Poor Hubby had to call in sick to work today - he had a migraine but actually I think they're just pushing him too hard and he's exhausted and stressed out, which is not a good combination for someone prone to migraine.
So, the boys and I had to keep things down to a dull roar. After breakfast we got the toy cars out and Christopher played them for ages. We keep most of the toys in big plastic storage boxes in the boys' bedroom and bring different things downstairs in turn. They each have an additional toybox downstairs in which to keep a small (in theory) selection for every day. It's a good idea to put toys away for a bit when their popularity wanes; after a while they seem quite novel and exciting again. The other huge advantage is that our sitting room can easily be returned to a more adult-friendly living area, so we don't feel as though we're wading through an ocean of garish bits of plastic and things with odd faces on them all evening.
After lunch, during James' "official" nap time, Christopher and I had some art-and-craft time. I do keep a rather extensive collection of this kind of stuff in the house, but it's fun for all of us (even James, who loves to watch and play with bits of crinkly paper and ribbon) and it comes in handy on a day like today when we need a quiet activity. Using some stickers from a colouring & sticker book I picked up a month or so ago, Chris made a great collage of the Mr Men in the park. I helped him a little, mainly by peeling stickers off the backing paper. I also made the pond, as he had a duck sticker and insisted it needed water to go swimming.
For supper tonight, I was glad to be organised. Anticipating Karl's original shift of 10am to 7pm, I'd planned to sort the boys' supper out at the usual time and then cook again for us later on. James enjoyed a bowl of Cheddar & Parsley Mash from the freezer, which I make simply by baking extra potatoes when we have them, then ricing them with some grated mature cheddar, some chopped parsley, a knob of butter and a little black pepper. It freezes very well in individual portions and can be microwaved from frozen whenever we need it. Christopher had some chicken strips with a bit of pasta and some peas. He's going through a big chicken phase at the moment and he loves these! It does mean thinking ahead a little, slicing the chicken and marinading it, but it's not really hard work. You can buy cartons of buttermilk in the supermarket, but I prefer to mix this homemade substitute up as and when I need it, for scones mainly, but also recipes like this. One chicken breast makes enough strips for two children, or for Christopher's supper and a snack for me when I'm going to have dinner late. I tried the idea for using toasted breadcrumbs for the first time tonight. It came from the June issue of BBC Good Food magazine and I think it works really well, but you could use crumbs of whatever kind you like, as long as they're not too soft.
1 chicken breast fillet
1/4 pint semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 slices of white bread, well toasted and crusts cut off
1 egg, beaten
Stir the milk and lemon juice together in a jug and set aside while you slice the chicken breast into small strips Put the strips into a freezer bag or a shallow dish, pour in the milk and either seal the bag or cover the dish with clingfilm. Leave in the fridge overnight.
Whizz the toast into breadcrumbs in a food processor. Lift the chicken strips out of the marinade and dry them on a clean tea towel or a bit of kitchen paper if you prefer. Dip them in the beaten egg, then in the crumbs. Transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 200°c for about 10 minutes.