Autumn, baking, food, Uncategorized

My culinary bucket list – part 1

Hello my lovelies,

The problem with convalescing post surgery is the frustration.  I’m super frustration because there is so much to do at home, as there always is, but I am in no condition to do even the most basic things.  Of course, it’s day 2 of being home and while you’d think that they wouldn’t let me home unless you were on the mend, they’ve signed me off for two weeks for a very good reason. I tried doing some light tidying up this morning and now feel sore, irritable and frustrated.  I’ve been ordered by hubby to lie on the sofa and watch telly and I’ve even been given the remote – a rare occurrence believe me! Of course I’ve been watching the food channel which got me thinking about what would be on my culinary bucket list?  And wouldn’t it be great to have all of those culinary delights in one place with the links or recipe sources so I can work from the list when the mood strikes? I’m impressed with my own brilliance and I give you part one of my Culinary Bucket List in no particular order where I focus on one of my favourite cooks, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

Barefoot Contessa’s tomato crostini with whipped feta


Barefoot Contessa’s skillet lemon chicken  


Barefoot Contessa Parmesan roasted asparagus

parmesan roasted asparagus

Winter Minestrone with Garlic Buschetta

winter minestrone with garlic buscetta.jpg

Barefoot Contessa Cheddar corn chowder

cheddar corn chowder

Pumpkin spice cupcakes with maple frosting


Ina Garten’s outrageous brownies


Of course this list could go on forever and ever so I had to stop somewhere. Although, I think these recipes are a good starting point.

What’s on your culinary bucket list?

Bright blessings

Mrs R


DIY, family kids, food, kids, recipe, recipes

Dairy free Easter Freakshake!

Hello my lovelies,

Missy is seeing all these gorgeous freakshakes everywhere recently and she’s been desperate to try one but they’re all chock-a-block full of dairy, so I decided to try to make our own dairy free version, and I think we NAILED IT!

df freakshake.jpg

This was not the trickiest thing to create but it does take a bit of pre-planning in that the egg needs to be set upon the plate with melted chocolate and then needs to go in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. But more on that later.

For now let’s take a look at what ingredients you will need:

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Morrisons vanilla Italian iced dessert

Foodheave heavenly whipped (cream) – available at Morrisons

200ml Alpro oat milk

Easter sprinkles (from Home bargains)

1 moo free easter egg

1 slab dairy free chocolate

Dairy free sweets of your choice

Staws (use paper if you have them)



Place a side plate into the freezer to get nice and cold.

Place a pan on the hob and heat it then remove the easter egg from it’s packaging and place the ‘pointed’ part of the easter egg onto the hot metal of the pan and melt until you have a good size hole in the top of the egg. Place the egg back onto the plastic mould packaging to cool down and set.

Melt the chocolate bar in the microwave (it’s easier if you break it into chunks) thirty seconds at a time until it’s all melted and gooey.  That’s a technical term right there… gooey.

Dollop the melted chocolate onto the centre of the side plate and place the Easter egg with the hole facing upwards onto the melted chocolate. It should stand up by itself pretty quickly but be sure not to knock it over.  Drizzle the rest of the melted chocolate down the sides of the Easter egg and sprinkle on the Easter sprinkles so that they stick into the chocolate.  Place in the freezer for about thirty minutes.

About 5 minutes before you are due to take the Easter egg out of the freezer, start to prepare the milkshake.  Place 200ml oat milk into a blender, add two large scoops of ice cream, 2 teaspoons cocoa. Blend well.

Remove the now frozen and set Easter egg from the freezer and pour in the milkshake mixture being careful not to dislodge the Easter egg from its perch.  Working quickly, spray the egg opening with cream and decorate as you wish. I have used some marshmallow bunnies from Home Bargains stuck through with a skewer and some other Haribo sweets.

Inset the straws and serve immediately!


Missy thought all her Christmases had come at once when she saw this beauty.


I even got called, the best Mum ever.  High praise indeed!



Bright blessings,

Mrs R


Slimming world, Uncategorized

Go me!

Hello my lovelies,

I just wanted to share my latest achievement with you.  This week I got my 1 1/2 stone award!  I’m thrilled to be 1 1/2 stone down in 10 weeks. I’m so proud of myself!


Just a minute while I bask in the beauty that is my award.  Okay, I’m done!

This new milestone also means that I am 5.5 lbs away from my club 10 award.  Hooray! Slimmer Disney here I come!

Go me!

recipes, Slimming world, weight loss

How to lose weight and still eat takeaways!

Hello my lovelies,

If you have been following my instagram you will know that I started Slimming World again in early January.  Besides a few blips, I have been super focused on slimming down for what seems like the first time in my life and have been indulging in gorgeous meals like lasagna, potato wedges, mini cheese cakes and porridge with berries. Sounds to good to be true! But it is true! Since the beginning of January I have dropped 1 stone 2 and 1/2 pounds which is 16 1/2 pounds or 7 1/2 kilograms.   I’ve earned my half stone and 1 stone award which is highly motivating!

Oats with strawberries and cherries

I’ve followed many diets before but have never felt so determined or cared so much about being healthy.  I think the Disney World trip has really given me the kick in the pants that I needed. Not that I didn’t want to slim down before, it’s just that this time, I know that being slimmer will mean I enjoy the holiday of a lifetime and that is hugely motivating.

I’ve been tucking into bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast for breakfast, having curries with rice and side salads with berries, meringue and thick, creamy fat free greek yoghurt or dessert.  I’ve never been hungry and feel like I’m eating loads of naughty things!

It’s also not all about finding healthy alternatives although that is highly encouraged. You still have your syn (synthetic food) allowance of between 15-20 syns per day (depending on what you weigh) to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, some chocolate or towards your take away of choice!



My awards!

I had started doing slimming world in classes but those are getting harder and harder to attend at night what with a busy family night.  The night classes also happen to fall on the evening that my daughter has a tutor and my mother-in-law comes for dinner. It’s been thoroughly hectic so I have decided to continue my slimming world journey online.

For those who don’t know much about slimming world it’s a fantastic way of life that is easily sustainable and thoroughly enjoyable. I was going to explain it all again but Pinch of Nom has a fantastic article on their blog that will explain everything in delicious detail.  For some of the most amazing recipes, check out their Slimming World recipe section. You will be shocked at how much great food you can eat and still lose weight!

Check out some of my slimming world recipes below:

Curried cous cous salad


Slimming world cheese cakes


Special fried speed rice


Slimming world friendly potato wedges


Slimming world slow cooker lasagne


If you try one of these delicious recipes, let me know if the comments what you think of them and if you come across a great recipe, let me know so I can try it too.

If you wanted to join slimming world, check out the following link and send me your email address below.  I will refer you and if you sign up, I receive a free month’s subscription.  As a new member, you will receive a joining coupon saving you £10 on your joining fee. It’s a win-win situation!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


family, health, mental health

Pay attention or pay with pain

Hello my lovelies,


I heard Antony Robbins do a talk, years ago on Youtube about paying attention or paying with pain and at the time, I kinda understood the idea but hadn’t felt it in quite the capacity that I have recently.

You see, I have never really been the ‘stop and pay attention to my body’ kind of girl. I’m more the, ‘if Nelly Neighbour can work full time, have four kids under five, breastfeed until the early hours, have an immaculate home, look like a model, bake instagram worthy cherry pies, be a size zero and hit the gym 7 days a week’ then so can I! And I will push and push and push myself into exhaustion and wonder why I land up putting laundry liquid in the fabric softener section of the washing machine and burning the second oven pizza in a row all in a space of ten minutes and then dissolving into a mammoth flood of tears.  You ignore your body and your needs and your brain literally goes into overdrive.  The amgydala, like a guard dog comes out barking and snapping and when it can’t figure out if it needs to fight or take flight, the floods of overwhelm rush forth and completely swamp you with emotions.

You either pay attention or you pay with pain.

This simply means that every action has a reaction or consequence.   We’ve all heard it, read it, reposted it and liked the reposted post about filling up your well or you can’t give anything to anyone else, yet so few of us listen.  It seems so hard to take care of ourselves in the same way that we care for others.  As Mums, we ignore our own basic needs for sleep, decent food, soul lifting pursuits and spirituality in the constant melee of wiping our kids snotty noses, doing the laundry, driving the kids to Brownie, getting a hot meal on the table, buying new socks in our lunch time instead of eating a decent meal and everything else that lands up on our to do lists.  We ignore our bodies. We push through the headache, the body aches,  the overwhelm, the cries of our over stimulated brains and other messages from our bodies because they seem inconsequential compared to our mammoth to do list screaming for our attention.  We rush around completing tasks on our list and land up ignoring our spouses request for a hug,  we’re too busy to play with our kids, we’re too wrapped up in doing, doing, doing to call our friends.  Who gives a crap if we don’t do everything on our to do lists?  Would the world cease to exist if we delegated some of our tasks?  Would we create a tear in the space time continuum if we didn’t dust the skirting boards or hoover the car? Does Nelly Neighbour even care that we haven’t weeded the front verge? And if she does, do I care that she cares?!!

I’m not going to lie.  In December, I was reaching the exhausted point. It had been an extremely tiring year as I had gone back to work full time but with Christmas looming, I had no time to take a rest.  The silly season  was demanding my time and energy and I promised myself I would take a break in the new year.  I tried taking a day off and headed into a local town to try to find a quiet places to recuperate for a few hours but hadn’t counted on the fact that on the 31st of December, a lot of shops and the tiny little vintage tea place where I had envisioned ensconcing myself would be closed for the day. I landed up sitting in a very crowded Costa coffee, miles from home, eating a tastleless cardboard like toasted panini and trying to block out the screaming kid next to me while I tried to read my book.  I could have sat in the damned Costa in my own damned town and saved myself the hour’s journey! I got home headachy and unfulfilled and headed out to a New Year’s party that I had to leave early because I felt so rubbish.

Fast forward a few months of pushing through day after day after day and I feel shattered. When I thought about it this weekend, I couldn’t remember the last time I meditated, or had an early night, or read in bed until I got sleepy instead of dragging myself to bed at 10 pm after doing the ironing or even had a proper lie in.  Not this, ‘oooh I got up at 6:45 instead of 6:15 am malarky that masquerades as a lie in. It’s little wonder that I am paying with pain because I didn’t pay attention.  I didn’t make myself a priority for a few short minutes every day.  I thought I could get away with eating half a sandwich on the run and forgetting to take my vitamins. I thought I could get away with a few less hours of sleep a week and I thought I could get away with not going to the dentist regularly.  You know where this kind of neglect has led me?  To this exhausted and overwhelmed place where I have a damned cavity.

The funny thing is, I know full well that a few short minutes a day doing small things to nourish my body and mind make a huge difference.  Just taking my vitamins, eating a decent breakfast, making myself a healthy packed lunch,  listening to a podcast as I walk to work, making plans to meet friends or getting a good night’s sleep do wonders for my mind and body. And I don’t even have to do all of those things in one day.  Regular meals make a huge difference to my energy levels and makes me less likely to snap at my spouse because I’m so hangry.  Drinking enough water makes me less grumpy.  It’s tiny things done consistently that make the biggest difference. Gretchen Rubin said, ‘What you do daily matters more than what you do once in a while,” and she is absolutely right.  We encourage our families to look after themselves and even help them out with nutritious meals and seeing they get to bed on time.  We MUST do the same for ourselves.  To thrive, we MUST take care of ourselves.

We matter.

You matter.

Remember that and act like you matter because if you don’t pay attention, you pay with pain.

Right, I’m off for an early night.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


activities, baking, recipes, Valentine's day

Heart shaped Valentine’s cookies

Hello my lovelies,

Missy will be going to a play date today and I said I would bake some biscuits for the girls to decorate for Valentine’s day.



Heart shaped Valentine’s cookies

200g butter, softened (we baking spread – Stork)

200g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

400g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Mix the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until well combined.  Add the beaten egg and mix until well combined.  Add the flour in, a third at a time making sure that the mixer is on low to avoid a mess. The cookie dough will come together quite easily.  Once all the flour has been added and the dough is all mixed through (be careful not to over mix!) place the dough into a zip lock bag and chill in the fridge for about an hour.

On a clean work surface, lay a large piece of baking parchment.  Place the cookie dough in the middle and cover with another piece of baking parchment.  Roll out the dough until it’s about a half a centimeter thick then using a cookie cutter cut out the heart shapes.  Place these on a cookie sheet that’s been covered with baking parchment. Reform the dough and repeat with the rest of the dough and line a second cookie sheet.  You should have around 15 – 18 cookies.

Place in a preheated oven and bake for about 6 minutes until just starting to colour. Remove to a wire rack to cool and harden.

For the icing: make enough for two colours

Place 225g of sifted icing sugar into a bowl and add a tablespoon of water.  Mix well, adding a tablespoon of water at a time until you have a thick icing.  Remove half the icing to another bowl. Add a drop or two of gel food colouring  in different colours to each of the bowls and and mix well. Add more food colouring if necessary until you have the colour that you like.  Pour icing into two icing bags and refrigerate until needed.

Decorate the cookies as desired and allow to dry for at least six hours before serving.

The girls had such a fun time decorating the cookies however, none of them survived to allow the icing so set!

The cookies that were leftover got a slightly more sophisticated icing coat when we got home.


If you try the recipe, please post pictures and comments to let me know how you got on.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R



activities, crafting, Crafts, decorating, DIY, family, Valentine's day

Valentine’s week at Swish Cottage

Hello my lovelies,

It’s Valentine’s week and love is in the air at Chez Swish Cottage. Well, at least I’m trying to spread the love around Chez Swish Cottage!

I was talking to a friend during the week and realized that since I started working full time, I have not had much time for crafting or enjoying DIY home decor like I used to. And that kind of hurt my heart more than a little bit.  Not crafting makes me feel like  piece of the puzzle of me has been missing.  The more I thought about it, the more I decided that this would have to change.

So, I went on a little scouting expedition to the local art store – don’t get excited, it’s nothing to write home about but they did have some pink and red cardboard and some crepe paper.  I decided I could get creative with those and Missy and I landed up making this tassel garland using a this tutorial from Idle Mayhem on Youtube.

I was a little concerned about mixing red, pink and white together as I was worried the red and pink would clash and whilst the colours do clash, they clash in a pleasant way and look great against our white walls.


The heart garland came out really cute too.  I asked Missy and Mr R and we all came up with ideas about what we love about our family and wrote these comments along the front of the hearts.  I’m rather pleased with how it turned out and it feel special to have our comments on the hearts.


On my scouting expedition, whilst scouring the local charity shops, I found an ugly old burlap wreath with some pretty fabric roses glued haphazardly all over it. They were falling off and the woman who sold it to me looked at me like I was nuts buying it, but I had a plan! I only wish I had taken a picture of what it looked like before I started working with it.  Don’t get me wrong, the burlap wreath itself is in great shape and will look great when I upcycle it for Autumn but the roses just looked totally out of place on it.   However, these same roses look fantastic on this wicker heart shape. I dug out my vintage button box and hot glued the buttons into the middle of the roses for a little something-something. I’m so pleased with how it turned out.


It was so refreshing to do these simple crafts and their success made me determined to get back into crafting on a regular  basis.

What have you been crafting recently?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R