Monday, 22 September 2014

Baby Led Weaning Recipe: Cheddar Cheese and Cherry Tomato Muffins

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We have been doing a mix of purees and baby led weaning since my daughter turned 6 months. I love the convenience of purees. They are so quick, easy and mess free especially when we are out and about and I actually enjoy making them. I have a freezer full of ice cubes of home-made purees and I simply defrost them the day before. I was a little sceptical about baby led weaning before I tried it, but I was quickly proven wrong! My daughter adores feeding herself and it is amazing to watch the concentration on her face, the way she develops her motor skills and the sheer joy she gets from feeding herself. Baby led weaning is fun and I'm sure a lot of parents will be familiar with the phrase 'food before one is just for fun' and milk should make of the bulk of a baby's diet until about 12 months. However, it can be a messy affair! A lot of my daughter's food ends up on the floor, in her hair, eyelashes, ears, under her arms and it has on occasion hit the cat on the head! A shower curtain from the pound shop for, you guessed it, one pound, was one of my best buys and I always place it under her high chair to save our 'came with the house' light cream carpets.

The problem is, a lot of our meals are very messy. I make a lot of stews, risottos, pastas, curries, chilli's etc and I love hot and spicy food. Whilst I have stripped my daughter down to her nappy or put on a huge long sleeved type bib on her on several occasions and just let her get on with it (as I secretly cringe at the mess) I have started to look for some meals that I can make for all of us as a family that are easy for my daughter to pick up and feed herself and that also save my carpet... and my cat! Home-made American pancakes that I stuff with whatever fruit I have in have been a big hit as have fish cakes and quesadilla. Today I was stuck with what to make for lunch so made very simple savoury muffins with cheese and cherry tomatoes, simply because that's what I had it! I would really suggest using the best cherry tomatoes you can find as they really add a lovely sweetness and I always use extra mature cheddar (I think the French have got it right with the concept of 'taste led weaning' and I loved seeing a French mother feed her baby an extra strong French cheese when I was over there).

These muffins may not be quite up to The Great British Bake Off  standards in terms of appearance, but they were a success all round. They are great as a lunch or snack for all the family so I will stop rambling and share the recipe with you!
 
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    Ingredients
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 225ml milk (if I was making these for myself I would just use semi-skimmed milk, but whole milk is recommended in cooking for babies)
  • 110g butter, melted
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 100g of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard (I prefer wholegrain)
Method
 
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
 
2. Place muffin cases into a 12-hole muffin tin (or cup-cake tin, if like me, your deep muffin tin actually only holds 6 cases).
 
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
 
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4. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with the milk and melted butter.
 
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5. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds (this is the only faffy bit of the recipe, but it's worth it, I promise) and add the tomato quarters to the egg, milk and butter mixture.
 
6. Add the cheese to the mixture.
 
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7. Sift the flour mixture straight into the tomato and cheese mixture. Use a large wooden spoon to carefully fold the flour into the mixture until it is just combines. Don't over work it and don't worry that the mixture is lumpy.
 
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8. Spoon the mixture into 12 muffin cases.
 
9. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
 
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10. Place the muffins on a wire rack and serve when they have cooled at least slightly (don't eat them straight away and burn your mouth as I did).
 
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Let me know if you like the look of these or if you give them a go. Do you have any tips for BLW or any tried and tested recipes? I hope to be back soon with some other BLW and puree recipes.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

My New Changing Bag: Pacapod Jura

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For almost seven months I have persevered with using a Cath Kidston changing bag. I bought it long before the birth of my daughter and I adored  the pretty print of the bag, but whilst it was pretty it really wasn't practical or good quality. I struggled to find things in it and it was full to the brim. I always resorted to carrying the changing bag and a separate hand bag which wasn't ideal. Anyway, six months in, the bag, really had reached the end of its life. The lining was very ripped and got jammed in the zip several times and there were several tears in the changing mat and the bag itself so I thought I could finally justify buying a replacement.
 
I wanted something practical, with plenty of separate compartments and suitable to use as both a changing bag and my handbag. After a little research I found Pacapod, a range of sylish changing bags with a 3 in 1 storage system. I really struggled to choose between the different Pacapod bags. I love the Firenze, but £265 was a lot more than I wanted to pay and whilst I always cave into leather shoes I try to avoid leather bags, I also loved Mirano, but I wanted something black rather than Mocha or Navy (I wish I could get over my reluctance to mix black and navy, because it really is such a classic colour). So, after some deliberation and after watching Lucie's video I finally chose the Pacapod Jura in Black.
 
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I love how organised I feel using the Pacapod Jura with its three separate compartments. On one side of the bag the zip opens to reveal two 'pods' and a changing mat. The first pod is for feeding. It is insulated and comes with a bottle warmer. I can fit bottles, pureed food or finger food, spoons and bibs in the pod. 
 
The second pod is for nappy changing and is my favourite part of the bag. It has plenty of space for nappies, wipes, creams, lotions etc and I love how it has different pockets and elasticated sections to keep everything in its place.
 
Both of these pods are completely removable and have Velcro straps making them very easy to loop over your wrist to carry them or to hang from the pram. I love that when I am out I don't need to lug an entire bag over to the changing area and I can simply take the changing pod, or more importantly, I can pass it to my husband (if the baby changing area isn't in the ladies toilets, but don't get me started on that) and he doesn't feel like it's at all girly!
 
My only criticism is I find that the changing mat slides out of its pocket when I unfasten the zip and I am tempted to put a little Velcro on the bag to fasten it in place.
 
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On the other side of the bag there are two zips compartments. I have found the deep pocket at the back ideal for my daughter's toys and spare clothes. The bag came with a little string bag that I keep filled with an entire spare outfit and I can fit it in this section with plenty of room to spare. 
 
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The front pocket is my pocket, which after struggling to find anything in my last changing bag and resorting to carrying around a separate handbag, is amazing! It has several elasticated compartments and a key fob and it is ideal for holding my purse, phone, keys and a little make-up.
 
The bag seems to be really good quality and the design is incredibly well thought out. I can see this lasting me years and through more babies! It doesn't come cheap at £75, but I think it was worth every penny.
 
Have you tried any bags from the Pacapod range?


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Baby Girl's Autumn/Winter Clothes Haul


Here's a little video I made sharing the clothes I have bought for Autumn/Winter for my daughter. There are links to the products featured in the description bar and you can subscribe to my channel here. I hope you enjoy is.
 
Please let me know if you've bought or seen any nice baby clothes for Autumn/Winter.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Northern France Part 3: Bagnoles-De-L'Orne and St. Malo

I've neglected my little space of the Internet lately and this blog post has been sitting half written for weeks. I've recently become a little disillusioned with blogging. I just don't see how I will possibly be able to keep it up when I go back to work after my maternity leave and I've been spending my time on a new little project that I hope to share with you soon, but before that I thought it was about time I shared the last photos of my trip to Northern France.
 
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We visited the near by spa town of Bagnoles-De-L'Orne which was quite unlike anywhere else we visited in the area. It had an almost Swiss feel and its thermal baths attract a lot of sick and elderly people! It had a beautiful lake and gardens, a handful of interesting shops and a surprisingly large casino, but the highlight of our day out for me was the delicious salted caramel crepe I had in one of its creperies.
 
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We also spent some time visiting local beach lakes and local towns. I've never really experienced beach lakes before and whilst I missed the sound of crashing waved the water was lovely and calm to let my daughter dip her feet in.
 
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On one of out final days we visited the stunning St. Malo. I was determined to indulge in some seafood, but we forgot to take our French phrase book and ended up with more than we bargained for! We had crab, langoustines and prawns which I could deal with, but our platter also included a lot of oysters, winkles and sea snails!
 
So....that's the last of my holiday posts. We are off to Malta soon and I haven't been since I was a child so please let me know if you've been before and have any tips. We are staying in a beautiful villa and I cannot wait to spend some time in the sun.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Northern France Part 2: Villandry and Amboise

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One of my favourites days of our holiday was our trip to Villandry and Amboise. The Chateau and Jardins De Villandry (said in my best French accent) were beautiful . All of the gardens were impressive, but the garden that you can see in the first three photos was actually the 'kitchen' garden! I have seen a fair few impressive formal garden's in my time, but I have never seen fruit, vegetables and herbs planted so creatively and so beautifully. It was fascinating to see the colours, shapes and clever layouts and on closer inspection spot some of my favourite vegetables. I particularly loved the apple trees that were woven in horizontal spirals separating the different sections.
 
I have been searching for longer length dresses since I have become a little too paranoid about flashing my knickers as I bend over a pushchair! I picked this Bardot one up on asos which really seems to be my go to place for shopping these days. It's so much easier to order things online and try them on in the comfort of my own home rather than drag a baby into changing rooms. These sandals are from Dorothy Perkins and I bought them in a crazy rush the day before we went on holiday after my trusted pair of tan sandals snapped. Typically, I paid full prince and they are now in the sale! I always feel like a pair of tan sandals are an absolute must in summer and I have gone through so many pairs over the years. Unfortunately the loop on these snapped after the first day, but I was still able to wear them.
 
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We headed to Amboise for lunch and sat outside at the Creperie Anne de Betagne. I ordered a smoked salmon and marinated prawn salad but I was very jealous of my husband's meal. He ordered 'coquille Saint Jacques' with no idea what it was, but he was hoping that it was fish or seafood because of the white wine and cream sauce. It turned out to be tagliatelle with some of the most delicious scallops I have ever tasted. Until recently I always removed the coral on scallops, but never again! The coral is delicious and I really think it is such a waste to cut it off. 
 
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Don't you hate it when you can't get a good photo because of vehicles?! I made several attempts, but they were just starting to set up the market and as soon as one vehicle moved another one took its place! Amboise was a beautiful town with a street of restaurants leading up to the Chateau.
 
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We then explore the Chapel and Chateau. Leonardo Da Vinci was buried at Saint Hubert Chapel in Amboise, but I had no idea until I was actually stood inside the Chapel. The stained glass in the Chapel was beautiful.
 
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The Chateau D'Ambois wasn't the most ideal place to visit with a pushchair. We had to take it turns to explore the rooms because there was no way of getting the pushchair onto the main floor (I found that to be the case with a lot of the historical buildings and museums in Northern France and I really do feel for any wheelchair users), but there were some amazing views at the top.
 
We then went for a very large ice-cream before heading back to our gite to enjoy even more Camembert, baguette and wine! 
 
You can see part 1 of our holiday here and I will be back with the third and final instalment soon.

Our Story For My Daughter

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I am a sentimental kind of girl... to the extreme! I take a crazy amount of photos and have endless 'keepsake boxes', photo albums and scrap books stuffed with mementos from special occasions and my travels. I want to capture as many memories as possible for my daughter so the journals sold by From You to Me are right up my street. Whilst pregnant and in the first few weeks after my daughter was born I religiously filled in my Bump to Birthday journal and you can see my blog post on that here.  I still have a few things to add to it to update throughout the year, but the bulk of it is completed so their Our Story For My Daughter Journal seemed like the perfect next step. It has pages to complete for each year together right up to my daughter's 18th year of life.

The journal has six pages for each year which help to record family experiences and special moments, our time together and our hopes and dreams. Each year has the same prompts such as 'A few of your favourite things...', 'Where we live' Who we live with', 'How I feel about our year together', 'What you are like', 'Things you have done and said this year', 'Adventures we have had this year', 'My predictions of what you will be like when you grow up' and the pages have lovely drawings, beautiful quotes and spaces for photos.

I would love to get started on the book straight away, but I plan to complete each section on my daughter's birthday for the next 18 years! I think it will be such a beautiful handwritten story for us both to look back on and the most perfect present to give my daughter on her 18th birthday.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Northern France Part 1: Caen, Pegasus Bridge and Bayeux

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I have had a pretty long blogging break, but it has been lovely to switch off from my blog and social media (with the exception of Instagram, I seem truly addicted to that) and spend more time with my family and time on other hobbies.  Most importantly, however, we had our first (if you don't include a weekend away in Yorkshire and a few days in London) real holiday away with our daughter.

We spent a very relaxing 10 days in Northern France in a beautiful little gite converted from an old barn on the edge of a farm in the middle of nowhere. The weather wasn't the best which made the location a little too rural for me (had the weather been nice I would have been more than happy to spend my days lazing in the countryside), but we had some amazing days out when the weather was nicer, read lots of books, played a lot of board games, ate an obscene amount of baguettes, cheese and French pastries and spent a lot of time cuddled up with out baby girl. It was so nice to get away together and spend time as a family.

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There were some beautiful walks around the tiny village where we stayed, but my favourite find was this beautiful fishing lake about a 15 minute walk through the woods from our gite. We were surrounded by butterflies and the most beautiful dragonflies. We were the only ones there and it was the most perfect place to waste an hour or two. As you can see, my daughter is a little obsessed with sticking her tongue out at the moment! She had a tongue tie and once it popped we certainly knew about it!

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On one of the first days we were in Northern France we had a very long day out. We travelled to Caen where we strolled through the huge Sunday market and visited the Chateau de Caen. Unfortunately, a lot of Caen had been destroyed in WW2, but it was lovely to wander around the Chateau and there were these amazing horse everywhere decorated in different ways.

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Being the history geeks we are, we then headed to Pegasus Bridge. The taking of Pegasus Bridge in the early of hours of D-Day was a major triumph for the allies and it played a very important role in limiting the effectiveness of a German counter-attack. We visited the museum where the original bridge had been moved to which I actually really enjoyed. My husband loved seeing the weapons and vehicles and reading about the different strategies in the taking of the bridge, but I always prefer social history and history that focuses on individual experiences and the museum had several write ups on individual soldiers from the war and their experiences before, during and after the war. We then had lunch in the Pegasus Bridge Café which had been the original hotel at the time of the invasion. Whilst the café looked charming it was unfortunately one of those places that charges tourists a fortune for pretty poor food so I would recommend popping your head inside and then eating else where.

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We then drove to Bayeux which is obviously famous for it's tapestry, but it is also a beautifully charming town in its own right and somewhere I would love to visit again.  We saw the Bayeux tapestry which really took my breath away. The scale of it is something I really couldn't comprehend before I visited. It's one of those things you grow up seeing images of so it was quite surreal to see it in real life. Obviously, photos were banned to protect the tapestry. We then strolled the beautiful streets and stumbled upon charming buildings and a carousel. I love carousels and Northern France seems pretty full of them. Before heading back we found somewhere for dinner. Unfortunately, we visited the town on a Sunday so many of the restaurants were closed. I often struggle to find things I can eat in France because they really don't seem to understand vegetarianism and I always end up eating more fish than I would like, but I really enjoyed a delicious smoked salmon, crème fraiche, leek and cheese buckwheat crepe and a large glass of white wine.