Thursday, 12 February 2015

An amazing Tuscany Retreat

One of my friends is going to work at this fantastic retreat set in the Tuscan mountains this April.  It looks absolutely amazing so if you are interested just scroll down for more details. Get a 10% discount if you book before 20th February 2015.

A Healthy Holiday
relax, revitalise & reset 
Tuscany Retreat, April 12th - 18th 2015 

Spring is the season of new beginnings and no better time to recharge and replenish, which is why April is the perfect month to take a break from normal everyday life, allowing yourself time to relax and reset both your body and mind.

Come and join us for a 7 day cleansing retreat, a life-changing healthy holiday with yoga & meditation, holistic therapies, wellbeing talks, delicious fresh food picked from the farm's organic vegetable garden: fresh juices, vegetarian, vegan & raw food to energise you in breath-taking natural surroundings.

Le Pianore Villa & Organic Farm is cradled between the medieval hilltop towns of Montelaterone and Monticello Amiata, Tuscany. Surrounded by woodlands, vineyards, olive groves and mountain streams, it is a private haven.
The spectacular views & untouched landscapes will give you a sense of
freedom and relaxation as soon as you set foot there. 

Retreat yourself at Le Pianore for an ultimate
'me time' - you'll never have felt better!!!
The Retreat Includes
Pre Retreat guidance
Group transfer to/from airport to the villa
6 nights accommodation in the villa
Delicious daily fresh organic healthy food
Cleansing teas & supplements
Detox Tools & Demos
2 x daily yoga sessions
3 Wellbeing Talks
Guided hike through the Tuscan valleys
A 2h raw food workshop
1 x 30min Nutrition taster session
1 x 60min Massage 
1 x 30min NLP/Counselling
Post Retreat guidance

Our team will be available on site to provide plenty of additional holistic treatments including - massages, reiki, nutritional consultation,
shiatsu, divine healing, rebirth breath work, NLP/Counselling,
hypnotherapy and much more.
A Typical day... 

8:00 Yoga
9:00 Morning Juice
12:30 Light Lunch
13:30 Wellbeing Talk,
or Guided Hike, or Treatments
16:00 Afternoon Juice
18:00 Yoga/Meditation
19:30 Light Dinner

* A 2h Raw Food Workshop on Saturday 

Plenty of free time to relax, indulge in treatments, explore the
natural surroundings & nearby villages or take a swim in the pool.


Whether you have your own room or share it with your partner or friends,
we have a few options for you to choose from: 

Master room w/ balcony en suite 
Triple Shared: £895pp
Double Shared: £1.150pp

Double/Twin Rooms en suite 
Shared: £985pp

Small Twin rooms - shared bathroom
Shared: £625pp
Single occupancy: £765

* Prices per person. Single occupancy is possible with a 50% supplement fee.

We're looking forward to you joining us in Tuscany!

It's easy to secure your place, we just need a 50% deposit with
the remaining balance due by April 5th.

A month cancelation notice is required
for full deposit refund.

Please remember that we keep our retreats to a small group
to give you the space & attention you need. 
Places are limited & double rooms will go fast!

* We are offering 10% discount on early bird bookings
made before the 20th February. *

To book your place contact us here.

A few pics & testimonials from our Autumn Tuscany Retreat in 2014:
' Carolyne, the retreat in Tuscany was truly life changing, hard to express how much my diet and me myself changed after that week. Everyone - If you have a chance, you gotta got o Carolyne's retreat. That can be the best thing you've ever done for your body and soul! '  - Kristinjonas 
' Just after my detox week, I was handling in my notice and all my boss could focus on was the amount of weight I'd lost and how much younger and happier I looked. I talked through the whole experience with him. The compliments I've received today have been extremely uplifting, thank you all!!! ' - Mia, London

One week after the detox and I am feeling fantastic! Lots of energy, lots of positivity and a new outlook on life! Life-style changing! Have been confidently practicing raw food meals and deserts thanks to Stacey. ' - Julia, London 
' After months of feeling sluggish, stressed and bloated I embarked upon a detox with Carolyne Ji.....what a difference 7 days can make! I felt calmer, my skin glowed, I was full of energy and most importantly I'd kicked my habit of caffeine and sugary foods. I can't recommend the detox enough, its a fairly tough 7 days but the effects both physically and mentally are well worth it! ' - Laura, London 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A Taste of Cardiff: Welsh Lamb recipe

Baked rump of welsh lamb, sautéed potatoes, curly kale, Kasundi sauce and a mint yogurt dressing

I was recently asked to recreate a recipe created by Damien Pondevie - the chef at the Millennium Hotel Cardiff.

I love cooking, though am better at following a recipe than trying to come up with new ideas myself, so I thought this would be perfect to try and the ingredients sounded really tasty.  

The Kasundi sauce needed two hours to simmer so I started this first.  You need a really big saucepan for this as the recipe does make a large amount, but when you taste it you'll know why.  You'll want to eat it with every meal!  In fact, the following evening, we had a big bowl of the Kasundi sauce with vegetables. It is delicious.

Chopped onions, ginger, garlic and chillies

Fry the shallots before adding the potatoes and garlic
Next we boiled the potatoes then sautéed them with shallots and garlic.  I don't normally bother adding anything to sautéed potatoes but I will from now on.  The shallots and garlic added lots of flavour.

Sautéed potatoes

Welsh lamb
Beautiful Welsh lamb.  All it needs is a bit of seasoning.  I fried it off before finishing in the oven.  I didn't realise how quickly it cooks.  It doesn't take long at all.

Curly Kale
The curly kale was blanched before being pan fried.  Simple, delicious and healthy and added a beautiful colour to the plate.

Beautifully fresh mint yogurt dressing
I will never buy a shop bought dip again!  This was so quick to make, using only yogurt, lemon and fresh mint.  It tasted really fresh and would be a perfect dip as well as a dressing.

The finished result
I was really pleased with the end result.  There's lots of flavours that work really well together but we really enjoyed each component individually.  I particularly loved the sautéed potatoes with the Kasundi sauce and would happily eat that as a snack.  My husband thought he'd died and gone to heaven!  Every bit was devoured and loved.

I'd really recommend giving this recipe a go, especially if you want to impress.

If you want to see what it's supposed to look like check out the recipe here.

  • Welsh rump of lamb
  • 500g of seasonal new potatoes
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • Chopped parsley
  • Curly kale
  • 15 - 20 fresh mint leaves
  • Greek yoghurt
  • ½ Lemon
  • Salt and pepper
Kasundi sauce ingredients
  • 400g Finely diced large onions                   
  • 50g Garlic (minced)                                                        
  • 80g Ginger (grated & chopped)                
  • 1 Red chilli (sliced)                                      
  • 30g Dark mustard seeds
  • 5g Turmeric
  • 4 Cloves
  • 160g Malt vinegar
  • 10g Ground cumin
  • 5g Coriander seeds
  • 5 tins chopped tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Lamb rump
  • Score then lamb and season it with salt and pepper.
  • Place it into a moderately hot oven safe pan, fat side down, for approximately 2 minutes.
  • Turn the lamb over and place the pan into the oven at 180C for 12 minutes.
  • Take the lamb out of the oven and allow it to rest in the pan (under a sheet of foil) for 3 minutes.
  • When ready to plate, cut the lamb into 3 or 4 slices and arrange on the plate.
Sautéed potatoes
  • Boil 500g of seasonal new potatoes until cooked (but not overcooked!), then cool and slice ready for sautéing.
  • Thinly slice 3 shallots and mince 1 Clove of garlic.
  • Heat a frying pan on a medium flame and add approximately 40 millilitres of vegetable oil.
  • Add the shallots and stir continuously until they start to colour.
  • Then add the potatoes and garlic turning the heat up a little, still stirring continuously.
  • When the potatoes are suitably coloured, finish with seasoning to taste and add a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Curley kale
  • Clean the kale and then blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  • Quickly pan fry with a wedge of butter and some seasoning for no more than 1 minute on a high flame.
Mint yogurt dressing
  • Pick and wash 15-20 fresh mint leaves and place into a bar blender with 150g of Greek yogurt, salt & pepper and the juice of ½ a Lemon.
  • Blend, ready to drizzle over the top of the finished dish.
Kasundi sauce
  • Fry off the onions, ginger, garlic and chillies with a little vegetable oil.
  • Add spices and then lightly fry with the onions.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, vinegar & sugar as well as 1 litre of water.
  • Allow to simmer for two hours adding water if it gets too dry.
  • When it is the desired consistency, season to taste.  

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Teksta T-Rex (Review)

I was recently offered a Teksta T-Rex to review and I jumped at the chance as one of my son's is dinosaur mad.

When he arrived I was very pleased to find that he was easy to remove from the box, and that there wasn't too much packaging.  Just a few ties to loosen and he was straight out.  I was excited to get started and see what he could do, so after a quick search for some batteries (he needs 4 x AA batteries which are not included), we soon had him working.

On / Off switch
Insert 2 x AA batteries into each foot

When we switched him on his eyes lit up and he made some roaring noises.  There are two modes - Conversation or Sing and Dance, and you use the buttons on the top of his head to switch between the two.

In conversation mode you can talk to him and he will respond, and in Sing and Dance mode he will dance along to the music that is played.  You just clap your hands to get him started and put your hand in front of his face to make him stop.  It's really clever.

He also comes with a bone that he will try to break when it's inserted into his mouth (he then jumps and burps which is very funny).
Easy to understand instructions
His bone

The sensors behind his dark glasses can sense your hands so when you put your hand in front of his eyes he will activate as the following video shows.

There is also a free app available to download for the T-Rex but I think you can only get this on a tablet - I was unable to find it on my phone.  Using this you can teach him new tricks, set an alarm, and even get him to roar along to a tune that you've created.

App Home Screen

The more we play with T-Rex the more we are learning.  I think this is an excellent toy that for children aged 4 - 8 years.  My children love him already and he fits right in.

"Teksta T-Rex the bone crushing dino. Just like his Teksta friends, T-Rex responds to your voice, lights and sounds with expressive eye patterns to share his feelings. Using cutting edge hand gesture technology command Teksta T-Rex to Walk, Move his hands, Tail and Stop. Stroke his face to hear him Roar and see him Snap just like a real T-Rex Dinosaur. When he’s hungry feed him with his dino bone to see his ultimate trick, watch him crunch, munch and launch it away, followed by an almighty burp. With over 100 physical and app-sized interactive play features. Includes bone accessory. For ages 5 and over. Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included)."

Friday, 11 July 2014

Learning to ride a bike

I know that's it's been a while since I last blogged but I just haven't had any urge to.  I take all the photos but can't seem to get any words out.  But then the lovely Fiona from Coombe Mill mentioned me in a Country Kids tweet this morning and I decided to actually write something.

Last year I tried to teach my middle boy to ride a bike.  He did manage some short distances on grass but really wasn't very keen, and then the weather turned and that was the end of that.  He didn't show any enthusiasm for learning to ride his bike, preferring to go out on his scooter, and we never pushed him.  Then yesterday, as he had the day off school due to the strikes, I decided that it was finally time for him to learn.

After a back-breaking hour, lots of tantrums and tears, he did it.  It's one of those moments when I realise that all the effort I put into teaching my children is really worth it.  In just one afternoon he has mastered the skill of keeping his balance, learning to steer, pushing off on his own, and stopping without falling off!  In his own words, the next step is taking part in races!  I am a very proud mummy.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 23 May 2014

The importance of a child’s routine

As your toddler begins to grow into their own person, they soon begin to become more self reliant and will want to exercise their own free will. Often this can conflict with a parent’s needs and can cause problems in the home, so encouraging a child to maintain frequent habits through routine can help to establish discipline and prepare them later in life.

Why does my child need a routine?

The transition from young baby to toddler is a troubling time with lots of big changes, from weaning off breast feeding to sleeping alone and learning to walk and talk. With so many developments, many beyond your child’s control, change can be frightening, and so introducing a routine with the same everyday tasks occurring at the same time will help your child to adjust.

Encouraging your child into a routine can also help them become more self reliant, from brushing their own teeth to doing their own homework without needing to be nudged. An organised household is likely to produce an organised child, who can take better control of their day to day activities under the influence of routine tasks.

What activities should I schedule?

From birth through to school age, a night time routine is an essential part of a child’s development. Encourage your child to go to bed every night at the same time, whether it’s a baby who goes down after a feed and a bath, or a child who goes to sleep following a tooth brushing and story time routine. For older children, encourage them to go to bed by providing a comfortable sleeping environment, from comfort blankets to child friendly mattresses.

Meal times are also very important for both younger babies and toddlers. Arrange your baby’s meal times around their sleep cycle, for example, feed them during the night if they cannot go back to sleep by comforting alone, and feed them whenever they wake from a nap. Older children will benefit from a regular evening meal time, especially after becoming used to regular breakfast and school lunchtimes. If your child’s dinner time is too early for you, prepare a smaller, lighter meal for your child and cook for yourself once they have gone to bed.

For older children, make sure in particular that their evening is well scheduled – providing a routine ‘play time’ will give your child a good incentive to do their homework after school, while bath times before bed will calm and relax your child and encourage them to sleep.

Whether you've a baby or a school age child, a regular routine will encourage him or her to develop good personal habits and further their independence later in life.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I'm a #MorrisonsMum for the Bank Holiday

I don't usually shop at Morrisons as my nearest store is further away than all of the other big supermarkets names so I was delighted to be given the chance to find out what it's like to shop there as part of their #MorrisonsMum campaign with Britmums.

I love doing the weekly shop as I leave the children with hubby and get to go off all on my own.  No nagging, shouting or random goods ending up in the trolley (and that's just the other half!).  I had visited this Morrisons in the past so had some idea of my way around.  I went late Saturday afternoon and it was fairly quiet.

When I walked into the store I noticed lots of yellow signs everywhere.

Morrisons have cut their prices on over a thousand products, so if something is marked as 'I'm cheaper' then the price is staying down.  This type of campaign appeals to me far more than the short term offers as I haven't got to worry about stocking up when the offers are on, but instead can be safe in the knowledge that the prices are going to stay low.

I usually complete a meal plan every week and shop to a budget, but I have to admit to getting a bit excited at a new shop with vouchers to spend ahead of a bank holiday, so I did pick up a lot of the offers that I saw when walking around the store.

I loved all of the fruit and vegetables on Market Street and got lots of great offers there.  There were lots of items for 69p each, or 3 for £1.50 and I got a bag of baking potatoes, a tray of tomatoes and a big bag of carrots at this price.  Fantastic price.

The fish counter looked beautiful and so fresh, and though I didn't buy anything from there on this occasion I definitely would in future.

I got my whole chicken and the rest of the items to cook a bank holiday roast for the family.  I did have to ask a member of staff where to find the goose fat (a must have for my roasties), and was really happy with the service I received.  I found a member of staff quickly, she was polite and chatty and took me to find exactly what I needed, before asking if I needed help with anything else.  

The product pricing was very clear in most cases, with lots of products having the price clearly indicated on the packaging, though there were just a couple of items that I picked up where I couldn't see a price on the packet or the shelf, and that put me off buying.  I like to have some idea of what I'm spending as I shop so won't usually purchase an item if I can't see a price.  

I was pleased with the layout of the store, and other than the goose fat, was able to find everything I needed easily.  I went to the checkouts and only two of the larger checkouts were open so there were some queues building up.  I was disappointed that no other checkouts were opened, as though the store was quiet, everyone must have headed for the checkout at the same time and people were starting to queue into the aisles.  I waited to about five minutes before being served myself.  

I was served quickly and efficiently, and was offered help with packing.  Again, the service was great.  The customer behind me was using a mobility scooter and when she asked to help with unloading her items, and packing, a member of staff came quickly, which was great to see.  The standard of the service alone would make me want to return to Morrisons in future and I think that Morrisons in Neath should be proud of their staff members.

I did spend a bit more than I normally would on a weekly shop, though part of this were that some offers were so good that I thought I'd stock up, so it's unlikely that I'll have to do a big shop for two weeks.  I normally shop around to get the best offers from different stores, but found Morrisons to be of a good price overall, and it was nice to do all of my shopping in one store for a change.

Our Bank Holiday Roast

1 large whole chicken
2.5kg white potatoes
1 heaped spoonful Goose fat (for the roast potatoes)
1 tbsp Cornflour (for the gravy)

I roasted the chicken according to the clear directions on the packet and it was so tender that it fell apart when I was trying to carve it.  Delicious.  I parboiled some potatoes before roasting in the goose fat.  The remainder of the potatoes were boiled and then mashed, and the carrots and broccoli were steamed.  To make the gray I added a tablespoon of cornflour to the chicken juices, some chicken stock for flavouring, the water from the potatoes and some gravy browning to add colour.  A beautiful bank holiday roast dinner that all of the family enjoyed.

This meal worked out at cost of £9.18 which is just under £1.84 per person (family of 5).  There was also a good portion left over and hubby had two servings so this could be reduced even further.  That is amazing value for great quality food.

The children finished off their meal with a bowl of Morrisons Mint Choc Chip ice cream and a glass of cloudy lemonade and I think it's easy to see that they all enjoyed it.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pasta (Degustabox)

When I think about using organic produce it's usually fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat that comes to mind, but this months Degustabox brought some Organico pasta and sauce which I couldn't wait to try to see if I could tell the difference.

As pasta is a staple meal in our family, I thought a pasta bake would go down really well.  The Organico pasta comes from the 'La Marche' region's pioneering organic co-operative, founded to protect vanishing jobs in the countryside, promote bio-diversity and sustain rich agricultural soil* so it's ethical as well as being healthy.  The tomato sauce comes from another co-operative in Tuscany where the tomatoes are picked and packed within 24 hours to maximise freshness* .  All sounds really good and I like knowing where my food has come from.

To jazz the pasta up I decided to add some spicy sausage, lots of Pepperdew Piquante Peppers that I received in last months Degustabox, and off course, some cheese to top it off.

500g Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta, cooked
1 Jar Organico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
Pepperdew Mild Piquante Pepper1 spicy sausage, chopped
Grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4
Add the cooked pasta to a large ovenproof dish and mix in the pasta sauce, spice sausage and lots of whole piquante peppers.  Add plenty of grated cheese and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Serve with salad leaves and some fresh bread for a simple, yet healthy meal that the whole family will love.   The flavour of the pasta sauce with the peppers is simply delicious, and I will definitely be using Organico again.

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