Cloth nappies - a month on

Saturday, 24 August 2013

So here we are. Nearly a whole month into our cloth nappy journey. And I'm pleased to say that everything's going really well. 

I was so excited about getting started and I'm stubborn as a mule, so I was never going to give up (!), but I was prepared for it to be a bit of a steep learning curve. I don't have any friends that use them to quiz, but I had done a shedload of research before ordering our supply.

Cloth nappies, diapers, fluff

We went for a couple of different brands and types of nappy: TotsBots Easyfit with both velcro and poppers; TotsBots Bamboozle stretch for night and Fuzzibunz elite pocket nappies. 

I'm pleased with all of them, but my favourite for day is definitely the Fuzzibunz - they are fleece lined which draws away the moisture from his little bum and they seem pretty absorbent with only one of the inserts. I like the clean lines of the nappy and there's a great colour range, with fab names... am I the only one taken in by stuff like that...!?

Suprisngly for me, I definitely prefer the nappies with poppers, as opposed to velcro. I have four with velcro - mostly to placate Mr Bean, who is still not sold on the whole idea - I absolutely love the prints but I can see the velcro is looking a little tatty already.

For night, the TotsBots Bamboozle stretch and wrap has been a-mazing. Seriously, nothing gets through those bad boys! I guess I was most worried about the night time performance, as I change him pretty frequently during the day anyway. We haven't had one night time leak yet - and he sleeps through for a full twleve hours, so that's some pretty impressive performance right there. The nappy is literally full in the morning, but I use a fleece liner inside and that keeps the moisture away from his skin. The drawback of these nappies is that they take aaaages to dry, but as long as you factor that in to your laundry routine, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. 

I purchased 21 nappies and haven't had an occassion where I've run out of clean ones... yet. But most places recommend you have 25 to be on the safe side. At least that's what I'm telling my husband ;)

I've heard great things about Bumgenius nappies, so I might invest in a few of those. 

Any other recommendations gratefully recieved though... what's your favourite brand of reuseable nappy?

Monday menu #2

Monday, 19 August 2013

Monday again? Where did you sneak up from you cheeky thing you!?

Here's what we have planned for this week :)

So I'm not doing too well on the 'no more chocolate for me' thing... I blame the husband. He keeps bringing it home and it would be rude not to eat it... right?

Anyway, I'm about to do the online grocery shop so I'm planning our meals for the week. Here's what's on the menu:

  • Mac and cheese with hotdogs - this is super unhealthy (!) but until the shopping arrives tomorrow morning I'm using up things we have lying around it the cupboard/fridge. V tasty though
  • Salmon mirin - one of my trusty fall-back dinners and very healthy. Thanks Nigella!
  • Tuna and olive penne
  • Nicoise salad 
  • Chicken, fennel and olive casserole with couscous

Just two weeks of the summer holidays left... where is the time going?

We had a great weekend with daddy home - lazy day at home on Saturday cos it was rainy, so movies, popcorn and cuddles; yesterday we had a picnic on the beach with my sister and her family. It was her birthday so we spent the afternoon together and came here after the beach to toast marshmallows on the BBQ and eat cake. Great day! The kids love getting together with their cousins so they had so much fun.

I have a wedding to go to next weekend so I am mostly panicking about what to wear and how my mum will cope looking after the three kids on her own for the first time... eek! Especially worried about Bambeanie having two or three of his feeds from a bottle. He's not so keen.

We had a fun week meeting up with friends last week. I have everything crossed that Mr Bean will only need to work for part of this week, so we can plan in some family fun time for what is left of the summer holidays.

Running out of ideas (and money!) for entertaining the beanies now. Plus I'm itching to start reorganising my house. It's something I promised myself I'd do when I was on maternity leave and, so far, not so good. Once school starts back I think I'll give myself a swift kick up the bum and tackle a room at a time. Starting with the toys. God god, the toys!

I'd love others to share their Monday Menu below. What food, fun and family stuff do you have planned?

Bambeanie update

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Our tiny man is growing so fast. I can hardly believe he's four months old! Four months!? 

So much for my monthly updates eh. Oh well, I've been making notes with the intention of publishing them monthly. So I'll catch up from here on.

We are loving life as a family of five and love him so much. He's such a happy, contented and adorable little man. He has beautiful gummy smiles for everyone that talks to him. 

* At last weigh in, he was 12lbs and 6oz and counting, but that was a good few weeks ago now. He'll be weighed again next week, when he has his next set of vaccinations. His little cheeks are getting chubbier by the day!

* Boy does this baby love his sleep! (she says, having now cursed us to an eternity of broken sleep). He's sleeping through the night, and has been since about 14 weeks old, from roughly 8pm to 7:30am (earlier if his early bird big brother pokes his head into his cot!). I was waking him when I went to bed at about 11pm for a last feed, but I stopped doing it out of curiosity because I wasn't convinced he really needed it and turns out I was right. 

* The giggles have started and they are officially my favourite sound in the whole world :) He laughed for the first time on Sunday 28 July, when I was tickling and nibbling him under his arms. This week he has started laughing at other things without tickles, like me pulling funny faces or making silly noises for him.

* He loves to watch us all go about our busy lives - but I guess he doesn't have a great deal of choice in that one. As its the summer holidays his big brother and sister are giving him plenty to watch and they love nothing more than to talk to and play with him. He's recently started showing a bit of interest in the TV, but only for five minutes or so of Baby Einstein.

* He loves his food and we're still exclusively breastfeeding. My daughter started on baby rice at about this age but, so far, he doesn't seem interested or to need the extra food just yet.

* He can still fit in his 0-3 babygros, but not for much longer.

* He loves bath time. We're still bathing him every couple of days, not every night. I'm convinced we dried out his brother's very sensitive skin by bathing him too often when he was a baby, and didn't really need it.

Practising some sitting :)

Must-haves - months two to four

* Bouncer - this is still an every day item for us and a definite must-have. He sits in it and watches while I prepare meals, or to watch cartoons with his brother and sister. Definitely money well spent.

* Mobile - this month he's really enjoyed his mobile for the first time. We were hoping to recycle his big sister's Tiny Love mobile, which was amazing, but sadly it has bitten the dust and I don't think they make the same model any more. So, after much research, we went for this one. Its not quite as nice as the other one in my opinion, but he seems to love it. Full review coming soon.

* Amber teething necklace - this is cheating a bit because we're not in a position to fully test it yet. He's definitely starting to teethe - excessive dribbling... check; rosy cheeks... check; fist in mouth 24:7.... check. I've seen lots of bloggers and youtubers rave about amber teething necklaces and I thought there was nothing to lose, so ordered one from a recommended American website - They explain the science behind the use of amber for pain relief far better than I ever could, so I'd definitely recommend having a read. They have a great selection of products and delivery was surprisingly fast. We went for the milk and honey necklace, which I've used as an anklet so far. I'll keep you posted on how it works for us.

Summer so far

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

So we're half way through the summer holidays. 

I love having a break from the school run and having more time with the beanies but, 
before the last day of term, I was a *teeny* bit worried about how I was going to entertain a six and a five year old with a three-month old in tow. But so far so good.

I can honestly say they haven't seemed bored at all and have been so well behaved. Ok, so there have been a fair amount of sibling squabbles and a tantrum or two thrown in to spice things up a bit. But they're usually pretty short-lived and, on the whole, its been a pleasure to spend every day all together.

I've tried to plan ahead as much as possible to make sure we have plenty lined up - at least one thing every day to get us out of the house. The amazing weather we've had so far has helped. Anyone remember gazing forlornly out of the rain-streaked windows all day, everyday last summer?

We haven't done anything particularly adventurous or expensive so far, just trips to the beach, play dates and picnics with friends from school, scooting to get ice-cream, playing in the park and a cinema-date to see Smurfs 2.

And on less sunny days it's amazing what you can convince them is a fun idea. After one particularly busy day out I asked them if they fancied a pyjama day and they were so excited about that! We spent the whole day in pjs, watching movies, playing lego and making cupcakes. It was great.

Now I just need to convince Mr Bean into going on our first trip to Legoland before the end of the holiday.... wish me luck!

Silent Sunday

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sugar rush

Friday, 9 August 2013

This is by no means an original recipe. In fact, its a bit of a mishmash of recipes I have tried and tested over the last few years.

We love cupcakes in this family - and I enjoy making them. I went through a bit of a phase of trying weird and wonderful flavours and combinations, but sometimes you just can't beat a good old vanilla buttercream cupcake.

  • 110g softened unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g plain flour
  • 150g self-raising flour 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk (room temp)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (not essence)

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees (fan).

  • Combine the butter and sugar and beat until mixture is smooth. I use a freestanding mixer, but you could easily use a handheld, or even a good old wooden spoon if your biceps are up to it!

  • Once the mixture is thoroughly combined and pale in colour, you can add your eggs one at a time and mix.

  • Put both types of flour and the pinch of salt in a bowl together and combine. Also add your vanilla extract to the milk. Then add half the mixed flours to the butter and sugar bowl and mix well. Follow this with half your milk/vanilla and mix. Add the last of your flour. Mix. Then the milk and give it a final mix.

  • Carefully spoon your mixture into the 12 muffin cases I should have already told you to put in a cupcake baking tray :) ! 

  • A good tip I was once given is to use an ice cream scoop with the squeezy trigger thing to release the ice cream. This gives the perfect amount of mixture and releases it smoothly so the top is relatively flat. I don't always do this, but find it does give good results.

  • Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25 mins (I usually check after about 20 mins and rotate the pan as my oven seems to cook the back row faster).

  • Once you can insert a sharp knife or skewer and it comes out clean, Bob's your uncle! Leave to cool in the pan for five mins or so then transfer to a wire track (I use one of the shelves from my oven).

  • Once completely cool, top with buttercream. I use this recipe:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g softened unsalted butter
  • 25ml milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

  • Beat two-thirds of icing sugar and butter together. Start on a very low speed to avoid kitchen resembling snow storm. Another useful tip is to cover your mixer with a clean tea towel before you switch it on - this catches the cloud of icing sugar when the mixer starts.

  • Once sugar and butter are well mixed combine milk and vanilla and add gradually (on a slow speed). 

  • The trick with frosting is to beat it for longer than you think you need to. The longer you mix, the fluffier it will be. I usually beat it using a free-standing mixer for at least five minutes, on high speed. 

  • Top your cakes with a good dollop of frosting and sprinkles, edible glitter, grated chocolate, sweeties.... whatever you fancy.

  • Enjoy :) (and prepare to scrape children off the ceiling should you choose to let them eat one too!)

  • Monday Menu #1

    Monday, 5 August 2013

    After blogging every day during July, I felt like the set prompts gave a lot of information about me and my family but I haven't blogged about our day to day lives for a while.

    However I really enjoyed the regularity of blogging every day, so I thought I'd start some weekly blog features starting with a 'Monday Menu' which will include some info about what we have planned for that week, including meals and activities.

    On the menu for this week, I'm feeling the need to be a bit healthier. Since having Bambeanie, I have been a little naughty (to say the least!). Don't get me wrong, chocolate is still a daily staple - I am breastfeeding after all - but I'm trying to be extra good for my main meals. This week we'll be having some of my fail-safe and most favourite meals in the repertoire:

    • Sausage, butter beans and red peppers with cous cous (not the healthiest of all, but so easy and quick to make - I'm shooting for convenience with this one)
    • Salmon fillets and quinoa salad
    • Penne arrabiata
    • Fish grenobloise with salad 
    • Spinach and ham frittata
    If you'd like me to post any of these recipes, please let me know in the comments below.

    We're on week three of the summer holidays - I'm flying solo on the childcare front this year as I'm on maternity leave, so I've been a teeeeny bit concerned about how I will keep a six and a five year old entertained while also looking after a newborn.

    So far so good. Little Big Man spent last week on a football course with his friends from school, so that left me with just Bambeanie and Princess to entertain. Two is a breeze these days ;)

    This week I have them booked into a few kids club sessions at my gym. I stay on site and enjoy a coffee in peace (in theory), while they run around with other kids playing dodgeball or covering themselves in paint. 

    Everyone's a winner.

    Its also our first week as a cloth nappy family. I enjoy a challenge ;) You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to see how we get on with that one. I'll be posting fairly regular updates on there, as well as blog posts here.

    Mr Bean and I enjoyed a *very* overdue night out to celebrate our anniversary (it was in June!). We went to Bill's - one of my favourite restaurants - and ate way too much. I discovered Amaretto Sours, which is now my new favourite drink, and I will be learning how to make them myself. I'll share the recipe here when I've tried (and tested) a few.

    As it's the summer holidays my 'fun' is pretty much dictated by what I have planned for the beanies but we'll definitely be meeting up with friends and my sister with her children later on this week. Gotta keep them busy!

    I've really enjoyed writing this post so I think this will be a fairly regular occurrence here. 

    I'd love others to share their Monday Menu below. What food, fun and family stuff do you have planned?