Thursday, 28 February 2013

#R2BC Reasons To Be Cheerful

I have had the most awful flu all week. It really has knocked me for six and I have struggled to shake it. However, I did manage to drag myself out from under my duvet for a couple of things that the kids were looking forward to.

1) We visited a 'Build a Bear' workshop for the first time and we absolutely loved it. Our Granddaughter was so thrilled to be there, and of course, it makes our day to see her smiling.

2) We took our Daughter and her best Friend to the One Direction concert at the O2 for her 13th Birthday. Papa and I couldn't hear a thing the next day, as the screams at the show were nearly as loud as they were at the Bieber concert two years ago. To be honest, the group isn't my cup of tea but it was worth it to see how happy it made our Daughter.

3) I've lost nearly 2 stone, since New Years Day. I've worked my butt off and I still have a long way to go, but I feel so much better already. I'll be blogging about my progress in the morning.


Grow Organic, Eat Organic Book Review

Grow Organic, Eat Organic is a new book from b small Publishing for children age 6+. It is a great first book for any budding gardeners and cooks as it provides clear, practical advice combined with inventive planting and growing suggestions to keep children interested from seed to plate. 

Gardening is one of the greatest ways to stimulate a child’s imagination and to ignite their first interest in the environment, while teaching important lessons in helping and sharing. The garden is also the natural place for children to learn patience, all while ensuring the focus remains firmly on fun!


Our Granddaughter loves the garden and she often helps me grow food, and she is always delighted whenever she unearths something to eat in the garden.

The Grow Organic, Eat Organic book is beautifully illustrated and is full of interesting stuff for kids to look at and read. We really like this book and think that it is excellent value for money at only £5.99.

A Big Thumbs Up From The Syders!

*We were sent a copy of Grow Organic, Eat Organic free of charge for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and our opinion is unbiased and completely our own.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cooking On A Budget - Low Fat Cauliflower and Potato Curry

I Love curry and being on a weight loss mission is not going to stop me enjoying it. This cauliflower and potato curry is really easy to make and is delicious. At only 212 calories per serving, you can even have a weightwaters naan bread for an extra 100 calories. A blissful Saturday night meal.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 227g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 chopped cauliflower
  • 2 potatoes cut into chunks
  • 1 small green chilli halved lengthways
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • handful coriander , roughly chopped, to serve
  • naan bread to serve 
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion for 10 mins until soft, then add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin and curry powder. Cook for 1 min more. 
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar. 
  3. Add the cauliflower, potatoes and split chilli, season to taste. 
  4. Cover with a lid and gently cook for a 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
  5. When the vegetables are cooked, remove the chilli, 
  6. Stir in a squeeze of lemon and scatter with coriander. 
    7.  Serve with your naan bread. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Happy Birthday Mum. I Miss You.

One of the reasons that I started my blog over four years ago, was because I had lost my Mum eighteen months previously to Cancer, and memory keeping had suddenly became a necessity of life. I was panic stricken that if I died at a young age like my Mum then I wanted to make damn sure that my Kids had my personal thoughts and opinions to read back on during the times that they need to pick up the phone and ask what I would do and how I would deal with different situations. It is a massive part of why my blog is pretty much no holds barred, and the reason why I write a lot about personal things. Things that a lot of people wouldn't dream of publicly writing about. I want my Kids to know the truth and what makes me tick.

So many times I wish I had a blog or diary of my Mums to read during times of needing her to be close, during those times that I yearn to hear her voice guiding and advising me. Life can sometimes be a lonely place without Mum, even with a supportive Husband, a lovely Family and Good Friends. Nothing quite hits the spot like my Mums wise words always did.

So, today would have been my Mum's 63rd Birthday, it is 6 years since I last wrote her a card. Six whole years, and even though it gets easier every year that passes, I still shed a tear for her, long to speak to her, yearn to hear her take on life and all the psychological conversations we used to have. I miss her, really really miss her.

Happy Birthday Mum!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Personalised Photo Frame Review

I love personalised gifts, especially if they are something related to photography. This cute frame would make a lovely gift for someone who loves your family, especially Mum, Nan or Auntie.

The wording at the top (Family) is in a funky multi coloured lettering, and to add your personal message to the base of the frame, it is recommend that your message is written over one line for optimum results with a maximum of 25 characters. If you have a slightly longer message, then that can be added over two lines with a maximum of 50 characters for best results. The message is laser engraved in to the white picture frame. 

A lovely, quality frame available to buy for £20.99 (plus free UK delivery), a gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive. 

* We were sent a photo frame from free of charge for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and as a family we always give an honest and unbiased opinion.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Magpie Monday - Retro Fabric

I'm so excited about my Magpie find this week. I squealed with delight as I spotted this gorgeous retro fabric from the 1970's. Its bold, bright and beautiful...

There was eight whole yards of it for £3, so I made myself a pair of funky curtains for my hallway. I'm going for a 70's look out there so these are perfect.

I Love them!

Lizzie is off on her hols so the lovely Lucy is looking after Magpie Monday this week.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I've had a real positive week this week. I'm one for focusing more on the positives in life rather than any negativity, that's why I love Mich's #R2BC linky so much. Michelle is having a little break for a bit, so Clare over at Seasider in the City will be hosting the linky while she is away.

1. I have lost over a stone now. It seems to be falling off me at the moment, although it is all down to pure determination, will power and blimmin hard work. I exercise every day without fail and buying my treadmill was the best thing I could have done. Bye Bye Fat!

2. I've had a real good clear out and sold a few bits on ebay. We have done pretty well, and we have nearly covered the cost of the tickets that Papa bought for One Directions concert, not for us I might add, they are for our teenager, although Papa and I are being dragged along too. Lucky us! I have my ear plugs ready.

3.. I have been hard at work making stuff for a craft stall and to stock my Etsy shop that I will be hopefully opening soon. Lots of evenings sewing and then some crochet too. Watch this space.

4. Its Valentines Day! We never really celebrate it, although we do buy each other a card and a small pressie. We reminisce over old times and think back to when we met, which was 25 years ago now. He was 16, I was 17 and it really was love at first sight. We have fought hard to stay together and now we are still madly in love after all these years. He is the love of my life.

So what have you been up to this week?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Gallery - Girls

As some of you know we keep hens. They are rescued hens from battery farms and the poor little loves  are in quite a state when we receive them. They are usually featherless and their legs are so weak that they struggle to walk at first. We give them somewhere nice and comfy to live, nursing them back to healthy happy hens and in return they not only supply us with yummy fresh eggs, but they become our little Friends and they are very entertaining to watch as the play and forage in our garden.

In the warmer months I spend most of my time in the garden. I grow my own veggies and I always have a project on the go out there. From the summer house my radio can be heard playing tunes from the 1940's. I feel transported back in time as I tend to my garden. Life becomes so simple and I can easily spend the day with the hens as they chortle, cluck and ruffle their feathers.

After a few months the rescued hens feathers have grown back and they begin to look all pretty again. Most of these lovely ladies have spent their lives confined to a cage no bigger than an A4 piece if paper. They have never felt grass beneath their feet or sunshine on their feathers. All they have known is a dark, noisy, metal cage.

Hens are lovely to keep as pets. They are great fun to watch, as they are so inquisitive or maybe I could go as far as describing them as nosey. They wander around the garden looking at everything, checking out their surroundings and pecking all they come across as they scratch in the soil for worms.

We love our Girls, we really do

If you are interested in finding out more about rescue hens then pop over and visit The British Hen Welfare Trust

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Cooking On A Budget - Low Fat Haddock & Sweet Potato Pie

My lot can be a bit 'funny' about eating fish. They all turn their noses up if I mention anything fishy for dinner. However, this pie goes down very well and the whole family enjoy it. It is taken from a Rosemary Conley cookbook. 

Ingredients - Serves 6, 270 calories, 1.8g fat per serving, Cost £7.00 
  • 700g Smoked Haddock
  • 700g Sweet Potato (or regular potato if you prefer)
  • 2tsp Chopped Thyme
  • 2tsp Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 2tbsp Plain Flour
  • 2tbsp Fat Free Natural Yogurt
  • 450ml Skimmed Milk
  • 150ml White Wine (use left over wine or water instead - I never buy wine just for a recipe)
  • 3 tsp Course Grain Mustard
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat the oven 200c. 400f, Gas 6
2. In a large fry pan/wok add the garlic, thyme and 3 tbsp of the milk.
3. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, Stir quickly to form a roux.
4. Gradually add the remaining milk. Keep stirring.
5. Add the wine, mustard and parsley. Bring to a slow simmer.
6. Boil the potatoes, drain and mash. Add the yogurt and season with salt & pepper.
7. Skin the fish, chop and spread out over the bottom of an oven proof dish.
8. Pour the sauce over the fish and add the mash and spread out on top.
9. Cook in the oven for about 40 mins.
10. Garnish with lemon rind & some parsley.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Magpie Monday

My eye was instantly drawn to this lovely vintage jug, as soon as I walked through the charity shop door. I think it will be perfect for flowers in the kitchen.  A bargain for £1.50. I love it!

And then I got a reel of pretty pink lace for 50p. I will make my Girls headbands from it.

So, Did you pick up any bargains this week?

Me and My Shadow

Friday, 8 February 2013

BassBoomz Review & £30 Discount Code

We love our music, here at The Syder house. I work out to mine on the treadmill and Papa cycles to work to his, and as for the kids, well,  they are always listening to music, or dancing & singing around the house. So, when a BassBoomz speaker arrived through the post we were all delighted.

I was particularly excited to try them out as the speakers on my laptop are rubbish, and I find it really frustrating when I'm watching youtube etc that I can't hear very much. I eagerly un-wrapped the box, and inside I found an instruction book, and two leads which are for charging the speaker and if you want to connect to a device that has no bluetooth. I switched on the BassBoomz, and connected it to my laptop via bluetooth. Connecting up was really easy to do and you can even set a pin if you wish.

The sound was immediate, as you would expect and they really are exactly what they claim on the box 'Small in Size. Big on Sound'. The high definition sound is crisp, clear and the bass is good. The recharchable battery has 5-6 hours of play time if at 70% volume, so great for the garden, while I'm weeding my veggies and cleaning out the hens.

They are really small and easily slipped into a pocket or handbag and they just look really sexy and slick. They come in a variety of colours too, so if pink isn't your thing then there are seven other funky colours to choose from. The price at £79.95 seemed a bit steep at first, but to be honest everyone who has walked through my front door since the BassBoomz arrived have wanted to take it home with them. Every one very quickly said that they would happily pay that price, as they are a wicked piece of kit. In my video below, you can get a rough idea of the sound they bellow and their tiny size as I connect up to an iphone.

So if you are stuck for a gift for someone then one of these would be a big hit, I promise. I have a voucher code for you that lasts all month, for a whopping £30 off a BassBoomz. 
Enter Code:  BBZ304614 over at                      

Big Thumbs up for BassBoomz from The Syders...And Friends!

*We were sent a BassBoomz free of charge for the purpose of this review. We have received no financial reward and our opinion is entirely our own.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Postcard From Ghana #TeamHonk

"Dear Mama Syder,

Having an inspirational time in Ghana with these amazing women at the Virtuous Women's Bakery and creche. The women make bread and sell it in the community while their children can play in the nursery. Their new oven was funded by Comic relief meaning they can scale up production and make more money selling more bread in the community. Financial independence is key to raising women's status and reducing poverty in society.

Love Penny" 

This is a digital postcard sent from TeamHonk (; during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork. 

For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at

For other digital postcards please do join up and check out the linky on


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Tips For A Family Holiday On A Budget

I dream of North Devon. It is my favourite place. The beach, the tranquillity, the friendly people, the surrounding natural beauty and the quirky coloured cottages all add to its charm. As much as I love Devon, I dream of other places too. Somewhere a little more adventurous like visiting my Brother in Canada, a trip on the California Zephyr - travelling from Chicago to San Francisco, holidays to Lake Garda or to the Greek Islands. Any one of those places would be lovely to visit. Having a large family has meant that we have always had to take family holidays that are on a budget, so here are a few tips that might help you find the perfect budget holiday.

  • Book Early - The crucial thing to do is either book really early or last minute. Most holiday companies offer really good discounts if you book early, usually before the end of January. Not only do they offer discounts this time of year but you can also often get 'this years holiday at last years prices' which can be quite a saving. Last minute deals are also great too.
  • 28 Days - If you take a holiday and love it so much that you decide that you would like to go there again next year, then some places offer even better deals if you book with 28 days of returning home. Check their offers because discounts and vouchers can be a really great way to save on next years holiday.
  • Camping - Campsites and private caravan hire are also great ways to holiday on a budget both in the UK and abroad. You have the freedom to cater for yourself, so can avoid the expense of eating out. Plus, the price of pitching a tent is much cheaper for a family than staying in a hotel. A lot of camp sites have fully equipped, large family tents already erected at bargain prices.
  •  Day Trips - If money really is tight and you can't get away on a holiday but you really crave to show the kids places like Bruges, Paris or even Venice then you can reach these places, and back home in a day. You can get coach trips from as little as £25 each to Bruges, or even return flights to Venice for peanuts if you look out for special deals. These trips take some military planning, an early morning and a late night but are well worth the effort.
  • House Swap - Swapping homes with another family is a great way to save on accommodation and to get to know how families live day to day in another country or area in the UK.
  • Overnight Travel - Travelling during the night is always so much cheaper, especially around Europe. And buying tickets well in advance works out much cheaper too. And don't forget in the UK to buy a family rail card. You can earn the price of it back in one journey.
Do you have any tips for a budget break? I'd love to hear them.

*Sponsored Post

Monday, 4 February 2013

Magpie Monday - Its All Yellow

I love yellow, especially this time of year as I wait patiently for the spring daffodils to arrive. So, when I spotted this gorgeous yellow tea set I was thrilled. It was only £3 for the whole set.

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Three Bloggers On A Mission For Comic Relief #TeamHonk

The first ever Red Nose Day took place on February 5th, 1988. Twenty five years ago, I was 17 and I remember it well, as it was the same month that I met my future Husband, Papa Syder. Cliff Richard & The Young Ones performed 'Living Doll' on TV, and there were also appearances from spitting image & Blackadder. Mel Smith & Kim Wilde released the official comic relief song (Rockin around the Christmas tree) which raised  £76,610. The grand total raised that first year was £15,000,000. These days 'Red Nose Day' raises well over £100,000,000.

To celebrate 25 years of Red Nose Day, three bloggers (Annie from Mammasaurus, Tanya from Mummy Barrow and Penny from Alexander Residence) are visiting four projects in Ghana on 4th and 5th February to see for themselves what a difference that the Red Nose Day money has been making. The projects #TeamHonk will be visiting are:

Project 1: Virtuous Women and Children International - Unemployed women in a struggling community band together to launch profitable bakery enterprise.
Project no. 2: African Outreach - A Project bringing training and skills into hard to reach members of deprived slum community.
Project no. 3: Vaccination Clinic.
Project no. 4: Basic Needs UK Trust - An organisation that works in Ghana’s capital Accra to make sure that people living with a mental illness have access to the drugs, facilities and support required to improve their quality of life.

Want to show your support? 
- Follow #TeamHonk on Twitter by using the hashtag #TeamHonk or #GoodWork
- Follow them at @Aresidence @MammasaurusBlog @MummyBarrow
- Help spread the word by sharing the blog posts, video's and Tweets of #Teamhonk
- Stick a #TeamHonk badge on your blog or website
- Write a blog post & Join the Bloghop linky -

Wishing #TeamHonk all the best on their mission to Ghana.

Friday, 1 February 2013

My Weight Loss Journey - Month One

I have always been slim, and only put on weight with my four pregnancies, which I always lost within three months of giving birth. The weight always just fell of me with little effort. However, Since losing my Mum back in 2006, I have piled on the pounds, I mean really piled them on, in fact I have doubled my weight. 

The reason, I think, is a combination of giving up smoking and comfort eating. I start a diet every year, and every year I get as far as losing 8lbs and then stop. The past few years I have had no will power at all and I have struggled to motivate myself. 

I definitely think my problem has been more of an emotional one. Losing Mum knocked me sideways, and I have really struggled to come to terms with it. Last year something changed, I suddenly began to feel stronger and I no longer wanted to burst into tears every time someone spoke about her. I finally felt a bit 'normal' again.

That stronger feeling has stayed with me and on the 1st January 2013, I decided to climb out of this comfort suit that I have been wearing for over six years and get back to my old self. The past four weeks I have calorie counted and exercised every day, without fail. I have lost 14lb and I feel so much more energetic and determined to lose it all.

January 2013 - I hate my double chin, I want it gone!

So what have I been doing this month to lose the weight?

Food: After one week of dieting, I lost 5lb, just by cutting out the junk, then my friend introduced me to 'My Fitness Pal' and I have been using it to track my food & exercise every day. I have been eating between 1000 - 1200 calories per day.

I gave up my Friday night bottle of vino, which was difficult the first weekend, but now I don't miss it at all. I eat porridge every day for breakfast, usually soup & ryvita for lunch and a low fat meal for dinner. I eat fruit and low fat yogurts for my snacks. Every night I have a hot chocolate before bed. I haven't been missing out, as I have been eating usual meals but just low fat versions, even pizza. I don't feel hungry either.

Exercise: I bought a treadmill which I use every day for around 20 minutes. I also use the wii fitness a couple of times a week and lift cans of beans to tone my arms. I'm lucky that I live in a great place for walking, so I go for 30 minute walks too, although I will increase these walks as the weather improves.

Every four weeks I will be blogging about my progress, and posting photos of my results. Hopefully by the end of February I will have lost another stone.


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