­

‘Chunkier’ advent calendar chocolate: why oh why?

Is it just me or is the world going mad? Or advent calendar makers to be precise. I couldn’t help but furnish BB with her first chocolate advent calendar this year – it seemed cruel not to – and she loves Thomas the Tank Engine, for which there isn’t a non-chocolate picture alternative available. Or it seemed cruel until my eyes fell on the boast ‘chunkier chocolate for the final five days’ (pictured), when it was already opened and too late to take back. Chunkier chocolate for the final five days??!! I am outraged. Why oh why? So the child can gradually expand their stomach in time for the day itself, ready to gorge on even more confectionary? And since when did advent calendars have 25, as opposed to 24, chocolates? No wonder this country has an obesity problem. […]

By |December 4th, 2013|Family life, Food, Health|0 Comments

Peanut butter…without the peanuts!

I can hardly believe it but I’m about to enter my third month of project No Nasties (alcohol, caffeine and dairy) in a bid to wave goodbye to not-so-new mum frazzle and fatigue and rediscover pre-pregnancy levels of health and wellbeing. I say no nasties: I must admit to falling off the wagon once or twice wine-wise, and the odd diet coke may have passed my lips, but overall I’ve had a pretty good stab at it. While I’m at it I’ve decided to embrace the whole free-from revolution and opt for gluten-free and whatever-else-I-can-get-my-hands-on-free at the same time. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. And you can now get peanut butter without the peanuts. Or any other sort of nut. And it actually tastes – and looks – like peanut butter (pictured). […]

By |November 29th, 2013|Food, Health, Reviews|3 Comments

Easy peasy gluten-free Christmas cake recipe

With Misery Guts following a gluten-free Paleo diet and me doing my best to clean up my own act I’ve been making a gluten-free Christmas cake for the last few years. Finding a decent recipe was harder than I thought, but I finally found a great one so I thought I’d share my easy peasy gluten-free Christmas cake recipe for anyone looking for a free-from option. I simply took ever-dependable Delia Smith’s classic Christmas cake recipe and substituted the flour for ground almonds and a teeny weeny bit of gluten-free plain flour. She also uses chopped almonds, so fearing almond overload I opted for chopped pistachios instead. Here’s how I did it: […]

By |November 25th, 2013|Family life, Food, Health|4 Comments

Get ready for Stir-up Sunday!

This weekend is the last before advent which means only one thing: this Sunday is Stir-up Sunday and time to make the Christmas pudding. Except I won’t be making a pudding because my brother usually arrives armed with a posh one from one London food hall or another, so I’m making the cake instead. Which poses the question: how to decorate it this year? This is last year’s effort (pictured), which paid homage to a year in which we celebrated the Olympics, the diamond jubilee and the pitter patter of tiny royal feet. (I was rather pleased with the feet – I sprayed pink footprints I had left over from a christening cake with edible gold spray). […]

By |November 22nd, 2013|Family life, Food|0 Comments

5 things to do with pumpkin innards this Halloween

The pumpkin has been carved, the candles have been lit and your little monster is staring in wonder at the finished result. [...]

By |October 30th, 2013|Family life, Food|8 Comments

Breastfeeding: the aftermath

I know I promised not to write anymore on the subject, but circumstances have conspired to induce me to take to my laptop once again. It’s now been five months since I stopped breastfeeding BB, and in those months I have felt so under the weather that I hardly remember what it’s like to feel on top of it. It started with an eye infection which took three GPs to diagnose correctly, quickly followed by an ear infection requiring two separate courses of antibiotics. Then there was a tummy bug which lasted a full 4 weeks, forcing me to cancel social events and sending me to bed, twice. Oh, and then there was a nasty mouth ulcer. At first I put the feeling of general malaise down to the ‘fug’ of new motherhood, broken nights that lasted more than a year and running around after a toddler. But surely the fug oughtn’t to last two years. And, on reflection, feeling like I’ve been knocked over the head with a cricket bat by mid afternoon every day isn’t quite right either. […]

By |October 7th, 2013|Breast feeding, Family life, Food, Health|4 Comments

Thomson holidays in Majorca: no more worries for a day or two

The kids are back at school, the nights are drawing in and flights are finally back to their term-time price tags. Meaning there’s no better time for some late summer sun. As a result BB and I have been on our first girlie holiday together: an all-inclusive package deal to Majorca where the temperature at this time of year averages a respectable 27 degrees. Envious? You should be. It was a week of firsts for us: the first time BB has had her own seat on a plane, the first time I have travelled solo with a toddler, suitcase and pushchair in tow, the first time BB has been without her daddy for more than two nights in a row, the first time we have visited the Balearics and the first time we have experienced an all-inclusive package holiday. When Thomson – which is targeting young families with its pioneering Family Resorts concept – first asked me to review its Majorcan offering, the Protur Aparthotel Bonaire in Cala Bona, I must admit I was sceptical about whether a holiday with obligatory wrist bands, buffet meals and evening entertainment was really for us. […]

By |September 25th, 2013|Family days out, Family life, Food, Reviews, Travel, Uncategorized|9 Comments

The best burger in the UK?

I have just eaten one of the top 5 burgers in the UK, apparently. A large a-board declares the accolade outside Lucky Beach café on Brighton seafront (pictured), and although it’s not clear to which burger on the six-strong menu the achievement belongs, exactly when the claim to fame was awarded (this year? Last year? Five years ago?) or who voted for said burger, I must (grudgingly) admit mine was genuinely among the best I’ve ever tasted. And – shock horror – there was no beef in sight. Grilled halloumi topped with a large flat field mushroom, roasted red pepper and kale, all skewered together in a glazed bun (pictured). That’s a positively healthy burger, in my book. […]

By |August 26th, 2013|Food, Reviews|0 Comments

Is it ok if I cut Makka Pakka’s head off?

Ta dah. After hours in the kitchen Makka Pakka had a day out to the beach for the purposes of BB’s 2nd birthday cake this weekend (pictured). My nephew took one look at him and told me he wanted to cut his head off, which I thought a little unfair. But BB was impressed and that’s what matters. […]

By |August 19th, 2013|Family life, Food|2 Comments

How to make homemade sandwich flags

With pink and green meringues cooling in the oven and having made not one but four homemade cakes ahead of [...]

By |August 16th, 2013|Craft, Family life, Food|8 Comments

Memories are made of…licking a Kenwood ‘K’

Birthday cake making has commenced and as a result BB has reached a milestone: she has licked the Kenwood ‘K’. [...]

By |August 12th, 2013|Family life, Food, Health|4 Comments

Just call me the cake fairy

The venue has been booked, the invitations have been sent and with BB’s 2nd birthday just around the corner it’s time to turn my attention to the most important task of all: her birthday cake. Here is last year’s effort (pictured), In The Night Garden eat your heart out, which I have to say went down a treat even if I do say so myself. The trouble is I’ve set the bar now, which means I’ve got to come up with something equally creative this year. Which is easier said than done, as this time last year BB was happy to jump around in her door bouncer as I painstakingly fashioned Makka Pakka’s tail out of fondant icing and secured Upsy Daisy’s hair with edible glue. Misery Guts suggested we ask someone else to make one given I’m no longer on maternity leave and have zero time on my hands, but I’m afraid this is akin to a cardinal sin where I come from: birthday cakes have always been (handmade) by mum, with as much effort as one can muster. So there’ll be no outsourcing here. […]

By |August 7th, 2013|Family life, Food|3 Comments

Pippa Middleton I (might) need you: words I never thought I’d say

August is almost upon us which means BB’s birthday is just weeks away and the party planner of the century [...]

By |July 29th, 2013|Books, Family life, Food, Reviews|0 Comments

Top tips for a stress free holiday with the kids

I’m pleased to report we managed to avoid burning the house down following our sojourn in Spain. So here are my top tips for a stress free holiday with the kids (and husband) in tow: 1) Don’t book seats with a budget airline when your other half is more than six foot four inches tall and prone to bouts of bad temperedness. Misery Guts was (happily) filling in a complaints form just 45 minutes into our flight. 2) Go on holiday with as many friends or family members you can muster (and tolerate) in order to be able to relax on a sun lounger (pictured). Many hands make light work. […]

By |July 17th, 2013|Family life, Food, Potty training, Travel|0 Comments

All because the baby loves…scampi

I have finally found a cooked fish BB will eat: scampi. With the exception of smoked salmon (she has expensive tastes, like her mother) the little monkey has previously refused to touch any fish. You name it, I’ve tried it: fish pie, fish fillets, fish fingers, salmon fingers, tuna – I really was starting to believe that perhaps she really doesn’t like fish. But rummaging around in the freezer facing the daily ‘what shall we have for tea’ conundrum my eyes fell on a bag of scampi languishing at the back of the freezer drawer. Like marmite, it’s the sort of thing you either love or hate. I picked out four pieces to give it a go. She LOVED it (pictured). […]

By |June 21st, 2013|Family life, Food, Weaning|0 Comments