Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy halloween!


Happy halloween 2014! This photo is our pumpkin from last year. We chopped the top off, scooped out the pumpkin and made soup, carved the face and put candles in it to get this effect. I actually think this one looks quite scary! ;) Today we're going to a little Halloween party, for babies and toddlers. I haven't been to many halloween parties pre-baby so this should be fun. I'll pick up a pumpkin on the way home, maybe just a mini one this time and will do the same as last year. Baby is constantly attracted to lights, he's always pointing to them so I think he will love this. What are your plans for halloween?
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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Bedtime reading

We have been reading to baby since he was born and at two months we were holding books in front of him and showing him the pictures. Now, at 16 months, he absolutely loves his books. He understands so much, so many of the characters, the animals and sounds and will usually point to whatever you ask him on the page. It’s nice knowing that he can understand more and more of the stories and even if he doesn’t understand every single word there are so many words that he can pick out or perhaps he understands more of the story than I think?



We’ve bought him a few books but most of them were given as presents for his birth, Christmas and his first birthday. I love children's book, they come in so many different forms - touch and feel, pop out, sound books, those that are beautifully illustrated and ones that have wonderful storylines. He has a real mix of books. Some are quite simple, little picture books with one word on each page, others much more detailed with fascinating characters and a lot of dialogue. Sometimes it does take a while for him to get interested in a new book but once he is familiar with a story he gets very into it. One of his favourite books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. He’s got the main story book but also some of the accompanying ones and can spot the caterpillar a mile off! When we go into books shops he’ll usually spot the caterpillar before me! It’s a beautiful story of….well, a hungry caterpillar with lovely little illustrations. It’s a true classic and I recommend anyone to read this book, even if you don’t have kids! ;) 



I’m going to list baby’s ten best books in another post but until then happy reading! What is your child’s favourite bedtime book? 
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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Creative baby dinner: Aubergine Parmigiana


This is one of my favourite meals. I must admit this is not a quick dish but the time is definitely worth it because this is absolutely delicious! Baby loves this dish and we love it! There are different ways to make parmigiana and I’ve found that by frying the aubergines at the beginning gives the most tasty outcome!


Preparation + cooking time = roughly 1 hour

Ingredients 
2 garlic cloves
2 large aubergines
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes (choose one with no salt or just a trace)
Large handful fresh basil
1 mozzarella ball
Sunflower oil 
Parmesan or vegetarian substitute 



Method 


  1. Wash the aubergines and slice 0.5-1cm apart.
  2. Put one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and place as many aubergine slices in as possible. Fry on both sides for a few minutes until each slice has softened and browned. A fork should be able to go through easily once done. 
  3. Lay the cooked pieces on a plate and keep adding new slices to fry. This method uses a lot of oil so add more oil whenever needed. The frying process should take around 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 190.
  5. Meanwhile, fry the garlic in another frying pan and when browning add the chopped tomatoes. Heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Chop up the basil and add to the pan. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat. This will bring some amazing flavour to the dish so the more basil the better!
  7. When all the aubergine slices have been fried it is time to put everything into a big oven dish. Add a little of the tomato mixture on the base of the dish and cover with a layer of aubergine slices. Keep adding another layer of tomato and aubergine slices and finish with a layer of tomato. 
  8. Slice the mozzarella and add to the top of the dish. Add a sprinkling of parmesan or vegetarian substitute for more flavour.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes. Check that the food is soft enough for baby. Mash/chop food depending on baby’s age/teeth.
  10. Serve with bread and green salad for adults and rice or other green vegetables for baby. 


 Enjoy the meal  :)

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Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.comclairejustine
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

One month of blogging: 15 thoughts and experiences to date!

It’s been over one month since I started blogging, woohoo. I wrote my first post on 18th September. In some ways it feels like months ago and in other ways it still feels like I’m so new to the world of blogging so thought I’d share my thoughts so far. 




1. Writing. I started a blog because I love writing. And of course, blogging gives me the opportunity to write to my heart’s content, it’s great!

2. Chose any subject. My blog is a parenting and lifestyle blog so naturally I write mostly about baby or baby related subjects (I am interested in other things too though…honest!). It’s great that you can write about anything you desire.

3. Blogging is fun. Blogging is my own little project, an insight into my life and thoughts and it’s fun creating that.

4. Publish instantly. I have written articles in previous jobs, some of which were published immediately and some that took a long while to write, even longer to edit and get reviewed. With blogging I check over what I’ve written but once it’s done I click and it’s published instantly!

5. FeedbackWhen you get a comment it’s a lovely thought that someone out there has taken the time to read your article/post and reflect on it :)

6. Creativity. I had no idea how much creatively can be included in a blog. You can design your header, background, logo, banner, advert etc. If photography is your passion it’s a great way to use photos on your blog. The sky is the limit!

7. Blogging is not only about writing. It’s also about taking photographs (which I love), designing or creating art work, networking, get connected on social media, even meeting people in ‘real life’ (what’s that? haha), reviewing, advertising, PR, the list goes on…

8. Constant learning curve. Whether it’s choosing your page design or interacting on social media it’s all a learning curve and it’s nice that I’m getting to grips with this whole new world that I didn’t know about previously. Can you get an honorary degree in blogging? Hah, that would be nice!

9. Discovering new and interesting blogs. There are so many great blogs out there. I wish I had the time to read them all! There are very popular parenting blogs and then lesser-known, new bloggers, like me, that I love reading. There are blogs that are so wonderful and honest, those that are heartbreaking and other ones that make me laugh so much. It’s great reading a snippet of a post or in some cases trailing through older posts because I’m already hooked!

10. Online community. There is an amazing online community of bloggers that I wasn’t aware of before. I’ve joined some local Brighton groups on facebook and it’s wonderful to see so many local bloggers. I would love to meet these people in person!

11. Social networking. There is twitter and facebook which I have set up. Then there is Instagram and bloglovin and pin interest and google friend connect, and google plus. Arghhh! Too much. Social media is a great way to ‘meet’ people and promote your blog but I can see where all my time could go. I find twitter a great way to connect and discover new people and it’s very time efficient. For now, my main focus is writing and I think social media will be a thing that comes in time.

12. Blogging as a career. This is all new to me. You can make enough money from blogging for it to be your full-time career!!!! Wow!

13. Terminology. There is a whole new dictionary for blogging. I’d never heard of ‘Linkys’ in pre-blogging life and now I hear or rather read the term everywhere!

14. Finding the time. Being a stay at home mum means my time is already stretched so I don’t have much time for blogging. Some bloggers seem to be online all the time and I wonder how they fit time in around a full-time job or baby. I usually write posts when baby is napping or some evenings after he’s in bed. That’s the flexible thing about blogging. A little time here and there makes up a post.

15. You are your own boss. I am forever thinking about new posts and have got loads lined up in my head. That’s the other great thing about blogging. There is no rush, no deadline, no need to write about anything. You just write because you want to write :)

What are your experiences as a blogger? Have you just started out or have you been blogging for years? It would be great to hear your thoughts.

Read about my experiences after six months of blogging

Mums' Days
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Colours of Autumn


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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Twelve random facts about me

Just for fun….here are some random facts about me:


  1. I started a blog because I love writing
  2. I have one beautiful son
  3. I hope to have more children one day :)
  4. I play a little piano and a little guitar
  5. I have a small birth mark on my tummy
  6. I’ve lived in England most of my life but have also spent a bit of time living abroad
  7. I can’t remember the last time I had my hair cut and need a new cut soon
  8. One of my favourite books is The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  9. Since giving birth I have eaten way too much chocolate
  10. I had a good career but gave it all up to be a SAHM and am happy I did
  11. I love to swim and when I was younger I swam competitively in a club
  12. Autumn is my favourite season
Have you shared random facts about you on your blog?
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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Why I didn’t return to work after baby

When I was a little girl I didn’t really dream of a big wedding or living in a big castle or wearing a beautiful Cinderella gown. For me my dreams were always about having a baby. My dolls and teddies would be in my role play as my children and I would be their mummy. Like many young girls (and boys!) I’d push my ‘baby’ around in a buggy, feed her, wash her, brush her hair, change her nappies and give her lots of affection. Fast forward into adulthood and that love and desire of babies always remained. I always saw myself with a baby at some point but was keen to experience carefree life first. I went to university, travelled, lived in different places, worked in different roles and was fortunate to have a good career before baby came along.

When we decided to start trying for a baby it took much longer than we had expected. The initial waves of excitement and anticipation were replaced with disappointment, longing and doubt. So when I finally did become pregnant we were over the moon. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. To us it felt like a miracle and still does today. I have been pregnant. I have given birth. Wow! There are days when I still can’t believe it. When our little boy came into the world on that magical day last year all my dreams came true. My love for him is more than words can describe.



I took the full amount of maternity leave and emerged myself into parenthood. I thoroughly enjoyed this new role and learning all about this wonderful little person. It was not always easy though. The sleepless nights, exclusive breastfeeding, little me time, new family dynamic was exhausting but slowly you learn to adapt. We went to baby groups and had/have a social network of other mums. I didn’t know how I’d feel at the end of the year so kept the door open to possibilities of returning to work. However, as the date came nearer I couldn’t imagine returning to work and leaving our baby in a nursery. I had a good, interesting, well-paid job with lovely colleagues and stacked up the pros and cons of returning to work. In the end I decided that I wanted to spend more time with our little baby. I can return to work at any point but my baby is only young once. I want to cherish every single day with him. We are fortunate enough to afford being on one salary (just about!) and it has worked for us. Most of my mummy friends have returned to work, some wanting to, some having to and I think you should do whatever makes you happy (if you have the means to do that). For me, being a SAHM is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but it’s also the most rewarding. I am spending my days bringing up our son and couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do. It can be demanding but has been worth every single minute :)


Did you return to work after baby? What are your experiences?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Modern Dad Pages
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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Easy baby dinner: Creamy butternut squash & tomato pasta



This is a very simple, quick, nutritious and tasty meal to make. The sweetness of the squash and bitterness of the tomatoes combine amazingly well and this is such a delicious creamy treat. As I mentioned in a previous post we eat the same meal for dinner each night as a family so try to be as creative as possible. Baby first tried butternut squash when he was 6 or 7 months but I didn’t start giving him this dish until he was about 12 months. This is a great ‘first food’ meal though as well as a versatile dish for adults. You can also adapt this to your baby’s age/teeth by mashing or chopping up the food further. If you haven’t tried this give it a go. Baby loves it :)



Ingredients 
(for 2 adults and one baby/toddler)
300g Fusilli pasta
One butternut squash 
Pomodorino tomatoes or any small tasty variety (couple of handfuls)
100ml single cream
A sprinkle of Cheddar or Parmesan cheese

Method
1. Peel the butternut squash and chop into small squares. Place in a pan of boiling water and boil for 10-15 minutes until soft
2. While the squash is cooking place the pasta in another pan of boiling water and cook according to pasta instructions 
3. In the meantime chop the tomatoes into small slices
4. Once the squash is cooked, drain and mash with a potato masher. Keep on a low heat, add the cream and stir
5. Add t
he tomatoes to the mixture (these should only be on the heat for the last couple of minutes to ensure they don’t get too mushy)
6. Drain the pasta and add to the squash mixture
7. Serve on plate and add a little grated cheese on top
8. Mash/chop for baby if necessary and eat :) 

Side note: I don’t add any salt or pepper to baby’s food but we added a bit of each to the adult portions once on our plate.

Enjoy the meal :)


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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Home-grown fruit and veg

Ever since I can remember I’ve grown my own fruit and veg. I haven’t always lived in a place with a garden, especially in my student days, but even then just grew some herbs on the windowsill. In the last few years I’ve been lucky to live in a house with a good sized garden. It’s not huge by any means and most of the stuff I’ve grown is in pots because there’s not enough space in the flower beds. But I’ve loved it. There is something special about growing your own fruits and vegetables. A ritual of planting those little seeds and the excitement of seeing those first seedlings grow into wonderful plants bearing big and juicy fruits. I love tending to these plants, watching them grow and bear the delicious fruits from that labour. Everything that is home grown is always so much tastier and fresher than those bought in shops. In the last few years we’ve grown tomatoes, peppers, chillies, carrots, courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, strawberries and lots of different herbs. When baby was born last year any hope of growing anything went out the window. I still had all the herbs in the garden but it wasn’t a great summer and I had more important things to focus on! :) This summer though I got back into it - growing some simple fruit and veg and baby even sat in the garden and watched the process. At the end of this summer he ‘helped’ pick the tomatoes although he was more interested in eating them! I imagine it won’t be too long before he’ll be in the garden with me sowing and planting himself :)


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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Autumn trip to Hove park

October already! Actually it’s my favourite month of the year. This week I was craving some greenery so decided to go to Hove park. We don’t live nearby but thought it would be nice to have a bit of a change. Going to the same old local park can get a bit boring can’t it! The sunshine was out all afternoon and the park was full of babies and kids enjoying the last bit of warm weather. Baby loved it. He loves walking, loves playing with his ball, loves going to the park, loves watching the bigger kids, loves exploring and looking at everything around him. I am constantly following him around! Autumn is a beautiful time and I love this season. The warm colours, the leaves changing into the browns and reds, the sun lower in the sky, the snug clothes - knitted cardigans - and cosy nights in with a hot chocolate or a glass of wine or two when baby is in bed. I tried to capture the essence of Autumn in some photos from the park. What have you been up to this week?





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