Spooky Pumpkin Gemista ( Stuffed Peppers)

In our house, we're all about eating well these days. Aldi asked me to take part in their ghoulishly good healthy eating Halloween challenge again and this year I decided to give it a bit of a Greek flavour and I have made Gemista or stuffed peppers, with a twist. Ever since I was a little girl, Gemista has been one of my favourite dishes and my Yiayia still makes it for me when we're back in Greece, albeit without the spooky faces.

The great thing about Gemista is that you can make them with mince for all the meat lovers but equally you can skip this and you have a wonderful and delicious completely vegan dish. I used this recipe from The Greek Vegan, substituting white rice for brown rice and using only yellow & orange peppers in order for them to look like mini pumpkins.

You make the pumpkin faces just as you would on a really pumpkin ( except this is far less arduous). You just need to carve off the 'lid' around the stalk and scoop out the seeds. Then cut out your spooky face and fill with the rice stuffing as per the recipe above.

My two would never eat peppers on their own normally but they wolfed these down in record time!What's your favourite healthy Halloween treat?


What makes you feel like a million dollars?

Sometimes we all need to put ourselves first for a moment and do something that lifts our spirits, something that helps us feel like a million dollars. Some people like to hit the shops or treat themselves to a new haircut. Others get a boost from catching up with friends or Skyping loved ones. Perhaps you get a kick from buying a lottery ticket or trying out new slot sites. Personally my favourite way to boost my mood and make myself feel human again is to go fort a blow-dry and treat myself to a manicure.
There's just something about great hair and shiny flawless nails that makes me feel a million times better about myself. It's also great to have some me time away from the chaos of every day life with two little ones.

No matter how much I love having fabulous hair & nails, nothing and I mean nothing beats a hug and an 'I love you' from my children. Regardless of how stressful my day has been, nothing warms my heart more than quality time with my family and a good snuggle on he sofa watching Peppa Pig together.



Homemade Strawberry & Raspberry Jam

Since I have been making an effort to clean up our family life and eliminate unnecessary chemicals & processed foods, I have found myself cooking almost everything from scratch. This might sound unsurprising but those who know me will be very much in shock because I have always been something of a reticent chef. In the past, I've never enjoyed cooking but I have to say though, I love it when the kids wolf down something that I have spent hours preparing (not so much when they don't!) and I love it even more when my four year old tells me that my cooking is delicious! I think this is what is definitely spurring me on to try different recipes. 

After our trip to Garsons Farm recently, our fridge was bursting at the seams with fresh fruit and veg. The Strawberries & Raspberries were starting to go off before we'd had a chance to finish them so I decided to make some jam, something I've never tried before. I found this recipe from one of my favourites Deliciously Ella and it really was incredibly easy to follow. The best part is that, it is somewhat healthy as it uses only fresh fruit plus chia seeds and honey to bind the ingredients- no processed sugars. E & Rufio loved being allowed to have jam on toast for brekkie!


Mama Style

I recently wrote a post for Emma's diary on how much my style has changed since I've had my babies. Until I sat down and wrote my article I hadn't really thought about how much I have changed the way I dress ( other than the clothes that still don't fit- oops!) I still like the way that I dress but I definitely feel as though I put a lot more thought in to what I buy, I'm certainly not as impulsive and I am dare I say it- a little more practical eek!!
Here are some of my favourite mama pieces for every day, being practical definitely doesn't mean that you have to scrimp on style:
  Mama Style

p.s. the YSL lipstick is a long time love of mine, it has to be one of my make up must haves. I wrote about it right when I first started blogging here.


Picking Pumpkins at Garsons Farm

I have never really been a fan of Autumn, I like summer far too much you see. I love the warmth, being outdoors, holidays, summer clothes and Autumn has always felt like a stark reminder that summer is over and Winter is well and truly on it's way!
Well now that I have children I find myself enjoying Autumn more and more as we begin to develop our family traditions. The children love putting up halloween decorations and although we're not that keen on Trick or Treating, we definitely love pumpkins!! I really wanted to take the children to a pumpkin patch this year to chose a pumpkin and a few of the mamas that I've spoken to at E's school recommended Garsons farm to us.

Garsons Farm is a pick your own farm in Surrey, it took us about 45 minutes to get there from central London. When we arrived we couldn't believe our eyes, there were literally thousands of pumpkins in all different shapes, sizes and colours, it was quite amazing!!

Not only were there pumpkins but there were plenty of other fruit & veg still in season for us to gather. We picked sweetcorn & squash.....

..... and Strawberries, which I didn't think would be in season so late in the year but here they were and boy they were good!!

We also found thousands of delicious raspberries which we brought home to make some yummy jam!

My city kids had the absolute time of their lives running around picking fruit and breathing the fresh country air. Rufio cried when we left the farm, he had so much fun and wanted to stay longer. We came back with a boot full of fresh fruit, vegetables and even flours for a fraction of what we would pay in the super market. Plus we had an educational day out as the kids learned about where our fruit & veg come from. A brilliant idea for half-term if any of you are stuck for ideas.


Driving in London With Kids

Driving in London can be pretty stressful at times, especially with children. I mentioned in a post a while ago why I don't use the Tube any longer, we do occasionally take busses and taxis which the kids LOVE, but on a day to day basis our car is our main mode of transport .  Here are some top tips for stress free driving in London:

- Plan your journey in advance. Even though you've set the route on your GPS, it helps to be somewhat familiar with the route. For example, if you're toddler is having a meltdown in the back you might not be able to hear what the Sat Nav is telling you!

-  I think it's really important to make sure that my children are happy and content when I'm driving so that I can concentrate on the road and for that reason I often time long car journeys with naps. The lull of the car sends them to sleep in minutes!

- Have snacks close to hand that you can easily pass back to your little ones, to keep them occupied.

- Ipads loaded with educational apps and your children's favourite TV shows are an absolute godsend during long car journeys.

-Fill up with petrol beforehand so that you don't have to worry about finding a petrol station in an emergency.

-Make sure that you have good tires on your car, especially in Winter! I chose run flat tyres for my car so that I don't have to worry about punctures but I still need to get the tread checked regularly. A great place for tyres is Point S car tyres in London , many of their dealerships also offer car servicing for extra peace of mind.

*this is a collaborative post


Homemade Frozen inspired Playdough

A while back one of E's teachers mentioned to me that they'd made a fresh batch of play dough for the children. Now I'd heard rumours before that you could make your own play dough but when I saw for myself how great the results were, I was shocked. There's no way we're going back to the shop bought stuff, especially as we're on a mission to clean up our lifestyle and cut back on unnecessary and chemicals. At least I know exactly what's in the play dough!

It is so so easy to make and please bear in mind that I am definitely not a domestic goddess, so if I can make this then anyone can! The children can also help too but obviously with supervision as you're going to need to use a hob. It's one of those great rainy-day activities that will keep little ones entertained for hours with literally just 10 minutes down time whilst the play dough cools. 

There are heaps of recipes for home made play dough online, especially on Pinterest. I've tried a few and this is the combination that works best for me. Like pretty much every little girl in the UK, E is still obsessed with Frozen so I made her day with this Frozen inspired Play dough. Of course you can use any colour you wish with an optional sprinkle of glitter

1 cup Plain Flour
1 cup of water
1/3 cup Table Salt
2 Tablespoons of Cream of tartar
1 tablespoon of Coconut oil
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
Gel food colouring
Sprinkle of glitter

Add your flour, salt, coconut oil, cream of tartar and almond extract to a pan a cook over a medium heat, slowly adding the water as you stir the mixture.

 If you don't have coconut oil at home, you can use a vegetable oil, I personally prefer coconut oil because it doesn't leave a funny smell and isn't greasy. If you like you can also add a teaspoon of Almond extract which I think makes it smell like the real stuff or anything else that you prefer, at E's nursery they used to use Strawberry essence which smelled lovely.

Keep stirring the mixture, don't panic if it starts to look lumpy, this is normal. After a few minutes the mixture will begin to thicken it should stick to the spoon and bind together like dough.

Remove the dough and place it on a surface out of the reach of little hands, too cool. Once it has cooled down, knead the play dough with a sprinkling of flour until smooth.

Now you can add your gel colouring, a little goes very far so I start with the tiniest amount. I use just enough to cover on the end of a teaspoon. I then knead this in to the dough and add more until I have the desired colour intensity. You can of course use regular food colouring but I prefer the gel as it gives a more vibrant colour to the play dough. I chose bright turquoise as we're going for a Disney Frozen theme!

Once you have blended in the food colouring you can add the glitter if you wish, add as much as you like and knead it in just as you did with the food colouring. We used medium sized silver holographic glitter to give the play dough that frozen and wintery look.

Then you're good to go......

Once your little ones have finished playing with the play dough then you can store it in an air tight container and it will last for months and months, much longer than the old shop bought play dough!

P.S. We're going to be trying this in Halloween colours such as orange, purple and green over half-term so look out for more pictures on my Instagram account.


Designer Look Ankle Boots for Less

There is a definite chill in the air today, Winter is well and truly on it's way. The drop on temperature got me thinking about new boots- it doesn't take much to bring my mind back to shopping! Brantano have some designer look ankle boots for a fraction of the price. I love the Chanel-esque quilting on these Lotus Herkla boots and the Emilio Luca workmen's boots which could easily be mistaken for Ganni.

Brantano also do some great designs for men, Mr Jones has been a Caterpillar boots convert since forever, I don't think I've ever seen him wear another brand of boots. I've totally given up trying to get him to buy another style of boots for a change so I think he would love these Caterpillar casual boots and the black pair again by Emilio Luca which are an absolute bargain!!



Pebli Town Launch

E has started putting together her Christmas list! A bit premature, I know but at the moment it mainly consists of absolutely everything she sees advertised on Nick Juniors.

Our conversations go something like this:

E (after every advert) : I want that Barbie with a spinning head/dress/tiara mummy!! Can I have that for Christmas?
Me: Maybe.
E:Well, if not then can I have it when I'm 5 ??
Me: Sure sweetheart ( That's not until next August and so far away she's sure to forget hehe)

However one of the toys that I did actually take note of was the new Pebli Town game which is an educational board game that interacts with your iPad ( and various other tablets) As I've mentioned before, E is a bit of an iPad junkie and we often have to limit her usage so I was interested to find out more about this game as it looked like a good compromise.

As luck would have it, we were invited to the Launch of Pebli Town at Westfield last week. Unfortunately E couldn't make it as she was in school but Rufio was happy to test drive the game for his big sis. It is designed for age 3+ and whilst he hasn't really got the hang of the app ( he's not that bothered with technology, like his Dad!) he loves playing with all the characters and the board itself, his favourite Character is Fireman Freddy.

E loves playing with the entire game and there are four different areas to discover. There is Story Teller mod where children can create adventures in Pebli Town, encouraging vocabulary, life skills, focus and attention. Game player mode which helps develop problem solving skills, logic skills, hand eye coordination and fine motor skills whist also building children's speed and shape recognition, short term memory and creativity. The Story Creator section allows children to record their own voice, add special effects and direct stories, which helps them to develop creativity, imagination and social skills.

Finally there's the video room which allows them to access 200 reassuringly pre approved child friendly videos all related to Pebli Town characters, which is great as I often worry about all the weird videos kids have access to on YouTube and this automatically solves that issue.

We met the gorgeous Amanda Holden who is the brand ambassador for Pebli Town. She's such a stylish and genuinely friendly lady, the kind of person I'd want as a friend and definitely my new mummy idol! She also has children herself so she was able to relate to all the issues parents have with kids technology and how important it is to make it safe and educational. Pebli Town achieves all this without children even realising- a bit like giving them fruit and them not knowing it's good for them, as Amanda put it!!

We also heard from Guy Orr who is a director at Mookie, the people behind Pebli Town. Mookie is a family business set up by Guy's parents in their garden shed back in the 80's and now they are international supplier and distributor of children's toys! I love a good success story!

Needless to say, we're all thrilled with Pebli Town! It's great entertainment for the kids whist Mr Jones and I can relax safe in the knowledge that this is an educational game with children's interest at heart. Of course this would make a great gift for those of you who are super organised and already thinking ahead for Christmas. It's also relatively compact so great to take along if you're travelling as it would provide hours of entertainment for the kids.

Find out more about Pebli Town here: https://toysalive.com
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