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Top Bananas! The best family recipes ever

At last. It may have taken two years but Mumsnet has finally compiled a cookbook featuring Mumsnetter’s best recipes, which means no more bookmarking pages from the website and balancing my laptop precariously next to the kitchen sink while attempting to recreate the concoctions. The compendium of wise is called Top Bananas! and features the tried and tested recipes of more than 300 mums with dishes ranging from basic Broccoli Balls to Luscious Lamb Shanks. As well as speedy suppers you can create while simultaneously emptying the washing machine and doing general mum things, there’s proper meals for the grown-ups even Misery Guts is game to try. My favourite bit is the chapter devoted to unashamedly unhealthy but rite-of-passage party treats such as Ice Cream Cone Cakes and Party Toffee Popcorn, which will surely send the anti-sugar brigade into overdrive. I can’t actually remember the last time I saw such naughty recipes in a family cookbook – probably my mum’s good old 1980s Jane Asher party cakes book. […]

By |May 30th, 2014|Books, Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews, Weaning|0 Comments

Rushing about with class bears and cameras: we’re all at it

We’re back. A week of lounging, swimming, eating and sleeping in Portugal (Timmy the class bear included, pictured) has done the trick: Misery Guts is (temporarily) less miserable, I’m (temporarily) less tired and BB is bursting with memories of ice cream licking and swimming pool splashing. The addition of Timmy to our party has certainly caused a stir among Mumsnetters. After my last post about class teddy bears having a lot to answer for – and letting the side down in spite of myself by taking the damn thing on holiday to snap in various enviable locations – featured as Mumsnet’s blog of the day, the Twitterati went mad. It seems we’re all at it – rushing around with kids, class mascots and cameras in tow in a bid to illustrate action-packed accounts of the bear’s stay at our house at a day’s notice. It’s like having homework all over again. Needless to say I haven’t actually written up Timmy’s diary entry or printed out the pictures yet – like homework, it’s still hanging over me to do. […]

By |May 28th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|0 Comments

Timmy the class bear has a lot to answer for…

BB came home from nursery armed with a new friend this week: Timothy the class bear. He comes complete with a (daunting) looking diary in which we’re supposed to catalogue his stay at our house for the benefit of the other children, preferably with pictures. After reading the previous entry I quickly realised it’s not the other children we’ve got to impress worry about. It’s the parents. According to a story in one of the newspapers this week ‘class wars’ and ‘social divide’ have been sparked by take-home teddies such as Timmy, prompting pushy parents to snap into ‘competitive, aggressive survival mode’. Crikey. Mums featured in the story unwittingly discovered the class bear had been living the high life in Greece and Hawaii and even climbed Mount Everest, while others were pictured lying on sun loungers and in sports cars. Gulp. Where’s my Apache-pilot brother when you need him? Timmy behind the controls of a helicopter would score extra brownie points, surely. […]

By |May 16th, 2014|Family life, Parenting, Travel|1 Comment

Placenta booties: what’s the big deal?

I fear I’ve opened a can of worms. Yesterday a feature I wrote for The Sun newspaper about mums who made unusual keepsakes following the birth of their babies was published online, and as I write there are currently 142 comments on the story on The Sun’s Facebook page. Mainly bad ones. The main objection seems to be to taxidermy artist Alison Brierley who – quite naturally given she’s a taxidermist – made two pairs of baby booties out of the skin of her placenta (pictured, lit up by LED lights). Then there’s young mum Emily Jackson who discovered she loved breast feeding so much she had some of her milk solidified and set into a silver pendant to remind her of the experience forever. Comments range from the mild ‘yuck’ to ‘how sick’ to ‘they must be weirdos and freaks’. What’s the big deal? […]

By |May 14th, 2014|Breast feeding, Craft, Family life, News, Parenting|2 Comments

‘I’ve bought cheaper second hand cars than this pushchair’

At £450, I’ve bought cheaper second hand cars than Quinny’s latest Buzz pushchair, which parenting website Made For Mums has asked me to put through its paces and review for all the newbies out there. I thought I’d share my (highly scientific) findings with you too, in case you’re also in the market for a set of (mummy-powered) wheels. It might be pricey, but if trips out are going to involve a pushchair from now on, my advice is this: you might as well invest in one that’s going to see you through from birth. This one comes with everything you need to get started: the pushchair itself, a from-birth inlay, adaptors for a Maxi Cosi car seat or Quinny carry cot, a shopping basket that will comfortably hold two bags of supermarket shopping (pictured), a rain cover and a sun canopy. Oh, and a parasol clip. […]

By |May 12th, 2014|Exercise, Family life, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|2 Comments

A spring walk in the bluebells: Butcher’s Wood, West Sussex

If you're looking for the perfect place see spring time bluebells in all their glory I've got just the spot: Butcher’s [...]

‘Mummy why do cats have tails?’

BB has finally started asking the why word. To be honest I was getting a bit concerned that this milestone had not yet been reached when all her little friends started asking why months ago. I needn’t have worried. ‘Why are you putting your coat on?’, ‘Why do I have to eat my lunch?’ and ‘Why are you going to work?’ are all questions she’s asked today alone, and more trickily at bath time earlier this week, ‘Why does Daisy have a long tail?’ This is a very good question: why do cats have tails, and long ones at that? (see Eddie & Daisy, pictured). Given I was kneeling on the bathroom floor elbow deep in bubble bath at the time, stalling under the guise of ‘checking my phone’ while nipping onto google to find out was out of the question, so I fudged it by saying that’s ‘how cats are built’ and ‘what makes them different from humans’. […]

By |May 7th, 2014|Cats, Family life, Parenting|8 Comments

Dads on skateboards: no, no, no, no, NO!

Forget scooters. There’s a new scourge of the pavements round our way: dads on skateboards. And not just 20-something dads: [...]

By |May 2nd, 2014|Exercise, Family life, Fashion, Parenting, Travel|2 Comments

Tramadol nights (and don’t forget the rolling pin)

Misery Guts has done his back in. Again. This is an annoyingly regular occurrence involving lots of groaning (you’d think he was in labour), the use of tramadol (washed down with a couple of lagers) and, as of this week, a rolling pin. According to one of many websites he has consulted on the subject of lower back pain, placing a rolling pin on the floor and rolling the affected area over it is one way of relieving the pain. For some reason this involves Misery Guts disrobing from the waist down (I’m not entirely sure whether the website advises this or whether it’s his own variation – I daren’t ask), lying on the living room floor with the rolling pin under his bare buttocks and, you guessed it, more groaning. I’ll never look at my rolling pin in the same way again. And nor will anyone else who eats cakes or scones at my house having read this post. But more worryingly, BB didn’t even bat an eyelid when this curious nightly routine began to unfold. […]

By |April 30th, 2014|Exercise, Family life, Health, Parenting|0 Comments

‘Daddy’s diawetic’

At the grand old age of two years and eight months – and after hearing about a two year old on the news who managed to dial 999 after his mummy collapsed – I’ve realised it’s high time to teach BB what to do if the same thing ever happens to Misery Guts, who’s Type 1 diabetic. It’s an unlikely scenario to occur when the two of them are awake and on their own, given that during waking hours Misery Guts can generally feel his blood sugar levels dipping and bring them up again before having a fit or becoming unconscious, but not impossible. So to avoid complicating the situation we’ve added an ‘emergency call’ button to our mobile phones so all BB has to do is touch the button and then the picture of the green phone that appears. After a week of practising she knows that if she ever can’t wake daddy up she should press the buttons, tell the person that answers that daddy won’t wake up and that he’s ‘diawetic’. She can even say her name and address. […]

By |April 25th, 2014|Family life, Health, Parenting|0 Comments

I’ve been expecting you

I’m not sure what I’m more pleased about: the fact it appears BB is going to have a brother or [...]

By |April 23rd, 2014|Family life, Health, Parenting|3 Comments

Happy free-from Easter!

Following on from my last post about free-from sausages and how going without gluten and dairy doesn’t mean going without per se, it turns out the same can be said for chocolate. And Easter eggs. Until six months ago health food shops were alien to me: the sort of places that emit the same waft as you pass by the door (what is that smell? The ryvita? The flax?) and are piled high with daunting looking bags of unidentifiable brown stuff. Until I went in with a list written by my nutritional therapist and actually knew what I was looking for, that is. Admittedly chocolate was not on that list, however one cannot help but notice bright shiny chocolatey-looking packaging amongst the aforementioned unidentifiable brown stuff. And so I discovered Booja-Booja, which not only sells luxury chocolates and seasonal treats like Easter eggs (made in Kashmir and filled with truffles, pictured) but ice cream too. […]

By |April 16th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Reviews|0 Comments

By’eck! I’ve just eaten a squasage

That’s right, a squasage. Also known as a square sausage. That’s what gluten free sausage brand Heck have been busy making in time for the barbecue season, because it doesn’t fall through the rungs of the grill only to be burned to a crisp and lost forever, or roll off the side of the barbie onto the grass (pictured). We haven’t dusted down our barbecue yet, so I’ve been eating mine between two soft and thick slices of (gluten free) bread. It may not look like a traditional sausage sandwich – as BB was fast to point out – but it tastes just the same and makes spreading the ketchup even easier. When embarking on Project No Nasties last autumn I thought living free-from would also mean going without, but when it comes to sausages I’ve found an ever better offering than the standard shelves. […]

By |April 14th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews|0 Comments

Things the troops could do with: cupcakes made by a 2-year-old

I know Easter is more than a week away, but BB and I have been busy making chocolate shredded wheat nests in time to send to her uncle who’s currently serving in Afghanistan (pictured). I realise there are probably more urgent – and useful – things the troops could do with than a batch of varying sized cupcakes made from breakfast cereal by a two-year-old (decent coffee and new socks are repeated pleas from my brother), however there’s nothing like a taste of childhood either. I also realise, with the temperature hotting up out there, that sending chocolate-based treats probably isn’t the best idea but I’m buoyed by the fact that when her uncle was stationed in the very same camp I sent a piece of her 1st (chocolate) birthday cake in mid-August and he said it was the best thing he ever tasted (although this probably isn’t saying much given the regulation ‘food’ which makes up their staple diet). […]

By |April 9th, 2014|Family life, Food, Parenting, Recipes|2 Comments

‘He was standing on the loo proudly displaying his willy’

We’ve been on a trip down memory lane in our house lately. It started when BB’s granny gave her a 1984 copy of I Want To See The Moon by Louis Baum for Christmas (pictured), a fave when I was growing up. If you don’t know the story, it’s about a little boy called Toby who wakes up in the night and wants to see the moon, but of course it’s behind the clouds. In some ways it’s very PC: there’s no sign of the mum (I always assumed she was at work) and the dad is the one who takes Toby out of his cot to the loo before making him some hot milk. But at the same time it contains illustrations you just wouldn’t get in a kids book today, like Toby standing on the loo proudly displaying his willy, also pictured. (‘You wouldn’t get away with that today!’ a male friend said when he saw it this weekend). […]

By |April 7th, 2014|Books, Craft, Family life, Fashion, Money, Parenting|3 Comments