Friday, 30 September 2016

Slow Cooked Hearty Bean Soup

In this months Degustabox we received three small tins of Cirio Borlotti Beans. With it being autumn I figured I would use them to make my first soup of the season. This Slow Cooked Hearty Bean Soup made my kitchen small divine and made for a lovely filling and healthy lunch. I usually blend my soups but left this one nice and chunky, luckily my boys are happy to eat visible veg!



Borlotti beans are a variety of kidney bean with a sweetish flavour and they are often used in Italian cooking. They are a good source of protein and iron among many other things.  I am going to try some burgers with my remaining tin, I think they will be really popular!

To serve 4

2 tins of Cirio Borlotti Beans
2 stalks of Celery
2 spring onions
2 carrots
2 cloves of garlic
450ml vegetable stock(I use low salt ones as I am cooking for little ones)
40g Tomato Puree
Chilli flakes

Drain and rinse the beans and chop the vegetables. Place all ingredients into the slow cooker, add the stock and tomato puree, giving them a stir to combine. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, how much you use will depend on how much of a kick you want, I kept ours mild.
Cook on low for around 6 hours and serve.

**We received these beans as part of a Degustabox review box, all opinions are my own **

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Banana and Date Bread

I mentioned back in June that I was excited to bake with the Date Syrup I had received my May Degustabox and I finally got around to it and made banana and date bread. It's free from refined  so fab for weaning and Barney really enjoyed having a good munch on this aswell as the big two. It is also egg free so fab for anyone out there with an allergy. 

This is based on the recipe for vegan banana bread in the A Girl Called Jack book (I can't find the original recipe on her site), though I used coconut oil and replaced the sugar with date syrup. Oh and a0i skipped the cinnamon. Check out the original recipe if you want to make it the usual way it's a great store cupboard recipe and always turns out well.

Banana and date bread, recipe

Banana and date bread

3 ripe bananas, the riper the better!
75ml Coconut Oil
225g self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
30ml Date syrup

Preheat the oven to 160°(fan oven) and prepare a 1lb loaf tin.
Mash the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and date syrup and combine before adding the self raising flour and baking powder. Fill the tin with the batter and bake for around 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and it is golden on top. Leave to cool before serving.

This will make your house smell amazing, and you will want to dig in before it is cool enough! My boys love this bread toasted with peanut butter on although it is lovely plain too which is how Barney had his.

Weaning banana and date bread

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Weaning baby number three, my essentials

Weaning baby number three is just as exciting as the first time. I absolutely love this stage of babyhood, introducing them to the world of food and seeing them enjoy new tastes and textures. We are two weeks into weaning now and it has gone really well so far and he is already having three small meals a day. I think because we are at the table eating meals it is natural for him to be joining in with us.

My boys were given a mixture of homemade puree(with the odd pouch for convenience) and finger foods and it worked well for us, neither have ever gone through a fussy stage, they eat healthily, happily try new things and love fruit and veg, homemade meals as well as the odd chocolate bar and chicken nugget dinner.
At the moment baby led weaning is all the rage but my best advice is to wean the way that feels right for you and your baby, be it pure baby led weaning, spoon fed only or a combination of puree and finger foods. Anecdotally purely from my own experiences it doesn't make much difference long term.

Weaning baby number three,  weaning essentials,  weaning baby eating cucumber

I have started Barney off along the same vein, he has had homemade purees(butternut squash is a favourite) along with finger foods like cheese on toast, crumpets and veg sticks.
As with most babies the first few days if weaning led to some interesting faces. I absolutely love the expressions babies pull when you start weaning them, the what on earth are you giving me faces are so cute.It is such a big change from milk that it's no surprise that they start off a bit confused.

At the start of weaning there are a few essentials and I thought I would share mine.

My weaning essentials

IKEA Antilop Highchair

Literally the most practical highchair out there. It is just £13, it is lightweight, the legs can be removed for storage and most importantly it is easy to clean. The design has no nooks and crannies for smooshed food to get into, you can even hose it down outside if needed or chuck it in the shower. We have one at home and one at each set of grandparents houses, I love it and i know I am not alone, this highchair is the one I see recommended time and time again.

Weaning essentials,  IKEA Antilop highchair

Silicone muffin tray

When I was pregnant with Seb, 6 years ago I popped into Poundland one day and picked up some silicone muffin trays. Little did I know that they would become my best Pound land buts ever! These trays are perfect for freezing small portions of food, either purees, mash or little portions of pasta sauce. Ice Cube trays are often raved about for this but I find the muffin trays a far better size as appetites quickly grow. I also use them for muffin tray meals where I fill each section with a little something different.

Weaning essentials,  muffin tray meal

Tommee Tippee Weaning Set *

This fab set contains all the tableware you need to start weaning, two soft weaning spoons, a cup, 2 weaning containers and a cool and mash bowl. Perfect if you don't want to spend a fortune on things you don't need. This set along with Tommee Tippee basic feeding bowls are what we are using this time,  all finger his foods just go straight on the tray for now.

Weaning essentials, Tommee Tippee howl and spoon

Bibs!

Weaning can get pretty messy and you can't always strip your baby down to their nappy to eat so invest in some good bibs that wash well. The ones with arms are great as are the soft plastic ones that have a lip to catch falling food!

Stain remover

No matter how hard you try there will always be a point where you and your baby will end up with food stains on clothes. Be organised and have some stain remover to hand. I swear by the Vanish bar remover, it has got rid of many food stains.

First aid knowledge

It is natural to worry about choking while weaning, I always sit with my baby and keep a very close eye on them.  It is worth either taking a first aid course or at least reading up on what to do if your baby should choke, St John's Ambulance have a really easy to understand guide for parents. There are also some simple things you can do reduce risks such as cutting grapes length

Patience 

Remember a baby has lived on milk alone for the first few months of their life and moving onto solid food is a skill. They may not eat much at first, some days they may eat loads and others they may not want anything and they may take a while to warm to some foods, just be patient and keep on trying. Like us sometimes there are things your baby genuinely doesn't like, Seb for example has never liked parsnips.  It is worth remembering that baby still gets their nutrients from their milk at this stage.



*We received these items from the lovely team at Tommee Tippee

Monday, 26 September 2016

Our weekly meal plan 26/9

Happy Monday! I hope everyone has had a good weekend! We are in the last week of September already, it hasn't really felt like it to me but I am looking forward to autumn days.

I am actually really impressed that we stayed on track last week despite 3 nights of next to no sleep with all 3 boys being poorly at the same time and with Phil working nights. This week we have a couple of busy days where I am doing chuck in the oven dinners, as well as our meals I am planning on making my first soups of the season.

Our weekly meal plan 26/9

Monday Pizza, garlic bread and salad
Tuesday Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese
Wednesday Our wedding anniversary ♡ we will probably have a takeaway and wine once the boys are in bed
Thursday Chicken goujons with sweet potato fries and salad
Friday Omelette and beans
Saturday Pulled pork in buns with sweet potato wedges and corn on the cob
Sunday Italian chicken with rice

Why not link up with us and share your meal plan? If you fancy some inspiration check out my previous weekly meal plans.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dads In The Delivery Room

Last week I was listening to a discussion on 5 live about dads in the delivery room, it was being discussed after some research by The Baby Show. There were some fab and amusing calls coming into the show and of course it got me thinking about my own experiences with Phil.
It seems so odd that just a generation ago, dads often weren't there for the birth of their children. My dad wasn't with my mum for any of mine or my siblings births in the 1970's and early 80's although it was becoming more common practice by then. These days it is pretty unusual for a dad not to be there at their child's birth and I can't imagine not having Phil to support me at my most vulnerable.

Dads in the delivery room, c section photo

My three births were all c sections but all were totally different experiences for myself and Phil.

With Sebastian I had a long labour(46 hours) and to be honest Phil didn't really know what to do with himself and nor did I,  nothing going can prepare you for labour. We ticked along quite nicely but when I was whisked off for a c section under general anaesthetic and Phil wasn't allowed in with me it quickly turned into a frightening experience for us both.
Alexs birth was a semi planned c section, as in I was planning for a vbac but was admitted to hospital at 39 weeks and agreed to a c section and 2 days later he arrived. It was definitely the easiest c section overall, I was awake, the surgery was straight forward, Phil was able to cut the cord and i held him as soon as i was in the delivery suite and my recovery was painful but nothing out of the ordinary.
Barneys was a whole other story. I was really determined not to opt for an ELCS and I had to go against consultant wishes on this. I had Phils full support on this and it gave me the confidence to stay strong and try for the birth I wanted. He was right there by my side during my whole labour, we talked and laughed and he held my hand through the pains and examinations. He was there when it was decided that I would need an emergency c section and there talking to me while I was in surgery for 3 hours frightened and worried what was happening.

Without wanting to gush, Phil is the only person I wanted with me and I can't imagine it any other way. He was with Seb whike i was still under general anaesthetic, he gave the boys skin to skin when I couldn't and supported me.

What do you think about dad's in the delivery room? Did you have your husband or partner with you? Why not take a peep at my birth stories?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Personalized Flowers Review

There is something very poignant about a single rose and sometimes I think a lone rose can be more effective than a huge bouquet. Personalized Flowers have taken the effect to the next level by offering personalised roses, yes that's right you can have a personal message printed onto the rose itself. I have never seen anything like this before so when I was given the chance to receive one I was really looking forward to it.

Personalized flowers review

I picked out a message and my parcel arrived a couple of days later. The Rose arrived well packaged in a sturdy box, wrapped in cellophane and with a tube of water to keep it moist in transit. This was really important for me as this is a gift item and you need the flower to be fresh on arrival.
I was so charmed by the rose with it's special message, I received a yellow flower but there are various other colours available. The message is clear to read but small and subtle enough not to spoil the flower itself. Of course the rose is very delicate and the instructions in the box do warn you not to touch the print as it will smudge. There is also information about how to make the rose last a bit longer.

Personalized flowers review, personalised rose

I trimmed mine and placed it in a glass bottle and it has been there for several days and is still going strong. If you want a longer lasting rose Personalized Flowers also offer a silk version of the roses which would be a lovely keepsake. 

The personalised rose is a lovely gift. A great gift for anniversaries, valentines day or even just because you want to say hello or let someone know you are thinking of them. I think these would be amazing for marriage proposals too! With prices for a real rose with personalisation starting at £8.99 they are also really affordable too.

For more information or to place an order pop over to Personalized Flowers. 

Family Fever
**I received this item for the purpose of this post, all opinions expressed are my own**

Friday, 23 September 2016

Caketoppers Review and Giveaway

Cake fever is taking over the nation at the moment with the Great British Bake off in full swing and with this week also being National Cupcake Week. So it seems like perfect timing that I am bringing you a review of the fab Caketoppers and giving you the chance to win some delicious cupcakes.

Caketoppers review and giveaway

Caketoppers specialise in cakes, cupcakes and printed icing edible toppers that can be delivered throughout the UK and we were sent a couple of their amazing personalised cupcakes to try.
The cakes arrived packaged in a sturdy box with plenty of bubble wrap to keep them safe and they arrived in perfect condition. The nature of the cakes mean they have a good shelf life so even if you do miss delivery they will still be perfect.

We received a chocolate sponge cupcake and a classic sponge cupcake each in a metallic foil case. I had sent over some images to be used and they looked so good, the boys loved them. Cupcake toppers are often rice paper but Caketoppers images are printed onto real icing and the colours are so vibrant, it is really effective. It would be great for logos and website promotion as well as personal photos. 
I was worried that the cake might be an afterthought to the toppers  but these are really good cakes, both young and old in this house agreed on that. The cakes themselves are absolutely lovely, delicious moist sponge topped with a lovely generous layer of icing plus of course the personalised topper. You can tell that good quality ingredients have been used.

Cake toppers review and giveaway, photo of Alex on a cake

Caketoppers review and giveaway, inside of sponge and chocolate cakes

We really enjoyed these cakes, in fact I am going to place an order for our wedding anniversary next week.  Why not pop over to Caketoppers to see what they have to offer and place a cheeky order for yourself or as a gift.

Caketoppers review and giveaway, cerise gift box,  9 cupcakes

The lovely people behind  Caketoppers are giving one lucky reader the chance to win a gift box of 9 flower cupcakes worth £17.95 as pictured above. Simply fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

1. Open to UK residents only.

2. Entrants must be over 18.

3. All entries will be verified.

4. Please make sure i have a way to contact you if you win.

5. Prize will be sent by Caketoppers.

6. There will be 1 winner, Winning a cerise gift box containing 9 flower cupcakes

7. No cash alternative

8. If I am unable to make contact with the winner within a reasonable time a new winner will be drawn.

Family Fever
** We were sent sample cupcakes for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own**

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

50 Awesome Autumn Activities for kids

I know I have said it before but Autumn really is my favourite time of year! I have compiled a list of 50 Awesome Autumn Activities to keep the little ones busy this autumn.


  1. Make an autumn crown, use real leafs or paper ones. 
  2. Go Pumpkin picking
  3. Apple bobbing
  4. Make scarecrow collages with scraps
  5. Make soup from seasonal veg 
  6. Collect some items from nature
  7. Puddle splashing
  8. Pumpkin carving, there are some fab designs out there 
  9. Pumpkin painting,  fab for younger children 
  10. Have an autumn picnic,  wrap up warm!
  11. Jump in piles of crunchy leaves
  12. Make a cake in the slow cooker
  13. Keep a weather diary 
  14. Make real hot chocolate
  15. Write an autumn story or poem, you could use these fab printable page borders
  16. Have a bonfire
  17. Fly a kite
  18. Make autumn bunting
  19. Go leaf collecting, find as many shapes and colours as you can.
  20. Leaf printing
  21. Leaf rubbing
  22. Make bread
  23. Make an autumn tree picture 
  24. Make smores
  25. Visit a scarecrow festival
  26. Visit a farm
  27. Make bookmarks 
  28. Make play dough
  29. Play conkers
  30. Paint with natural items 
  31. Visit a bonfire
  32. Have a disco bath
  33. Movie afternoon
  34. Go to the woods
  35. Look at the stars
  36. Make homemade instruments
  37. Make salt dough candle holders
  38. Visit a local gallery or museum
  39. Have a sleepover in the living room
  40. Go to a harvest festival service
  41. Donate to the food bank
  42. Make firework pictures
  43. Make a den
  44. Autumn themed colouring
  45. Go to the library
  46. Visit a cafe for hot chocolates 
  47. Make mud pies
  48. Make mud paints
  49. Camp in the garden
  50. Go for an Autumn Nature Hunt. Don't forget your checklist
I hope you have found something to keep your little ones entertained this Autumn!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Our Home Education plans for Autumn

Whoop we are firmly heading into my favourite season of all, Autumn! I like to write a rough idea of the things I am hoping to do each term and our home education plans for Autumn are well and truly underway.

Our autumn home education plans, pile of autumn leaves

We have already been talking about Harvest and have been looking at some fab resources from The Grain Chain showing what happens to wheat from the field to becoming bread. We will definitely make some bread this week or next, both boys absolutely love kneading dough. I think we will make some kind of farm collage and get the farm animals out for small world play. I also plan on making a vegetable soup with the boys using seasonal veg and do some fruit and vegetable printing. I want to visit a local farm too, perhaps the Urban Farm in Leeds.

Autumn is always a great time to look at nature so we will definitely be heading on some nature walks, taking advantage of the lovely crisp days jumping in the leaves and enjoying the rainy puddle splashing days. We always love to collect some natural resources to explore and get crafty with.

Since watching Tim Peake head into space last winter we have dipped in and out of talking about space including recently finding out how stars are made off the back of a question from Seb sl I have decided to make a project of it this autumn. I am quite excited about it to be honest! Twinkl has some fab resources and I have some other bits planned too. I think this topic might take us a while so I am not setting a time frame on it.

We will of course carry on with our usual activities and I am hoping for lots of fun days out!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Our weekly meal plan 19/9

Monday has rolled around again so it's time for our weekly meal plan. Last week we ended up only having about half of our planned meals, I just wasn't feeling it for some reason.

This week I am a bit more determined to stick with it, it's a nice evening easy plan so that should be simple enough.

Our weekly meal plan 19/9

Monday Garlic Parmesan Pasta   

Tuesday Cottage Pie

Wednesday Pasta with pesto and peas

Thursday Fish finger sandwiches

Friday Sausage, mash and beans

Saturday Slow Cooked Chilli with rice

Sunday Pasta with meatballs with garlic tear and share bread


f you love meal planning, join in with our Meal Planning Blog Hop. Why not check out our weekly meal plans for more inspiration? 


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow Festival

Today on the recommendation of a friend we took the boys to Kirkhamgate Scarecrow Festival. It is really pretty local to us so I can't believe I have never heard of it before.

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow festival welcome sign

The boys were so excited(so was I to be honest) so as soon we had parked up we went to find our first scarecrows while Phil went off to grab a map.  The theme was music and there were some brilliant displays to see, I can't possibly post photos of them all! I absolutely love that so much of the village got involved in making scarecrows and that so many people turned out to see them from families to couples young and old to teenagers.
I have to admit my favourites were definitely the Agadoo scarecrows and Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball. There were lots of nursery rhyme themed ones for the littlies too and the boys enjoyed working out what they were.

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow festival, Agadoo scarecrows

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow festival, Miley Cyrus wrecking ball Scarecrow

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow festival, elvis Scarecrow

Kirkhamgate Scarecrow festival, hey diddle diddle

Kirkhamgate scarecrows festival, Mary Mary

Kirkhamgate fields

So if you are in West Yorkshire I definitely recommend Kirkhamgate Scarecrow Festival(it is on again tomorrow Sunday 18th September too), we will definitely be back next year. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Hunting the herd of Sheffield

On Thursday we headed down the motorway to Sheffield to go on an elephant hunt. The herd of Sheffield is a collection of elephant sculptures displayed in Sheffield City centre and beyond, there are 58 large elephants designed by artists and 72 baby elephants designed by school children and teachers.  The collection is one of the biggest arts events ever seen in the city.


We were really excited to see how many of the elephants we could find, we picked up a couple of trail maps and downloaded the app (I would recommend doing this) and set off on our adventure. Although Sheffield is not that far away from us I am not really familiar with the city centre so it was fun to explore. We managed to find absolutely loads of elephants and the boys got really into the whole thing, they loved being the first to spot an elephant,  scanning it on the app and looking around the city. The elephants are amazing and all so different, we didn't get bored at all and spent a good few hours looking around including following the clues in Sheffield Hallam University building to find a missing elephant.












The eleohants were fantasticly decorated. My favourite of the herd had to be the fairytale elephant, with images from famous stories all over even in her trunk.
We were that the weather was beautiful, we spent ages in the Peace Gardens  by the town hall, enjoying the sunshine and the fountains there. Before leaving Sheffield we had to go and find Elmer of course! He is located near the childrens hospital.






The herd are on show until the October 5th 2016 and are going up for auction after this to raise money for Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Our weekly meal plan 12/9

Happy Monday Meal Planners. The weeks are flying past and I am getting excited for the cooler weather to make soups and other comforting meals. I need to buy a new blender as ours died, so any recommendations would be fab? In other food news, we are going to start weaning Barney this week, I am hoping he is as easy with food as the other two have been.

We had a really busy week last week but managed most of our meals so I am happy with that.

Our weekly meal plan 12/9

Monday Slow cooked Bolognese
Tuesday Homemade pizza and salad
Wednesday Garlic kievs, sweet potato fries, peas and sweetcorn
Thursday Toad in the hole with cheese and onion mash
Friday Slow cooked chilli and rice
Saturday Roast chicken
Sunday Garlic parmesan chicken pasta

f you love meal planning, join in with our Meal Planning Blog Hop. Why not check out our weekly meal plans for more inspiration?

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Creation Station Fun Arty Box

As you know we love to get crafty and recently Alex was lucky enough to receive some craft goodies by post. The Creation Station Fun Arty Box is a monthly subscription box full of resources to help you create some fab crafts.

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

Alex was really excited to receive a parcel with his name on it, the box is bright and sturdy and really appealing to children, who doesn't want to receive a surprise from the postman!
The box we received was jungle themed. Inside the box we received a whole host of craft resources including oil pastels, pipe cleaners, silk clay, animal print card and twine. There was also a letter, a magazine with jungle themed ideas to use the resources and a certificate and sticker.

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

We leafed through the magazine and picked out a few of the ideas and got busy creating. With Alex being young(4 next month), we worked on the box together and it was great to sit down together for some mummy time.
We used the card and twine to make jungle bunting, the paper cups became tigers, and the animal print card became a pair of binoculars. We also made up the card hat though it soon got a bit squashed by my over eager boys.

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

The creation station fun Arty box

This box is different to others I have tried before, I love the magazine which has loads of fun inspirational ideas inside, great if you don't have the time to come up with craft fun yourself.  It also means that you can pick and choose the ideas that appeal to you the most. However unlike some craft boxes the box doesn't contain every item that you need which is fine if like me you have a stash of basic craft items such as paint, glue, card, googly eyes etc at home to add to the resources so this is something to bear in mind. The craft items included are a great quality and the crafts can be done in one session or you can work through it at your own pace.

The Fun Arty Box arrives monthly and is priced at £14.99 per month, you can also order specific themed boxes from The Creation Station for £20,  these are great for home educators who do topic work or as a gift for a child who loves a particular theme.
As well as craft boxes The Creation Station also sell an absolutely huge range of quality craft items so pop over for a look if you need to stock up your craft cupboard.

**We received a Fun Arty Box for the purpose of this post,  all opinions are my own**

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