shoe Store - Missouri

Viva Cuba Mural Project - Missouri

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial - Missouri
Chain of Rocks Bridge - Illinios/Missouri
Willis Tower - Chicago
And then for the excursions to be paid for...
Wigwam Motel - California
An overnight stay for a family of 4 in the Wigwam Motel in California costs just £52 ($82); a unique experience as part of a once in a lifetime trip!
Lowell Observatory - Arizona
Lowell Observatory in Arizona is a great value day out at just £22 ($34) for a family of four, where you can really reach for the stars!

We would visit the Round Barn at Arcardia, Oklahoma, where we would "Buy a Brick" for £32 ($50) to commemorate our trip and thanks to MoneySupermarket!

An overnight stay for an RV and a cavern tour at Meramec Caverns - The Jesse James Hideout - for 2 adults and 2 children would cost £53 ($84).
Meramec Caverns - Missouri
The rest of our overnight stays would be in roadside areas where it's free (and safe!) to camp overnight - you can basically pull up and camp overnight wherever it doesn't say "NO CAMPING"!

We would definitely visit the town of Normal as I've always wondered what Normal is like...!

The remainder of our money would pay for any treats and trinkets along the way... and so that's our "Grand Adventure"!

So how about you?  What would be your ideal "Grand Adventure"?  Let's see if any other blogger's will share their "Grand Adventure"... Missing Sleep, Really Rachel & 4 Munchkins Plus Mummy.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Little Angel's Cakes UK

Little Angels' Cakes is a new (soon to be registered) charity that provides cakes for terminally ill children and their families in the UK.  They are just starting up using Facebook as a platform to advertise and get their list of certfied bakers together.

So if you can help, please get in touch with the girls over at Little Angels' Cakes who are doing a magnificent but difficult job.  Everyone knows a beautiful cake brings a smile and a beautiful smile can bring a bit of cheer when all's not well.  It's really important to celebrate a birthday, event or milestone to bring some normality to, quite often, a routine of hospital visits and stays.

Order's are processed via the Admin team when a referral is made - the order is then distributed to the relevant nearest baker to receive the ingredients and complete the order.  Hopefully they will be able to donate all of the ingredients and accessories, but for the time being the ingredients may have to be donated by the baker depending on the area.

Little Angels' Cakes will endeavour to give at least four weeks notice except in unforeseen circumstances due to the nature of what they are trying to do, it might be a short notice window.  Because the cakes and smiles are for terminally ill children, Little Angels' Cakes can only accept cake contributions from council registered businesses (proof of registration must be forwarded to the Admin team).

However, this doesn't stop anyone volunteering as they will need help with deliveries, maybe packaging, and spreading the word, and as soon as you do become registered you are more than welcome to join the team of bakers as well.  Donations of anything to do with cake decorating would be greatly appreciated, i.e. cake boards, ribbon, icing - it doesn't have to be a lot, every little bit does help!


They are really close to 1000 likes, so pop over to their Facebook page here and say "hello" and get yourself pinned on the volunteer map, whether you're a registered cake-baker or can help in any other way!

I would never know how I or my family would cope with any serious illness in my children or family, but sadly families are dealing with times like this every day.  A hug or a smile can lighten the darkest of days and a gift of a cake can make things seem "normal" - even if just for a short time.

Also, if you know anyone who would benefit from this service, please get in touch with Little Angels' Cakes Admin team at littleangelscakes@yahoo.co.uk.

Please spread the word and help the little angels of the UK gain a little joy.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Saturday, 5 January 2013

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... twelve drummers drumming.
Eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

Friday, 4 January 2013

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... eleven pipers piping.
Ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

Around the world in 80 animals! Britain's Best Days Out - Chester Zoo!

When we applied for the opportunity to review a family day out we were thrilled to receive a family ticket for Chester Zoo, courtesy of MoneySupermarket.  MoneySupermarket have a great section of their website "MoneySupermarket Days Out Discounts" with money-off vouchers and days out vouchers for some great family days out!

I would definitely recommend having a good look around the Chester Zoo website before your visit - there are lots of things to find out, maps and quizzes to download.  You an also make use of the clever webcams to have a spy at the animals before and after your visit.

Once you are there, there's 110 acres of award-winning gardens to explore, and over 8,000 animals to discover. (Yes – 8,000!)  My daughter thought that it would be a challenge to count them all... but lost count (read - distracted!) once she spotted the cute baby giraffe!  I'm sure she would have been a great help(!) to the staff as we visited on their annual "stock-take" of the animals at the zoo!

The animals include more than 400 species of rare, exotic and endangered wildlife.  The enclosures are cleverly designed to provide great experiences for the visitors (little legs as well!) but also providing the best possible animal welfare.  I especially liked the low-level viewing windows, so that wheelchair users, toddlers in pushchairs or "little-legs" like my 5 year old can see everything without having to be picked up.  And to be honest, often the view of the animals is better from their level!  So I spent part of the time crouching down to get a child's eye view of things!

The enclosures are cleverly designed with minimal high fencing, using water moats and low-level perspex sheets instead so most of the animals do not look as though they are "contained".  It makes the zoo have a very happy feeling about it and you really can get close to the animals.

Throughout the zoo, there are simple but educational plaques for you to learn a little about the animals you can see.  As my youngest (5) loves looking at maps and globes, his latest future job role ambition is to be an "aeroplane-driver" *read pilot!*.  So whilst we were at the zoo, we kept a track of where the animals were originally from and then plotted them on Google Maps when we returned home to see how far we had "traveled" during our trip to the zoo.  Any guesses how far...???

View Larger Map

Well, we actually traveled 46635 miles!  From aardvark to zebra and 78 other species in between, we saw them all!

We took hundreds of  photographs whilst we were there... here's just a few of the best ones!

But Chester Zoo is not just a zoo, they also have acres of award-winning gardens, where you’ll find all sorts of plants from around the world, reflecting some very exotic species in our natural habitats.

And, as you can never guarantee the weather... they have a great Wet Weather Trail helping you to plan your visit.  With the help of this rainy day guide, your visit will be just as fun and animal-packed!  The route is put together to avoid the wettest weather whilst not missing out on the animal attractions that you came to visit.  The weather was fine for our visit (by some amazing stroke of luck, we didn't get rained on at all!) but there are plenty of shelters and exhibition areas/viewing platforms under cover so the rain would definitely not spoil your day out.

 There are great views of the monkeys and gibbons from a large indoor viewing area - Realm of the Red Ape... we even spotted a little monkey looking at the other monkeys!

Throughout the day we chatted to different members of staff in different areas, all very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their work.  The staff in "Guest Services" are also very helpful - here you can hire pushchairs for the day, a single one is £6 for the day and a double pushchair is just £10 (with a £10 refundable deposit for each pushchair required).  As I no longer have a pushchair-sized child *sad face* we left our picnic in the car so that we didn't have to carry it around with us - this is not a problem at Chester Zoo!  They will gladly stamp your hand with a return entry stamp so that you can pop to the car for any essentials you need and then you can return with your picnic and eat it at one of the many picnic areas within the zoo.  They even provide an indoor Picnic Room especially for visitors with their own picnics.  So, we got takeaway coffee from the cafe and enjoyed our picnic in the partial sunshine!

And a little bit of "housekeeping" reviewing... there are plenty of toilets dotted around the zoo - clean and well-stocked with the essentials!  And also a good number of small play park areas for the adults to rest their legs whilst the children run wild for a while!

As this trip was a surprise for my children, we didn't get the opportunity to sing this on the way there... but the adapted version "We've been to the zoo zoo zoo...." was definitely ringing out from our car windows!

And here's my favourite photo from the day...

Defintely one for the wall...!

*Disclaimer - we were sent a family ticket from MoneySupermarket for the purpose of reviewing the family attraction, Chester Zoo.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

On the tenth day of Christmas...

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... ten lords a leaping.
Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five gold rings, 4 calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

On the ninth day of Christmas...

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... nine ladies dancing.
Eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On the eighth day of Christmas...

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... eight maids a milking.
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!