Friday, 22 February 2013

Recipe Review - Lamb Koftas

I've been loving the My Daddy Cooks Recipe book over the last couple of weeks, and I'll be really disappointed when I have to take it back to the library. In fact, I'm pretty sure that a copy will be winging its way to us very soon, as the recipes we have tried so far are definitely set to be family favourites.

The first recipe I am going to review is that for Lamb Koftas. My husband actually cooked these, so I'm afraid I can't comment too much on the process itself - other than he said they were quite easy - only shelling the pomegranate took time, and you could buy that prepared to speed things up. Certainly, the other recipes I have tried from the book are very simple to prepare and cook - I really think you can tell the book has been written by a parent of a small child!

I can, however comment on the taste. In fact, neither of us really like lamb, but we had bought it 'for a change' - and I am happy to say we are converted. The koftas were DELICIOUS - we loved being able to construct our own concoctions and the pomegranate was to die for. If you like things like fajitas where you build up your own meal, you will love this dish. Even the fussy toddler tried some (although he refused the pomegranate even though he would have loved it guaranteed, oh well, better luck next time).

I'll be reviewing the other recipes we tried - Sticky Baked Salmon, Mexican Lasagne and the delicious Peanut Butter Brownies very soon. And I can't wait to try his 'Fruit Popovers' one weekend for breakfast. But if the words 'Peanut Butter Brownies' don't persuade you to check out the book yourself, I'm not sure what else I can say!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Bobchat - trick

M - do you know where you are going today? You are going somewhere special with Nicola!
H - I going on a trick to see animals!
M - a trip, yes you're going on a trip!
H - no mummy, a trick!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

#TheGallery - Boys

This is my first time joining the 'gallery' linky, and I'm afraid it's really not a great photo! But I guess that's not what it's all about (although I will try to produce some better photos in the future - hand on heart I really will!) This photo sums up my little world right now though - proudd mum to two little boys - no longer mum to one boy and a baby. I could just as easily label this photo 'brothers'. Don't they look happy here - my two little partners in crime? But in five minutes time you could just as easily see a photo of Archie yanking Harry's hair, Harry pushing Archie away. Or maybe Harry trying to feed Archie something whilst he squirms in his seat desperate to get away.
my boys
To see the blog hosting this linky and the other entries, head on over to Sticky Fingers.

Bobchat - fork truck

H - (arms under Archie) heave!
M - Harry, I've told you lots of times, you can't pick up Archie!

H looks at me with sad puppy-dog eyes.

H - I'm just trying to be a fork truck mummy.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fun Lunches - Faces

Those of you with a fussy toddler will no doubt be adept at doing anything at all to get something other than a chocolate bar, chips or something that comes breaded and fried past their angelic little lips. I'm often so proud of my artistic concoctions that I take a photo and thought I'd post some here:

First up - the faces!

Homemade breaded turkey 'nuggets' made into burgers with sliced  brown bread. Sweet potato wedges for ears, banana nose and pear teeth.

A baby lunch - this was Archie's the other day - two butter puffs spread with cream cheese and raisins for the pupils, clementine segments arranged for hair and apple for a smile.
Face dinner - pizza toast with peas, banana and baby sweetcorn
Mushroom hair, tomato eyes, cooked chicken ears and sweetcorn nose and mouth on a scone pizza base.

Monday, 18 February 2013


Monday- Homemade Pizza and Dough Balls
Tuesday - Spaghetti Bolognese
Wednesday - Sausage and Mash
Thursday - Chilli Con Carne with Nachos and dips
Friday - Club Sandwiches
Saturday - Steak and Chips
Sunday - Roast

#snaphappybritmums - Milestones

My biggest boy starting to meet a pretty massive milestone earlier this year (we're still working on it ;-) )

Saturday, 16 February 2013


MAD Blog Awards

I made my nominations a couple of weeks ago. I thought long and hard about the blogs I most enjoy reading - the blogs that as an extremely new blogger I would love to emulate. I carefully considered the different categories and tried to fit my nominations to them.

And you know what? I am unbelievably proud that someone has done the same for me! I hope you are reading this post! Thank you so much.

I enjoy writing my blog, and that's the most important thing, but when people ask me why I blog (in that bemused manner I'm sure other bloggers will recognise), it's sometimes tricky to explain. I don't want to be famous, but it is a little more than just a record of our day to day activities - it's nice to know that there are a few readers out there - my friends, my family and also people I've never met - who enjoy reading what I have written. And nothing beats the buzz of my my phone notifying me of a new comment.

So thank you to my nominator! You've given me the confidence to keep going, and let me know that someone out there thinks that what I'm doing here is pretty good :-)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Bobchat - bogey nose

Out in the kitchen making a cup of tea - Harry rushes in. I can hear Archie crying in the lounge.

M - what's wrong with Archie? Is he ok?
H - yes, I just picked his bogey nose.

*sigh* any idea how second and subsequent children survive the attention of their older siblings?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

#50books2013 Extras by Scott Westerfeld

I have just finished Extras by Scott Westerfeld. It is the fourth in the series also including Uglies, Pretties and Specials. They are Young Adult novels and are set in the future where bodymodification or 'surge' in the extreme is the norm. In fact, when you hit 16 you are transformed from an 'ugly' to a 'pretty'.

This concept allows Westerfeld to deal with many topics pertinent to today's teenagers, and Extras continues this exploration. In fact, Extras is particularly pertinent to my life right now as I have just started blogging and Extras is really a novel that focuses on social media and its effect on us. In Aya's world, your 'face rank' is all that is important. The city is run on a reputation economy - if you are famous you get what you want. It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to see what Westerfeld is saying about our own, real life, society.

I remember being completely hooked on the earlier novels when I read them a few years ago - they 'caught' me in a similar way to The Hunger Games trilogy. I just couldn't reignite that enthusiasm for Extras though. I'm not sure what it was - the writing style, the topic or perhaps that I am just not 'feeling' Young Adult fiction at the moment but I wasn't reaching for my book as frequently as I expected to. Of course, I did read to the end and I did enjoy it, but I just didn't really feel connected to the characters or even that involved in the storyline...

So, the series is worth a look if that's your sort of thing and you fancy a light read but maybe these ones are best left for the younger readers.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

#R2BC Reasons to be Cheerful - Silver Linings

I'm feeling like a good blogger this week - here I am again! I really don't know how I am going to keep up the blogging when I go back to work but hopefully I will be on a roll by then.

Yesterday was one of *those* days, but today we have got back into the swing of things and I know I have loads to be cheerful about this week - I've decided to blog about those two-sided things that are a bit ambivalent - let's call this a silver lining post.

1. As you can see from yesterday's post, Harry split his head open yesterday. I would be an evil mum if I was cheerful about that, right? Well... obviously I'm not happy he hurt himself (although your first trip to A and E is a bit of a milestone - and one he has beaten me to I think!) and aside from the 'I'm thankful it wasn't worse', I have actually found some things to be cheerful about! First, Harry was a absolute angel at the hospital. I was so, so proud of him! He was so grown up whilst the nurse cleaned him up and attached the steri strip. I really could have burst with pride - he is only two after all, and it must have been a bit scary. Even though I was trying to keep myself calm, I was, admittedly, in a bit of a state. Secondly, I was really reminded of the goodness of human nature yesterday. Really, the people working at Splodges Softplay could not have been kinder to me - dishing me up a 'crisis cup' of tea and really helping me calm down. Equally, the nurses at the hospital really took the time to check I was OK, and I'm sure that's not easy in a busy A and E department. So there was actually quite a lot to be cheerful about!

2. Archie destroyed and ate the Poinsettia that was in the fireplace yesterday. Please don't tell me they are poisonous as I am already feeling like a bad mother! Ian whipped the vacuum cleaner out (bless him) and cleared up for me as I imagine our white rug looked like it had seen better days. So, what makes me cheerful about him trashing the place? Well, it means my little tiny baby is growing up and getting independent - last night he demonstrated his commando crawling that he has been keeping sneakily under wraps (hence the poinsettia incident). That is, of course, bittersweet - but who doesn't want to see their little ones making leaps and bounds of progress?

I'm looking forward to reading everyone's Reasons to be Cheerful this week - please leave a comment here if you've read mine - especially if you have any silver lining reasons to be cheerful :-)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Harry's First Trip to A&E

As there appears to be no page in Harry's baby book for 'My First Trip to A&E' or 'My First Serious Bump', I thought I'd better commemorate it here. Today was that day.

This morning we were sat at home with Harry going 'Mummy, what you got to tell me?' which translates to 'Mummy, what fabulous, fun and educational ideas do you have for activities today, that I will enjoy, relish and be enriched by?' and I just didn't have an answer. Luckily after a quick post on my birth board we had a play date with Harry's best bud lined up at one of the local soft plays - Splodges. It was our first visit, and it's a lovely place to go if you're local, it's small and best suited to younger ones I'd say with lots of toys suitable for under fives and a nice area for babies to play which Archie really appreciated.

Within 5 minutes Harry was up at the top of the soft play and wanted to go down the slide. Unfortunately this is a very fast slide, and god knows what happened, but he managed to bump himself on the head at the bottom. After a quick cuddle and kiss he jumped off and ran to play again. I can only guess that I was too quick to scoop him up and check him though as I totally missed that he had split the skin along his brow bone - the next time I saw him come around the corner I could see it was bleeding. The first aiders were on hand with a cold compress - but it you've even tried to hold a cold compress to the head of a 2 1/2 year old who feels absolutely fine and just wants to play with the cozy coupe then you'll know it's a pretty thankless task. I was persuaded that he was 'just fine' and off he ran to play. I, however, was a quivering wreck. Thank god for the friendly staff who settled me down with a cuppa and refused to let me pay.

Every time I saw him a felt the dreaded mum-guilt - what was I supposed to do? He was having a brilliant time, Archie was asleep and the thought of manhandling the two of them into the car filled me with horror. I have to say the idea of a long wait at A&E only to be told that he was fine wasn't exactly tempting either. However, in the end I did just let mummy-instinct take over and after a text to a friend who is a nurse I decided to get him lunch to go and head off to the hospital.

At the hospital I burst into tears, I felt so guilty I hadn't brought him as soon as it happened. But thank god for nurses, they were so, so lovely and assauged my guilt. At least we knew that Harry was acting completely normally and it wouldn't affect the healing process at all. Harry settled down to his takeaway lunch in the waiting room and before long a steristrip was adorning his eyebrow. He was an absolute angel whilst it was cleaned, and stayed nice and still whilst the strip was applied. And here he is enjoying the fromage frais that 5 minutes later was decorating the sofa *sigh*. A mummy's work is truly never done.

Monday, 4 February 2013


Monday - Bacon, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hash - (from a freebie mag I picked up in Sainsbury's last week)
Tuesday - Club Sandwiches (lazy freezer tea)
Wednesday - Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year! (I know it's not the right date but this is the night hubby is home late and Harry sometimes eats separately to us so it's a good day to eat something he won't have)
Thursday - Pork Stroganoff (from My Daddy Cooks cook book - we didn't get around to it last week but everything we did do from the book was amazingly yummy)
Friday - Toad in the Hole
Saturday - Pizza and Popcorn Picnic
Sunday - Roast

Bobchat - Something to tell you...

H -  (Rushing in) Mummy, mummy I've got something to tell you!
M - What have you got to tell me?
H - Jacob's mummy... (tries to remember something that happened at toddlers earlier that day)
M - Yes?
H - Jacob's mummy wearing glasses, just like you mummy!

(OK then! That was super urgent :-/)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Liebster Award

Julie from Mama Owl has kindly nominated me for the 'Liebster Award' - This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve acknowledgement and encouragement to keep on blogging.

The rules are as follows:
List 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions given to you.
Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
Choose 5 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.


1. I turned 30 last year (and actually don't feel too bad about that!)
2. I am one of 6 girls - the youngest.
3. I have 12 (nearly 13!) nieces and nephews, and they are all GORGEOUS.
4. I am an English Teacher.
5. I specialise in supporting students with Dyslexia.
6. I live in Wiltshire...
7. But come from Cornwall...
8. And I was born in Devon.
9. When I was a baby my parents took us to Australia for a year on a teaching exchange - I'd love to do something similar one day.
10. My favourite type of holiday is a camping holiday.
11. I always find the last item in a list the most difficult ;-)

1) Would you rather drink hot or cold drinks? I am a complete tea addict (although I rarely seem to get to drink a hot cup!)
2) What's your favourite type of blog to read? I love family blogs like Mama Owl - I love the variety of different posts. I also love cooking blogs like My Daddy Cooks and blogs that give my acitivity ideas for the kids - favourites are No Time For Flashcards and The Imagination Tree. I guess that's why my blog is becoming a mish mash of all 3.
3) What's your favourite type of blog to write? I like to write about things I have done with the boys, whether that by days out or activities. I also love #r2bc to give me some perspective on life.
4) What is your ideal night out? (Or night in if you prefer) We love to go out to eat as a family. Pizza Express is a real family fave.
5) Who inspires you the most? Gosh, probably got to be soppy and say the boys - who else can learn things at that rate and find the incredible in the mundane. Gotta love the little ones' perpective on life!
6) What's your favourite all time movie? Hmmm... I always love the movie Legally Blonde - it kept me smiling in a really tough time. Can't fight the memories I get when watching Bring It On. But WALLE is the best love story ever.
7) One amazing meal, it can be anything in the world, what would you have? Scallops and bacon to start, a perfectly cooked fillet steak and probably no pudding... but if I had to pick a pudding creme brulee.
8) The house is on fire! You can only grab 2 things, what would you take? (excluding family & pets) Photos if I could get to them and Harry's doggy.
9) Money and travel are no object, where in the world would you travel to? Australia and Hawaii for definite. We also really hope to take the boys to Yellowstone National Park one day.
10) If you were a superhero, what would your super-power be? To be able to turn back and slow time. (Where's Bernard's Watch when you need it?)
11) What is your favourite quote? Quote? Hmm. I don't have one to be honest and as soon as I picked one I'd find something I liked better, so I'm not going to commit to that here! I once read 'If you see someone who needs a friend, be one' - I really took that to heart, as there have been times in my life when I've really needed a friend. Sometimes someone has been there, and it has made all the difference. I'd like to make that difference to someone else.

Here are the 2 blogs I am nominating (I'm such a newbie to blogging myself I don't seem to know enough other bloggers to nominate the 5 I have been asked to!)  Beautiful Things and All Things Me.

EDIT also adding Strawberry Delight and Adventures of an Average Mummy

Here are your questions:
1. What's your favourite drink?
2. If you had £200 to spend on yourself, what would you spend it on right now?
3. What's your favourite season?
4. What's your favourite colour?
5. Who have you been closest to in your life?
6. Do you have a recurring dream? What is it?
7. What sort of bed do you have, and what is on it right now?
8. What's you favourite meal to cook for yourself?
9. Who was your celebrity crush as a teenager?
10. What is your secret talent?
11. Describe the last time you felt really happy.

Looking forward to reading your answers!

#50books2013 - Bright Young Things - Scarlett Thomas

I know already I'm going to really struggle to review this book, so I'm just going to have to jump straight in. I am a ig fan of the other Scarlett Thomas books I have read - The End of My Y, and PopCo. They force you to look at the world in a different way and introduce you to ideas and theories that you might never have thought of  - think quantum physics, code breaking, time travel. So I wasn't put off by the bad reviews of Bright Young Things. Maybe those readers just didn't get it.

The problem is I'm not quite sure I 'got it' either. On the face of it this book was written for me. It follows 6 'Bright Young Things' in their early twenties in the late 1990s. They answer a myserterious job ad to find themselves stranded on an island. One of the things that bugged the other reviewers was the constant and 'boring' pop references. Yet this novel is about pop culture - that's the point of it! It is a compelling read examining the effect pop culture has on us and leaving us questioning the power of television, games and the internet. It also has you reflecting philsophically on capitalism and the media. I think it's a big mistake to see the references to Home and Away and Neighbours as simply references to Home and Away and Neighbours. Unfortunately, although I'm pretty much the perfect generation for the references in the book, I've just always been more of a book person than a pop culture person. Many of the music and film references just went right over my head. And I think that there's possible a whole analogy with the scenario of the book that relates to popular horror movies - gang of young people deserted on an island with mysteries to solve... I've never watched a horror film so I'm not going to get that reference.

It just left me wondering just how many of Scarlett Thomas' other fans were also literature nerds like me, rather than big fans of pop culture and I think that's probably why I had never heard of this book before. It just didn't grab me like her other books - although I was gripped and read it at every opportunity (thanks, Kindle app). By the time I got to the end I wanted to go back and read it again to check the motivations of each character (each chapter is focalised through a different person, so you get a real feel for their emotions), so I was intrigued. But I can't help feeling that something was missing - and really by that I mean that I was missing something.

This isn't quite the glowing review I expected to write for a Scarlett Thomas novel, but I think it's probably better recommended for someone just like me but slightly different. And there I am, back to thinking about the characters of the novel and wondering if this isn't just exactly the way the author wanted me to feel...