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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50 Books In 2014, Books 3,4 &5

I’m not making as much progress as I would like in my book challenge. An extremely energetic toddler and a rather clingy baby will do that but I’m still trying. Reading relaxes me almost as much as baking so I know it’s something I should make time for.

I’ve managed to read another 4 books, woohoo. Ha I may have to speed up a little if I’m going to make 50 but I will probably find more time when I return to work in October and I actually get a lunch break ..and the daily commute to work in which to read.

Book number 3 was:

Wonder by R.J.Palacio – this was an incredible book which I discovered via my book club ( the book club which I’ve managed to attend once since January but I’m still finding great books through it so that’s great.

Book number 4 was:

Six Years by Harlan Coben – I’m a big fan of HC and I’ve read most of his books, they are always gripping and keep you on the edge of your seat. Six years is a real page turner and I managed to read it fairly quickly via my kindle app whilst breastfeeding.

Book number 5 was:

Alex Cross’s Trial by James Patterson – this story follows Alex Cross ( who features in most of JP books) great uncles struggle when the ku klux klan was prominent in America. It’s a really interesting read and different to most of his other work. I enjoyed.

Book Number 6 was:

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk – I really like Lindsey Kelk books, they are always fun and easy to read. I hope this isn’t insulting to the author but I find it’s the kind of book I don’t have to concentrate on too much and I can come back to it after a few days and not feel that I’ve forgotten what’s going on. I know it’s not Christmas but I only just found this latest book of hers so I still enjoyed it in the spring.

Aside from fictional books I’ve also read a few cook books including Jack Monroes brilliant budget friendly book and a fabulous book called Homemade which is making me want to spend hours preserving fruits and making my own cheeses.

What have you been reading? Any recommendations for next month? You may have noticed by now that I like to read a bit of everything so I would love some new ideas.

Some of my books…

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Siblings – April

The past month has been busy and hectic, as all months seem to be. I have taken way too many photos of my girls, food and not much else.
The girls are still enamoured with each other and I’m constantly surprised by the amount of attention Izzy will give to Chloe each day.

She is definitely starting to realise that as she’s growing bigger she is becoming more fun. I can just imagine them chasing each other around this time next year.

I do have to watch them so carefully though as Iz can be rougher than she should be when playing and although she is mostly sweet I know that I can’t trust them alone for 2 seconds! I’ve taken quite a few photos of them together, posing happily or playing in the bath but this is my favourite photo this month as it shows the playful, happy side of C that we have come to adore and her grumpy big sis who doesn’t want to get out of bed.
She did get a little happier five minutes later with the exciting of having Chloe in her cot.

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And yes I know..mismatched bedding but she does love her horsey pillowcase!

dear beautiful

Degustabox Giveaway

A few days ago I posted a review of the March Degustabox you can read it here – there is also a pretty amazing slow cooked lasagne recipe on there too.

Degustabox is a monthly foodie delivery service. You receive a selection of food and drink products from both new and stablished brands for £12.99 per month with no fixed contract.

The goodies I received:

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I was thrilled with my first box and as its my blogs birthday weekend I thought it would be nice to share the love and give a box away to one of my lovely readers.

Plus it’s super simple to enter via the rafflecopter entry form below so what more could you ask for.

In case you don’t win here is discount code for you to use for £3 off your next box: W4BMD

I’ve read some great reviews from my fellow bloggers so why not check out what they think too:

Michelle from Thou shall not covet is a fan of the milkshakes.

Whilst Bex from I Always Believed In Futures loved the Nachos.

Chantelle tried the February box here and loved the Goody Good stuff sweeties.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning – Sous Vide

I had a very exciting parcel last week.

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So what is a Sous Vide Supreme?

The sous vide technique has been the secret of great chefs worldwide for decades. The award-winning SousVide Supreme is an amazing all-in-one sous vide water oven designed to bring the sous vide culinary technique into home kitchens and restaurants at an affordable price. The sous vide (pronounced “soo-veed”) technique involves cooking food in vacuum-sealed pouches submerged in a water bath held at a precisely-controlled temperature. This foolproof method eliminates guesswork and lets anyone cook foods with incomparable taste and texture: steak perfectly cooked edge-to-edge, vibrant vegetables, juicy tender chicken breasts, and ribs with the meat literally falling off the bone. All at the push of a button!

Sounds good yes?

Over the next few months I’m going to be sharing my journey with the Sous Vide with you. I will post recipes, ideas, tips and any successes and failures I may have.

Having never used this before I started at the very beginning with basics such as chicken, vegetables and eggs coming up in my first recipe post.

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Let me know if you have any ideas for dishes I can create or any questions you have about the Sous Vide technique and in turn I will try to share my experiences as fully as possibly with you.

Recipes that will be coming up soon include:

Perfectly Plain Chicken
A Really Eggy Egg
Brown Sugar and Mustard Gammon

And lots more.

* I received a Sous Vide Supreme Kit free of charge for the purpose of a review and to share recipes with you via my blog.

Bednest – A Review And Giveaway

It’s funny how one product can make those first few hazy months of being a parent so much easier. This time around I’ve discovered a few. Products such as Ewan the dream sheep, Cozio Swaddling Muslins and an old favourite – the Gro Swaddle. They have all made parts of being a parent to a newborn slightly easier.

My biggest and best discovery…by far has been the Bednest.

If you follow me on Twitter you will have heard me rave about it a lot. It really is an amazing product.

Babies don’t sleep all that great when they first arrive. It’s not surprising really. For nine (long) months they have been tucked up cosily in the mothers womb. Feeling her heartbeat, knowing her warmth. Then suddenly they are born and we pop them in a basket a few feet (which seems like a mile to them) away from the people they need and want most. Crazy. They wake crying, needing comfort or food. Mum (or dad) gets out of bed picks them up feeds them, cuddles them and pops them back into their basket. They settle a little then the pattern repeats.

Getting up and down through the night is a pain. I remember doing this constantly with Izzy. I had a sore back and I was just irritable all day long.

The Bednest has literally transformed our nighttimes.

From day one, we have swaddled and then placed Chloe in her nest right next to our bed. She is so close it feels as though she is in our bed with us but we have none of the worries that co sleeping would have brought us. I mean co sleeping is great, I love the idea of it but I’m the type of person who would lie awake all night worrying about whether I was going to roll onto my baby. If it works for you that’s great but this works for us.

Maybe we are lucky and have a good sleeper this time around but I definitely feel the Bednest helps. Being so close to us she can be comforted by a light touch without having to comfort feed for hours on end. When she wakes in the morning she can see us lying next to her and that first smile is a true joy. I don’t get out of bed to feed, I just prop myself up with my feeding cushion ( Theraline – another brilliant discovery) and she goes straight back to sleep in her nest when we are done.

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I am dreading the day she gets too big for it.

That’s what I think of the Bednest, here is a bit of info about the brand:

THE ULTIMATE SLEEP EXPERIENCE

The Bednest was created from a partnership between babycare experts and world-leading designers with the aim of making a significant difference to those important first few months.

Unlike Moses baskets or other bedside cribs that just stand by your bed, Bednest extends your bed to create a safe and separate sleep zone for your baby. It enables intimate easy access for caring and feeding and promotes bonding and attachment, the cornerstones of future parent and baby relationships. You can bring your little one into bed for comfort and feeding and return them to their cosy Bednest to sleep without having to get out of your bed. Being able to provide so much care from your bed is particularly beneficial after a caesarean birth. Half of all babies can suffer from symptoms of reflux. 
The tilting stand, which adjusts simply and safely, may help alleviate the symptoms of reflux and colic without the need for wedges or pillows in the crib.

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Now for the best part. Well the second best part. You can rent this as well as buying it.

Yours for six months for one low fixed price of £99. You can extend by a month if needed for no extra cost.
Every rental is supplied with a brand new mattress and side panels. The crib is thoroughly checked and cleaned before being dispatched. For an extra £20 the Bednest is couriered to your door and then collected when you have finished with it.
Or you can collect it from, and return it to, the Essex warehouse as a no- cost option.

A bargain yes? If you plan on having more babies you can buy it for £299 and use it over and over again.

Visit the Bednest site for lots more info and advice. You can also tweet them @bednest – they are incredibly friendly and always reply.

Now for the actual best part. I have a Bednest rental to give away on the blog. Just enter the easy peasy rafflecopter giveaway below and make sure you read the terms and conditions. Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Birthday To Me. Well The Blog.

It’s our birthday..wooohooo. By our, I mean Munchies and Munchkins. Two years old today and what an amazing journey it has been so far.

We have met some fabulous people and attended events where we have had so much fun.

I’ve shared huge news and family milestones with you and hundreds of recipes.

We’ve talked about Food. Family. Festivals. Holidays. Babies. Pregnancy. Breastfeeding and more.

I’ve had support from an online community of people which I feel lucky to be a part of.

I look forward to another year of blogging firsts.

Three celebratory blog competitions coming up on the blog throughout the day. Good luck and thanks so much for reading, commenting and sharing my posts,

A Family of Four.. And No More.

Over the past four years a lot has happened. Massively important, life changing moments such as moving in with my OH. Finding out I was pregnant on Izzy ( big shock ) Giving birth to Izzy. Watching her grow, walk, talk. Deciding to try for another baby. Finding out I was pregnant with Chloe. Giving birth to her. Watching her start to grow. Loving, living, crying, laughing.

We have also made some pretty huge decisions. Decisions which affect us and our family.

Our biggest decision is to say no more. No more babies.

My last pregnancy was one very long, very hard bundle of stress, illness, anger, frustration and sadness.

Of course it ended with our beautiful daughter and we are so incredibly happy with our girls.

I know I can’t do it again.

Pregnancy is hard, for nearly every person I know. It’s rare that someone tells me that their pregnancy was stress free. Carrying another life literally within your body is rarely easy but whilst I could never tell you that I enjoyed pregnancy as that would be a lie there is something magical about it all.

Of seeing that test turn positive after many negatives.

Of heavy breasts and shiny hair.

Of feeling a bond with someone whose face you haven’t seen yet.

Of feeling a kick for the very first time.

Or a somersault.

Hearing the heartbeat, that familiar wowwowowwow.

Seeing your baby move in a scan with your heart in your mouth and an overfull bladder.

Thinking of names.

Picking out clothes.

Seeing your body grow in the most marvellous of ways.

Of giving birth, as awful as it was – that moment when they are just there.

That first look.

The first time they latch on to feed.

The hours watching them sleep.

The hours you need to sleep and they need to feed.

Of adorable outfits and little white hats.

Of swaddling and rocking and very first baths.

So whilst I know in every essence of my being that I can’t do it again. To myself. To my family. It was just too much.

I will admit that my heart aches a little to know that I won’t feel that again.

I don’t dwell on it for long.

My life is miraculous. As all lives are. I have two priceless children to always hold in my heart. I have many, many firsts to experience with them and one day a long time in the future I will hold their babies in my arms.

I lie here watching my girls together, happy, healthy and blessed to have each other.

How lucky we are.

Coffee Corner

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “Over the Teacups,” 1891

I love the idea of coffee. The smell of it instantly makes me feel all cosy and warm. I use it a lot while baking to add depth and richness to my chocolate cakes – a little espresso goes a long way and my fudge icing would not be the same without it but I can’t drink it. Yet. But I wish I could. I walk into a coffee shop and it smells so inviting.. I drool over the various syrups you can add and the indulgent lattes and cappuccinos. I go to a community cafe ever week and every week I get annoyed at myself for choosing a hot chocolate because what coffee shops ever make a good cup of tea?

I’ve tried it lots of times, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and even the most divine smelling treats in Milan but alas it hasn’t happened. I’m a bit of a stubborn person when it comes to foods and flavours. I try to make myself like everything. I used to really dislike uncooked tomatoes so I spent months gradually cooking them a little less until I was eating them uncooked and now guess what? Big fan!

I managed to overcome a serious dislike of carrots and now even create specific carrot recipes.. So I am sure I will be able to do it. It’s an acquired taste apparently so I just need to acquire it ..right?

Stubborn? A bit odd perhaps? Ha.

Anyway right now I don’t drink caffeine as I’m breastfeeding and C is sensitive to it so I am on the decaf tea but in a few months I’m determine to give the coffee thing a whirl again – after all I like the idea of the coffee giving me a much needed boost so I don’t see the point in going the decaf route.. .. Any recommendations to ease my way in? I’m thinking something very milky and mild to start.

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My OH on the other hand until about 6 months ago had never drank any hot drinks aside from a very occasional hot chocolate and just randomly decided to start drinking coffee. He loves it. No sugar, incredibly strong and he has a proper minimum of one cup a day habit. I’m jealous as I can see it gives him a great buzz.

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On the upside I do now get the smell drifting through my house without having to light scented candles and I get to indulge a coffee shopping thang that I have just for him.

On that note we have discovered a fabulous Italian brand of coffee which is now nespresso compatible for all those lucky enough to have one of those in your life. Caffe Cagliari are a family company steeped in over 100 years of Italian history. Alessandra Cagliari, the great great grand daughter of the founder handles the marketing and packaging today – how cool is that?

You can click here to find out how to make the perfect cappuccino ( the milk should be at a precise temp) and to read about the origins of coffee.. It’s pretty interesting actually. Did you know that coffee has the second highest trade value (after oil) in the world market?

Maybe this will be who I start my coffee journey with.. And until then I can always browse their online store .. I mean I NEED espresso for my cakes don’t I?

For an absolutely incredible chocolate cake recipe using coffee visit the Add a pinch blog. It’s so good. I can vouch for it having tried it quite a few times!

* This is a collaborated post.

Delivery Day – Degustabox Review and Recipe – Slow Cooked Lasagne

I was quite excited to be given the chance to review this food parcel delivery service from Degustabox. A parcel of unknown food products arriving on my doorstep each month – YES please. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I deliberately didn’t look at other reviews as I wanted a surprise.

Well I was more than happy with my first box. It arrives well packaged and by a courier who lets you know approximately what time of day it will arrive – which I love.

The box..

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Inside the box..

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Contents..

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So what did we get:

Shaken Udder Milkshakes In Strawberry,banana and Choc. A new breed especially for kids.. Perhaps so but there’s a reason why there is no pic of the strawberry one and that’s because it lasted little more than a few mins of the box being opened and ahem it wasn’t drunk by Izzy. We already liked Shaken Udder goodies having sampled their wares at Camp Bestial several times but this was the first time I’d tried these ones. Delicious and the other two flavours which were consumed by Izzy were enjoyed very much! There were also two vouchers for free Milkshakes included in the box :-)

Schwartz Flavour Shots in Spanish Paella and Italian Tagliatelle. It was great seeing Schwartz products in the box as they are so reliable for great tasting products. I’m yet to try the paella but the tagliatelle is superb.

Drink me Chai I must be the only person in the world that hasn’t yet tried tried a chai latte but I’m really looking forward to sampling these. I especially love that its 99% caffeine free as I don’t have much caffeine anymore. We received a 250g tub of chai latte and a sachet of the earl grey.

Moma Porridge Pots In Cranberry And Raisin and Plain – No Added Sugar varieties.
I’m keeping these for our first camping trip of the year as I think they will make ideal breakfasts as they only need hot water to mix them up. Izzy loves porridge so a great way to keep her healthy eating habits up on hols.

Tyrrell’s Proper Popcorn In sweet n salty flavour. I love anything sweet and salty especially snacks such as popcorn. These are really tasty and it was nice to try a new brand out as I’d seen these before but never tried. This is what is great about the Degustabox – trying out new products you may not have otherwise.

Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta 500g bag of brown penne. I like different types of pasta and I tend to use wholemeal pasta when I make a pesto pasta salad so I will let you know what I think when I make that.

Mexican Dave’s Nachos Cheese Flavour. These are really good Nachos. We initially planned on making a tortilla dish in the oven with them but ended up munching them dipped in sour cream whilst enjoying a film. Yum.

Organico Tomato and Basil Sauce Another Organico product which we have already used and loved. This is a product you can feel good about feeding to your family. Straightforward natural ingredients including tomatoes, olive oil and basil with no nasty colourings or preservatives. I’ve used this in my recipe for slow cooked lasagne below.

Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery and you do not have to sign up for a set amount of time which is great. You can get £3.00 off your next box by using this discount code: W4BMD

I will also be running a competition to win a box later this week to coincide with my blog birthday celebrations.

Slow Cooker Lasagne

You will need:

1 jar of Organico Tomato and Basil sauce
1/2 carton of chopped toms( I used one with added onions and basil)
1 pack of beef mince
75g of Lardons or diced bacon
Garlic paste (just a large squirt will do)
1 small red pepper diced
1 chunk of courgette diced
1 stick of celery diced
Dried herbs ( I used Schwartz perfect shake pasta blend)
Lasagne sheets

For the white sauce:
Milk 1.5pts
50g plain flour
50g butter
100g grated Cheese ( I used cheddar)

To top:
1/4 tub of creme fraiche
I large tomato
Few basil leave
Parmesan or hard cheese
Black
Brown your mince and bacon before adding your diced courgette, peppers, garlic paste, dried herbs and celery.

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Lightly sauté for a few mins before adding your Organico sauce and chopped tomatoes and stir through, leave to simmer. Make up your white sauce – melt butter in a sauce pan, beat in your flour and then whisk in your milk and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper and mix in about 50g of cheese.
Turn off the heat on your pans and put your first layer of bolognese sauce into the slow cooker and turn on to high. Add a layer of lasagne sheets and then white sauce ( sprinkle with some remaining cheese) and continue until you run out.

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For the final later top your white sauce with creme fraiche, grated Parmesan and black pepper then decorate with sliced tomatoes and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and put your lid on.

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Leave for 5-6 hours until golden.

This method would work with your usual lasagne recipe but this one was particularly good. Tomatoey, cheesy, basilly goodness.

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It was the nicest lasagne I’d had in a long time and I definitely think slow cooking is my new method. Thanks to Mamaowl blog for the tip ;-)