Cowboy Casserole – recipe

It’s been a little while since I last posted, so I decided to come back with another classic type of post…  A recipe.  This recipe is called a “Cowboy Casserole” by my two boys, but others may call it a simple sausage casserole.  It’s super simple to prepare, and makes for a filling and beautiful belly-warmer of a meal – especially now that it’s starting to get colder!

This whole recipe cost me £3.50 to make, and easily serves 4 or 5 people, meaning each serving is between 70p and 87p.  What a cracker!

Ingredients

16 sausages (I bought a double pack of Richmond’s)

1 tin of peeled, plum tomatoes (I used Asda’s own)

2 tins of beans (I used Asda’s own)

1tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp paprika

Splash of oil (for frying)

Method

  • Add a splash of oil to a frying pan, and part-fry the sausages.  I managed to fit 8 sausages in my pan, so this took me two “goes”.  Once the sausages are almost cooked, and are a browny colour, transfer them on to some kitchen roll to remove any excess grease from the pan.
  • Chop each sausage in to a “mouthful” sized piece.  I cut each sausage in to four.

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  • Leave the cut sausages on your chopping board, and add two tins of baked beans in tomato sauce, the tin of peeled, plum tomatoes, the chilli flakes and paprika to your slow cooker.  Add the sausages, and stir the mixture with a large spoon until all the sausages have been coated.

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  • Set your slow cooker to “HIGH”, and set the timer for 5 hours.  Don’t forget to put the lid on the slow cooker.

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  • You can serve your Cowboy Casserole on its’ own, or (my recommendation) mashed potatoes.

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  • Enjoy!!
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First Day of School – 2018

First Day

Donut’s first day of school, and Gning’s first day in “year 2”

Merseyside Bucket List

From the moment I was born, up until 2009, I lived in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside (north-west England).  In 2009, I moved to Huyton village (in the outskirts of Liverpool).  I have lived within this 6 mile radius all of my life.

Last night I decided to start making a list of all the important, and wonderful places to visit in the area.  Museums, historical buildings, green spaces, and more.  I have visited many, thanks to my dad who loved to teach me the history of where I live, but there are still so many places that I have not been.

If you live in, or know the county of Merseyside, I would love to hear about your favourite places.  Do you have a favourite park?  Is there a particular building, or museum that you enjoyed visiting?  Do you know of any “hidden gems” in the area?  Please comment with one, two or more of your favourite Merseyside places, so I can add them to my list.

As soon as I have compiled my list, I shall post it here.

Back to School

Schools went back, yesterday, after a fortnights holiday for Easter.  Gning went in to his class with a big smile on his face, happy to be with all of his classmates again.  Donut, on the other hand, wasn’t able to return to nursery, as he is having belly problems again.  The earliest he can go back is tomorrow, as schools & nursery settings have a 48hr no-return policy after a final bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.  It’s a shame, as he’s quite taken to another little boy in his nursery school, and all over the Easter break, he’s been “talking” on the phone to this boy…  Pretend, of course, as we don’t actually have his phone number.  I am starting to be concerned though, as I’m sure there must be an underlying problem with his stomach somewhere, due to the amount of times he suffers with diarrhoea.

Anyway…

A couple of months ago, I successfully completed both a teaching assistant, and an EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage – children ages 0 to 5) advanced teaching qualification.  It’s completely different to my experience in work, as I’ve always done some form of administration role – typist, receptionist, secretary, personal assistant, telephonist; and after departing my role of a telephonist of 8 and a half years, last July, I decided that I no longer wanted to be “the voice” of a company, and I wanted to work face-to-face with people.  Not any type of people though – children.

It was hubby, dearest, who gave me a push, by purchasing the two online courses for me.  He said that I should give it a go, as I’ve always had a bit of a knack for working with children and younger people (over 15 years experience in working with the aforementioned, teaching martial arts).  So, I sat down, when the boys were in bed, and I studied.  I completed a (super thick) journal with all of my notes, and then reviewed them the following day, before starting another module of the course.  The next thing you know, I’m “sitting” the exams, and I passed both with a Higher Distinction (97.5% on both exams).

The next question was, “what am I going to do with my new qualifications..?”

I immediately started job searching, for teaching assistant, nursery assistants, and EYFS teachers, however, all positions required a minimum amount of experience set within a learning environment.  None would accept my experience of teaching martial arts, as it’s not considered “academic”.

I had a thought.  I should push my luck, and send several emails off to local nurseries, asking if they would be interested in “hiring” me as a volunteer.  They wouldn’t have to pay me a penny – not even for expenses.  I explained my predicament, and asked if I could attend the setting for just a couple of hours per week, so I could gain the valuable experience that I required.  I only heard back from one nursery, and they stated that they wouldn’t be able to offer me any form of positions, as it wouldn’t be fair to the children…  They further mentioned that “children do get attached to staff members, it would be a shame if the children got attached to me, only for me to leave when I had the relevant experience, if they couldn’t offer me a paid job”.  I was a little disheartened, but not upset, as I completely understood where they were coming from.

So, I decided to try a job search again, and I stumbled upon a posting from a teaching supply agency, for a “Behavioural Support Assistant”.  It was temporary only, but did not require any school-based experience – only some experience in working with children.  Fantastic!  This was my chance…  And I applied for the job.

The following morning, I received a phone call from the agency, apologising that the posting had been offered to someone else that morning, but there was another post that I may be interest in.  He seemed really interested in me, however, the conversation ended when I confirmed that I have no experience in a school setting.  I thanked him for his time, and ended the call.  Not ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the same number…  I was expecting some sort of “survey”, but it was a female voice this time.

The voice explained that she had overheard my previous conversation (from the mans end), and said that I would be a perfect candidate to register with the agency, under the Extra Support category – which basically deals with students who have behavioural problems; and my martial arts and counselling background was more beneficial to me than my teaching qualifications…  For now.

The following week, I went in to the agency to register my details.  I met the female “voice”, and we were in the interview room for over an hour.  She was intrigued by my background, and said she would get to searching for an opening for me as soon as the Easter holidays were over.

Fast forward to yesterday.  It wasn’t just the boys who went back to school.

I received a phone call from a male voice, at about 10am, asking if I was free that afternoon.  He explained that a school, close to me, needs someone to supervise an exam, and if I would be interested to go in.  It didn’t take me long to accept the position, and he said it was a “simple” job, that would start my experience…  I was to be an “Exam Invigilator”; where I simply sit in the room of students, sitting the exam, and make sure there is no talking, cheating, etc., and to hand out any equipment necessary (rules, calculators, pens, etc.).  We finished the conversation, and ended the call.

For the first time in my life, going in to an unknown setting, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.  The students were all really lovely, and were all well behaved – raising their hands when they needed something, and all said please and thank you.  The only strange thing was, was that they all called me “Miss”!  That’s going to get a bit to get used to.  I came out of the school, yesterday afternoon, with a big smile on my face.

I had only been home from the school for half an hour, when I received another phone call, from the same male voice from that morning, stating that the school had asked for me to return this afternoon, to oversee another exam…  I was only in the school for 2 hours, and I’ve already made an impression.

What can I say?  I’ve currently only worked 2 hours, and I love my job.

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Vlogging!

I made the decision, yesterday, to venture out of my comfort zone, and move in to the world of video logging.  I’ve set up my YouTube channel already, and I’m now preparing to take the world by storm…

I have just one question though.  What should my first video be about..??  Should it be an introduction to me and the world of Insanely Normal..?

If anyone in the vlogging world has any advise for me, any do’s and don’ts, please comment below!

Please check out my YouTube channel, and click the “Subscribe” button.

Peanut Brittle – Recipe

So simple to make, especially for a quick and easy make, but a bit of a nightmare to clean the pan afterwards!

If you are looking for a traditional peanut brittle recipe, look no further.  This recipe literally has only two ingredients…  Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and is also (relatively) healthy.

Ingredients

 

120g granulated or caster sugar

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120g peanuts (shelled and “skinned”)

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The above ingredients are so versatile…  It is literally the same amount of sugar to peanuts, or you can really push the boat out and use cashews (yummy)!

Method

  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof / baking paper.

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  • Measure out your sugar, and put in a thick-based saucepan, over a low-medium heat.  Try not to stir the sugar until it starts turning in to liquid…  Instead, move the pan in a circular motion to move the sugar around.

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  • When the sugar starts to melt, it will start turning in to a caramel colour…  Stir, using a metal spoon until all of the sugar has completely melted.

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  • Turn off the heat, and remove the pan to a “cool”, but heat-proof surface.
  • Add the peanuts directly to the syrup that you have made, and continue stirring, until all the peanuts have melded together, and it becomes difficult to stir any more.

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  • Spoon the mixture out on to the already lined baking tray.  Try to level out the mixture as you go, so it is only “one peanut high”.

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  • Leave to cool completely before you break it up to enjoy.

NOTE:

Melted sugar is basically lava.  DO NOT allow any children to come in to contact with it until it is fully cooled.

To the mum in the school playground…

Dear smelly-cloud mum in the school playground,

Hi!  You have probably noticed me, spluttering and sneezing as you walk past…

I’m not saying that you haven’t had a wash for a while, but my gosh, what on earth are you trying to cover up with the amount of perfume you have sprayed??  It seems like you just don’t know when to stop…  Or which perfume to use, as I get that many scents when you walk past me, that I think you must have attacked a perfume shop.  I hate to say it love, but have you ever heard the expression, “smells like a whores handbag..?”  Yeah.

Here’s an idea…  Have a shower to get rid of the amount of spray you’re wearing.  Then, next time you come to school, if you really want to wear some perfume – please do!  But you only need a quick spritz…  That way, I won’t come home smelling like you.


Dear MAC expert mum in the school playground,

I wonder why you feel like you have to use a trowel to apply your make-up?  I can see that your foundation would have to be removed with a shovel.

Why do you need your eyelashes to stick out further than your boobs?  Which, by the way, I can tell that you have tried to contour the bust-line, as you haven’t blended it properly.

Wow, that’s a really pretty lipstick colour…  I’ve seen a couple of girls in Amsterdam wear the same colour.

I have to admit that I’ve seen your look before.  It was a specific episode of The Simpsons, when Homer invented a make-up gun.  Have you seen it?

More importantly, I can see your daughter with make-up on too.  She’s only 5.  Why would you let her wear make-up to school?  There’s plenty of time for her to wear it on a weekend, or even when she’s older – why rush her out of childhood?

My advice to you is just to step back.  It’s not even 9am, and you look like you’re going out on the town.  Try googling “day time make-up looks”.


Dear “clique” mums in the school playground,

Hi, err, excuse me, mind if I cut in..?  Oops, I can see that you’re in deep conversation about what you got up to at the weekend, but I just want to say a couple of things.

It’s great that you have such good mum-friends.  Those are really hard to find – especially if they are as close to you as they seem to be.  No doubt that you all get together of a weekend, and during the school holidays for day-trips and the like.  I bet you’re all even that close that you sometimes leave the kids at home, and go for nights out.

Wow, I have to admit – I am a little envious.

I just have one thing to to say…  You see that woman, standing over there in the corner?  She doesn’t have any friends.  She feels like it’s just her and her child.  She’s a lovely woman, with a heart of gold.  If you talk to her, you’ll realise that she’ll fit in with your group perfectly…  She just doesn’t have the confidence to say hello, and you make it seem like you don’t mind other people (like me) talking to you, but really, you just want us to go away so you can continue your gossip.

Just open your eyes.  That’s all.  I know it’s great having friends, but other people aren’t so lucky.


Dear mum who lets her 9 year old daughter take her 6 year old brother to school,

Hi.  I’m a parent of one of your son’s classmates.  I have never met you – I have never even seen you.

I don’t know what is going on in your life, and I don’t want to interfere, but I must say just one thing.

Our sons both started at the schools’ nursery at the same time.  They’ve been friends – not close, but friends, through nursery, Reception class, and now in year 1.  That’s 3 years that I have never seen you.

Do you even exist?  Do these lovely children even have a mum?  Has something happened..?

Both of your children are lovely.  My son often talks about your son, and I am pleased they do sometimes play together.  Your daughter always stays with her younger brother until his teacher comes out to take his class inside.  She then has to run out of the playground, down the road a short distance, and cross a very busy road to get to her own class.  I think she is always late – maybe only by a couple of minutes, but late, never-the-less.  I have never heard her complain.  Not once.  She is such a lovely girl, and I have watched her “tidy-up” her little brother, so he doesn’t go in to school with his shirt hanging out.

Let me tell you, mum, you truly do have two amazing children, but I am concerned that you let them take themselves to school without adult supervision.  Is everything ok?  Do you need help..?


Dear worn-out looking mum in the school playground,

Psst!  I can see you…  Hiding in the corner, in the shade, hoping that no one can see you.  Hey, I get it – you have probably been chasing your kids around the house, making sure they have eaten all of their breakfast, washed their faces, brushed their teeth, and were getting dressed properly.  “What’s that, beloved child of mine, you have lost one of your shoes..?  Again..?”  Yeah.  I know what that’s like.

I can tell you are trying to hide your quickly tied up hair, and I can see the stain on your t-shirt…  Don’t worry mum, you got your son to school on time, and he looks good, in his freshly washed uniform.  You’ve only got to take your little one to nursery, then you can go home.

Now, do yourself a favour, and go and put the kettle on, and take an hour or two just for you.  You’re doing a great job, mum, and you may not feel it, but you are allowed to take a time out.