I remember how my late Mum used to sing the song “You don’t bring me flowers anymore” Dad was not great at treating her to flowers. If she had asked for them, she would have had the finest but he was not spontaneously romantic.

Him Indoors is like that too. So imagine my surprise when he walked in yesterday with a huge bouquet of the most beautiful pink roses. Apparently he thinks I deserve them for putting up with him. So my first reason to be cheerful to record this week is that he does still bring me flowers 17 years after getting together.

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It seems to have been a long week and I don’t like the dark afternoons or the soggy days. No wonder we need all the fairy lights at Christmas to brighten our hearts a little. In a way recording our reasons to be cheerful is like putting the fairy lights on to focus on brightness and colour.

Here are some of this week’s bright moments

1. My son turned 15 and we had a happy day with home-made cake and the inevitable Doctor Who and Flash watching sessions. He does not ask for much but he got what he wanted. It is odd to see him starting to tower over his Dad and to see the little moustache in the making. He is a beautiful boy inside and out. He will do fine in the world. I just need to convince him of that.

2. My daughter is amusing me with her manifestos on life. She is definitely a blogger in the making! Today she started the task which she loves every year of making fine Christmas decorations out of cheap and cheerful materials.

3. My youngest son is spending more time to me snuggled up on the sofa. I found him researching something the over day and was so impressed as it was a really deep scientific subject. He is also very politically aware in a way that I don’t remember being at the age of just 10.

4. Him Indoors and I have had some lovely days together sorting out a few bits and pieces and taking long walks. He is shortly going to make one of his wonderful dinners after getting in from his late shift.

5. I am alive and I have a great family and firm friends. The awful events in the world this week make me reflect how important it is to honour and look after those who add to our lives past, present and future. I resolve to try my utmost to do so.

6. Home education is becoming more relaxed which weirdly means we are actually learning more. Great and fun experiments on acid rain and volume this week. The more chilled I get about it the more excited I get and that leads to the children also being engaged. So simple really but takes some getting used to too.

7. Finally I did more than I thought I could this week putting myself up for a rejection that did not come. How easy it is to assume the worst. Here’s to assuming the best as a more positive way to approach life.

You don’t bring me flowers anymore. Oh yes you do!

Do you know how to make stew and dumplings? I tend to steer clear of trying knowing I cannot possibly do it as well as my mum. I remember coming home from school to the ultimate comfort food bubbling away and the dumplings were out of this world. My dumplings always go wrong so I am keen to try this stew recipe with parsley dumplings and show that I too can be the queen of stews!

BRAISED STOUT BEEF & CARROT STEW WITH PARSLEY DUMPLINGS

stew

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the stew:

3 tbsp olive oil

800g chuck beef steak, trimmed and cut into 5cm (2in) cubes

3 onions, thinly sliced

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp plain flour

500ml can Guinness or stout

300ml beef stock

4 carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 tsp light brown sugar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

For the parsley dumplings:

175g self-raising flour

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp snipped fresh chives

75g beef shredded suet

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Heat a heavy-based casserole dish with a lid on the hob. Add one tablespoon of the oil and as soon as it starts smoking, tip in the beef. Quickly brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then tip in the onions to and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in the thyme and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Sprinkle in the flour and continue to cook over a low heat for another minute or so, stirring constantly.

Gradually pour in the Guinness or stout, stirring until smooth after each addition. Pour in the stock, stirring to combine and season lightly, then add the carrots with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and tip the reserved beef, mixing well to combine. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour until the beef is almost tender and the liquid has reduced and slightly thickened.

To make the dumplings, mix the flour, herbs and seasoning in a bowl and then mix in the suet. Add 6 tablespoons of cold water to make a fairly stiff but elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. Knead it lightly and shape into 12 dumplings. Remove the stew from the oven and take off the lid. Increase the heat of the oven to 200ºC. Pop in the dumplings into the stew and return to the oven for another 30 minutes or until the dumplings are golden brown and crusty. Serve straight to the table.

Braised Stout Beef And Carrot Stew With Parsley Dumplings

clairejustine

Have you heard of from Blogging to Jogging?

Blogging To Jogging

It is a very flexible linky for all your health, fitness and well-being posts. The lovely Hannah from Budding Smiles has kindly asked me to host the linky for the foreseeable future. I hope bloggers who take part will continue to do so and that newcomers will know that they are very welcome.

Do you have a goal in mind?

Have you got a healthy recipe to share?

Have you some powerful tips that might help others?

Are you writing about your physical or mental health and how to improve it?

This linky has come at the right time for me as I set new goals after losing nearly 5 stones in the last year. I am adapting to a smaller me but know I still have a long way to go and need to get back on track motivation wise.

From Blogging To Jogging is open from Monday morning until Sunday night for all your health, fitness and well-being posts so whatever your goals, healthy recipes or tips are, please do come along and join the party. I will post the first Blogging to Jogging linky on my blog next Monday and you can link up anytime in the following week that suits you.

The Rules

Very simply, please comment on at least two other posts and more if you’d like to and grab the badge for your own post, linking one post per week. Tweet me (@kateonthinice) once you’ve linked and please use the #BloggingToJogging tag so that I can find your posts easily to RT them and you can also use the Twitter hashtag on Instagram if you have any relevant photos.

Check out the Facebook group that runs alongside Blogging to Jogging – we can all be in this together!

Huge thanks to Hannah for trusting me and I hope I do as good a job as she has.

What qualities do you look for in a perfect gaming chair?

My 10 year old loves the chair he was sent to review.

gaming chair

It is a specially designed Gaming Bean Bag Chair which is really stylish. It is easily put together with little white balls providing the firm but comfy filling.

When asked to describe it, my son said “It is super comfy. It is ideal for gaming or relaxing on. I reckon I could sleep on it because it has a great head rest too. It is the perfect gaming chair!”

As a mum, I love how it has a cool design that looks right in a tween or teenage bedroom. I say this because I have every intention of getting one for my 14 year old too, a gaming obsessive.

chair for teens

We have had a huge beanbag from this company before so can state that they can survive the demands of kids, cats and dogs and the rough and tumble of family life.

The beanbags are also great for seating in playrooms or when you have extra guests.

With Christmas scarily close, I have found you the perfect gaming chair for a gift and can highly recommend the beanbags for those larger than usual family gatherings and parties.

Available at www.BeanBagBazaar.co.uk with FREE UK mainland delivery.

Learning about prefixes and suffixes today was a breeze as both children seemed very confident in this area. My son immediately gave the example of how the prefix “un” changes the meaning of the word “detectable”.

We looked at the prefixes “tele” “auto” and “anti” with the help of a workbook from Marks and Spencer picked up in a local charity shop. I asked the children to define “anti-ageing” “anti-bacterial” and “anti-freeze”.

They both went to town on anti-ageing having heard me rant on about the expense of anti-ageing stuff and how all it does is build up company wealth and continue the myth that women are not good enough as they are. Note to self – must attempt not to brain wash my children.

My son thought “anti-freeze” might be something to help with hypothermia which I thought was a really inspired guess. When I explained it gets used in cars, he was clear that we should not put it in toothpaste.

Learning about prefixes and suffixes went a bit awry when we moved onto suffixes looking at “cian” and “ist”. The world “beautician” came up at which point my son told my daughter that she obviously needed one. At this point, my strong-willed daughter pretty much downed tools and I am learning that is OK because she will come back to things later in the day or week.

Prefix – letters added to the beginning of a word

Suffix – letters added to the end of a word.

They get it! Tick on prefixes and suffixes.

We moved on to the absolute joy of reading Peter Pan and then the less obvious happiness of factors in numeracy.

Learning about prefixes and suffixes gave us a positive start to our home education day with a little bad behaviour from my son but I guess real teachers have to deal with that in classroom settings too.

Learning About Prefixes and Suffixes