Monday, 26 November 2012

Pineapple and Raisin Muffins

I bought some pineappple since Harry LOVED it as a snack at the children's centre - guess what? He has now decided that he doesn't like it. Luckily I found a very tasty recipe to adapt in Annabel Karmel's Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. The lady who moved out of our house very kindly left this book for me when she moved out as she realised I had one toddler and a baby on the way. Archie is now nearly 6 months, but we are expecting to follow the Baby Led Weaning style of weaning, so the puree ideas aren't much use to us. I'm glad I had a look in the book though, as towards the end I found some great baking recipes.

Annabel Karmel's recipe uses carrot, but as we aren't big vegetable eaters (bad mummy - we usually stick to the frozen stuff), I didn't have any in and substituted coconut. I don't have a picture. Ian suggested I just put in a photo of different muffins, shame on him!

4oz Plain Flour
4oz Plain Wholemeal Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 Bicarb
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Salt
6 fl oz Vegetable Oil
3oz Caster Sugar
2 eggs
4oz Coconut
8oz (225g) Canned Pineapple, drained
4 oz Raisins

Preheat Oven to 180degC
Sift together dry ingredients.
Beat wet ingredients in a separate bowl, smush up the pineapple if you have it in chunks.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients - remember not too much mixing, just enough to combine.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yummy and lots of fruit in every bite!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful #r2bc

A bit late AGAIN! I am a bad blogger!

My reasons to be cheerful this week...

1. On Saturday I ran my first ever 5k run - I was so proud to even get around the course, and very pleasantly surprised to get my time, which was emailed out to me a few hours after the event. The weather was glorious, mind, so I am not expecting to better my time this week, although I am still planning to get out and run tomorrow (brr).

2. Harry and Archie have been a lovely little pair this week. Highlights of the week for Harry included a visit to soft play the evening Daddy was staying away (they do dinner for 75p if you go in after 3pm - bargain!) and him learning how to use all the big stuff all by himself - this is a big deal for our little 'Captain Cautious' as he is known by Daddy! It made for a much nicer experience for Archie and I as Archie therefore didn't have to get lugged up miles of softplay, squished through rollers and I didn't have to precariously balance with a rather heavy bubba in my arms! Harry has also nearly reached another 'big boy' milestone - he has now had two naps in his big boy bed! He asked to go to bed in his new room tonight, but we don't yet have curtains, so it isn't cozy enough for bed time yet. Maybe next weekend will be the time! We got my gorgeous little pile of loveliness (a.k.a. Archie) weighed this week. He is a rather chunky 21lb 8 at 25 weeks. Considering his big brother was on the, um, massive side and weighed 21lb 10 at 33 weeks, no wonder Archie is so cuddly!

3. Christmas preparations are getting on in our household. Today Harry and I made and painted a cardboard Christmas tree, daddy is wrapping presents as I speak and Harry is, in his own words 'really excited about Christmas!' Shh, we may be putting up some decorations this weekend. Can you tell we REALLY love Christmas in our house?!


Bobchat - Moneys

H - Look my moneys. One silver, one brown... Oh look! Same lady!
M - Yes, darling, that's the queen.

Bobcat - Where's Archie?

Nearly every car journey, about 20 minutes in.

H - Where's Archie gone?!
M - Has he gone to sleep?
H - Yes, Archie sleep.

Maybe he really thinks we 'go' somewhere when we go to sleep!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Learning Through Play - the holiday edition

I just found this post hanging around in my draft folder, and thought I would share it with you all anyway! I think I was waiting for a picture, but haven't got around to it!

It is amazing how much toddlers can learn just from playing and experiencing the world around them. This doesn't have to be a planned, scheduled activity -although we do try to fit in a few of those each week. Most of the time we just go with whatever we are doing and I fit in whatever we are working towards.

Harry is just learning to count, so that it something we spend a lot of time on at the moment. Most frequently, of course, we count the vehicles we see as that is Harry's favourite thing! At the moment we re also working on Harry's sensory play as he has always been extremely reluctant to get wet or dirty. It has been a little disappointing on holiday to be met with firm rebuttals whenever we suggest a dip in the pool or sea (although he does like sandcastles, so that is progress!)

Yesterday we bought a cheap paddling pool and I filled it and left it in the sun to warm up during nap time. I was hoping to entice Harry in, but no such luck. However, I did manage to get him to splash his hands and by fetching a plastic mug and a bucket we had a great time learning about weight and volume, as well as practising our counting! We learned that 11 cups is lots and lots of water - nearly filling the bucket- and that Harry can carry 6 cups of water in the bucket, even though it was much heavier that 2!

We had a lot of fun, and it really did remind me that 2 year olds really do learn so much every single day!

Monday, 19 November 2012


It's that time of the week! We are trying out some new recipes this week, and I am also cracking out the slow cooker for the first time this winter. Let's hope it all works out OK!

Monday Spaghetti Bolognese
Tuesday Beef and Guinness Pie a la Jamie Oliver
Wednesday Harry has a dinner date at soft play with one of his girly friends! I will have something from the freezer as Daddy is away
Thursday Sticky Chicken a la Jamie Oliver (15 minutes? I'll leave 30 ;-) )
Friday Sausage and Mash
Saturday Chicken Tray Bake (Jamie again)
Sunday Roast  - maybe a pot roast in the slow cooker if I am brave enough. Any tips?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bobchat - Raisins

Harry, on standing up from his potty after being given a treat box of raisins to sit on it.

D: Have you done a wee wee, Harry?
H: Oh, look! I done a raisin!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bobchat - finking

Whilst holding Archie watching Harry at the park. Harry scoots over to see us and peers into Archie's face.
H: Archie's finking
M: Archie's thinking? What is he thinking?
H: Looks at me seriously He's finking of an nidea

#Couchto5k - Success!

So my Couch to 5k Journey is over! Today I completed my first 5k run - it was a Park Run, and after running you are emailed with some statistics, so here goes: 
Time: 33.24
73rd out of 83 runners (that means I wasn't last!!)
3rd in my age category (I'm guessing there weren't many runners in my age category, lol!)
My 'age-graded' score was 44.31% - so I think when compared with other people my age I am on the 44.31st centile (ie 50 is average). I *think* that's how it works anyway!

I'm pretty pleased with that. I started running on 'Super Saturday', having never run before. Archie was a bout 8 weeks old when I started. I suffered with sore knees, a nasty fall and losing motivation towards the end - it's hard to get out and run with two little ones, particularly in the dark. So I am so proud to have done it.

I'm definitely going to keep running with the Park Run - once a week will keep me going throughout the winter I think, and maybe next summer I can push to get a bit faster or even start working towards 10k! I'm even considering joining a running club to keep me going.

So next week the goal is to try to run a smidgen faster - we'll see... it was great weather for a run today - not sure I would be so good in nasty weather. I will be using the Couch to 5k+ podcasts to try to keep me motivated throughout the run. Still, I'll be pleased jut to make it round the course one more time.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful #r2bc

Argh! I missed it! Thursdays are becoming a very busy day for me, but I can't believe I even missed r2bc! I've been having one of those weeks where everything seems to pile up on you, and everything just winds you tighter and tighter. It does not make for a gret mummy if I'm honest, I and I have been trying really hard to still stay relaxed and calm around my babies. It's nice to sit and reflect on what actually went well though.

1. Obviously I am proud and cheerful about my children ALL the time, but this week Archie is just one extra-cuddly gorgeous pile of loveliness. This morning he was wet so I stripped him off, and really there is nothing better than cuddly rolls of nearly-6-month-old goodness snuggling into you of a morning!

2. Harry is really settling in well with his childminder, he had another great day yesterday. We don't have much family local to us, and it is a relief to have someone I can leave him with once a week whilst I rush around and do all those jobs that are NOT fun for a toddler. It's bittersweet for me, as I hate leaving him, knowing that every day he gets a little bit older and a little bit closer to a 'big boy', but at the same time, a little break makes for a better, less frazzled mummy. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to afford to send him for a few hours a week. Yesterday they played with Happyland, went on a Pudsey Bear hunt in Asda and made cookies! All between the hours of 9.30 and 1.30!

3. Archie and I also got loads of jobs done yesterday. We had to race around town in our free hour between dropping Harry and starting the breastfeeding peer support group to try to get curtains for Harry's room (which, regretfully, look like they might be a bit small), batteries and, best of all, new boots for me! I had a 20% off voucher for Clarks and have treated myself to some lovely new boots! I recently got some inserts from the doctor to help my over-pronated (flat!) feet and he told me my old boots were worn in a way that was going to counteract their good work. So I have treated myself to a lovely pair of chunky winter boots that I hope will see me through this winter and next at least.

I hope you've all had a more cheerful week that me, I'm looking forward to reading about it!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday Meal Planning

Back on the blogging train!! We eat so much healthier and better when I plan our meals properly. I'm hoping that this week sees a welcome return and I am trying to ensure we have a bit more variety. It's tricky with a fussy toddler in the house, but he always eats a lot at lunch - he's a big fan of sandwiches, cheese, ham and other lunchy things, but he really, really doesn't like dinner! Maybe it's just the time of day, but he seldom eats anything at dinner time (or so it seems...)

I'm really struggling with more wintery meal ideas, so looking forward to seeing what everyone has planned this week - hope I can steal it! Haven't done the shopping for this week yet, so maybe I can even steal it for this week!

Monday 12th November - Steak Pie (shop bought I'm afraid) and Sweet Potato Wedges
Tuesday 13th November -  Salmon and Bean stir fry with Noodles
Wednesday 14th November - Chicken Kievs with Oven Chips (or sweet potato mash)
Thursday 15th November - Club Chicken Sandwiches
Friday 16th November - Cheat's Macaroni Cheese
Saturday 17th November - Bacon Spaghetti Pasta
Sunday 18th November - Roast (Beef if I have anything to do with it! My favourite!)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Legacy - Katherine Webb

I've not been reading much recently, it seems like life takes over sometimes. But truthfully there's nothing better than snuggling up with a good book, and my mum lent me a few whilst I was down in Cornwall with the boys. She keeps a notebook where she writes down all the books she reads for her bookclub and their house is full to the brim of books, so it's brilliant to go down there and pick out a few choice reads. I hope that one day we might be able to have our very own 'library' in a spare room which I can alphabetise to my heart's desire - a room with bookcases all around the walls (my dream is something like the one from Beauty and the Beast - we can all have dreams, right?)

The first from the pile mum gave me was 'The Legacy' by Katherine Webb. Two sisters inherit a manor house from their unlikeable aunt - but they can only keep it if they live together. The book jumps between Beth and 'Rick' (Erica) in the present day - following their experience as they delve into a half-remembered past over Christmas - and Caroline, their great- great- grandmother in the 1900s.

Erica, the narrator of the modern half of the novel is a likeable and believable character. She is fighting to get Beth, her sister to tell her the truth about the disappearance of their cousin Henry who disappeared when they were children visiting the house. Her desire to uncover the mysteries of the house and their family history stems from a need to try to 'fix' Beth who is suffering from depression, and who has attempted suicide, risking losing custody of her son Eddie.

The mysteries and twists are gradually uncovered in both narratives, gradually drawing the two stories together. It doesn't take a genius to see the truths, but they are quite cleverly woven into the story, and I particularly liked the fact that Erica never *quite* finds out the truth - the reader does, as we see both ends of the story, but Erica has to try to fill in the gaps for herself. This makes it rather more believable than if the author had somehow had her find out everything, whilst still allowing the reader to have full closure.

I really enjoyed reading the book, it transports you to another place and time well - I particularly liked the sections about the America Prairie, and Caroline's story is, at times, heart wrenching. The setting of the manor house is close to where we live, near Devizes, so it was nice to be able to picture the countryside and the house too. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of mystery and tension, but it's also a very easy and pleasant read.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Muffins are the order of the day this week! I have really been enjoying playing with recipes I have found to match to the ingredients in my cupboard, and I think I hit gold this morning. Nothing like baking first thing in the morning so you can have something yummy for a (second) breakfast! (Can you tell I have a 5 month old early riser?!) I find these muffins are nice in the morning as they aren't super sweet, unlike your traditional cupcake which is more of an afternoon tea delicacy.

Cinnamon and Raisin Oaty Muffins

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup boiling water
1 2/3 cups SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp Cinnamon

For the tops
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

Preheat Oven 200 Celsius

Put raisins, oats and boiling water into a bowl. Leave to soak.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Sift.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the tops of the cakes, put to one side.

Add eggs, milk and oil to the oats mixture. Lightly beat to combine.

Add wet mix to dry mix. Carefully fold until just combine. Dollop into muffin cases.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on to the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Scoff. Bet you don't stop at one.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

I've been a very poor blogger recently, and I have lapsed in my regular posts, but normal service will resume from now!

1. One of the reasons my blog has been neglected recently is because we have been really busy - a real reason to be cheerful if there ever was one! We have been down on a holiday to visit 'Gran and Grandad Ford' (yes, he names them after the car brand they own!) in Cornwall, where we also spent time with one of my sisters and three of her children. Harry had teenaged playmates for the whole week, and Archie had his own personal sleep-inducing carrier in my 16 year old nephew! They were a massive help, it is always so relaxing to spend time with my family as they help so much with the little ones! Before that I had my other sister and her partner to stay for a couple of days, which was great as well. It's so nice to have a guest room in our new house, as I have a lot of family who I love to have to stay!

2. Another reason we have been busy is that Harry is potty training! I'm so proud of him, we have been going just over a week, and we have had hardly any accidents! And today he managed to ask to use it when he needed it, which was great. Up until now, I have been trying to anticipate his needs - very tricky with a toddler who doesn't want to stop playing! Small pants are very very cute, lol! I'm pleased we are getting it out of the way, as my 'deadline' was training him by the time he went to pre school in May, but in the end we both gave in to peer pressure when all his buddies were wearing pants. We are still working on his independence. I think it's going to be a while before he can go by himself, seeing as he can't even take socks, wellies or crocs off by himself - let alone trousers and pants!

3. My third reason to be cheerful this week is that Harry has started with his new childminder. His old childminder was great, but we are keen for Harry to start preschool when I return to work in May, and she wasn't going to be able to pick him up and drop him off for us. I am extremely thankful to a friend of mine who put us in touch with our new childminder. Harry had his first day today and loved it. She has a fantastic set up and I am so pleased I have found somewhere for my boys where I know they will be loved and cared for just like home. Archie will be starting there when I go back to work just before he turns a year, but he will have his big brother there before and after school to look after him.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Super Tasty Healthy Muffins!

After my exertions for our Hallow'een party I was rather butter-creamed out (I know, I can hardly believe it myself!) and my usual sweet vanilla cupcakes were not really inspiring me to bake - I also had a friend around who recently commented that her little girl was 'getting a sweet tooth', which left me thinking about how my baking habits might be affecting my lovely little man, who is always extremely appreciative of my efforts (unless they are savoury - see Pizza Pinwheels as an example!). So this week I decided to go for something a little more healthy. I had some bargain bananas bought for us by my sister when she was visiting that needed using up, so I adjusted a recipe for banana and white chocolate muffins that I found in my trusty Baking Magic cookbook - I really recommend this book for anyone wanting to bake cakes and cookies!

Here is my recipe:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour (you can just use 2 cups plain if you prefer)
1 tbsp baking powder (yes, tablespoon!)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3 small ripe bananas
handful of fresh berries - I used raspberries and blueberries

Preheat oven to 200 centigrade. Grease/line muffin tray.

Combine the flour and baking powder and sift. This is really important!

In a separate bowl (I did this in the KitchenAid) combine sugar, milk, egg, oil and bananas. Mix in the berries.

Stir together until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX! A rubber spatula is best for folding in econmically and quickly. You need to keep in the sifted air from your flour.

Spoon big dollops into the pan. Don't worry about being tidy, these aren't delicate little cupcakes, they are big, floury, airy muffins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Yum. Great for breakfast!