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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough

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On Saturday the man and I escaped the hustle and bustle of normal life and took a drive up to Scarborough to stay at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. Having never been to Yorkshire I was looking forward to the drive (without kids, driving can be quite relaxing!) and getting a good blast of fresh, country air.

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It took us a good five hours to drive from Surrey, not helped by the long sections of roadworks that meant we had to do 50mph for about an hour and a half and the awful, awful rain that practically slowed the M1 to a stop! Once we arrived though, it was like entering into another world. It’s set amongst 17 acres of gardens in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and it is so peaceful. Even listening to the wind howling around it still felt a million times quieter than everyday life. The fact that there was zero phone signal added to the whole escape feeling. We had no choice but to switch off and just enjoy the moment.

We checked in and were shown to our room, one of the honeymoon suites, which was quite literally, bigger than our first flat. We had our own lounge, a huge master bedroom with the biggest bed we’ve ever slept in (what’s bigger than queen size?) and the most amazing bathroom known to mankind. I kid you not. The bath was big enough for the bloke and I to lay in together and the waterfall taps filled it in minutes, which was a good thing as I was planning on spending a lot of time in there! Double sinks (adds to home wish-list) and a massive power shower, I could have quite happily stayed in the bathroom the entire time, but we were booked in for afternoon tea and we weren’t going to miss that – it’s one of my favourite treats and it doesn’t happen nearly enough! We were due to have it at 2.30pm but because of the traffic we weren’t there on time, so the lovely receptionist rebooked it for us for 3.15pm giving us time to arrive, unpack and find our way around without rushing.

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Afternoon TeaRS

We were seated in the bar area and even though there were a few people in there it still felt private and cosy. We got comfortable in our little armchairs and had good, strong, Yorkshire tea in a beautiful white tea set, with beef & horseradish, ham & mustard and cream cheese & cucumber sandwiches, freshly baked scones with jam and cream (not clotted cream which was a first, but it still worked!) and a selection of amazing cakes – lemon cheesecake, profiteroles, chocolate and pistachio sponge and lemon meringue, all in little bite-size portions. Heaven!

While we were enjoying our afternoon tea, a couple were sat at the table near us looking through a wedding brochure and I have to say, if we were getting married now, I would love somewhere like Ox Pasture for the whole thing, ceremony and reception. It would be an amazing wedding venue, it was stunning in January so I imagine it would be just as, or even more beautiful in the summer months.

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Once we had finished our tea, we decided to have a walk around the grounds, snap some pictures and take in the scenery. It was absolutely freezing, us Londoners are always complaining about the cold weather, but ‘up North it’s a different kind of cold! I think we managed about 30 mins before the lure of the bath was too much for me, so we made our way back to the room for another cup of tea and a very long, very hot soak.

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I had taken my own bath oil with me as I’d read a few reviews where they’d commented on the lack of bubbles provided so I was all set for a good long bath. We asked for a couple more towels because there were only two large ones and I have a lot of hair, which were sent over in minutes. After an hour or so reading my glossies and telling the husband how much I loved the bath, I had to physically extract myself before I wrinkled away. Only to put myself into the huge walk in, power shower to wash my hair. It was a hard weekend. I know.

We’d booked to have dinner at The Courtyard Restaurant at 8pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy the room, watching trashy TV, reading mags and chatting. It’s amazing how quickly you can reconnect with each other when there are no other distractions like emails, texts, kids….! It’s only when we get away and spend proper time together do we realise how much of a laugh we have, how easily we get on and how much we enjoy each others company. It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘he doesn’t do this, she always does that’ stress, running around and passing each other on the stairs Mon-Fri that it’s a real treat to just stop and remember why we married each other!

We made our way to the restaurant and were seated at one of the tables, I loved that all the two seater tables had seats next to each other rather than opposite so the romance could carry on!

Having heard amazing things about the food we were both looking forward to dinner and we weren’t disappointed! As the only restaurant in Scarborough to have been awarded 2-rosettes for culinary excellence and be recommended in the Michelin guide, you know the food will be as amazing as the surroundings. The menu is very traditional with a modern twist and has an emphasis on local produce, every single course was delicious as well as stunning to look at.

We started with the Goats Cheese and Beetroot Tart & Ham Hock Terrine, followed by the Pork Trio and Beef Brisket, we also sampled Chicken Roulade and the Butternut Squash Soup which was gorgeous. I wish I had gone for the soup now! Dessert had to be chocolate for me and cheese for him! The Yorkshire Cheese Board and Chocolate Trio. Wow! Just wow.

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We had a couple of glasses of wine and then made our way back to our room where we snuggled up on the sofa with a blanket and watched CBB, before, you guessed it, having another bath! It had to be done. We then crawled into bed and had probably one of the best nights sleep we’ve ever had.

The next morning we were treated to yet more amazing food (the theme really should be ‘amazing’ for this post!) fresh croissants, hot tea, orange juice and a bloody gorgeous cooked breakfast, sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms and black pudding. The husband threw some toast in as well for good measure.

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Once we’d finished it was time to pack up and head home to our babies. We decided to make a quick detour to have a look at the famous Scarborough and I was surprised by how pretty it was. It was quite busy for a Sunday morning, which made the peace of Ox Pastures Hall which was a mere 15 mins away, even more special.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay while you’re visiting North Yorkshire, Ox Pasture Hall Hotel has to be top of the list. Luxurious, comfortable, friendly, quiet and relaxing all rolled into one. The staff were so friendly and open, I don’t know if that’s a northern thing or not, but they could teach the London hotel staff a lot, nothing was too much trouble for them, they were chatty without being over the top, just really lovely people who made the stay even more perfect.

Thank you to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for such a wonderful stay!

We were given a complimentary stay at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in order to write this review, but, as always the opinions are all my own.

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NutriBullet

Hands up if you’ve heard about the power of juicing? (yup) Hands up if you’ve tried to follow a juice only diet for 3 or more days? (yup) Hands up if you thought it was practically impossible and you just gave up on the whole thing? (both hands up) You know me, I’ve tried most diet plans out there, anything for a quick fix! But, surprise surprise, just like your mum told you, you don’t get results by trying to cut corners.

I’ve had my Vitamix for a while now and I love it, but it’s just *so* big and takes a fair bit of cleaning, when you want to blast a quick juice in the morning, it’s not the most simplest of gadgets, which is why I was really interested in trying out the NutriBullet.

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The beauty of this is just how easy it is to use. It’s literally just a case of filling it with your fruit and veg, adding some liquid and blasting it. When it comes to washing it all goes in the dishwasher and you even get cups with lids so you can make one and leg it out the door screaming at the kids to hurry up if you want to. (What? It’s not just me that does that!)

I’ve been using mine for a week and a bit now, and I’ve got to be honest, I was worried about using greens in my juice. I know they’re a super food and amazing for you, but after having some really bad tasting veg juices I think I was scarred for life! I put the 50% spinach in the tall cup, added my pineapple, strawberries and blueberries and prayed it wouldn’t taste anything like spinach, and thank god it didn’t! It wasn’t fully green by any stretch of the imagination, but the book you get tells you to start yourself off slowly, I won’t be drinking sprout and cabbage juice anytime soon. I’ve gone for ease so far, using frozen fruit with my fresh spinach, which means my juices are like smoothies and that suits me. I’ve slowly found the right balance of water, the first few were a bit thick, but now I’ve got it down to a fine art.

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I haven’t tried adding a banana or avocado to the mixes yet, they’re meant to make it smoother and I’m tempted, but I’m not sure how avocado would work in a juice and I can’t stand banana in anything other than actual whole banana form. I have issues I know.

I love the size of the NutriBullet. I don’t have the biggest kitchen and counter space is limited so anything that stays out all the time has to take up as little room as possible and be something I use every single day. Compared to the Vitamix this is miniscule. I can leave the base out all the time, and if the large cup isn’t on it, it’s in the dishwasher, so it’s the perfect size.

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As well as smoothies, the NutriBullet can also make amazing soups, pasta sauces, dressings, dips and they come with a milling blade that can mill brown rice into flour, almonds into almond butter, and so much more. I want to make almond butter asap.

Even though it comes with a recipe book, I’ve been pretty much making it up as I go along, sticking with fruits I know I like, and using the spinach as the greens. I’m getting more fruit and veg in each day than I usually do and it’s a better breakfast than anything else I can make in that amount of time so it’s win win for me.

The NutriBullet costs £99 and is available here. I’ve got to say it’s a bloody good gadget and I would have bought one myself if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be sent one. I know I’ll use it every day, the kids are getting interested in having juices, which can only be a good thing so it’s already paid for itself in my eyes. When you think about the cost of the Vitamix, this is practically a bargain!

I’m in love with this little baby, and if you have a look at my Instagram page you’ll probably spot a new recipe each day!

I was sent a NutriBullet for the purpose of this review but all views are my own obviously! 

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Slimming World take 3….?

I should be a complete and utter Slimming World expert by now. Having followed the plan before falling pregnant with TB, and again straight after having him (and losing 3 stone of baby weight) I had it nailed and was *this* close to target, but, like always, life got in the way, I couldn’t always get to group and once you miss a group here or there, you end up not going at all and we all know what happens then!

2 stone back on and ready to start again!

This time round I know what I need to do, I don’t have any external pressure, no need to “fit back into my jeans” (mostly because I want to buy new ones) and I’m not putting myself on a time limit. I’m ok as I am, but I do feel happier, personally, when I’m a dress size smaller. I’m not aiming to get down to a size 10 because quite frankly I can’t be arsed. I like good food, nights out and fun and I don’t want to spend the best part of my life battling against myself. So, I’ve decided to go back to the plan that worked for me and get inventive. I hate being bored, so I can’t stick to 3 meals repeatedly. I think I’m quite a good cook these days and I have a little bit more time now both kids are older (and they’re both willing to try new things) so we can get creative in the kitchen.

For those of you not familiar with Slimming World, it consists of 3 plans (mostly), Red days, Green days and Extra Easy. EE is their newest plan, but so far I haven’t had much success with it. I seem to maintain each week when I follow EE, which would be great if I were at target! So, my idea is to follow red and green throughout the week, and EE at the weekend, viewing it as my ‘treat’ meals, even though they’re still full on Slimming World style.

I’ve been through their newly released Extra Easy Express cookbook, and I’ve found PLENTY to keep me going, along with good old faithfuls like jacket potatoes, pasta, and steak night There is absolutely no reason why this won’t work, it’s all completely do-able. It’s just a case of getting my mind to keep up with my body! Or vice versa maybe?!

I am using the online membership for the next 4 weeks, to see how much I can lose and how I find it and my plan is to blog my favourite meals, and check in each week with my losses (yeah, not sharing my actual weight with you!) Hopefully, by the time we get on that plane to Spain, I’ll be well on my way to my goal weight.

Fingers crossed!

 

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Lunch Box Ideas & Capri-Sun

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

****Back to school this week!!!**** Not that I’m looking forward to it or anything!

#shop #cbias #caprisun #kids

The school uniforms are purchased, the shoes have been bought and we’re now onto the last few bits, including packed lunches! GG is starting senior school and has decided she wants to have school dinners as they look a bit more exciting than junior school ones, but The Boy is flitting between both so I’ve stocked the fridge up, but I’m trying to come up with some healthy lunchbox ideas that are a little bit different. He would eat ham sandwiches until they were coming out of his ears, so this term we’re on a mission!

I hit my local Tesco this weekend to have a look for bits and pieces, and take part in the #CapriSunSchool and #CollectiveBias challenge.

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Usually, a typical lunchbox would involve, a sarnie, a bag of mini cheddars, 2 or 3 bits of fruit (they get to eat one piece during their first break) and a yoghurt. Drinks wise water is always preferable, but The Boy hates it and will only drink it under duress, so anything that’s good for him and isn’t fizzy, that he will drink is a hit with me, Capri-Sun is perfect, it’s 75% fruit juice, 25% water and counts as one of their five a day. I’m actually really lucky in that both kids will eat most fruit and veg so I don’t have to battle with that (The Boy even asked for more broccoli at a restaurant this week!) so we probably manage more than 5 a day, but if I can squeeze in 2 more it might cancel out the biscuits they sneak in as soon as they walk through the door! The flavours are also a big hit, with Tropical, Apple & Pear and Apple & Blackcurrant in the Fruit Crush range, as well as apple, orange, summer berries and apple & cherry. I’m sure there was just orange when I was younger…!

#shop #cbias #healthy #lunchbox #kidsI’ve seen so many amazing lunchboxes on Instagram and Pinterest, honestly it puts me to shame! Colourful boxes, sandwiches in shapes, baby pizza slices, home made quiches, I could go on but it just makes me miserable! They look so pretty, I don’t know that I’d even be able to eat it, but it does give me some inspiration! Anything to step away from the boring ham & two slices of wholemeal. I definitely need to get some of those fancy little shaped pots too.

What do you put in the kids lunchboxes that interests them, is good for them and catches their eye? Any ideas are welcome!

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Easy breakfasts for kids to create.

Keeping the kids both happy and healthy when it comes to food can be a tiresome chore, but all mums enjoy offering a treat once in a while. The key to ensuring that they get their daily intake of nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins involves teaching them to prepare a number of balanced, nutrient-rich and wholesome meals, breakfast being one of the easiest to make.

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Breakfast time:
Breakfast is said to be one of the most important meals of the day and rightly so – especially if your little ones are constantly on the move. From running around in the schoolyard to swimming lessons at the local pool, our children are often a lot more active than we are. Thankfully McCain.co.uk offer a variety of breakfast-worthy, kid-friendly options perfect for those who need to build up their energy levels.

The perfect components to a hearty breakfast:
If you can, it’s important to enjoy a family breakfast at least once a week. You may find that everyone is free on the weekends. If this is case, ensure the table is set and the ingredients are in stock in advance. From bacon and eggs, to hash browns and lightly buttered toast, when it comes to making a hearty breakfast, it’s often fun to get everyone involved. The kids can become involved in the prep work from helping to mix the eggs to buttering toast. The role you give your child should be determined by their age. The likes of scrambled eggs on a muffin and dippy eggs with a side of hash browns are both easy and tasty options for the little ones to create.

Get the kids’ involved:
Finding healthy breakfast recipes is a must when you have children, especially if you want them to indulge in a nutrient-packed diet. There’s nothing quite like waking up to a delicious and nutritious breakfast, and teaching your kids how to make their very own dishes is a great place to start.

For one, when you’re not around to help them make an early morning meal, you’ll know they’re able to fend for themselves. Breakfast acts as brain fuel and for your little ones to do well at school ensuring they have a hearty breakfast is key. Pre-made items come in handy, such as hash browns, which can easily be taken out of the fridge or freezer when required and placed easily in the microwave.

Vegetarian options:
Whether your little ones are fussy eaters or quite simply don’t like the taste of meat, looking into a number of vegetarian kids recipes can prove extremely beneficial. From blueberry muffins to melon and crunchy bran pots, there are a variety of easy-to-make options to choose from. Getting children involved in the preparation of meals can benefit them by teaching them to eat healthily and also encourage their love of food.

 

GP

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Me time (with added tea & cakes)

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.

#shop #cupcakes #cbias #carrotcake

The last week or so have passed in a bit of a blur, various things, but I was determined to take some time out, some me time, and do something away from the computer, away from the kids and away from the hubs. So, I decided to do some baking, alone. When I say alone, I think it’s been documented a few times on here that I like to bake cakes & cook without the kids ‘helping’ me. I know, I know. Bad mummy and all that! Blah!

As it’s almost Valentines day, and we’re off to Paris in 18 days (who’s counting!?) we’ve decided we’re not doing presents here, saving that for France, I thought I’d bake a cake the man likes, rather than one that the kids request, and, being a man, there was no chocolate involved. At. All. Weirdo. He requested a carrot cake! I have never, ever baked a carrot cake in my life, but I thought why the hell not.

Anyway. I hit Tesco nice and early, and I mean, nice and early, it was practically empty. If I could get my backside out of bed at that time every morning I might be tempted to do my weekly shop then, but I can’t.

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Once the kids were deposited at school and I’d hit the usual social media channels, I got to it. It’s a pretty simple recipe to follow, the only thing that threw me a little was the carrot part, there is a lot of liquid in grated carrots, so I squeezed out some but I probably could have done with getting rid of a little more.

Cupcakes
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
150ml sunflower oil
150g self raising flour, sifted
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
1/4 tsp of salt
a drop (or two) of vanilla extract
150g carrots, grated
50g chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Icing
300g icing sugar (sifted)
50g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese

Heat the oven to 170C or Gas mark 3. Put 12 cupcake cases into a cupcake tray.
Beat together the eggs, sugar and sunflower oil, until combined. Slowly mix in the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
Fold in the carrots and walnuts and spoon into cupcake cases until 2/3.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire cooling rack. (I added an extra 5-8mins because of the moisture from the carrots)
Once cool, you can make the cream cheese icing. Beat together the room temperature butter with the cream cheese, slowly adding the sifted icing sugar.
Spread the icing over each cake, decorating with some chopped walnuts if you want to. I did some with & some without as the boy is anti nuts. I won’t tell him there are some inside the cakes!

Easy! It is a messy recipe I won’t lie! My hands are still stained orange from the carrots, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to do the grating with my left hand (twice as long!) but I had no choice. It would also probably be helpful if your electric whisk didn’t keep flying off the handle (literally) I really need to convince the man to get me a Kitchen Aid! Imagine the cakes I could make….!

#shop #whisk #cakemix

The end result is a really moist (hate that word) light cupcake. I’m wondering if I could vary the icing on top, maybe add some lemon zest/juice to it to give it a bit of a lift. Has anyone ever made carrot cake with chocolate icing? Does that even go, or is it too much of a flavour combination?

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As sad as this may sound, going back to Flinstone time or whatever, but I actually really enjoyed baking these, I had my music blasting out, the house to myself and I’m quite proud of my little cakes! The boy even said if I can’t manage to make the Captain America cake for his birthday (panic) then these would be good! I can’t imagine a room full of 4 & 5 year olds appreciating carrot cake, but it’s the thought that counts eh?!

Oh, and have a look at this last pic. Does anyone else think my dog thinks I’m a messy cook by any chance? He was my shadow the whole time I was baking, like a Dyson with four legs. Don’t think you went un-noticed Lenny!

#shop #dog #cakes #baking

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