It’s another Blogiversary!

Today celebrates my 6th year of my Insanely Normal blog.

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It’s been fun, although a little slack, and I know that I have said it time and time again, but that can now change…  I have a lot more time to be able to publish, and I have all sorts of ideas!

So, without further ado, let’s revisit my top three posts…

At number 3…

This post has somewhat amused me since I published it in 2014.  It was a review (a negative one at that!  And badly wrote, haha) about a local franchised café.  I can remember visiting the place – it was bloody awful, and I imagine nothing has changed, because I’m still receiving messages agreeing with my post!  You can read about the Pound Café in Huyton here.

At number 2…

2015 seems to have been the year that brought in most of my subscribers (hello stalkers!), and top of the shot (again), was my Christmas Ham post!  My second most popular post in 2015 was for my slow cooker sausage casserole…  With just under 10,000 reads throughout the year, it definitely got the attention it deserved, ha ha.  You can try the slow cooker sausage casserole recipe here.

Drum roll please, because at number 1…

Every Christmas, I make a ham.  It’s by far the best thing I have ever made, and you all seem to agree, as the amount of views that post has received is amazing!  I first published the post in 2012, and it seems to be a recipe that is used right throughout the year, as it’s always my most read…  My “best” stats for this recipe was on 1 December, 2016, when I had a little over 4,000 views – just on that day!  You can read my Christmas Ham here.


So, it seems that my stalkers like recipes and negative reviews!  Ha ha.  Yes, those were my top three posts in the past six years, and other posts in my top ten include more recipes, a holiday post, and how parenthood drives me crazy.

So, here’s to more exciting times – more recipes, more random stuff, and I may even through in a mini-comp somewhere…

Happy Blogiversary to me!!

I’ve done it.  Today is my fourth blogiversary.

From what started as just somewhere to jot down my rants, raves and thoughts, has evolved in to a recipe hoarding, reviewing and parenting site…  Can I be big headed, and say that it has gone from strength to strength..?

Here’s to another four fabulous years x

Croxteth Hall and Country Park – Liverpool

A beautiful park in the middle of a busy city isn’t very rare now-a-days.  In fact, it’s quite common place.  Take Central Park, for example.  In the middle of one of the worlds’ most busiest cities, lies 842 acres (1.32 miles²3.41 km²) of stunning greenland and waterways.  I’m talking about New York, of course.  

Now, if I was to say to you, that just on the outskirts of Liverpool city centre, there is 500 acres of greenery, with an historic hall dated around 1575 AD, a well-kept walled garden (bursting with rare roses and other flowers), and a home farm (full of rare breeds of horses, ponies, cows, pigs, sheep and goats (and more)), I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t really stare at me in amazement.  However, to see the beauty of this area is literally breath-taking.  Especially, as aforesaid, knowing that Liverpool city centre is a mere 5 miles away.

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ‘main entrance’ to Croxteth Hall.  To tour the house, you must enter through the shop, which is actually part of the servants quarters, around the left hand side of the house.

The Hall was owned, and lived in, by the Molyneux family from the 16th century until 1972, when the last Earl passed away.  His widow, Josephine – Countess of Sefton (1903-1980) continued to reside in the property until she died.  She was the last member of the Molyneux family to live in the hall.

When the last Earl died in 1972, a worldwide search was made for a legal heir to the title without success.  The property and estate is now owned and managed by Liverpool City Council.

You can learn more about the Earls of Sefton by visiting this Wiki page.

The farmstead shows you how a Victorian animal farm was run, and hosts so many animals, many of which are rare breeds.

My little man walked through a picket gate, and he got such a fright when the giant mother sow snorted right behind him…  We counted 8 piglets with this particular mother pig, and there was a big sign showing that throughout February and March, there were 34 piglets born!  We saw a lot of them, from little tiny pinky babies to quite large ‘Irn Bru’ (burnt orange) coloured piglets 🙂

Sheep and lambs, goats and kids…  Two beautiful shire horses (Clydesdale)…  Even an aviary full of cockerels, hens, peacocks, zebra finches (obviously, I was thrilled to see them), budgies, parrots…  It was such fun to see Gning run around looking at all of the animals.  Definitely a place for children 🙂

The country park hosts fields that seem to lead to the clouds, flowers of all different colours (from vibrant reds to subtle blues), trees of all different shapes and sizes (some good enough to climb), and ponds full of various waterfowl.  There is certainly so much more to do than to visit one of the main ‘attractions’ in the estate (the hall, farm or walled garden).  You could take a picnic blanket and a few outdoor games, and you’d be occupied all day.  Go for a walk in one of the surrounding woodlands…

You’d certainly not think that you were only a stones-throw away from the East Lancs Roas, and a bustling city.

The whole estate is actually free to visit, and parking is free too.  However, to actually go inside the hall, walled garden and farm, there are admission fees.

Hall:

Adults £3.50; children and OAP’s £2.70

Walled garden:

Adults £2.50; children and OAP’s £1.90

Farm:

Adults £3.50; children and OAP’s £2.70

Combined ticket for all three of the above:

Adult £7.00; children and OAP’s £5.40

For further info about the hall, click here to visit the official website.

To give you a basic run down, I would say that this is a family day out for all ages.  There’s plenty to see and do for the very young, to the older in life.  If you pay a visit to the hall for instance, and you are pushing a pram or a wheelchair, everywhere inside of the hall is accessible, as there are lifts and ramps 🙂  The farm, although cobbled, is also easy accessible…  And the majority of the pathways around the estate are suitable for all walks of life.

My final scoring for the whole of the property would be 9/10.  I’m sorry to say that they lost a point in all due to no fault of their own, but the smell of stagnant water is empowering, and the farm didn’t seem to help either 😉  Ha ha.

I’ll leave the post with a few photo’s of our little trip 🙂

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Here’s my little man taking a ride on ‘Toby’ the donkey 😀

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Inside the wine cellar

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This actually is a door from the original building, dated from 1575!!

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I would LOVE a kitchen this size!  Although, I don’t envy having to clean it…

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This was the Countess’ dressing room

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The stunning interior of the stairwell

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The Titanic stairwell was actually modeled from this stairwell in Croxteth hall

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My little man looking at a Shetland pony, and a rare shot of my arm!

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Mmmm…  Bacon…  Oops!  I mean, awww…  Look at the baby piggies ❤

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And finally, a beautiful shire horse

A Sewfisticated catch up….

A Sewfisticated catch up…..

Whoo!!  I’ve been blogged about, ha ha ❤

Thank you Penny xxxx

Does it work on little boys too..?

I’m a BzzAgent.  Don’t know what that is?  Well; I’m a member of a site called, BzzAgent.  Ha!  How ironic is that?  Ha ha…  Anyway, that means that every now and again, I take part in, what’s called, a campaign.  I receive a product to try, and I have to review and spread the word (whether it’s good, or bad) about the product.  Then, I have to feedback to the main website to say how I’ve spread the word.

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Click the bee to open the BzzAgent website in another tab

For this campaign, I am reviewing “Ariel 3in1 Pods”.

I’ve been using the Fairy gel for quite some time now, as I think the gel products are brilliant.

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However, before I had even signed up to this campaign, I was already on the lookout for something new…  Although Fairy tackled the stains, the smell was rather off-putting.

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I was so excited when I received my Ariel 3-in-1 pods through the post.  I was so excited, that I couldn’t wait for the campaign to start, so I immediately opened one of the boxes, and ‘popped the pod’ directly in to the drum of my full washing machine.

I don’t normally pay attention to what washing powders / gels / tablets look like, but these were really fun to look at.  A little clear pouch, with 3 compartments, each with a different coloured ‘gel’ inside.  I almost burst one through excitement, as I just couldn’t help but ‘squish’ them, haha.

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After the washing machine ‘clicked’, we opened the door.  Oh my word. The smell that escaped with the heat and steam was just amazing.  It not only smelled clean and fresh, but it smelled absolutely divine…  I just can’t describe it.

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As you all know, I have a (now) two year old boy, and he is always getting his clothes covered in food, drinks, mud, crayons…  Anything he can get his hands on.  This little tiny pod had no problem what-so-ever in removing all of those difficult stains, and his clothes looked like new again.

I will definitely be switching from Fairy to these Ariel pods in the future, and the best of all? I still have a few vouchers left, after handing them out to family, to stock up too 🙂

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Overall rating 10/10.  Highly recommended to everyone.

‘Empress Orchid’ by Anchee Min – Review

“Orchid kowtowed to the Grand Empress and the emperor. She knew she was not allowed to make eye contact, but she couldn’t help herself.”

I like to read. Books fascinate me. I don’t know whether it’s because I have such a great imagination or whether I can relate to the descriptions of certain things throughout the novel.

Empress Orchid was a great read. Anchee Min described the indescribable.

Brief outline
Orchid is a 16 year old girl. Her father had just died, and she, her brother, sister and mother are on their way with the coffin to the grand city to give her father the burial he deserves. Something happens along the way which makes Orchid think that her life could be more than that of a “taipeng” (commoner).

Whilst staying with her uncle, she sees a poster announcing that the Emperor, Hsieng-feng, is now ready to select his wives and concubines. Orchid goes along to the selection.

Life is not good for Orchid when she enters the Forbidden City. She is not of royal blood, and the other women and girls know it.

Ok, so what would you expect to happen if there were over 5000 women fighting each other for the Emperors attention? Slanging matches? Fisty-cuffs? Yes, you would expect that, but that never happens. Orchid and the other Empresses try to ruin each other’s lives using dark and sly techniques. Some are successful, with some girls being honoured with the “white sash”, meaning they have to hang themselves. Others, meanwhile, are planning and plotting to be in total control.

Things get even worse when the Emperor dies.

Orchid is a fighter, and she never gives up. She is walked all over, and disrespected, but she always holds her head up high…

A partially-erotic, bitchiness, political love story that will make you wanting more. The book is fiction, but many facts are included.

Review – Asda’s Striped Donuts

A couple of days ago, I bought a new type of donut that is now being sold by Asda.  There are two different types: vanilla striped and strawberry striped.  Priced at £1.10 for 2, they are also on offer at the moment at 2 boxes (with 2 donuts in each) for £2.  So, in order for me to give these a real trial, I just had to buy one of each.

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The picture above shows the box of the vanilla striped donuts, but inside I have already eaten one of those, so I replaced it with a strawberry striped one.

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Don’t they look absolutely yummy?!  The vanilla one is shown on the left, with chocolate glaze, and the one on the right is the strawberry donut.  But obviously, that did not need an introduction.

The smell when you open the box is divine. The vanilla, mixed with strawberry is something that I just couldn’t explain.  I just wanted to shove my face in there…  Ha ha.

I bit into the strawberry.  The strawberry essence in the icing was amazing.  Asda had used just the right amount of flavouring.  However, I thought that the donut itself was a little dry…

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Sorry for the bad photo there, but you can see that the texture of the donut is more like bread rather than the average donut.

My mark for the strawberry is 8/10.

The flavouring is perfect, but the donut is dry.

On biting in to the vanilla donut, I wasn’t that impressed.  The chocolate stripes on top of the vanilla icing was too overpowering.  The actual donut was dry…  On looking at the bitemark, I thought that these donuts have not been made in the conventional way of dropping batter in to boiling oil, rather, these donuts have been baked.  There was no proof to say either way, but I thought if that is how Asda have made them, then well done!  I never would have thought it was possible to make a donut that was baked…

My marks for the vanilla?  4/10

Once again, the chocolate overpowered what little vanilla there was, and the “bread” was dry.

My overall results have to be that these are definitely worth the price tag.  Hop on over to Asda to see if your local sells them 🙂