Friday, 31 January 2014

Cooking On A Budget - Freezer Beef And Rice Burritos

Looking for an easy recipe that is great for bulk cooking and freezing? Then this is exactly what you need. These beef wraps are delicious and can be cooked from frozen in the microwave for 4 - 5 mins or you can leave in the foil wraps and cook in a pre-heated oven 350ºF for 35 - 40 mins. Cut in half after cooking to ensure they are piping hot all the way through before eating.

I managed to make twenty one burritos with 700g of minced beef, so they are very cheap too, it works out approx 30p each burrito (if you already have the oxo & herbs in your kitchen cupboard). Make sure you completely wrap the burritos tightly, then put them in a zip lock bag before freezing. If they are not covered properly it can result in a stale taste. You can re-use the foils for your next batch of burritos to save foil & money.

These are fabulous to grab from the freezer to take to work for a warm lunch or for the kids to have as a snack. So simple and a lifesaver when you are short of time.

700g Minced Beef (I buy 3 for a tenner from Tesco)
2 x Tins Tomarto's (budget)
1tbsp tomato puree (budget)
1 x Onion, finely chopped 
1 x Oxo
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp mild chilli powder (add more if you like them spicy)
1 x pkt fajita seasoning (50p per packet in Tesco)
1 x Small bag of rice

1. Brown the mince. Add the onion, oxo, tomato puree, fajita seasoning and herbs. Then mix in the tinned tomarto's.
2. Cook the rice, then add to the mince. Leave to cool then follow the photo instructions below.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Gallery - Rewind

My old school pal Sharon tagged me in this photo on Facebook a couple of years ago and I love it because I think it sums up teenage girls in London during the eighties. That's me on the left in the black coat with the kiss curl on my forehead and brolly on my shoulder. I can't actually remember this day at all but I'm guessing we were collecting our exam results from school after leaving, as I recognise my secondary school in the background. The three girls with me were some of my best pals who I frequently bunked off with, smoked with behind the science lab, hung out with at school. I have no idea why I'm the only one not wearing yellow or even if they had all planned to wear the same colour that day. This photo takes me back to 1986, I was 16 and a year later I met my Husband.

Monday, 27 January 2014

A Mini Makeover For Under £40 - Before & After

My hallway is the only room in the house that I haven't really touched since I've lived here. It's had a few different colours on the walls but that's about it. This year I want to make the hallway more inviting, so I made a start this week with a mini makeover.

I started by de-cluttering the shoe box under the stairs. It was full of old shoes that had been pulled out by the kids searching for long lost footwear. Once that was all tidy I sorted through all the coats, taking half of them upstairs to hang in our wardrobes. It looked so much better already, but it needed a shot of colour, so I took a look in Tesco Direct where I was delighted to spot they have a sale. Most items are 50% off so I bought a new blind, a pair of long curtains, two ceiling lampshades, two lamps and a new clock. I still have a few things left to do but I've made a start and I'm pleased with the result for less than £40.

What Do You Think?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful

1. Meeting A Pop Star - Yesterday my youngest Daughter met her favourite pop band The Vamps at a meet & greet. I can't even begin to explain how thrilled she was and her beaming smiles ever since have made my week. When she smiles I smile.

2. Walking For Weight loss - I've been wearing my fitbug every day and have been walking around 8,000 steps every day. I walk the river, round the block, in front of the TV and even while I'm cooking! I'm feeling so much better already. I will get this weight off this year!

3. Declutter - I had a good decluttering session in my hallway. Underneath my stairs was filled with shoes & boots that had been pulled out of the shoe box and left untidy. I chucked out half of them and boy, does it feel good! A good declutter always makes me feel better.

How's your week been?

Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Gallery - Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful - Being Grandparents.

People are often surprised when they find out that we are Grandparents, especially as we were only 35 when our Granddaughter was born. We love our role as Grandparents. We totally adore our little ray of sunshine and her presence completes us as a family. 

As I look back over our twenty six years together, teenage parents ourselves, life was often a struggle but I loved my duties as a Mummy and Papa Syder has been a very hands on Dad to our four kids, always throwing himself into everything that involved them like their school plays, parent evenings, sports days etc.

And now, I look at him. A Grandfather. His hair is slightly greying around the temples, his eyes still as green as the day I first saw him and his ability to fill up a room with laughter within five seconds of walking into it, a talent that has never left him. He lifts our Granddaughter up high into the air by her ankles, pretending to drop her, she giggles like a cartoon mouse. I smile as she squeals "Again Granddad! Again!" 

I love that she is part of us and I feel blessed and proud as I watch them together. There is Something Beautiful about being a Grandparent.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Choosing A New Sofa With Willow & Hall

The Somerton Sofa

Close your eyes and imagine the comforts of home, what do you think of? Your comfy bed, soft cushions, snug throws, or your feet up in front of the TV with a nice cuppa as you relax on your sofa? The sofa wins hands down for me, and ideally we could do with a new one as our cushions are now a bit lumpy and old. As I look around online, I take a peek at what Willow & Hall have to offer.

Willow & Hall products are all handmade in the UK (Wiltshire to be precise). Their team of craftsmen have over 35 years experience making high quality furniture. Everything is made to order meaning none of their items are sat around for weeks on end gathering dust. They are so super confident about the quality of their furniture, that they offer a 5 year wood frame guarantee on all sofas, sofa beds and armchairs.

The Burstow Sofa

Their sofas are gorgeous, all quite neutral which proves popular with customers as they offer so much flexibility in terms of cushions and placement for different styles & tastes. You can order up to eight fabric swatches for free, so you can get a real feel for the quality of the fabrics before you buy. Available on the Willow & Hall free swatches page.

The Westowe Sofa

I'm always attracted to furniture that has a vintage or retro look to it and my favourite sofa on the Willow & Hall website is the Dunsmore sofa. I love it's art deco style, big rounded arms and chunky wooden legs. I have a real thing for the colour olive at the moment so I would pick the sofa in Olive linen cotton. It would look great with grey cushions and throws. I can just imagine chilling out on that sofa watching Corrie on the TV, in front of the fire. Totally and utterly enjoying the comforts of home.

The Dunsmore Sofa

What Do You look For In A New Sofa?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Hi Everyone,

It feels like an age since I last joined in with reasons to be cheerful, in fact I have been having a nice long blogging break, since way before Christmas. The Syders blog is six years old this year and every now & then a break is welcomed. I was actually contemplating jacking it all in, just like we all do from time to time. Thing is whenever I have a break I really do really miss you guys, and the rest of the community. Blogging becomes a massive part of who we are and when it's not there any more, it feels like a big chunk of your life is missing. So here I am, glad to be back, full of beans and easing myself in.

1. We have two new kittens. I know, since I have been back I haven't shut up about them and they are constantly plastered all over Instagram, but I totally love them. I honestly did not realise that I would love cat's so much.

2. I've been losing weight. I joined slimming world before Christmas and I have lost 9lb, which I am very pleased with. Still a very long way to go. I want 70lb off by September, that's 2lb a week. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

3. I'm feeling determined. 2014 is going to be a year of change for me. I am determined to sort my weight out, get off my heart tablets and start living my life again. I have become a virtual hermit since losing my Mum. Enough is Enough. This year I need to pick myself up and sort myself out, not letting any negative family members bring me down. I'm feeling positive.

How's Your week Been?
Linking Up To Reasons To Be Cheerful Being hosted this week over At Becky's Place

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Gallery - New

New Kittens

If you haven't already seen on Instagram or Facebook, The Syders have a couple of new family members. Two very cute Kittens called Casper & Tiger, both are totally adorable. 

After the loss of our beloved boxer dog Luna, I wasn't keen to love anymore pets but our 13 year old has been a bit lonely without her old pal by her side, so we decided to surprise her on Christmas eve. We very briefly wrapped the pet carrier with her new friend safely tucked inside, and presented her with her gift. Her face was such a picture as she unwrapped her surprise. It certainly made for a very special Christmas.

Our new pets have provided us with hours of mischievous entertainment as they bounce, climb and snuggle around every corner of our home. We are in total awe.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Winter Scavenger Hunt

Getting the kids outside is extremely important. A bit of fresh air and exercise everyday will undoubtedly do the world of good. As winter closes in though this does become harder, it gets colder and the days get shorter. There is still a wealth of things to see and do though, so wrap them up warm and prepare a little game for them. Center Parcs, providers of nature oriented winter holidays think scavenger hunts are a fun way to get children actively engaging with and understanding the wildlife all around them. So take your children to a local park or even just your garden and get them hunting.

The Rules
  • Write down a list of things likely to be found in your garden/park. (We’ve started you off with a few examples below)
  • Give one to each child, along with a bag to carry their autumnal treasures
  • Explain that they need to find these items in an allotted amount of time
  • Call them back 5 minutes before you stop the clock so you can see what they have found and give them a score
  • More points are awarded for rarity/difficulty to find. The winner is the one who found the most rare items.

An Example List of a Scavenger’s winter treasure
  • 1 point (least rare) – A Magpie feather
  • 2 points – A pine cone
  • 3 points – A holly leaf
  • 4 points – A tree that still has green leaves (an Evergreen Tree)
  • 5 points – An acorn
  • 6 points – Holly Berries (Don’ touch these. Just point them out to an adult)
  • 7 points – Paw prints in the snow
  • 8 points – A robin
  • 9 points – A squirrel
  • 10 points (most rare) – Mistletoe (you will have to look up high for these)
  • 50 point (extremely rare) – A fox (Don’t approach the animal just point it out to an adult)

This is a great way to get children out the house and enjoying the brusque winter weather. Running around will help them warm up and also give them a bit of exercise in a season that is synonymous with gorging on chocolate and watching all the great family films on TV. Be sure to share your spoils with us; post any photos you might find on the Center Parcs Facebook page.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pork Chops In Sticky Plum Marinade Recipe

This marinade is quite possibly the tastiest recipe that I have ever tried! 
By trying this you may be at risk of becoming addicted!

When I was asked by to find a recipe on their website and then blog about it, I didn't think for one moment that I might find the most delicious marinade that I have ever tasted. I promise you, that if you try this recipe you will quite literally have your mouth watering for more, much more. The website offers lots of yummy baking recipes from marinades to scone recipes, tips, How to's, coupons and faq's. If you sign up to the website and then spot a recipe that you would like to try, then you just add it to your very own recipe book for later reference. Simple. A very easy website to use.

  • 4 tbsp Plum Jam
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp Soy Sauce or you can use balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Orange (Zest & Juice)
  • Ginger (fresh, peeled & grated)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (peeled & finely chopped)
  • 2 Spring Onions (Chopped)
  • 3 tbsp of Fresh Coriander
  • 6 Pork Chops


1. Place the jam, sugar, balsamic vinegar, orange zest and juice, ginger, garlic, and spring onions in a small pan. Heat until the sugar and jam is dissolved. Stir and leave to cool completely.

2. Add the chops to a heat prove dish and pour over your sauce. Marinade for 30 minutes. Heat your oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6

3. Place the chops in the oven and cook for twenty minutes until cooked through. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander.

*Disclosure - I have been compensated for this post. This does not affect my opinion which is totally honest & unbiased.


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