Proud mummy moments

Monday, 30 September 2013

I'm so proud of my children.

I'm sure all mums can name something each day that their children do to make them proud. Trying a new food, being polite, not fighting with their brother/sister when provoked (!)

For me, I was so proud of my little big man Dylan last week. He struggled a little with his reading last year. Mostly because he's easily distracted, full of energy and sometimes has trouble concentrating. He's so very clever and I knew he could do it, but sometimes six year old boys aren't supposed to sit still and read a whole book! 

His teachers thought he might need language support this year, which we were obviously keen for him to have if it was going to help him progress his reading at school. But he came home last week with a note in his bag to say that he had progressed significantly and was reading extremely well, so would be re-assessed later in the year.

We always read with our children every night - and have done since they were babies. Something has definitely clicked for Dylan and he is reading so well now.

My proud mummy moment for Meryn was seeing her perform with her friends in their dance school concert.

She's only five and she stood up there on a big stage, under the lights and performed a ballet recital followed by a tap number. Twice. There was a matinee and an evening performance in the same day.

It involved a lot of waiting around backstage and her first experience of stage makeup (!), but she loved every minute. I helped out as a chaperone backstage so was able to share the experience with her and it was a joy to see as they all lined up nervously to go on stage and came back afterwards brimming with excitement and confidence.

Five month Bambeanie update

Its all happening this month. Our little man is changing and growing by the day.

I love this age. It seems like every day brings something new. He is learning so much and its a real joy to see. 

We're slowly introducing some solids - although, I'm holding out on purees until he is six months. He is eating baby porridge twice a day and loving it. 

He's not quite rolling over yet, but he's almost there! He gets so far and then can't quite make it all the way over. He won't be long before he's rolling all over the place though I'm sure.

Bath time is his favourite thing. He gets so excited and kicks and splashes like mad when he gets in. We've also started Waterbabies classes, which he seems to really enjoy. Even being dunked under the water! We did the classes with Dylan and Meryn too and they are both really confident in the water, which I think is so important.

Ayden laughs so much - he is such a happy baby and such a joy to be around.

He's still not so keen on the day time sleeping though... and tends to cat nap for twenty minutes or so at a time. Which is preferable to him doing that at night I guess! 

Last week we went through a phase of him waking a few times at night too. Thankfully that has improved the last couple of days. He was sleeping right through, but now he seems to wake at half four ish. I guess, in the grand scheme of things, I can't complain about that. 

I'm still breastfeeding, so he just feeds for five minutes or so and goes back to sleep.

As for his favourite toy... definitely his feet! 

Although he's still very partial to his Sophie the Giraffe and his new Jumperoo :)

Monday menu #3

Monday, 23 September 2013

I started the week off determined to achieve things - namely, making some progress with my list of areas in the house to organise. I made some headway with the toy situation last week but, with so much more to do in that category, I thought I'd crack on with something that will give me more immediate results. The kitchen cupboards. So armed with some new glass storage jars, tomorrow morning I will be pulling everything out, decanting stuff and putting things back in an orderly fashion. I dread to think what might be tucked away in the depths of those cupboards...

So, aside from that thrilling task, here's what else we have planned this week.

One thing that I struggle to do is plan meals in advance and stick to it. I am easily swayed and the mere sniff of a new recipe that I like the look of and I'm off to Tesco faster than you can say "damn you Pinterest"! 

But, its something I'm determined to get better at, so here it is. The (draft) menu for this week (TBC):

  • Chicken, bacon and avocado pasta salad - we had this for dinner tonight and it was disappointing. I had an avocado that needed using up so I decided to google a recipe which would use it alongside chicken and bacon (which go so brilliantly together in a sandwich). The avocado was slightly overripe and that always puts me off. Not a big fan but never mind.
  • Fish tacos - one of my favourite meals of all time. A recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's first book that combines fish, salted white cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo... amazing!
  • Salmon with bulgar wheat and roasted vegetables
  • Jamie Oliver's chicken with tzatziki and herby couscous
  • Penne arrabiata

On a family note, its all about introducing solids as far as the bambeanie is concerned this week. We started him with some Ella's Kitchen Wakey Wakey porridge last week. Which he loves! So, I guess its time to get batch steaming and pureeing - starting with sweet potato. 

I'll keep you posted but, judging by the speed he was flapping his arms and legs for the porridge, I'm guessing it'll go down fairly well.

We have the usual weekly classes this week - gymnastics, computer club, ballet, tap, Waterbabies and swimming. Wow. I'm tired just typing it.

But, provided I still have the energy, I'd like to try and get myself to the gym this week. I've been determined to get back into pilates. My back is definitely a bit weak after the pregnancy and I've found pilates is the best thing for it. 

I've also discovered there's an NCT nearly new sale in my area this weekend. I've never been to one, but have heard its worth a browse. Ayden is really short of clothes now the seasons are changing so its good timing.

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

I love autumn

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

When I get a few moments to myself, when the beans are in school/napping or in bed, I love nothing more than to read blogs and watch Youtube videos. 

With the change of season I've started to notice some autumn 'tag' posts and videos popping up and thought it would be a nice idea to create one for family lifestyle bloggers. 

So, I give you the 'I love autumn' tag.

Favourite thing about autumn?
Sunny days that are cold. There's nothing better than a walk in the bright sunshine on a crisp and chilly autumn day. I love it! Then going home to curl up in front of the wood burner and watch a movie under a blanket. 

I love getting out all the chunky knits and my favourite boots. Browsing online for my new winter coat and wrapping the beans up in their hats and mittens. Love love love it all!

Favourite family autumn activity?

Apart from the walks I've already mentioned, there's something really exciting about the build up to Halloween. I think its because Bonfire Night and Christmas follow so quickly behind it. We like to really milk a festive occasion in our household (!) - think Halloween-themed movie nights for a few weeks before, pumpkin pies, crafts, you name it. 

I discovered an amazing (and super easy) pumpkin cake recipe last year that I can't wait to dig out again. I'll share it here once we're in to October :)

Favourite drink?
Last year, after spending way more time than advisable browsing Pinterest and reading posts by American bloggers, I came across a drink that ticked every possible autumn box for me - spiced... check, buttery caramel... check, hot.... check, whipped cream... you betcha'!

Starbucks in the USA sells what can only be described as perfection in a cup - Caramel Apple Spiced Cider. Described as hot apple (non-alcoholic) cider blended with the fall spice of cinnamon, topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Be still my beating heart.

After a bit of research, I created my own version and it was pretty good if I say so myself; but I'd love to try the real thing. Come on Starbucks. Do the right thing! 

But until then, I'll pray for the return of the Pumpkin Spice latte, which rocked my world last autumn.

Favourite scent/candle?
I need very little excuse to invest in new seasonal candle. I'm a bit of a floozy like that! It gets dark earlier anyway... so I need the extra light.

Last year I bought myself a little pre-Christmas gift after a particularly successful Christmas shopping spree (does anyone else do that?), in the form of the Laura Mercier Warm Roasted Chestnuts signature candle. Wow. Just, wow. 

It sums up autumn/winter scents for me. Sweet, but not too sweet, just the right amount of warm spice and a hint of oaky wood fires. And it smells amazing even when its not lit. 

Its not stocked anywhere at the moment, but they bring it back every year as far as I know, so keep your eyes peeled from next month on.

Favourite item of clothing to wear?
My Ugg boots. Hands down. 

They may not be the most stylish of items, but they're too comfy, warm and familiar for me to care.

Favourite place to be?
I'm repeating myself a bit now, but nothing feels better than cuddling up on the sofa with my husband and beanies, thawing out after a walk on the beach. Wood burner on. The smell of a chilli cooking on the hob, wafting in from the kitchen. Blanket stretched over us all, popcorn and a movie. Perfection.

If you didn't gather from my waffle above, I'm pretty keen on autumn. How about you?

I'd love to know what your favourite things about autumn are, so I tag everyone to complete this on their blog - please comment below so I can read your posts. Of the bloggers I read on a regular basis, I'd particularly love to see these lovely ladies' responses :)

Now where are my Ugg boots...?

Ready, steady, yum - our weaning journey

Monday, 16 September 2013

Its hard to believe we're already thinking about introducing the bambeanie to solid food. He turned five months old this weekend and, while at a birthday party with my daughter, he literally tried to grab a chip out of my hand! He watched everything make its way to my mouth with his little mouth wide open, bless him. 

So, although it was my intention to wait until he was six months, he's definitely showing signs of being ready to eat more. 

I intend to keep breastfeeding until he's at least a year old so, for now, we're just introducing one portion of baby porridge for his second morning feed.

He has his first taste yesterday and, as soon as he saw the spoon, his little arms and legs were flapping and his eyes wide as saucers! I think its safe to say he enjoyed it.

When I introduced beanies 1 and 2 to solids about six years ago, there wasn't much talk of baby led weaning (BLW). At least, if there was, I wasn't aware of it. So, with Annabel Karmel as my guide, off I went on a journey of purees and baby mush. And I enjoyed every minute. Both babies were good eaters and happy to try whatever concoction I was serving to them on that particular day.

But, me being me, I'm intrigued by BLW... partly because its something I haven't tried before, but also a lot of the reasoning behind it makes sense to me. 

So, I think we'll try a bit of both. And I know BLW purists would advise against that, as its not strictly BLW if the baby is also being fed from a spoon. But I think I'd miss the whole process of making the purees and combining the flavours. I quite like the idea of giving him purees further down the line to eat as dips with finger foods too. 

Even though time is going so fast and I want it to slow down, I'm also excited to start this new stage of his little babyhood. 

Thrifty kitchen #2

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Today's thrifty kitchen recipe may be an obvious choice, but there's no denying its a crowd pleaser and cheap to boot.

Good old tuna penne... but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to add a bit more excitement and flavour, using things you probably have lurking around in your cupboard or fridge anyway.

Olive oil
Small red onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin tuna steak (preferably in olive oil)
1 tsp sugar
Sea salt and black pepper
Pasta of your choice, we like penne

* Gently fry the onion in oil with the garlic until softened. 
* Add the tin of tomatoes, followed by the drained and flaked tuna.
* Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and the sugar.
* Simmer for about ten minutes, while you put your pasta on to cook. 
* Drain pasta, reserving a small amount of cooking water, and add pasta to the sauce.
* Gradually add the cooking water as you mix until pasta is coated to your taste.

Here's where it gets interesting. Depending on what you have in your kitchen, you could add one or a few of the following ingredients:

* Fresh chopped or 'lazy chilli'
* A spoon of basil pesto
* Olives
* Strips of roasted red peppers (ready roasted in jars)

My favourite additions to this recipe are: the juice of half a lemon, with a tsp of ground cinnamon, 2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan and a good handful of green olives. Yum.

What's for tea in your house tonight?

Thrifty kitchen #1

Friday, 13 September 2013

Yikes! I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, but this is not good. Not good at all.

Yes, I checked my bank balance. After the back to school purchases, and forking out for a term's worth of swimming lessons, gymnastics, ballet etc... I'm definitely feeling a little light of wallet.

One way to try and cut back a little on the monthly outgoings is a spot of clever grocery shopping. Now, I'm not great at this. We love our food, cook everything from scratch and the beanies take a packed lunch to school each day, so we spend a fair amount per week. But I do have a few recipes in my repertoire that cost less than others, without compromising on taste or nutrition, and are enjoyed by the whole family (except the bambeanie - he's still more of a boob man!).

So I thought I'd share my dinner recipe here each day, as I attempt to reduce my grocery spend for the next week. 

I'd love to hear your 'thrifty kitchen' recipes too, so please share them using a link in the comments below. 

It's Friday, so that can only mean one thing... curry! This recipe is one of my favourites. It's simple to make, healthy and my children like it too. It's also the type of recipe you can experiment with and add different things to, depending on what you have in the fridge/cupboard. It doesn't cost much to make - especially as it uses a number of ingredients that I tend to have 'in stock' anyway.

I have this recipe scribbled on the tiniest piece of paper. The writing has faded, its moved house with me three times and, considering the number of times I've made it, you'd assume I had it memorised. 

Chickpea and potato curry

1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp oil (I use olive oil)
1 tsp finely chopped stalks from fresh coriander (save the leaves for later)
1 tin coconut milk
1 tbsp curry powder (I use medium strength, but adjust according to taste)
1 potato
1 tin chick peas
Handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Fresh coriander leaves

- Pound the garlic, peppercorns and coriander stalks into a paste, in a pestle and mortar.
- Heat the oil and briefly fry the paste before adding the coconut milk.
- Stir well and then add the remaining ingredients in order.
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and chick peas are al dente (about 25-30 minutes).
- Add finely chopped coriander and serve with your choice of rice. 

I've added spinach to this, cauliflower, fresh basil leaves, sweet potato - you really can play about with it depending on what you have lying around.

* I'll check back later to add a photo once I've made dinner ;)

Toothy pegs

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Its official! I see a speck of white just peeking through the gum. Yep... we have a teether!

Kind of explains the clingy, grumpy, restless behaviour from my otherwise very happy little man. He's definitely not been himself the last few days. Not to mention the green poo.... wowsers! They don't warn you about that one. Thankfully, I remember little big man having the same thing, so it wasn't too much of a shock.

So, as we're about to embark on the wonder of teething (!), I thought I'd share with you (and remind myself) some top tips for coping with the next few months:

* Invest in a good teething toy - we've tried so many teething rings, in different shapes and sizes, but hands down the best (or at least the one that Ayden seems to like the most) is good old Sophie the Giraffe. It must be the texture, plus the fact that she is soft to chew but still firm enough to apply pressure to the gums. A must in my opinion.

* Amber teething necklace - I was very sceptical about this one, but a good friend of mine swore by baltic amber when her son was teething. I did a bit of reading and placed an order. I can't say yet how it works for us, but I'll keep you posted. Check out for info on how its supposed to work - they explain it far better than I would!

* Teething powders - I did it. I managed to track down the holy grail of teething remedies. The lesser-spotted Ashton & Parsons powders. These became extremely difficult to find a few years back after the company was taken over and changes made to the manufacturing process. I used them with my first two babies and they seemed to work wonders. They are supposed to calm upset little tummies and provide relief from symptoms such as pain and dribbling. I have no idea how they work, but they just seem to help.

* An alternative to the gel-filled teething rings is to simply tie a knot in the corner of a clean wash cloth, saturate it with water and freeze. This should help to relieve those sore gums. 

* Also, if you're breastfeeding, you could fill one of those mesh feeders with some frozen breast milk cubes. As well as the cold soothing the gums, breast milk is full of natural pain killers and has anti-inflammatory characteristics.

If you have a teething baby, I hope some of these tips may be of use to you. If you've got any other great ideas to share, please add them in the comments below... I have a feeling I might need all the advice I can get!

Start as I mean to go on

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A new school year seems like the perfect opportunity to shake things up a bit in the household. Bambeanie is four months old... I feel like we've adjusted really well to life as a family of five and I no longer have an excuse to let things go around the house ;) 

By that I mean the little 'projects' I have listed in my mind that I keep meaning to tick off. Of which there are many. And if I put them in writing here, it might shame me into actually getting them done!

So here goes. Project 'organise my life or die trying' is on!

Each week, I'll attempt to cross one item off the list. I'm not going to force myself to do them in a particular order, or beat myself up if I don't manage to complete one every single week. But I'll choose whichever one tickles my fancy that week... 

Here's the list so far - I'll add more things as time goes on:

  • Reorganise toys (in bedrooms and playroom) - try to put things back in their sets and organise according to type (this could take two weeks!)
  • Empty, clean and reorganise kitchen cupboards
  • File all paperwork - its getting ridiculous
  • Sort through wardrobes and ebay/donate to charity all unwanted items

This week is all about the toys! After the summer holidays I feel like I need to reclaim my  home! There is stuff everywhere. Wish me luck :)