A Weaning Experiment

When I get a new gadget or appliance I like to use it a lot. Whilst my 48hr ribs were blissfully simmering away this morning in my Sous Vide Supreme I was thinking about dessert options I could create using the machine… This then made me think of cooking fruits such as apples, pears etc for crumbles and compotes and I realised that I can totally use the Sous Vide for our weaning journey with Chloe.

Last time I weaned ( with Izzy) I prepared lots of vegetable and fruits in bulk to cook and then purée and freeze for later use which is exactly what I want to do again. Except this time I’m going to cook my veggies and fruits in the sous vide. So no loss of those amazing nutrients via the cooking water and perfectly cooked, soft food. I will then whizz it up in a blender ( I use a Vitamix) and store.

I feel like this is a massive revelation. I can chop the food up, simply seal it and place in the SV and pretty much ignore it until the time is up, I won’t need to check it’s not boiling over or the water levels in the saucepan etc and the food will be as packed full of vitamins and goodness as if she were eating it raw. Pretty amazing yes? I’m excited.

Any ideas for what I should do first?

I’m thinking:

Apples
Pears
Carrots
Sweet Potato
Parsnips

Just one veg/fruit at a time initially and then I will start to combine flavours.

The Way To Wean

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Being a parent is full of huge decisions. And guilt. All about the guilt.

I feel guilty because my daughter who is 2weeks shy of six months seems hungry and ready to eat solids.

I feel guilty when I think about weaning her 2 weeks earlier than I’m told I should.

How silly is this?

I know she’s ready. In fact she has probably been ready for a few weeks now. She sits up unaided. Will reach for our food. Mimics our eating habits. Wants more milk. Seems hungrier. So why don’t we just bite the bullet and try it.

I wish I had been a parent back when things were a little more black and white. When everyone (or mostly everyone) weaned at the same time in the same way.

When I wouldn’t feel not part of the cool gang because I don’t want to do (BLW) baby led weaning.

I hate that I’m told don’t class yourself as BLW if you offer any puréed foods.

Let me tell you what I did with Izzy…

At 6 months we offered her baby rice. Just once. I tasted it. It wasn’t great. The next day we offered sweet potato which I puréed at home and she loved it. We then moved onto other vegetables and fruits puréed as well as lightly cooked so she could gnaw and chew to her hearts content. She LOVED food. We didn’t have any issues with weaning. She would try anything. So we offered her everything. Whatever we ate, she ate. She came out for evening meals with us and to food festivals and she delighted in the strongest of cheeses. Even now she prefers a strong cheese to a mild cheddar. We are fairly strict with sweet foods. It’s rare that we allow anything sweet after about 4.30pm unless on holidays and she gets more homemade cakes than bars of chocolate. She still hasn’t tried actual sweets and we don’t really encourage sugary drinks like fruit shoots.

We did of course allow some treats..

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She’s now 2.5yrs old. Time flies. She’s a right foodie. Her top foods are olives, pulled pork, peppers and she loves spicy and flavourful food. I wouldn’t go back and change the way we weaned. It worked for us and obviously worked for her. I look at friends who have fussy eaters and I am so glad that we don’t have that problem. It has to be incredibly stressful and upsetting when your child refuses food. Maybe I won’t be so lucky this time around but who knows.

Cheese, olives and carrot crisps snack time..

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This time around the whole BLW movement is even more popular. I almost feel a little old fashioned considering pureeing foods for Chloe but I know it works. I know that I felt good knowing some food was going in Izzys belly each mealtime. I loved that she would try to feed herself and so always had additional food items on her tray for her to grab at and play with. I knew when she was no longer hungry as food would be cast aside or she would turn her head.

If you decide that BLW is the right way to feed then do it, if you believe preparing home made purees is for you then do that. If you aren’t a fan of your own kitchen there are some perfectly good providers of baby food around including Plum Baby who I definitely plan to use again for when we are out and about. All in all try not to feel the guilt. There are so many things to worry about as a parent and the fact that you are considering different options at all is clear that you are a considerate and decent parent.

So wish us luck on our weaning journey, it may not start tomorrow but I think we are close. And you know what?

I’m excited.

25 Years Of Lindam – Happy Birthday :-D

Lindam is celebrating its 25th anniversary – that’s 25 years of award-winning products to ensure safe homes for exploring babies and toddlers. It remains the UK’s No1 brand in safety.

You may remember that I am a member of the Lindam Munchkin blogger panel this year and I’ve going to be regularly reviewing their products and telling you all about them.

I’m sure we all have Lindam products at home, I know that when Izzy was starting to crawl out I went straight out and bought their door latches, corner protectors and safety gates amongst other things but did you know they do other products too?

Really cool night lights:

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Backseat organisers which can then be hooked straight onto your pram:

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And safety rails to name just a few:

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When buying for your baby or toddler we all know that safety is key and you really can’t go wrong with a Lindam product.

Here are some tips for baby proofing your home:

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Expect a post in a few weeks to let you know how I’m getting on with some of their products and what’s on my wish list!

Monday is Meal Plan Day

I used to regularly post my meal plans on here. The last time I did it was in February 2013 – oops. Which is a shame as for the most part I still write a meal plan each week and as I wrote it for this week I thought it sounded too good not to share. So here it is:

Monday – A Brie..lly Good Pasta Bake :

This is my take on Jack Monroes Car-Brie-Nara .. Uses similar ingredients but with some extras thrown in like courgette and red pepper and baked in the oven to finish topped with some cheese. Served with leafy green salad and homemade garlic bread.

Tuesday – Lamb Steaks with New Potatoes and Puréed Mint Peas

The Lamb Steaks will be cooked in the Sous Vide and finished with a flash in a very hot pan.

Wednesday – Butterbean Hash

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from his 30 minute meals book which I really love. I serve this with a big green salad and homemade bread.

Thursday- Chicken and Mango Curry

This is a recipe I made up using the new mango curry dry blend from Santa Maria. When I make it this week I will take photos and post it on the blog. I will serve with homemade flatbreads – I use a recipe from the River Cottage Everyday book for this and they are always so so good.

Friday – Sous Vide 48hr Ribs

I’m cooking ribs in the sous vide for 48hrs then putting them on the BBQ to finish. I’m really looking forward to this.

Saturday – Slow Cooker Lasagne

I tried this for the first time a few weeks ago and it was incredible, I have a feeling this is going to be my go to method at making lasagne.

Sunday – Gammon with Parsley Sauce

I will be cooking my gammon in the sous vide and making the sauce from scratch with the fresh parsley from my garden. I will serve with mashed potatoes and some veggies.

Who Has Time For Me Time?

We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.

Henry Ward Beecher

As I write this post I am sat on the sofa downstairs watching Greys Anatomy..having a little ‘me time’ – the problem is that’s its 5am and I’m awake because for some unknown reason last night my 5month old just didn’t want to sleep. A developmental stage or a growth spurt or something else but no sleep. At 5am it was time to give up and so I’m sat here watching an episode which is maybe only 40minutes long but so far it’s taken me 5 days and I’m about halfway through it.

Me time? As a busy mother of two I don’t really get any. Well not much anyway and those of you who do.. I want to know how?
Maybe writing this blog is my me time.

On a typical day I am awake and feeding by 7am after perhaps 3-4 wakes during the night. I’m tired, grouchy but the day has to begin hey. By 9.30am we are all fed, dressed (most days) and I’m trying to keep a toddler happy whilst stimulating my baby. If my OH has a day off we try to do something like a trip to the park, river or soft play to tire Izzy out and to have fun obviously. If he’s in work I may pop out to the shops with my mum or out for a coffee – never stress free with two little ones. When we are back at home I frantically try to get both of them to nap at the same time while I clean, wash clothes and prep our evening meal. Normally this only lasts for about 20 minutes ( Chloe likes to catnap) but sometimes I will get two full hours and wow you should see what I can do in this time.

People tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps. Firstly that can only ever work when you have 1 child and secondly if you sleep when they sleep when do you get everything else done?

I mean seriously… How do you all do it? How do you keep your house looking shiny and your kids looking sheeny and your hair all swingy? I only ever manage one of those three at a time.

I constantly look and feel as though I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and then forwards too.

I manage to keep about 40% of my house looking tidy on a daily basis. My ironing pile is now our everything we own needs ironing pile. I manage to keep up with the washing but only because we have a tumble dryer.

The mound of toys gets bigger even though I have regular clear outs – how does that work ?? ..and there are little socks everywhere.

If I manage to straighten my hair I do a little dance inside but straightening my hair and putting make up on the same day? That’s rare.

Mothers Day.. I wore make up and had kind of tidy hair. Rare.

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My favourite clothes are the ones that don’t need ironing. My favourite TV show is Peppa Pig as she has way more control over my toddler than I have.

I feel surges of triumphant joy when one of the following happens:

They sleep at the same time

We have a day with no poosplosions

We arrive somewhere only 20 minutes late

Both children are clean faced and look well dressed

I get a bath longer than 10 minutes

I get half hour of silence with my OH

I have an actual conversation about something other than how long my baby slept

I have a day when I don’t leak breast milk over my clothes

I remember that breastfeeding is hard and we are at nearly 6 months of exclusively bf. Woop

When did my life become this?

My life is disorganised chaos on a good day.

I get ridiculously happy when I know my OH doesn’t have work so the whole parenting load is lightened.

I feel like crying when C wakes up for her first night feed but I still never consider stopping breastfeeding – why is that I wonder?

I wonder how on earth my mother managed to raise 10 of us.10 ? I will be honest and admit that I find two a struggle.

Then I think about my siblings and I and how we turned out pretty ok. More than ok we are great and for the most part healthy and happy and I know it will all be alright. If my mum managed with 10 I can manage with two.

Being a parent is the happiest and hardest role I’ve ever had. I can’t call it a job – it’s not my job but it’s certainly harder than my actual work. It’s challenging and scary.

Last week I had one of the most frightening experiences of my life. I couldn’t find Izzy. We weren’t playing hide and seek but we were at my parents house in the garden and she just vanished. I felt so sick I can’t even explain it. I want to cry just thinking about it. She had slipped upstairs with her aunty to look at teddy bears and she was perfectly safe – in fact there was nowhere she could have gone but for those few minutes I had a glimpse of fear.

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So maybe for the next 10 years I won’t get much me time, I can live with it.

And anyway who wants me time when you can have 30seconds hidden behind a door eating a chunk of chocolate before your toddler catches you and says Mammy you are a silly billy or when your baby giggles at you for no apparent reason other than she spotted you across the room.

A Week In The Life Of A Sous Vide Supreme

When I first received my Sous Vide Supreme I was excited but I didn’t expect it to make such a difference to my everyday cooking.

I have used it for 90% of our meals this week. So far we have used it for:

Chicken breasts
Chicken Thighs
Eggs
Diced Casserole Beef
Lamb Steaks
Gammon Joints
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Carrots

And tonight a huge Turkey drumstick. Wow – that’s pretty good going for a machine that I’ve had for just under a fortnight.

Let’s start with the basics, week one:

Perfectly Plain Chicken:

While getting to grips with how the machine worked I wanted to keep it very basic and just see how things turned out – plenty of time for fanciness later.

I placed three chicken breasts in a food grade pouch with a little butter, salt and pepper and vacuum sealed it – this was fun. I do like a new kitchen gadget.

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I cooked it for 2.5hrs at 63.5c and when it came out it looked a bit undercooked and a strange texture – I later discovered it was just moist the way chicken should be.

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I seared them quickly in a smoking hot pan:

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And they looked a lot more attractive..

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I was incredibly impressed with my first sous vide meal. It didn’t require any sauce or added flavour as it just tasted perfect. The most chickeny chicken ever. I can’t imagine I’ll ever want an over cooked pan fried breast again.

Next up I made boiled eggs.

Now I haven’t got the egg quite to the way I want it to be so I will share my method then but this first batch I made for 75 mins at 65c and although the White was slightly watery the yolk was just dreamy. A silken delight to my senses.

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Gammon in Brown Sugar and mustard

I bought a large Gammon joint in my local supermarket and cut it into three. Two thirds into joints and a third into thinner gammon steaks. I vacuum sealed all three and froze my steaks to cook next week. I cooked both of the joints.

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I cooked my joint without any seasoning or herbs in the Sous Vide at 65c for 16 hours.

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I then removed from the bag, rubbed with mustard and brown sugar and cooked in a very hot oven until glazed and gorgeous.

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The ham was perfectly tender and delicious. The next joint went in the following day.. :-)

To sum up we are really impressed with our Sous Vide journey. Some proper recipes coming up next week but for now we are having lots of fun experimenting.

*i received a sous vide supreme kit for the purpose of this review.

Food In The Capital …

No not that capital, the capital of Wales. Cardiff.

We don’t live too far from Cardiff really, about an hours drive but we rarely visit. After being around the Cardiff food scene last week I feel that has to change.

There are some amazing restaurants and cafés hidden away, from big chains to independents and I just want to delve in and explore them all.

As my explorations have only just begun I will tell you about three places we visited recently on a trip to Cardiff with just the one child and what we think about them.

First up..

Dabbawalla Club

We received an invite to the launch event of the Dabbawalla Club on City rd and we were pretty excited as it sounded a little bit different. We were served a glass of mango lassi on arrival – which was drool worthy. So much so I’m experimenting at home and making my own so look out for a recipe soon. There were tables set up around the beautiful restaurant with an exciting array of food to try and it would have been rude not to partake so we dug in. The food was crisp,full of favour and just delightful.

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We will definitely be returning to Dabbawallas and I urge you all to visit for a unique Indian dining experience.

Secondly we visited Pieminister. Pieminister recently opened their St.Marys street branch and to much success it seems. The restaurant was packed out when we arrived and although we had a little wait for our food due to a large party downstairs it was worth it. I chose Funghi Chicken And my OH chose Chicken of Arragon. Both really good although mine just edged it I think. He went for mash and pea sides and I opted for sweet potato fries and salad.

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The staff were a little flustered due to it being so busy and they forgot my salad so I had to ask for it but they were extremely apologetic and everything else went very smoothly.

My favourite part: The Sweet Potato Fries, the pies are great but the fries.. Wow.

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And what is a pie without cider hey? There is a great selection to try.

We all love pie ;-) I should point out there are great baby changing facilities and high chairs so ideal for a family meal.

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Thirdly on a wander around the streets of Cardiff we found an amazing little cafe called Barkers Coffee nestled inside Castle Arcade.. It is a world apart from the chain cafés you find everywhere and anywhere and we LOVED it. The layout and humongous sofas scream relax in me. So we did.

Normally I wouldn’t be overly excited about a simple panini for lunch but sometimes the simplest things when done right can be just perfect. I had a Ham and Brie with chutney on the side and my OH had a Hunters Chicken – both were incredibly tasty. To drink we didn’t fancy a hot drink we chose from their great selection of soft drinks and had a San Pellegrino and a Fentimans Orange- have you tasted Fentimans drinks? They are a bit dreamy. The staff were incredibly nice, moving sofas and chairs for our huge buggy and cooing over our beautiful baby girl. I wouldn’t normally write a review on here of a simple cafe lunch but we were so impressed that I felt I had to share.

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Loved Barkers. Will definitely return.

Do you visit Cardiff often? What else does it have to offer a curious foodie?

* we were invited to Dabbawallas as part of their launch and Pieminister provided a voucher for us to sample their goods.

Munchkin Peek a Boo Stars 2015


IS YOUR LITTLE MUNCHKIN THE NEXT PEEK-A-BOO STAR?

Munchkin is on the look-out for three new faces to be the 2015 ‘Munchkin Peek-a-Boos’!

Launching on Tuesday 15th April, the competition has three age categories (0-6 months, 6 – 12 months and 12 – 24 months). To enter, all you have to do is submit a photograph of your baby/toddler having fun during bath time or feeding time, along with a five-word caption. Entry is via the Munchkin UK Facebook page and all entries will be put into a ‘Munchkin Peek-a-Boo’ gallery.

There will be one winner and one runner up in each age category and each winner will feature as a ‘Peek-a-Boo’ face within the 2015 Munchkin UK catalogue, marketing materials, packaging and across social media. Winners will also receive a framed version of their favourite photograph from the photo-shoot and a bundle of Munchkin products to take home. Three lucky runners up will also receive a bundle of marvellous Munchkin goodies.

The competition closes on 16th May so head to the Munchkin UK Facebook page to enter! Could your little one be a future ‘Munchkin Peek-a-Boo’ star??

Munchkin UK Facebook Page

Maybe you will win with a photo like this:

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Or this?

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Unfortunately we can’t enter as we are part of the Lindam Munchkin Blogger panel which I told you about a few weeks ago but I know there are lots of you reading with massively cute little ones and I really encourage you to take part even if it’s just for the bundle of products you get to take home as they are fab!

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Cry Baby. Colic Advice Site with Infacol.

Infacol have recently launched a website to help parents whose babies are suffering with colic called Colic Help

About Colic

Colic is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 5 infants in the UK in their first month of life. However, it is not a serious medical condition and usually resolves by the age of 3-4 months. Colic is usually recognised by bouts of inconsolable crying, often for hours at a time, for no specific reason – i.e. your baby is not hungry, overtired, needs a nappy change or has a raised temperature.

Despite medical research, no one is certain what causes infant colic. A likely explanation may be the build up of trapped wind in your baby’s bowel causing pain and discomfort.

Izzy had colic and a website like this would have been great at the time when we really felt like pulling our hair out.

ALL ABOUT INFACOL

Infacol has been specially formulated to relieve wind, infant colic and griping pain.
Can be used from birth onwards
Natural orange flavour
Sugar, alcohol and colourant free
Comes with a handy integrated dropper – making it easy to give to your baby
Each bottle contains enough liquid for up to 100 doses

The website has videos showing how to massage your baby to help alleviate the symptoms as well as lots of other tips and advice to help you through a very trying time.

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Also if your child is suffering and you feel you are getting more worn out each day then be assured it does end! Usually by about 6 months although it can go on a little longer.

This time around although we haven’t had any big problems with colic we have used Infacol quite a few times to help with windy problems!

* Infacol sent me a small treat to say thank you for raising awareness of their new site including a candle, some cookies and a mug for the essential cups of tea to get you through the first year of sleepless nights.

Our First Family Holiday – Preview of The Sands Resort, Cornwall

Our aim was to have had a few little holidays away by now with both children but life with two isn’t as simple as it seems. Whereas with Izzy we went abroad twice in her first year and
holidayed in the UK a few times too this time we still haven’t even applied for Chloe’s passport. There always seems to be something getting in our way of booking a holiday, from me being in hospital to them both getting chicken pox and more to the point the question of how on earth are we going to pack everything we need for a toddler and a baby?! And also fit clothes for us grown ups?

Well now we have finally got out first short holiday booked for May and we are so excited. I’m excited because it means a weekend away from the mundane household tasks and just concentrating on the important things, like my family and ice cream maybe even a glass of wine?

I’m also excited because we are going to a resort which is tailored to families like us. We won’t have to load the car up with prams,high chairs and travel cots because they provide them – for free!

We won’t need to take a million toys to keep them entertained
because there are kids clubs and swimming pools and the beach! We don’t even need our passports because it’s in the UK.

Where are we going?

The Sands Resort in Cornwall.

I can honestly say we have been gazing longingly at their website for quite some time so to be going there in just a few weeks is amazing.

We will be staying in a family suite overlooking the sea
which benefits from separate child sleeping areas which means we can relax and watch TV whilst the little ones sleep. There is a fridge in every room for storing liquids as well as a kettle, DVD players and even a baby listening service.

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There are flexible meal times depending on when you would like to eat and even separate zones for family dining, quiet dining and couples dining – so no more feeling guilty when your
baby cries or your toddler has a tantrum. You can eat with your
children or without (using the baby listening service).

And the food looks a little bit good..

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There are kids clubs galore from nippers 0-1,pirates 2-3 and the adventure club for aged 4-7. There is also the o-zone club for older children aged 8-12. There are lots of activities available for the children to enjoy whilst there and
each session can be booked when you arrive.

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Whilst the little ones are at kids club you can treat yourself in the spa or enjoy a nice meal in peace! Wow.
It’s right on Watergate bay so I imagine we will spend a lot of time on the beach but swimming will definitely still be in the hotel pool.
British sea is too cold for me but isn’t it beautiful?

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There is a lot more I could tell you about this hotel but that would kinda spoil my review so you can lust over the website and I will tell you ALL about it when we return.

*We will be staying at the hotel for free for the purpose of this review.

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