Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bean Soup

Last week I made a yummy bean soup which went down very well with Lucinda as she loves beans of any kind. I thought I would share how I made it because I know that beans are a favourite with lots of babies and children.

It was the first time I'd made it. It was just an idea I'd had, as Lucinda loves beans and soup so I thought I'd have a go at combining the two.

I saw some packets of dried mixed beans and a dried soup mix, containing lentils, split peas, etc in a local deli, so bought them.
That evening I put the beans to soak, overnight, and then added the soup mix to them in the morning and let it all soak for a couple of hours longer.
Then I removed the seeds from four tomatoes (so the soup wasn't seedy!) and chopped the tomatoes up. I also chopped up half a red pepper and half a small red onion. Then I drained the beans and soup mix, added everything to a pan with some water and some freshly ground black pepper and simmered away for about two hours, until all the beans were soft.

This is the mixture of beans and soup mix after they had been soaked.
The colours just look gorgeous!

It was very much trial and error but I was pleased with the result. If I'd have had any vegetable stock I would've added some but I'd run out and didn't realise until I came to cooking the soup. I've now bought some stock cubes so they are ready for next time. I would have also used more tomatoes and/or soaked the beans for longer because a lot of the tomato juice evaporated away while it was simmering long enough to soften the beans. The soup would have been more dippable with bread then. But overall, an admirable first attempt at soup-making, I think!
Here it is...

Lucinda's portion

I will definitely be making bean soup again very soon and will be fine-tuning the recipe until it is perfect. I think this will be a winter favourite.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Product Review - Alfresco Natural Anti-Bug Bite Moisturiser and Acqua Spray - Follow-up testing

Following on from my previous testing, earlier in the year, Sarah-Lou from Alfresco very kindly supplied me with some more Anti-Bug Bite Moisturiser and Acqua D'Alfresco spray to test on my summer holiday.

Unfortunately, my husband couldn't get enough time off work to go on a proper holiday - however, we did manage a weekend away camping which probably gave us more opportunity to test the insect repellent than our usual fortnight in France would have!

One evening I forgot to zip the fly-sheet closed on the tent and loads of flies were attracted by the torchlight into the tent. I closed the fly-sheet once I realised but the tent was already full of flies. They were horrid, little biting kinds of flies, a mixture of what appeared to be mosquitoes and midges, so I was very worried about us spending the whole night with them. I sprayed the Acqua D'Alfresco spray around the inside of the tent and also on my, my daughter's and my husband's arms and legs and hoped for the best. In the morning all three of us were bite-free.

Our tent

I have also had a colleague at work test the spray for me. She is very prone to insect bites and often gets bitten while she is out walking her dogs. The week before I gave her a 7.5ml pocket sized spray to try out she showed me a huge lump on the back of her leg. She had reacted so badly to a bite that her leg had swollen up so much that the lump was visible through her jeans. This was not a one-off incident. She said she'd had a similar reaction to a bite on her shoulder a couple of weeks earlier. I thought she could really do with some insect repellent that worked! So she was very happy to test the Alfresco for me. Several weeks on and she hasn't been bitten again on the occasions that she has used the spray so she is pleased to report that it is very effective.

The fragrance is unisex and the products are popular with both men and women - and also suitable for children (avoid spray but can use moisturiser on babies). Alfresco is actually the leading brand of insect repellent for film stars while filming on location and is effective against mosquitoes, as well as other insects. Made from a blend of over twenty essential oils, including cinnamon, cedarwood, patchouli and orange oil, it is also Deet and paraben-free.

It is available as a moisturiser and a spray and both come in two different sizes.

Alfresco Anti-Bug Bite Moisturiser 200ml (6.8 fl oz)
Pocket Anti-Bug Bite Moisturiser 50ml (1.7 fl oz) 4 pack
are both £25.00

Acqua D'Alfresco spray 50ml (1.7 fl oz)
Pocket Acqua D'Alfresco spray 7.5ml (0.225 fl oz) 4 pack
are both £30.00

For every Alfresco purchase, a percentage of profit will go to Alfresco is fully committed to helping eradicate malaria worldwide.
More information can be found at

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Book Review - "Landy's New Home" by Veronica Lamond

A few months ago, we reviewed some Land Rover children's story books, "Landy" and "Fender", written and illustrated by Veronica Lamond. We have since received the newest story in the series, "Landy's New Home" and here is our latest review...
"Landy's New Home" is the story of what happens after Landy has gone to live with Jack. The original story ends with Jack saying that they can start a farm of their own, so this is where the latest story continues. This story revolves around Jack's home and setting up a small farm. Jack builds the animals' new homes but Landy feels left out - until it all turns out well in the end, with Dan and Fender's help.       

It includes all the characters from the previous two books - Jack and Landy, Dan and Fender and James and Pick-up - and is proving to be an exciting series as all the characters get involved.   Lucinda loves Landy and Fender but is not so keen on Pick-up and makes me read those pages really quickly to get past him!

We always have to read all the books in order. So bedtime stories for the last few weeks have had to include "Landy", "Fender" and then "Landy's New Home" most nights. And as can be seen in the photographs, we even took the books camping at a Land Rover show earlier this month and Lucinda enjoyed her daddy reading to her for a change :-)   

As in the previous books, there is a lot of emotion in the story and it helps makes Landy into a character with feelings. You really are moved by how Landy feels sometimes! All three stories to date have sadness in them but they all end on a happy note.  

We highly recommend all three books. Even if you're not particularly interested in Land Rovers, the stories, characters and delightful illustrations can't fail to appeal. There is so much in these books. The entertainment doesn't finish at the end of the story as the illustrations are so detailed that every time you look at them you see something new and can discuss them with your child.
As before, the books are available in paperback and hardback versions, direct from

Hardbacks are £9.99
Paperbacks are £6.99

You can request a dedication and Veronica's (the author) signature when you buy books from the website, which is a lovely personal touch.

Landybooks also supports a small community based organisation "Wamumbi Orphan Care" in Kangema, Kenya.
Their website is