December 2014

This salad really is sooooooo yummy and light and refreshing, just what we needed after lots of very filling christmas food. What really makes this dish is the crunchy flaked bacon sprinkled on top, absolutely gorgeous!!

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I would say this whole dish takes no longer than 15 minutes to cook/prepare all together.

What he used:

1 x bag of frozen prawns (he defrosted these in a bowl in the fridge in the day)
1 x jar of thousand island sauce (any will do)
2 x avocados
1/2 iceberg lettuce
1/2 cucumber
1 x lemon
3 x rashers of smoked bacon

Optional:

Crusty granary bread with butter to accompany

What he did:

Hubby started by frying the bacon and then popping this in the oven on high to crisp up. He made the salad by mixing thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, cucumber, onion and avocado together in a large salad bowl. The prawns were mixed together with the thousand island sauce in a separate bowl. To serve the prawns were spooned on top of the mixed salad with a squirt of fresh lemon and the crumbly crunchy bacon sprinkled on top. Mmmmmm yum yum.

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Spent the day with my sister and her children today. Our children are very close in age and get on really well which is lovely. Her baby boy who has started crawling fell of the bed on my watch today whilst my sister went to the bathroom. Bad aunty!! He was so quick there was nothing I could do but watch his little legs disappear over the edge of the bed. He landed right on his head with a Big Bang! I ran as fast as I could round the bed to rescue him shouting ‘oh my god!’ and scooped him up in my arms. He was ok, but I felt really bad. I felt so awful as I said I would keep an eye on him but he was just so fast! I’m not used to a mover you see, as my baby is not moving, well apart from rolling. My first didn’t move until he was over year. I could sit him down surrounded by toys and he would be happy just sat playing for ages. My baby girl doesn’t seem that interested in moving either. Some would say I’m lucky. Less likelihood of falling off beds!

So after my trauma of letting my nephew fall off the bed, off we all went to one of those indoor soft play areas, which is right by my sisters. This place was buzzing with children from babies up to 6 year olds. Straight away I spotted this noticeably bigger boy jumping on and bumping in to all the other children. There’s always one wild one at these places just left to their own devices. ‘Where’s the parents’ my sister and I said to each other. ‘Did you see that, that boy just jumped on that kid’ my sister said. Then the guy next to us holding a baby pipped up and said ‘sorry that’s my boy’. This poor man (yes I felt sorry for him) was there by himself with 3 boys, a baby, an 18 month old and a 6 year old and to say he had his hands full was an understatement! This boisterous boy latched on to my boy and cousin following them everywhere, shouting in their faces and jumping on them continuously. I felt really sorry for my boy who obviously didn’t want this boy following him around as he was happily playing with his cousin, but he was too kind to say. I said to him to just say ‘no thank you’ if he didn’t want to play with this boy. He tried bless him but he’s just too nice!

It’s been lovely spending so much time with family and friends over the Christmas holiday and over my maternity leave. I really am so lucky to have all my family close by (but not too close!). I will miss having all this time with loved ones when I go back to work. Not sure how I’m going to fit everything and everyone in. Quality time is so important. We ordered our 2015 family planner today so we can start organising. We will all be so busy with hubby’s business, my boy at school, my baby at nursery and me going back to work. A one page calender isn’t enough anymore, we all need our own page!! Bring it on!! I don’t know what I would do if I had 4 kids!! How do people do it??!!

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Like everyone I’ve been thinking of ways to use up all the Christmas turkey leftovers but probably getting fed up with eating it in truth! However this recipes a classic post turkey mop up. It’s so simple and uses up all the turkey, gravy and stuffing left over from Christmas Day. I use ready made, ready rolled pastry for convenience and it’s as tasty as any I’ve made myself. I use puff pastry but you could use short crust.

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Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 mins in the oven at 200c

What I used:

2 x onions
4 x cloves of garlic (crushed)
Lots of leftover turkey (white and brown meat)
Leftover stuffing (balls or broken in to chunks)
Leftover turkey gravy (which was made from goblet stock on Christmas Day)
Ready made/ready rolled puff pastry (2 x large sheets)
A little Giblet stock
Someboiled water

What I did:

I started by frying off the onions and garlic with some olive oil in a wok. I use the wok a lot for cooking. Then I added the turkey (white and brown) and stuffing with a little flour and stirred. Then I poured in theleftover gravy and added a small amount of boiled water and a few spoons of giblet stock. I let this all simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Then I lined a pie dish with the first roll of puff pastry and poured in the turkey mixture. Lastly I covered the mixture with the second roll of puff pastry. To finish I used a folk to seal the edges, brushed the top with milk and made a cross slit in the middle. Now I’m not a pretty cook so it looked a bit ‘rustic’ but this dish is so full of flavour I don’t think it matters! The pie was cooked in a fan heated oven for 30 minutes at 200c. You know it’s done when the tops golden and the inside is all bubbly.

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I served the pie with the last of the veg brought for Christmas dinner, sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and some new potatoes. You may also need some extra gravy to moisten, I used oxo chicken gravy granules.

All in all this is a very easy wholesome dish with the added bonus of using up everything left over from Christmas dinner. You could also use this recipe for left over roast chicken so not just good for Christmas!

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Met with a good old friend today for lunch. Took My baby girl along as the boys wanted some ‘boy time’ and She had been a bit scratchy so think they wanted the peace! So of we went, just the girls, to do ladies that lunch (we do that well now!). With the good intention of having a salad Of course I ordered the lamb shank with roast potatoes! I seem to have lost all self control over Christmas. None of us could face the turkey pie tonight so that’s saved for tomorrow (recipe to follow). It’s going to be hard work being good again. God I need some fresh healthiness! I’d only just lost my baby weight too. I’ve been going to the gym 3 times a week and cutting out a lot of naughty food. My one aim is to get back into my work clothes. I’ve just added a few more pounds to lose now! I’m eating chocolate and drinking wine as I write this!

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My friend is in a completely different place to me. She is about to embark on studying again with a pre degree course this year and a degree from September full time. She had 3 years off after having her second child and very fortunate to be able to do this. I studied and got promoted before and in between my two children. How I would have loved a who,e 3 years with my little ones! Oh envy! But this is not an option for me. Besides the fact we need the money, it’s a good secure job that I worked hard to get and I would be stupid to give it up.

I’ve been thinking about feeding my baby this evening. Ive been breastfeeding her for the last 8 months which I have been very pleased with as I couldn’t breastfeed my first. A real achievement. I’m not sure how it’s going to work when I go back to work as I can hardly express an ounce. I’m guessing because she won’t yet be 12 months I’ll be needing to use a formula milk, which I didn’t want to do but probably won’t have a choice. Another stage in her development and another change for me.

The boys have had a lovely time today together, I’m glad they have had this extra quality time over the holiday season. I’ve left them upstairs as I write this, watching the Gruffalo cuddled up in bed together, in the dark all cosy. So cute together.

Life’s full of achievements and changes. But sometimes I could hold a moment in time to live over an over forever. Couldn’t you?? If I could I would stop the clock right now.

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I’ve made this before with chicken and it’s really so simple and something the whole family can enjoy. I make it with no salt and only a small amount of curry powder so suitable for little ones.

What I used:

left over Christmas turkey ( white and brown meat)

Turkey stock (made on Christmas day)

2 x onions

1 x yellow pepper

4 x garlic cloves

grated ginger

curry powder

Ground turmeric

Ground cumin

gara masala

Options:

Tinned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
Coconut milk instead of yogurt
Carrots instead of butternut squash

To accompany:

Boiled rice, Naan bread, popperdoms,  mango chutney
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What I did:

Fried the onions, pepper, garlic, ginger, and all spices in olive oil in a wok for about 3 minutes until onions and pepper are softened. I used a heaped tea spoon of each spice. But only a half a tea spoon of curry powder, but more can be added if necessary. I keep it pretty mild for the kids. Then I added the turkey stock with a little extra boiled water as it was quite rich and the turkey meat. I diced the butternut squash and chucked that in and finally added the yogurt.

 

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Whilst the curry was cooking I put some rice on to boil and cooked some extra diced butternut squash (with sweet potato) for baby.

 

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Simples!!

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Fresh air! Today we went for a long overdue walk on the beach to blow the Christmas cobwebs away. Today was a lot fresher than the previous rainy warm days, so we all put our winter warmers on. Although cold, the sun was out and the sea looked glorious. We walked right to the end of the beach almost as far as the eye could see. It felt like we were the only ones on the beach. The beach is vast and long, tonnes of space to enjoy and the low sun in the sky made it seem even more beautiful. We all needed the exercise after 3 days of Christmas feasting. It was lovely to see my boy running along the pebble beach in the sun, drawing lines in the sand, following foot prints and collecting stones. Ive come back with pockets full again. It made us all feel better. So lovely spending all this time together. We’re really making the most of the Christmas holiday this year. In a funny way it still feels like Christmas and my boy doesn’t seem to be losing the Christmas spirit, which keeps us all going. Sometimes it can feel so depressing after Christmas, but for some reason we’re all still feeling a bit festive. So lovely, let it last I say.

When we got home we were all cold and hungry, so we lit the open fire and cooked up some Christmas bubble and squeak. Then we all settled down and watched a movie, some family chilling out time in the cosy warm. With the Christmas tree still looking Christmassy in the corner of the room.

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So as Christmas time comes to a close, my thoughts are returning to work. I still haven’t agreed my return to work arrangements and there’s only just over 4 weeks to go. I would like to reduce my hours at least temporarily as I don’t see how I will manage full time with two children, one at school, one at nursery, and the long commute. Emotionally and maternally I don’t want to go back full time. In fact I don’t want to go back at all. But I’ve accepted I have to (just about). They seem to be putting the pressure on me to go back full time but I just can’t do it and hardly see my children. Priorities have changed big time. A new chapter in all our lives, we will all have to adjust. For now I’m enjoying every single precious moment with my little ones. So this week we will keep things busy, meeting friends, family, going out as much as we can.

4 weeks…..not long at all……wish I could live these last 9 months all over again. I’d do it all again in a flash.

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I’ve still got time to whip up some stewed fruit pud for baby. Fruit pots from the supermarkets are great too especially for convenience if out and about and can be chucked in the babies bag with a spoon. However homemade adds texture for baby to enjoy and you can add whatever fruit you like. I also just chuck this in the bag in one of those small plastic pots.

Today I’ve made apple and mixed berries. To do this I used:

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3 x peeled and cored apples (I used the royal gala variety)
1 x cup of water
A handful of frozen mixed fruit (cheaper and easy to use, available from the supermarkets frozen foods section and ideal when fresh berries are out of season)

I’ve used other fruit too, pear for example is also great. Just add whatever you like!

First of all I stewed the apple in the water until soft, then I added the handful of mixed berries and mushed it all down with a folk. You could purée for younger babies but my baby is 8 months so can handle the rougher texture.

preparation time: 5 mins

cookung time: 10 mins

This really is so quick and easy to make and the amount I’ve made will last in the fridge for a good few days and provide baby with approx 4 – 5 servings. My baby loves stewed fruit and its a winner at tea time or lunch and packed full of goodness.

 

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Such a lovely run up to Christmas this year, it’s been non stop, so busy. I will have to take some time off next year so I can still enjoy the run up to christmas as it makes it all the more special. Today is Christmas Eve and all of a sudden it’s upon us and our hopes for a relaxing and quiet Christmas Eve are dashed. It’s seems five minutes ago we had weeks to prepare. Our Christmas tree was put up 4 weeks ago!! Such a lot of preparation and money spent for just one day. And now it’s a rush, but an exciting rush.

For me it’s a quick (haha) stop to town for some last minute bits and bobs. For hubby and the kids it’s off to sister in laws for Christmas present drop off and to see all the cousins. Joshua loves spending time with his cousins so I know it won’t be a just a quick present drop off, there’s going to be some playing and laughing too! Still I’m mad when they’re late, still so much to do!

The town had such a lovely feeling about it. Everyone happyily going about they’re Christmas shopping. The shops were absolutely buzzing with Christmas anticipation and joy. I quite enjoyed walking in the winter sun running my little errands whilst children free. So much easier. Then I’m picked up, my list completed and off back home to make hampers, wrap presents and leave for my mums, all within the hour! And we thought we were so organised! The house needless to say was abandoned like a bomb had hit it, but we could deal with that later.

This year we gave hampers to the grandparents and not only did they include the hubby’s usual joys of christmas pud and pickled unions, they also included my homemade chutney and jam. Nice to do these things whilst I can. Hope they like them. I think I need more practice. I do so enjoy playing the domestic goddess.

We had a wonderful time at mums, with my sister and her children and my brother. My boy absolutely loves spending time with the wider family especially his cousins. They played completely happily the whole time, so lovely and sweet together, both on their best behaviour. Hubby got some gorgeous cuddles with our baby girl. Lovely to see. I think he was quite reluctant to pass her over to an eager nanny and aunty for their cuddle time!

Wow what a feast mum had prepared! She loves hosting family get togethers, now she is a nanny and even more so at christmas when we’re not all together on Christmas Day, which I know she would love. But we had a fantastic Christmas Eve feast and the children had a brilliant time. They were so besides themselves with excitement about Father Christmas coming. How lovely it must be to be in their world right now. It’s such a privilege as a parent to witness them in their world. Especially at Christmas time.

This evening felt so magical at home with our little ones. This is the first Christmas my boy has really got excited and believed and talked about it. ‘Father Christmas is coming tonight!!’ He says. We leave Father Christmas and his reindeers their treats by the fire, watch ‘the snowman’ and read ’twas the night before Christmas’. I want to bottle up the feeling I have at this moment in time. What a magical Christmas Eve.

 

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Feeling festive today. Am so glad I decided to take an extra month off so I can really enjoy christmas and not have it overshadowed too much by returning to work. It’s still closer than I would like to admit though. Just round the corner now. I’m going to make sure I make the most of these last few weeks and spend as much time as possible with my babies. We are going to have a fantastic christmas!!

The house is looking and feeling super festive. The Christmas tree is gorgeously Nordic with lots of pretty lights glowing away warming our cosy little lounge. Decorating the tree is one of my favourite family moments. I just adore watching my hubby lift my son high to put the fairy on top of the Christmas tree. Wonderful. I’m loving all the Christmas colours, reds, golds, greens and Browns, warming our modest home. We’ve finished things off this year with a few extra lights for around the mirrors and some super fancy outside lights and even a Christmas tree outside the front door (all thanks to my hubby), that all shout ‘we love Christmas and we’re excited!!’. My boy is so proud of his decorated home. He has got really in to it this year, helping make decorations and making his own cards. He can write his own name in the cards now, so amazing. I hope I have time to do all this with him next year. It’s wonderful just watching him enjoy getting involved and contributing in his own way.

Christmas tree!

Christmas tree!

Christmas colours warming our home

Christmas colours warming our home

Homemade snowman for bunting

Homemade snowman for bunting

We watched my boys school nativity today and he was a wise man. Lacking time and skill I ordered him a costume online. A striking blue Cape and golden crown complemented my boys gorgeousness completely. We all left super early to ensure we had that prime positioned front row seat. How bright and confident he looked as he came out to perform. A million miles away from his pre-school shyness last year. He smiled and beamed as proud as I felt, not fazed by the audience of eager onlookers. As the nativity songs were sung I found myself singing along. For weeks my boy has been singing these songs at home, they are so familiar to me now. He grinned and waved to us looking so happy we were all there to see him, mummy, daddy, little sister, nanny and one of his cousins. I know my mum (nanny) was chuffed to bits to be there and see her grandsons nativity. Such special moments are important to share.

In the back of my mind work is always there though. I’m thinking about it more and more every day the closer I get to my return. I’m resenting it trying to tarnish my last few weeks. I don’t want to miss any of these precious moments. I don’t want my son to see I’m missing any of these precious moments. I have to be there for him as much as I can be now, I just have to.

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