Friday, 30 October 2015


This week my word of the week is sad. It doesn't really do my week justice because what I feel is much more than sad, but that is the word I wish to use.

First the half term holiday started with a poorly Boo,. That girl has been poorly so much since they went back to school. If wasn't being sick was bad enough we were also due out for a review of a local pub meal and play area which we had to cancel. So a fun day out was lost.

Then Star had a physio appointment which didn't go too well, she was really weak. Shortly after we got home she began burning up and also became ill. She has a throat infection. This is on top of the 'clear out' we are doing as advised by the hospital. That took a little while to get working, but we know it is now....please, no visitors!

So we've been cooped up all week, and it's not been much fun at all.

I have also had a visit to the GP after a nasty experience and it wasn't good news. I don't have all the facts yet, but I will be having tests and a CT scan and hoping that it's not as bad as the Dr thinks it might be.

Then my Other Half managed to hurt his back, he's not even sure how but he's been lying around moaning for two days now. I took him to a walk in surgery today (he's not registered with a GP) but he wasn't prepared to wait for 3 hours. Fingers crossed it starts to heal soon.

The saddest news of all was having to say goodbye to my lovely old cat Suzie who was diagnosed with a tumor last week. I was so glad we took her home for a few days after her diagnosis. She was still eating and drinking and going out into the garden. We had lots of cuddles, lots and lots of cuddles. But as soon as she started deteriorating I knew I couldn't let her suffer. I will miss her so much. Sad doesn't really cut it at all.

On a positive note, it's the weekend and the kids don't have to go back to school until Thursday! Things can only get better.

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Cook Music Cook Food - review and give away!

What's Cookin' is the fab new album from Reole and it's a mix of funk, jazz and soul, perfect music for cooking to.

I love to have the music playing while I cook and I'll listen to whatever takes my fancy. I was excited to receive this CD to see how it would inspire me in the kitchen and it didn't disappoint. Reole started his musical life playing in Mardi Gras parades and is an American Football fan. About his last album, Here Comes the Drums, Reole says he feels music as music is, 'you can't push it on to anyone,you either like it or you don't but there is something on here for everyone.'

Another exciting thing about the new CD, due for release on 4th December, is that it comes with it's own cookbook. With fantastic recipes such as gris-gris jerk chicken with beans and coconut rice, Jambalaya fire and Creole slow cooked lamb and sweet potato with minty cabbage pesto.

The jerk chicken was very tasty, I added my own yoghurt and mint sauce for a little coolness.

My cabbage and mint pesto which goes lovely with lamb.

The Cd features a mixture of songs and instrumental pieces, they are all uplifting. I'll definitely be having this on in my kitchen a lot.

I have two copies of the CD with cookbook up for grabs in my give away, so if you fancy a bit of spice in your kitchen just fill in the widget.

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Appointments! Word of the Week

I'm so glad the kids break up for half term today. We start the holiday with a visit to our local Brewer's Fayre tomorrow to check out their new autumn menu. The rest of the week we are holding off on plans as I doubt we will be going out much, more about that in a minute.

On Monday I had to take Boo to the GP as she had been poorly since she came home sick from school on Wednesday last week. At first we thought it was a tummy bug, but it was strange that no-one else in the family caught it. I asked her teacher and no-one else at school had been sick either. We got through the weekend without her being sick but she was hot and obviously unwell. Then on Sunday she started complaining about her ear. So I took her to the GP who diagnosed a nasty ear infection, which probably explains the sickness too. She's better now, but she's had a tough time the last couple of months with tonsillitis and now an ear infection.

On Tuesday I had to take Star to the Children's hospital for her long awaited appointment with the gastroenterologist. This was a very thorough appointment and we had lots of questions answered and a plan of action put in place on how to help her. The first step is a complete clear out which we are doing at home next week. This is why we won't be going out if we can help it. Hopefully it won't be as bad as I'm imagining. It's not nice but it's necessary. I'm so relieved that she is getting some help at last. Today we were sent through her next appointment, it's 22nd December at 6.15pm. It's going to be so Christmassy being in the City Centre at that time.

Then On Thursday I had to take my old cat Suzie back to the vets. We took her a few weeks ago because her left eye had become dilated and wasn't shrinking back. The vet said she'd had a stroke and we should watch out for her becoming unsteady on her paws. Well, this week, her right eye became dilated and she became unsteady so we took her back. We were told she had tumor on her kidney and that the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep. I wasn't ready for this, she was still walking around, eating and drinking and not in obvious distress. So I brought her home with an appointment to take her back next week. I am heartbroken. I only lost her sister last month and now we only have a few days together. She's getting plenty of fuss and cuddles and seems quite happy. I will take her back if she does get really ill though.

So, that's my week this week, And to think my plans last week were to paint the living room!

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Overcoming Problems and Receiving Awards.

My girls have really made me proud recently.
Star was the first to receive a special award in assembly. She had a certificate for Engagement

My Little Boo had been having problems with another little girl in her class who was calling her names and constantly upsetting her. Boo rarely complains and has always loved school. She tries really hard at everything and has always charmed her teachers with her kindly manner and dedicated approach to her work. Then suddenly she doesn't want to go to school any more and becomes moody and snappy. She started refusing to eat her meals which may be because the other girl was calling her fat...she really isn't.

I talked with Boo and managed to get her to tell me the full story, then I asked her what she wanted me to do about it. She said she would like me to talk to the school, which of course I wanted to do, but I didn't want to upset her further if it wasn't what she wanted.

I talked to her teacher first and thought that if that didn't work then I would go to the head teacher. The nastiness continued for a while longer. Some don't like to call it bullying at that age, but if it's upsetting the child then something has to be done whether you call it bullying or peer grievance, it's practically the same thing anyway. I'd planned to call the school to arrange a meeting with the head teacher but it didn't come to that because all of a sudden things were sorted. The teacher had talked to both girls separately and together and they had managed to sort out their differences. The other girl has been much nicer since and has tried to explain to Boo why she behaved so badly. Now Boo is happy to go to school again and equilibrium is restored.

To top it off nicely, Boo also received a special award in assembly for Confidence.

Now, I just need to get the Little Man sorted, he's forever getting into trouble. He loses his temper really quickly and although he has never lashed out at another child he does lash out in other ways. He will get a certificate next week though, he's not had a single day off this term so he'll have his 100 per cent attendance award.

I guess two out of three aint bad!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Lonely Planet Kids Books Review and Give Away

My kids love books of all kinds so were were thrilled to be able to review these four fantastic books from Lonely Planet Kids. They are four very different books and each of my children had their favourites.
Please read on to see what we thought of the books and a fantastic competition where I am giving away two sets of the books. That's right, you can win all four books too!

Adventures Around the Globe.

This book is great for my Little Man. He's the youngest at only five years old so this lovely map and sticker book is perfect to keep him intrigued. There is lots of fun and humour in the book and a fold-out 3D model of the globe to make. It's also attractive enough for the older kids, I don't think you ever get too old for a sticker book do you?

How To be an International Spy

This is Star's favourite book. At ten years old she's just the right age to start thinking about a career in espionage ;) I can't tell you too much about the book because it's Top Secret, but all recruits will learn a host of skills that will soon turn them into secret agents and discover cool gadgets and crack fiendish codes.

You Rule!

Perfect for eight year old Boo, You Rule! lets her create her very own country to rule. Starting from scratch you learn how to make a new nation, decide on the laws, choose the borders, create, organise, govern and judge. You even get to design your own flag. 

The Travel Book

This is a book for everyone, even Dad couldn't put it down. This kids version of Lonely Planet's The Travel Book takes a world tour through 200 countries. You'll be drawn in by the thousands of amazing facts on wildlife, how people, live, sports, food, festivals and much more. Perfect for all young explorers who want to know more about the world.

The books are a great addition to any family library whether you are travellers or not. There is so much to learn about the world we live in. My Children are currently learning about different countries for their topic work at school. Star is learning all about Germany, Boo is learning about Italy and the Little Man is learning about England. 
Boo found The Travel Book really interesting when she was reading up on Italy.

So, how do you fancy the chance of winning all four books yourself? All you have to do is fill in the widget. Best of luck! (UK only, sorry!)

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Saturday, 17 October 2015

My Sunday Photo 18th october 2015

Last Sunday we went to Millenium Point in Birmingham to say goodbye to the Big Hoot Owls that have been around our city for the last few months. We went on the trail to find them a few times our first outing took us to a local park and shopping area and the second and third outings to the University the City Centre and the Canals. We did actually manage a couple of other trips but I never got around to blogging about them.

Now the owls have been auctioned and they raised more than half a million pound for Birmingham Children's Hospital who are now opening a new centre for rare diseases.

It was lovely having the owls around they will be missed. It's wonderful that they have raised so much money though and I hope they are well looked after in their forever homes.


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Three R's, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

When I was back at school the three R's were Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. It's a wonder we ever learnt anything at all! Of course nowadays, it's all about protecting our environment and they stand for Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. (at least the R's are in the right place!)

With the new levy on paying for your shopping bags from large retailers has made me think even more about how green I am. I did think I was pretty good, I use my recycling bins for all my waste paper, card, plastic, glass and tin. I put my waste food in my compost bin. I never leave taps running unnecessarily and I am careful with my energy use in the home.
However, I did use a lot of little plastic carrier bags for my shopping. On average I'd use 15 per shop! The ones that arrived home safely were stored safely away in my cupboard for another use. I did use many of them as bin liners, for taking things somewhere else or for storing things. In all I'd probably re-use about 50% of them. So, yes, I have a cupboard full of bags that I never remember to take back to the shop.

Did you know that in 2013, 8 billion carrier bags were given out in the UK, this is 130 bags per person (or more than 700 for me!) That's 57,000 tonnes a year! For more facts about recycling see here how you can save £11.30 a day as well as the environment we live in.

With the new levy I decided to invest in some strong bags, I bought five on my last shop and was surprised that I managed to fit all my shopping inside. That's only a third of the bags I used to use and they came home strong enough to use again and again. I've stored them in the car so I don't forget to take them.

I believe I've found a way of reducing my carbon footprint even more.
How green are you? How have you found shopping since the new levy was introduced?

4imprint has a range of reusable and recycled products that could help you and your friends reduce your carbon footprint. They have kindly offered to provide my kids school with some of their fabulous Polo Shirts in return for my help in spreading this important message.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, let's stay in touch, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I love following back.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Hen Pecked Cake

The Great British Bake Off is over for another year. I'll admit I had a tear in my eye during the final episode and I was pleased that Nadiya won even though I really liked Ian and Tamal too. The girl's watched it with me and got excited when Nadiya proclaimed "I can and I will" which is their school pledge. Everyone needs a little self-confidence in their lives.

So with the bake off over and no more challenges I was feeling a little bereft...then a new challenge popped through my letterbox. Can I make a hen inspired cake? Of course I had to give it a go, with the help of the kids in the kitchen of course.

The Little Man helped me make the cake, which was a basic sponge. I even let him use my new apple mixing bowl which I won from Silver Mushroom for my Mokatines challenge. (I can and I will)

Here's my recipe for an 8 inch square sponge:


225g self-raising flour
225g caster sugar
225g butter
4 Happy Eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

for the butter  cream;
100g soft butter
200g seived icing sugar

  • mix the butter with caster sugar until smooth and creamy
  • add the eggs one at a time beating each one in
  • add the vanilla extract
  • add the flour and fold in gently
  • pour into tin and bake for around 40 mins at 180C 
  • cake will be springy when ready and you should check with a skewer, make sure it comes out clean.
when the cake had cooled I cut it into a smaller square and used the left over pieces to make a roof. This was to make my barn. 

The hens and flowers I made from fondant icing and Boo helped me to make them.

So, now I'm waiting for my next challenge :)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Britains Best Breakfast for People Who Care

I am a carer.
Carers come in all forms, family (including children) friends even neighbours, but most of them are unpaid and give up their precious time to help someone who is incapable of helping themselves.

I had to give up my job to continue with my care work. It was very difficult for me, not only did I lose my job I lost my income and my lifestyle. I would have loved things to be different, but there was nowhere else left to help as the person I cared for became an adult.

I now care for someone else as well, so I'm a carer for two people. My life is a constant juggle to keep everything in order. I rarely get any time to myself and if I do need to go anywhere plans need to made. I'm lucky as I do have back-ups that can take over my care duties if needed, but they are only short term.

Holidays are rare, they can be arranged but they tend to be short breaks rather than full holidays, and I've not been abroad. I couldn't be too far away just in case.

I do have the occasional evening out with friends, but not with my partner because someone needs to stay home, so we tend to go out individually instead of together.

Are you a carer, or do you know one?
One in ten of us is a carer and three in five of us will become a carer at some point in their lives. Most of us know a carer and anyone can become a carer, literally overnight.

The Carers Trust offers information, advice and practical help to all carers across the UK.
You can find out more about the Carers Trust on these website.

Carers Website

Young Carers Website

Young Adult Carers Website

The Carers Trust, supported by Greggs is holding a charity event Britains Best Breakfast.

Because a lot of carers have so many duties they often miss out on Breakfast, so the charity is encouraging people to raise money by hosting a breakfast, or simply donating instead of buying a breakfast.

Here is how the money raised will help carers:

£12 could offer support through a counselling session for a carer,
giving them the chance to voice their concerns and gain reassurance.
£15 could give a young carer a few carefree hours by giving them the opportunity to take part in a range of activities from arts and crafts to sport.
£50 could go towards providing a carer with a much needed respite break. This is so important as so often carers go for months or even years without a break
£75 can save valuable time for an exhausted carer by going towards a washing machine or dishwasher – a vital piece of equipment for a carer
£120 can help a very desperate carer in need of urgent help – by contributing to a carers emergency service where swift, practical support is given in a crisis
So, would you be willing to join in?

If breakfast really isn't your thing, you can still support the campaign by texting CARE to 70660 and donating £3 to Carers Trust.

Disclosure: I am writing this post in support of the Carers Trust, £20 will be donated in my name to the charity.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Hotel Stays with the Family

When I was young I don't ever remember staying in a hotel with my parents. Maybe a guest house once or twice, but our preferred holiday was in a tent. I had a little reminisce about our family camping days in another post.

When I grew up I stuck with the camping bug although when I had kids of my own I preferred the relative luxury of a caravan. We still didn't stay in hotels.

In fact, it's only recently, that I have stayed in hotels and only once with the kids. So I'm not really much of an expert. I do know, however, what I would look for if planning a hotel stay with the kids in the future.

  • Being near is very important. I have not booked a hotel specifically because they would put my children in a separate room. The problem being I have three children and most hotels cater for only two in the same room. However, I still consider my children too young to be in a room on their own. So it would have to be a large family room, or two rooms which are connected.
  • Child friendly hotels are very important. My children are generally well behaved when out, well, we won't include the Little Man in that statement, but the girls are great. However, I would still like to feel comfortable in the hotel with my children, I would like them to think they were welcome in their surroundings.
  • A menu that caters for children is a great idea, particularly if you are staying more than one night. Also, dining times should be staggered so that families can eat a little earlier.
  • The surrounding area should be child friendly, I'd avoid a place which was surrounded by late night bars and prefer somewhere with nice gardens, or a park nearby. 
  • Treats for the children, like activity packs are not a necessity but a real nice extra which help to keep them entertained and welcome. 
I recently stayed at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington for the MAD blog awards. I was thrilled to see that they have so much to offer for children there, including all of my recommendations above. They also give children their own key card, and there are books, games and toys available for them to play with, including scooters and balls to take to the park. You just have to hand them back before you leave. Right next door to the hotel is the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, also nearby is the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Having stayed there I can honestly say it is truly a lovely hotel and I would love to take my children there. 

view from my window at Royal Garden Hotel

This post is my entry into the Royal Garden Hotel Blogger competition.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Bake With Bake Off - Chocolate Orange Tart with with White Chocolate Hearts

So the Great British Bake Off reached the semi final and in a couple of days it will be the Finals. I'm not sure who I really want to win as I like all the finalists, they have all been really entertaining in their own way too.

So who made it to the final? It's Ian, Nadiya and Tamal. Poor Flora was let go in the semi's when her chocolate creations did not meet the finals standards.

I think Nadiya has the edge to win, but Ian with his amazing flavours and Tamal who has been consistent if not perfect, well apart from his Creme Brulee, let's not forget those little masterpieces, also stand a really good chance. Three great finalists!

For this weeks bake with bake off challenge from Silver Mushroom I decided to make a chocolate tart. The souffle was just too risky and I didn't feel creative enough to make some marvellous chocolate show stopper.

Chocolate Tart with a hint of Orange and White Chocolate Hearts.


For the Pastry:

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
125g cold butter
125g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbs cocoa powder
1tbs cold water

For the Filling:

300ml of double cream
300g dark chocolate
100g caster sugar
25g butter
1 tbs Sweet Freedom Choc Shot with Orange Spice (optional, can be replaced with tsp vanilla)

For the decoration:

100g white chocolate


I began with the decoration.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. 
Pour the chocolate into some heart shaped moulds and leave to set.

For the pastry, put the flour and salt into a large bowl
 add the cold butter cubed and rubbed in until the mixture represented fine breadcrumbs
stir in the sugar and the cocoa powder.
add the egg yolks and cold water and mixed to form a dough
chill the pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes.

roll the chilled pasty and line a 23cm tart/flan tin with it
bake blind for 15 minutes (with greaseproof paper and baking beans or similar)
take out the baking beans and bake for a further 5 mins.

For the filling, warm the cream and sugar in a pan on the hob until it starts to boil.
break the chocolate into chunks and add to the hot cream
add the butter and stir until it's all combined together and smooth
add the choc shot if using, or 1tsp of vanilla extract.

Fill the pastry case and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Finally add the hearts.

my daughter added a few silver balls to her slice.

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

My Sunday Photo - 4th October 2015

 You may have noticed that we had a lunar eclipse in the early hours of 28th September? Well, I didn't want to stay up all night, it was just the moon after all. So I toddled off to bed my usual time.

At around 3.15am I awoke from a very strange dream. I looked at the clock and wondered if I would be able to see the moon from my bedroom window. Too lazy to actually get out of bed I leant over and pulled the curtain back...and there right outside my window was the moon, the eclipse was just beginning. I ended up watching it for quite a while, still not leaving my bed. It was pretty captivating.

So, what about the photo? I will confess, it's the work of my other half who was perched on top of the shed for a lot of the night and he took hundreds of photos with my Samsung WB101 bridge camera. Not bad is it!


A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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