Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Woman Who Won Things

I was looking around a charity shop a few weeks ago and I saw this book. It could have been written about me! :D

I enter lots of competitions every day. Around 50-100 most days. It doesn't take as long as you'd think with the help of notepad files and auto-fill. It's a nice hobby to have since I find it a relaxing thing to do and I get the occasional win too.

I've been doing it for over 2 years now and I've had at least 1 win a month since I started. Sometimes small things like DVDs, books or toiletries but I've also had plenty big wins like a new kitchen, an Ipad mini, flights to Munich and a new TV.

I enjoy the wins because mostly I enter for things that would be good to give as gifts to family or be a treat for us. We've had days out, cinema trips and vouchers to spend.

It's not all fun times though. Once I received a Greek foods hamper that had smashed in the post and it turned up all wet, everything inside stinking of olives. Ugh :(

My best win was the new kitchen worth about £7,000 from B&Q. They did a great job fitting it and fixing our floor too. Sadly we had to leave it behind when we moved house but it likely added value to the property for selling it.

My favourite wins are the ones that give us an experience. We all enjoyed the Lemur feeding experience I won. It was a great day out.

Also, JD and I have had trips to London, Munich and a Spa day in Wetherby. 

Entering competitions isn't for everyone. To some it seems boring or a waste of time. Leigh (my own daughter) thinks it's a cheat to enter so many a day. But to me it's just a hobby and a chance to win a treat. My next prize could be a family cruise or a big cash win. Who knows? It could also be another broken Greek hamper. I enjoy the mystery of it. :D

P.S. I may post a regular update to what I win each month but likely only if I win something good enough to show off, haha x

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 26: Croque Monsieur

Last Saturday Sandwich for a while because we're going on holiday to the US on Monday and JD will be staying on for a month after me and the kids get back to spend time with his family over there. We'll be back to eating sandwiches in October though :)

Today's sandwich is the 'Crisp Mister' (oh you French, with your crazy names) which is a ham and cheese sandwich topped with bechamel sauce. We've only had one once before but it wasn't very good so we're giving it another chance today.

Ingredients: Milk, ham, Gruyere cheese, bay leaves, onion, flour, butter, white bread, salt & pepper.

Flavour the milk by simmering it with the onion, pepper and bay leaves.

 Strain the milk and set aside. Melt the butter and add flour. Stir in the milk to make a bechamel sauce in the usual way. JD's pretty pro at stirring.

 Toast the bread and make up the sandwiches using butter, ham and grated Gruyere.

 Top the sandwiches with a layer of bechamel sauce and grill until browned and crispy on top.

This was one of the best sandwiches we've had. Maybe because of the taste or maybe because I didn't have to make it. JD and Erin took over in the kitchen and made the whole thing. Erin took all the pictures too. I just had to eat the sandwich when it was done, which was great :D

It was very different from any other toasted sandwich I've had before. The bechamel sauce on top made for a lovely moist mouthful of sandwich each time and the smoked ham we used went perfectly with the Gruyere cheese. JD thought it was interesting (read as weird) to have a sauce on top of a sandwich. He didn't complain too much though and ate half of Erin's sandwich too!

Apparently there are several variations on the Croque Monsieur including being topped with a fried egg, with salmon instead of ham, with tomatoes & herbs or with a slice of pineapple. I'd like to try some of those too.

Ratings: JD -  4/5 Emma - 4/5

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 25: Scented sandwich

I can't believe we're actually having this sandwich at all but it's in the book so it has to be eaten. I suppose we're working on the theory that this will get it over with since we only have to have it once!

The recipe says you can use any edible flowers for this so we chose roses as we had some handy.

Ingredients: bread, butter and roses.

Butter up some bread.

Lay the roses on the bread and sandwich them up.

 Cover with a cloth and leave overnight. (Yes, that's right you can't even have this sandwich the same day you start making it e_e)

 Break up the roses and line the bread with the petals. Cut off the crusts and cut into small fingers.

I'm *almost* left speechless by the sheer naffness of this sandwich. The rose petals had the same texture as lettuce so eating this sandwich was similar (I imagine because who would eat a lettuce sandwich?) to eating a sandwich made with just a small layer of lettuce.

The leaving of the sandwich overnight seemed to do nothing to scent the bread but just left it a bit dryer. The petals didn't have much of a taste (although the book said flowers have a very subtle taste so maybe I missed it) but had a general flowery aroma as you'd expect.

Erin was keen to try the sandwich likely because it was pink but wasn't at all impressed.

It's the kind of sandwich you imagine old ladies eating in olden times with their tea in a teapot and these delicate subtle sandwiches on a doily. Not exactly my style :D

Ratings: JD - 1/5 Emma - 1/5 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How much housework do you do?

I know I'm not alone with this but housework on a daily basis is one of my least favourite things. If I feel like doing housework then I'll make the most of that feeling and do as much as I can until the feeling runs out. Other than that I try to stick to only doing what has to be done.

After reading this article: I felt pleased to live in a modren world where less than half the amount of housework needs to be done.

But still, 2 1/2 hours every day? Too much in my opinion.

We share the chores in our house and we've toyed with different ways of sharing the work. We had a chore wheel so we each did something different each day. We had a rota that gave us each weekly tasks to complete. Really though, I don't enjoy doing housework daily or weekly so it seems unfair to expect the kids to do it that way too.

So we're trying a new way of cleaning the house once a month in a frantic hour or so of activity. We write a list of every job that needs to be done and then pick jobs in turn until they're all allotted to someone.

We tried it last week and it was great. We were all racing to see who got finished first. JD and I had to help the kids with some chores they hadn't done before but they did great and said they much preferred this system.

Leigh sweeping the stairs.

JD tidying the back yard.

Erin cleaning the bath.

Me cleaning the loo.

Leigh hoovering to music.

Erin sweeping the kitchen floor.
Obviously some things still need to be done daily and weekly. We share the washing up duties between us and I usually do laundry once a week. Other than that we just tidy or clean up as we go and make sure things get put away where they're meant to go. Food always (with the exception of film night) gets eaten at the table which helps stop crumbs being everywhere. This is much easier with older kids of course and we've told them that the more they keep things tidy the less housework there'll be on Housework Day.

Also, the kids are responsible each for keeping their own room tidy which they approach very differently. Leigh keeps her room tidy most of the time and Erin goes through phases of messy and neat just tidying when she's in the mood to (much like her Mum).

I feel like some people will feel appalled at the idea of doing housework mostly once a month and that's ok because we're all different. I'd love to know how much time everyone spends on their own housework and if they feel it's too much or not enough.

How long do you spend on housework each day?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 24: The Gatsby

This sandwich is named after Jay Gatsby the character from F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Great Gatsby. The first person to eat the sandwich described it as "A Gatsby smash" and so a sandwich was born.

Ingredients: mortadella, french fries, vinegar, salt, lettuce, sub rolls and peri peri sauce.

 Fry the french fries and brown the mortadella slices.

 Shred some lettuce and split the sub rolls.

 Season the fries with salt and vinegar.

Pile everything into the sub rolls and top with the peri peri sauce. 

Sadly the picture of the finished sandwiches corrupted as I transferred it to the computer so it's all weird. I did the best my limited skills allowed so it looks like a Frankenstein's monster of a sandwich :D

The sandwich looked fantastic all heaped with the fillings and I really anticipated eating it. I haven't had mortadella before (although JD says it's very similar to bologna and I've had that once). The peri peri sauce was incredibly hot and made my top lip tingle after a few bites. The texture of the sandwich was quite soft and pleasing to eat. The lettuce gave it a bit of crunch. The crisp fries went a bit soggy with the vinegar but the vinegar gave the sandwich a sharp taste that went well with the smooth mortadella. All in all it was a tasty sandwich which was very different from anything I've had before.

Ratings: JD - 3/5 Emma - 4/5 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Blog & Competition

A Family Against the Flow is a year old, hurrah! A whole year of blog posts, eating sandwiches, taking pictures, petting cats, making things, eating plain foods, walking for miles, days out, simple pleasures, complaining and making the kids do the washing up. We've really enjoyed sharing our life with you and hope you've enjoyed reading about what we get up to.

To celebrate we're giving away some blog-related prizes so you can share in the glory. Here's what you could win:

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter book - we own this book and enjoy trying to make our own versions of the foods we love.Still not that great at making bread though, bah!

A homemade pamper hamper much like ones I enjoy making for gifts for family and friends.

The ingredients to make the Homemade Cocoa recipe from the above book plus a cute owl mug to drink it out of. It's the best Hot Chocolate I've ever had.

All you have to do to enter is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. You can just leave a comment or you can also follow the blog via Google Friend Connect. This competition is only open to UK residents aged 16 or over. I will contact the winner by email on the day the competition ends. Good luck all :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 23: Haslet Sandwich

I know Haslet as a spicy sandwich meat you get in thin slices. But for this recipe it's more like a homemade meatloaf made from pork and pigs liver. Sounds interesting at least :)

Ingredients: pork belly, pigs liver, onion, sage, nutmeg, milk, bread, mustard and cornichons.

We'd never heard of cornichons, turns out they're small pickled gherkins.

First off you mince up the pork belly. I let JD handle that while I took pictures. :D

 Soak 4 slices of bread in milk for 5 minutes then squeeze out the milk and place in a bowl. Add the pork, liver and other ingredients.

Mix it up well. Looks delicious, right?

 Squish it all into a loaf tin and cover with foil. Bake for an hour removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.

 The recipe says to slice the haslet but ours fell apart in chunks so we filled the sandwiches with what we had. Add mustard and sliced cornichons too.

The haslet smelled really good as we were making the sandwiches up it was tempting to just eat it before it got to the bread. The haslet was disappointing. It was made up of several textures which made it confusing to eat. The bread was mushy, the liver was chewy and the pork was difficult to find. It was kind of like eating a stuffing sandwich but not as great as that. The mustard and cornichons added some nice flavours but overall it was just a weird sandwich.

Ratings: JD - 1/5 Emma - 2/5