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Review: New Annabel Karmel Toddler Recipe Book

There is a new Annabel Karmel recipe book being released 20 June, perfect for those who need some help a few minutes before you should have dinner on the table. I definitely fall into this category. This book is brilliant for me – it contains quick and simple recipes that even a kitchen-phobe like me can follow, and the ingredients used are all on my normal shop anyway! None of this nonsense you find in other recipe books that claim your store cupboard should contain the most wacky specialist ingredients that you haven’t heard of.

Annabel Karmel's Quick and Easy Toddler Recipes is out on 20th June '13

Annabel Karmel’s Quick and Easy Toddler Recipes is out on 20th June ’13 (RRP £9.99)

This book contains real, healthy recipes, that you are going to make often. I’ve been using this book for about a month now, and have made a good selection of the recipes. It contains breakfast ideas, lunch, dinner and snacks. Henry is turning into a bit of a picky eater, but he loved the things in this book. His favourite was the blueberry pancakes, but everything else I made also went down a treat. I highly recommend this recipe book if, like me, you need a reminder of just how many different things you can make from the ingredients in your cupboard.

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SUMMER (almost)

At the weekend just gone, we managed to get out for a short while in the sunshine! It’s been a long time coming, and still hasn’t quite got to what could be classed as ‘warm’, only ‘warmer than it has been’. We packed his ball, a picnic of ham sandwiches, Pom Bears, Babybel and juice, and a blanket. Henry was sporting his new dinosaur (or crocodile – I can’t quite tell) sun hat from H&M. He enjoyed himself, even if we did have to leave due to the cold…

Picnic in the park

Picnic in the park – so much interesting stuff to look at!

Has anyone else managed to make it out into the sun? It feels as if it has been winter for a VERY long time. I keep buying summer clothes just wishing it to warm up…

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Recipe: Straight from the gingerbread factory

Here is a quick and easy gingerbread recipe – great for getting the kids involved in baking and for saving money on sweet treats!

Ingredients:

  • 350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • Icing and decorations (smarties, sprinkles, raisins etc.) – optional

Method:

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.

Henry had a really great time eating these bad boys. I had fun icing funny faces on them. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

henrys gingerbread

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Never Eat Tuna in the Bath

When you begin life as a parent, multi-tasking becomes part of your skill set, naturally.

After baby is all fed, clean, happy and done playing for the day, you only get a short window of time in which to do a weeks worth of chores. Washing and eating are usually last on my list after laundry, cleaning, meal preparation, paying bills and ordering in the groceries.

So it just so happens I decided to combine the washing and the eating to save time and hopefully get to my bed quicker. Now, it did save time but I’m not going to be repeating the process. There is something so wrong about eating tuna and olive pasta in the bath tub. The smells tend to mix into one strange mess of clean smelling fish. And olives taste enough like perfume anyway, before combining with actual perfume. The result is less than satisfying.

Imagine bathing in tuna and eating bubble bath.

And that’s even without the dreaded (but more common than you think!) spillage. Luckily this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I cringe at the thought of trying to tidy that up. And wash that off.

I think I’ll stick to seperating the two from now on.

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Henry the Hungry, Hungry Baby

Henry has decided to eat everything in our house today. He has always been a hungry baby, feeding so much and often that it got to the point of doing nothing else. And now he is on solids, it is a lot better, as he stays full for longer. Well, he did. Today has been one of those days. Henry must be going through a growth spurt or something, because he hasn’t stopped eating and crying for milk. We’ve given him at least twice the amount of food as normal, increasing the amount per serving as well as giving him snacks, and he has had almost twice the quantity of milk as is his usual too.

It’s hard to keep up with his ever changing food habits. Just when I thought we had got into a routine. Thank god for the handy fruit pot I always keep in the nappy bag, just in case. Without it, I don’t know how we would have finished our meal without an ‘inbetween lunch and dinner’ drama!

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Intolerance; the Battle for Breastfeeding in Public

There has been a few of these stories in the media lately. Breastfeeding mothers staged protest in Brighton centre, after a new mum was told the sight of her breastfeeding in public was ‘unpleasant’ and was asked to cover up more. An Oxford branch of Debenhams was recently involved in a dispute after two managers asked a breastfeeding mother to stop.

I find these incidents appalling, and as a mother who is (still!) breastfeeding, can say that these experiences are all too common. I prefer to cover up as much as I can, but it isn’t always possible. I felt the harsh stares of the disapproving public, who are either ignorant to the needs of a little one or believe a new mum should be cooped up in her home until she is ready to give up the boob.

It has become a lot better in recent times, with women gaining more rights due to the Equality Act of October 2011. It means that a woman cannot be asked to stop, ‘cover up more’ or be refused service or asked to leave a public place because she is breastfeeding. However, many people are unaware of this, which results in people believing it is okay to ask a mother to stop if it makes them uncomfortable, and equally some mothers feel guilty or obliged to grant them their request.

Breastfeeding can be stressful enough, without adding the pressure of carrying out this task in public. Also, when a baby needs feeding, it needs feeding. For the most part, it won’t stop crying until it gets milk so asking someone to stop breastfeeding isn’t going to help matters in any respect.

I also logged onto Facebook this afternoon to see that someone had posted the following status;

Note my comments marked HM. I just couldn’t believe it. I am pleased however that I am not the only one who objected, but I had to really hold back the shock and anger that was brewing…

I am really happy that times are changing though. I am so glad that we have these rights, to protect us and our babies from intolerance and ignorance. I feel lucky that I was able to breastfeed, and that I live in a time where if I had decided not to, that would have been acceptable too.

There’s still a way to go, but so far, it’s a win for mumkind.

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Coupon Fanatic

I went into Boots today, armed with at least fifty or more coupons and vouchers for various baby products. I bought jars (exclusively for emergencies/day trips I’ve told myself) fruit pots, fruit pouches, cereals, formula milk and wipes. Nothing I purchased was full price, and I even got some of it for free!

The bags were unbelievably heavy, and the total came to around £38. Then I handed over my mountain of vouchers and the cost just dropped. It continued to go down and down, until I ran out of vouchers at around £21.

Not bad considering it is all stuff I would’ve bought/needed anyway, if maybe just not that particular brand. But it doesn’t matter to me and it certainly doesn’t matter to Henry.

And I wasn’t the only one in the shop doing it. I bumped into another mum with a bundle of coupons in her hand. Every penny counts!

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Petits Filous and Foodie Foodie

Henry had his first Petits Filous today. It was strawberry, and he just couldn’t get enough. His little mouth stayed open, and he was even diving for the spoon. You wouldn’t know he had just had breakfast an hour ago.

He’s firmly on three meals a day now too. Hungry little baby.

I’ve also bought a variety of fruit an vegetables to prepare for him to try. He’s had a lot already, but this time will be mango, avocado, papaya, butternut squash and sweetcorn on top of his already long list of foods.

I wish I had been less stressed about weaning. Before the whole process, I really didn’t know what on earth I was supposed to do, or when to do it, or how much. But I’m happy, and more importantly Henry is happy, with how it is progressing. So now I can stop stressing and just be comfortable in the knowledge that it will happen, and whether I feed him carrot or parsnip first really isn’t important…

It’s hard not to get a little anal about the details though. The amount of conflicting advice out there can really make you doubt yourself and your instincts. I end up following charts and other people’s schedules instead of thinking what is right for me and my baby, which is really quite dangerous. I just need to remember that the advice in books and on the internet is always quite generalised, and doesn’t necessarily apply to me.

A really good guide for weaning though, as I’ve found has a good structure to begin with, is the Cow & Gate 5 step weaning plan. I got it sent to me in the post, as I’ve been signed up to their baby club ever since I found out I was pregnant and went crazy signing up to everything.

It clearly sets out a guideline of what to feed (and what not to feed), and is a reminder of what you are actually aiming for. The whole point of the exercise can easily be forgotten when you are up to your eyes in sterilising fluid and bibs. You eventually want your baby to be eating three meals a day, progressing from milk to simple purees to lumps to solid food. And there was me worrying about whether or not he’s too young for this and that.

I’m very happy now, though, and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it all again! It has to be easier second time around, right? Apart from the fact you have two, of course…

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The Big Decisions

Becoming a parent comes with an untold amount of responsibility. There is someone dependant on you, for everything. Signing consent forms is another horrible one. You know that the injections are for the best, but signing your name under the field marked ‘parent/guardian’ makes you stop and think all the bad things that could happen if say, he had a reaction to the treatment…

Another of the less important decisions to make (but still just as hard to come to a conclusion on) is this scenario; he falls asleep in his highchair. Do you leave him to sleep in what looks like an uncomfortable position, or do you attempt to move him to his cot and possibly wake him up in the process? I still don’t know, and it has become quite a regular occurance of late. Since he’s started eating so much more, when he gets full, he gets sleepy too. Like me after an all-you-can-eat carvery.

Henry is one of those babies who really struggles to go to sleep. He fights it, even when he is clearly tired. He just wants to stay awake all day so he doesn’t miss a single thing. And I just wanted some time for a cup of tea…