Saturday, 30 May 2015

To the woman who gave me a dirty look when my baby screamed...

You made me feel like shit as you passed me by and threw me and the screaming pram a filthy look.

What you don’t realise is this; the woman you give those dirty looks to, as you swanned around in your heels and sunglasses, marching in front of the pram to get into the posh shop, has probably been up since the crack of dawn.  That’s assuming her baby has slept through of course.  Chances are she’s been up all night, trying to sooth her teething baby.  The baby one who’s scratched his face from pulling at painful ears, the one who’s starving because it hurts to eat, the one who doesn’t quite know what to do with himself because his tired little body and mind can get the sleep it needs to grow, all thanks to those little pieces of enamel pushing against red raw gums as they break the tender surface.

Or perhaps the baby hasn’t quite cracked sleeping through yet, needing a little milk in the night because he lost a lot of weight when he was tiny thanks to silent reflux that went undiagnosed; or worse, perhaps he’s in need of mummy cuddles every two hours in the night because his parents are trying to do the right thing and wean off the dummy before six months (because that’s what the health visitor said).

Or maybe the baby has simply been over stimulated through being in Manchester and is just so damned tired he can get himself off to sleep.  You don’t know.  You don’t care

But I’ll tell you what’s not the matter.  He isn’t screaming to inconvenience you, to make the 10 seconds you are in ear shot the worst of your day (and if they are the worst of your day, then you’re a very lucky woman), or to be in your way as you saunter into the posh shop that his mother, on maternity leave and unable to afford to shop there, can’t go into, particularly with said screaming baby.

And I’ll tell you another thing.  The woman pushing the pram?  You made her feel like shit thanks to ‘that look’.  She had a very early morning and not enough sleep but, despite this, tried her best to look presentable today and give her kids a day out.  You made her stew over that look all day, so much so, she decided to write about it when the babies were in bed.

But you know what? I’m done. I’m done stewing over that look and here’s why: I pity you.

I pity that you don’t have the empathy for another woman who’s clearly having a bad few minutes, if not hour, day or month. I pity that you are so insular that you think the only person the screaming baby is affecting is you and your shopping day.  But most of all, I pity that you clearly have never had the absolute pleasure of a baby, the price of which can be screaming and very little sleep.  Because if you had, you’d have been there and would have given me an ‘I’ve been there, it gets easier look’ instead.  You’d know that the crying is worth it, that the smile you get when he wakes up makes the crying to get him to sleep in the first place fall from memory.  But you don’t know this.  And I pity you.

So thank you.  Thank you for making me realise, even though you thought you were holier than thou, through that one look I have so much to be thankful for.  My baby boys. Their screaming and all.

Bitch (I feel better now!).


Feta and Pomegranate Cous Cous Salad

Summer just can't make up it's mind this year.  One day we're barbecuing, next we're stewing, so when asked to make a salad to go with a barbecue, I put my mind to work for something that can used another time.

Let me explain.

I always make enough to feed an army; I cant bear the thought of someone coming to our home for dinner and going home hungry, or the thought that I might take food to someones house and be seen as stingy. No, no, no.  So invariably, no matter how delicious the food, I always end up with leftovers.

I also can't bear the thought of eating summery salads on a freezing cold, blustery day; food must match the surroundings (think tapas in the sun in Spain, or a steaming cappuccino in a piazza in Italy).

Finally, I love leftovers; I love opening my fridge and seeing cling filmed bowls of good food good to go - it makes me happy. So this salad had to be good for this changing weather.

With all this in mind, I went for a glorious cous cous salad, emboldened by the sprinkle of pomegranate and brought back to earth with mint and feta.  Perfect on a summers day with a barbecued chicken thigh or two and actually, even better served up alongside a lamb Tagine on a blustery day, which the next day just happened to be - you could say I planned it that way....
Feta and Pomegranate Cous Cous Salad

Feta and Pomegranate Cous Cous Salad (Serves 6-8)

  • 300g cous cous

  • 450ml chicken or vegetable stock

  • A fat clove of garlic (or two, depending on taste)

  • A good squeeze of lemon juice

  • 250g pack feta, crumbled into large chunks

  • Olive Oil (extra virgin if you have it)

  • Salt and pepper

  • Large bunch Mint, leaves chopped

  • 2-3 salad/spring onions, snipped into rounds about 5cm in width

  • Seeds from one pomegranate

  1. Pour the stock over the cous cous in a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to soak for 5-10 minutes

  2. Fluff the cous cous with a fork and add the garlic, lemon juice, feta, olive oil, mint, spring onions and a good grind of salt and pepper and stir well, taking care not to break up the cheese.  You can make ahead until this point.

  3. Tip the salad into a serving bowl and top with the pomegranate seeds just before serving so the colour doesn't bleed.

  4. Tuck in


Friday, 29 May 2015

Can I get this excited by a loaf? Yes I can

Aldi Brioche ReviewI've never written a blog post like this before - that's just how bloody good this is.  I've seen pages on Mumsnet dedicated to Aldi finds, but none have mentioned this product. I was spurred on to buy Aldi's French Sliced Brioche Loaf by a few things:

  • We're Baby Led Weaning and that's a good enough excuse to give it a go.

  • My brother in law is coming over from France for the weekend and I always buy lots of nice food when he comes (not to mention my own weight in bacon and tea bags)

  • I just needed a sweet hit that wasn't chocolate and toasted brioche sounded like just the ticket.

  • I'm greedy

In from the rain like drowned rats, I stuck a couple of slices in the toaster and the boy in his Bumbo (send me Daily Mail articles all you like, I wont stop using it).  Slathered with butter, it was just the right side of crunchy with sweet, buttery warmth.  Light, and buttercup yellow, the loaf has that satisfying squidge we all seem to look for when 'testing' the freshness of bread. Had to text my husband. Had to tweet Aldi. Had to Blog it.

Aldi Brioche Review BLWReluctantly (not sure if I love the baby or bread more) I tore off a piece for the boy whose big blue eyes were following my every mouthful.  He ate the lot, at just shy of six months and looked for more (fat chance, baby, it's mine).  I daren't give it to the three year old, I wont get a look in.  And the brother in law can sing for it.  He's got bacon.

If reading this you're wondering how someone could be so enthused over a loaf of bread, go purchase. right now.

At £1.45 for a loaf that lasts until mid -July (ha!) it might not be the cheapest on the shelf, but it's a bargain no less.  I feel a bread and butter pudding recipe coming on....

Cardboard Car Bribe

Whilst the baby sleeps (finally) and the child is at nursery (bless those 15 hours), I've grabbed a cuppa and finally found time to blog my latest bribe.

Moving house is unsettling and I'm sure even the baby has caught onto how fraught we are; but the child even more so.  He's exhausted thanks to the lovely place we're staying having a downside of only two bedrooms.  With the baby not sleeping so well thanks to us waking him up every time we turned over, we've moved the child into our room and the baby in on his own.  Baby sleeps better, we sleep better - child? Not so much.

Make a cardboard carSo, to bedtime - a nightmare thanks to an overtired child who knows something is up following a full day at nursery and a weekend at grandmas.  Cast your mind back, if you will, to my making of a rocket for the Dude one evening, in a fit of inspiration, motherly love and that damned Something Special, he's suddenly decided he wants a car to go with it, thanks to The Man's obsession with F1 - fun for me all round.  Having put him off, I eventually uttered the immortal words 'if you go to bed NOW I'll make you a car'.

Now, let me tell you, this kid has a memory to put an elephant to shame.  I know this, yet I chose to pretend he'd forget by morning.  I was wrong.  ALL day he asked for that bloody car, so, with another bribe backed up with a promise that night, I set to work.

I sought out an almighty box (aided by The Man's place of work - thanks), some paper plates, a boat load of paint and some decorations - not forgetting a craft (read:kitchen - I'm not that good) knife, some scissors, sellotape and superglue (pritt stick would do but everything is In. Bloody. Storage).

I started by cutting the flaps off the top of the box then shaped the sides and the back. A hole in front for the windscreen and you have a car.  How far you go after this is up to you.

We needed doors - so just a couple of cut outs either side sorted that - and it had to be red (it is a race car after all), so I slapped on a load of paint - rather haphazardly but he really wouldn't care about the paint job. I added some black for the windows and four paper plates painted black for the wheels - you could just grab a marker or just leave them plain.  Finally, a paper plate for the steering wheel (I was really into it at this point so this one even has a steering column), and you've a bribe-worthy cardboard car.

However, I was in the zone, so the following extras were added - a damn sight cheaper than BMW extras, I might add.
  • Dots of black paint for handles on the doors

  • Foil covered cardboard for the wing mirrors and rear view mirror (these may not be true to life - I don't use mine so wouldn't know)

  • A logo on the front, made out of a paper place and a logo of your choice (ours is his surname initial)

  • Reg places made from foil covered card again, with the letters cut out of black paper (or in our case, white paper painted black)

  • Bits of paper plate cut out for headlights

  • Mini pom-poms for the indicators and brake lights (I'm making some pom pom bunting so had some to hand)

  • A bean bag inside for him to perch his derriere

  • If I hadn't have been exhausted by this time (and I ran out of paper plates), I'd have added some speed dials and possibly a boot made from another cardboard box.  Maybe.
So there you have it - a bribe that doubles as a toy.  Cost nothing, and took about 90 minutes; not a terrible way to fill an evening and, had I not have opened a bottle of wine, may have even taken less time.  Use your imagination and whatever comes to hand... and warn others in the house they may be needed to drag the child around in the car making brum brum noises - over to you, Husband

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Baby Led Weaning makes for one happy dog

The time has come, signaled by the young one trying to snatch my doughnut and following every mouthful I take with those big blue eyes of his.  Seriously, I feared for the safety of my afternoon sugary treat as I felt his eyes bore a hole in the doughy dessert.  It's time to wean, although first foods absolutely wont be a doughnut. A little shy of 6 months old, the little dude can pretty much sit up, can grasp, put food to his mouth and generally shows an interest, so off with Baby Led Weaning we go (no whizzing up mush for us - I'm far too lazy).

IMG_8164I'm a real advocate of BLW, letting your baby choose what they want to eat and feeding themselves, not only for the benefit to baby, but for the fun you have along the way as a parent - and this time round, the dog will think all his Christmases have come at once as the majority of the food ends up on the floor, for the first few months at least.

I can't wait to get cracking; all I have to do now is try and think of some BLW foods that the child will eat too - that'll be the difficult part.  Expect some weird and wonderful recipes to satisfy a hungry but fussy child (I just LOVE this stage) and a BLW baby to follow.  We'll be off with some broccoli and sweet potato for dinner tomorrow night - we'll save the steak for 7 months old.

Bring it on.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Salted Caramel Brownies

As news arrived that we could be moving in just two short weeks, euphoria was quickly replaced by panic when I realised I'd no longer be able to get my weekly (OK, daily) Salted Caramel Brownie from the local bakery.  Argh! So when I agreed to make dessert for our Bank Holiday Monday BBQ with our friends-who-have-given-us-a-place-to-live, I knew what needed to be done.  I need these in my life.

Salted Caramel BrownieThe bakery brownies, dense with a slither of salted caramel running through the middle were perfect apart from one thing - they were less than an inch high but quite large in shape, more like a flapjack. No good.  Brownies, to me, are a large squidgy cube allowing for maximum fudginess and little chance of going dry, so I made that change first by using a 20cm square tin (I'd prefer 23cm but the damned thing is in storage). The brownies I made were indeed chocolatey with salted caramel running through the middle but were sweeter than their bakery counterparts snd much, much fudgier.  They were also much saltier than I'd like and I have a thing about salt in my boys diets, so I'll made sure I use a little less next time - the recipe below uses less salt than I used (for that intensely salty hit, use a full teaspoon of salt in your caramel).  I'd also be tempted to put all of the caramel in the middle and not bother with the topping - one to try next time I guess!

I've another brownie recipe in mind to use for those who enjoy something sweet but don't have a hugely sweet tooth (such as me). However, should you be the sort who enjoys the feeling that their teeth may fall out straight after chowing down on their sweet treat, like The Man, punctuated and tamed by that seriously salty hit, then this is the recipe for you my friend.

How to:
  • First, take 200g unsalted butter and melt in a pan over a low heat. Once melted, add 100g each of 70% cocoa and 50% cocoa chocolate, broken into pieces (no less or you wont get that lovely fudgy-ness) and take off the heat.  Leave until all the broken chocolate has melted.

  • Next, take 175g Carnation Caramel from a 397g tin and mix in half a tsp of flaked sea salt - make sure you use the good stuff here, not your 30p saxa table salt. Set aside.

  • Take the remaining caramel and whisk together with four medium eggs at room temperature and 200g golden caster sugar, until all mixed together

  • Add your melted chocolate and butter concoction and beat until smooth

  • Finally, weigh 130g plain flour and 50g cocoa and sift together over your chocolate and caramel mixture. Beat until just mixed - no more!

  • In a greased and lined 20-23cm square tin, add half of your mixture and smooth. Take half of your caramel and sea salt mixture and make five 'stripes' across your brownie mixture, then finally top with the rest of your brownie batter.

  • Take the second half of your salted caramel and make a further three thick stripes then, using the end of a knife, drag it through the caramel to make a feathered effect, taking care not to disturb the mixture below. Sprinkle with a further half teaspoon of sea salt.

  • Bake at 180 for 25-30 minutes, until the brownie has risen but still has a slight wobble to the centre.

  • Leave to cool, or if you're feeling rebellious (or simply didn't make this early enough in the day because your kids were being 'challenging'), eat just warm with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

  • Brush your teeth. Well.

Keep an eye out for the less sweet recipe to follow, should you feel the need.
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Modern Dad Pages

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Re-discovering Nottingham - with a little Nostalgia

This weekend, we drove to Nottingham, our soon-to-be new home to check the house is still standing (it is), that we still love it (we do) and to see our family (we did).

When my parents offered to have the boys for a few hours so The Man could actually see some of the City he's agreed to move to, we snapped their arms off.  Having lived in Manchester for the past few years, where The Man grew up, I was excited to be able to show him around for a change, to show him the sights, the places to go and the things to see... except, having not been to Nottingham for 15 years, I could show him little except the street names I remembered.

We came into town through Victoria Centre - so far, so normal.  A little has changed - some funky lights, a few move arounds, a few new additions. The mirrored pillars that I once waved at myself in thinking there was another little blonde girl in there looking at me have been replaced by some laminate wood contraptions, but altogether the changes were positive, not too drastic.  Despite my desire for a changed city, I felt nostalgia begin to creep in.

Until I headed towards Boots.

I stopped in my tracks, wondering where the crowd around the marble seating had gone, where the children milling about were. Something wasn't right; no trickle of water, no general chatter...  Where had it gone!?

DSCN0535-mediumOnce the site of the glorious clock fountain, now the site of a dull John Lewis display, I could do nothing to stop the horror and disappointment creeping across my face and the memories creeping through my mind. Throwing a penny in to make a wish, watching the metal birds dance around the clock on the hour every hour, feeling the slight spray on my face as the fountains spurted their insipid water in the air, feeling the cold marble on my legs as I sat on the ledge in my too-short-for-school skirt. All those childhood memories, gone.

Where is the clock now? Surely they can't scrap it?

I realised then just how full of culture Nottingham is; the clock, the Left Lion (I keep mentioning this infamous Lion - my husband thinks I'm mad), Boris and the man who played the Xylophone outside of C&A - what was his name again? And I felt excited about the life my boys would make here.  Will they meet their friends at the Left Lion?

We headed out of the Centre, The Man's relief palpable as he realised I'd stop bleating on about the whereabouts of the fountain and the travesty that it should no longer be there, and headed over the crossings and down Clumber Street, where nothing had changed, not even a shop front, or so it seemed.  Then left towards Hockley.  If I hadn't have been on twitter and searched for Nottingham, I'm pretty certain I'd have headed straight on, not quite ready to show The Man the delights of Hockley that was, the gothic shops that scared me as a girl, Ice Nine that intimidated me beyond belief. But we followed the crowds to find bakeries, bars and shops (Oh My!). Restaurants, galleries and video games arcades too - what was going on? It reminded me of Manchester's Northern Quarter - Independent, quirky, unique; a part of town that rose from the ashes of cans in the gutter and alleys smelling of urine, still with some of that 'don't go there' aura, but with the corners rounded and the edges blurry - the chewing gum scraped off the street, the independent bars sandwiched between chains, the pedestrianised roads all showed me a part of town to see and be seen in.

Quickly running out of time, we trundled our way around the rest of town; Market Square (no fountains, no foam; another memory that wouldn't be re-made by my boys), the Left Lion (a memory that would), Broadmarsh (being done up - at last), all punctuated with visits to trendy bars selling cocktails, 'small plates' and Prosseco - and not a City Bar or Slippery Nipple in sight (c'mon, you must remember that place!?)

I left Nottingham city center and headed back to my parents house, back to my boys and felt sad and nostalgic for all that had changed, the experiences I had in my home town that my boys wont have (except City Bar - I hope they don't experience that). But I felt excited by the prospect of our family's life in what appeared to be a young, cosmopolitan city, so different from the one I left behind 15 years ago, about the fun we will have, the experience we will have, about the life The Man and I will have in this City with our family (and babysitters!) being so close by.

It's going to be good.  It's going to be great.

Friday, 22 May 2015

EAT Copper Letters

When your solicitor tells you to wait another month console yourself by making something nice for your new home.

I have a theme in mind for our new kitchen, which is copper and cream, a warm industrial look.  I also like wall art and stickers, but I know I'll get bored so needed something relatively cheap but also individual.

My thought process was this - where can I get relatively cheap copper?  Coppers, of course, the good ole 1p. As a family we eat in the kitchen, so an appropriate word was 'Eat', and it had to be something I could make.


Now, I'm not that handy with a jigsaw, so I turned to The Wooden Letters Company for my 'EAT' letters, choosing their 6" version in block ariel to give me the best chance of fitting pennies on without overpowering the kitchen (in case I hated them). I then painted them with Dulux Bronze and let them dry before super-gluing the pennies on (as well as my fingers but that's another post for another time).  With the benefit of hindsight I'd have gone for larger letters so I could make the pennies more uniform on the 'A', but it's not bothered me to the point I'd start again.

Simple, cheap, easy and fast.  Like my husband.


Home Etc

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Making a Space Rocket

Make A Space Rocket
You know when you just want to send your kids into space?

Well, make a space rocket!

Thanks to 'Something Special' my son has wanted his very own Space Rocket since, like, forever (in his World - since Monday in ours). So today, with us overtired (him) and over emotional (me), we needed something over the top to distract ourselves.  Having raided our recycling pile (and our neighbours) for enough card to get us going, and a quick visit to B&M for some parcel tape, some tin foil and some stickers, we were good to go.

It's pretty simple to achieve the shape, you don't need to be accurate; the parcel tape will hide any gaps in cardboard structure and the foil will hide everything else.  We started by taking our largest box and opening the top and bottom to make it taller so it stood on the edges of the cardboard.  We then wrapped tape around the top and bottom flaps to steady it - so we had an opened ended rectangle.  Four triangles taped together to make a pyramid, with the base of each being the same length as edge side of the box, taped to the top of the 'body' gave us the point of the rocket and four triangular fins for each corner and you've got your structure.  Get handy with a kitchen knife and butcher the front and sides to make a door and windows - you're done!

Time to embrace your best wrapping skills and get to work with the tin foil.  You might need some clear tape here, depending on how aesthetically pleasing you want to be. At this point my cherub decided he wanted a handle on the door.  And one inside so he could close it once in.  Boys eh?

A few stickers to decorate and you can rest easy; child happy with a new toy and you, smug with a cup of tea safe in the knowledge you've just made your kid a new, cheap toy and bought yourself a few minutes of much needed peace.

Make A Space Rocket

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Food Revolution - A review

  • WhereRevolution Macclesfield  (The same menu applies to Nottingham)

  • When: Wednesday, 12.30pm

  • Who: Myself, my husband and our baby in his pram

  • How Much: Less than £10 for a main course on average

Think Revolution. Think sticky floors, chilli vodka and cheesy Saturday night music? Think Again.

Revolutions ReviewRevolution. Now that brings back some memories - hazy ones, but memories none the less.  Often a destination for a start out drink on a Saturday evening, more often an 'ended up' place - 'Oh, we ended up in Rev's, cracking night' etc etc, Rev's has been the scene of many a messy evening, always sponsored by Absolut Vodka Cocktails. Now, it seems, Rev's is also the scene of style, fabulous food and innovative drinks with a new menu to boot - their new relaxed sharing style of dining that 'is at the centre of the foodie scenes in New York and San Francisco', was one I was keen to try when invited.

Never having been in Revolution during the day, I entered with my baby with trepidation, but they were more than happy to accommodate us, moving chairs for the pram and making sure we had enough room without causing a fuss.  There aren't any children's menus (that I could see) which is to be expected in a bar, but I was reassured they could accommodate our little man when I looked around and saw lots of happy families enjoying the chilled out music coming from speakers, the funky, industrial inspired interior and, of course, the food.

So, on to the menu.

I'm ashamed to say I was expecting classic chicken in a basket, everything-tastes-the-same-deep-fried platters and still-radiating-with-microwaves-when-it-arrives Lasagnas.  I'm happy to say I was very wrong; they stuck to their promise of American Deli-style produce with salt beef sliders, buttermilk chicken, burritos and shrimp all gracing the menu with nothing microwaved in sight.  Fabulous choice for those more adventurous (popping candy and Armageddon sauce on a burger, anyone?) and just as much to choose from for the more picky amongst us.

I REALLY wanted one of the sharer crates I spied on a neighbouring table, involving  pulled beef sliders, viper dusted fat chips, buttermilk fried chicken and dough dogs, but I knew I'd struggle to share and had to turn my attention to the wider selection with an initial reluctance.

Revolutions Review
Revolutions Review

With this in mind, we perused the menu whilst sipping on water (stylishly served in a carafe bearing chopped fruit - very now, very Pinterest) and munching our BBQ Crackling Puffs, deliciously salty, devilishly crunchy and decided, after much deliberation to start with a few Sharing Plates. At 3 for £13 they struck me as the perfect way to start a night out with friends or a quick snack break with a chilled Prosseco whilst shopping. We devoured Dough Dogs (inspired by corn dogs, hot dogs on a stick, bloody gorgeous, my son would kill for them), Crispy Goat's Cheese Bon Bons (perfect with their homemade Armageddon sauce - which will knock your socks off) and Butterfly Breaded Shrimp (which happily took me back to a drunken afternoon on a pier in San Francisco).  I normally avoid 'breaded' thanks to many heavy, oil-soaked experiences, but these breaded bites were gently battered and fried to give a light taste and texture, not a drop of oil to be seen.  We were impressed.  We were surprised.

Revolutions Review

For our main course, despite the extensive menu, we both headed for the burger section. He chose the Smokin' Bacon, resplendent with Wotsits (yes, the crisps - they work), dripping with cheese and bursting with BBQ onions.  I plumped for the healthier San Fran Chicken, fresh as dawn, laden with beetroot, sunblush tomatoes and avocado - right up my street.  More choices were to be made - Normal skin on fries or sweet potato? Vapor dust (spicy I'm told) or BBQ dust? (he went for normal with BBQ, I had plain sweet potato.  Good fries all round).

Revolutions Review

Revolutions Review


Just when we couldn't eat another bite, the dessert menu appeared and two 'Fluffwich'es were ordered; Chocolate for me, Banoffee for him; The fillings, wrapped in a sweet bread and gently fried until molten, were sickly sweet and gorgeous.  Both were stuffed with Fluff, that marshmallow stuff you see in the American section of Selfridges, then mine with Nutella, his with banana.  Only one complaint - mine could have done with a bit more Nutella, but then even with a 1kg jar on the side I still wouldn't be happy!

This review wouldn't be complete without a review of the impeccable service, from the smile from Shelley as we arrived, to the asking if we'd like to wait for our mains or go ahead, through to the attention with the drinks - not overly fussy, friendly and attentive.  Perfect.

Blue Moon Cocktail

We were both hugely surprised at what we found at Rev's; memories of those sticky floors were quickly fading to be replaced with memories of style, good food and good service. But, whilst I and Revolutions may have evolved, grown and matured over the last few years, a trip to Revolution wouldn't be compete without a Absolut vodka based cocktail now, would it?

  • Who should come here?: Anyone; families, friends, colleagues; but I'd avoid bringing your gran and avoid children after 6pm ish.

  • Is it value for money?: Absolutely - you get plenty of grub for your GBP and won't leave feeling you've been 'done'. You could go to a chain competitor and send much more for microwaved fare. And on Monday's, there's 50% off certain dishes - see you there!

  • Revolution kindly invited me to review their menu and the meal was free of charge - thanks guys!
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Tasty Tuesdays on

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

They say you choose your own family...

And you do - we chose our dog; meet Lenny, our 11 month old Labradoodle, a big ball of fluff, ears and tail, giving cuddles to The Man.  Just seeing the 35 kilo fluff ball perch on his knee for a cuddle makes you realise why they say dogs are a part of the family - because they are.

We couldn't imagine life without our pooch - how gorgeous is he?  The most good natured, big daft dog you'll meet, he's the 'Buddy The Elf' of the canine world - know what I mean?

When we move he will have so much room to run!  As generous as our friends are in letting us stay in their holiday let until the move is O.V.E.R, there's no garden for him to loll about it, so he has to wait until the baby wakes up/Peppa Pig has finished so I can bundle up the toddler/The Man gets home to go out even for a piddle.  So this move can't come quickly enough for him either.  Poor little man

Monday, 18 May 2015

I pretty much guarantee every mum wants to get fit, right?  Despite good intentions there is never the time. So, to guilt myself into sorting this out, I'm going to keep a fitness diary, a shame blog. A shlog, if you will.

I'm not big, a size 10 (UK), but I've popped out two kids, the last only 5 months ago,  It's time to tone up and get fit if, for no other reason, I want to see my beautiful boys grow up.  Here's my inspiration...


As soon as we move house I'll start running. I will I will I will.  I can't start now, my trainers are in storage (ha!). But for now, I'll try and keep active with my Jawbone counting my steps, with an aim for 10k/day.  Here goes:

18th May - 10,219 steps.  You'd have thought I'd planned this, with a good step day to start!

Until next time

Combat Boredom - Jammy Biscuits

On Mondays, I have two children with me, a five month old and an inevitably bored-for-some-of-the-day three year old.  Today, to combat said boredom, satisfy my/his sweet tooth and take my mind off the fact we STILL haven't heard from the solicitor, I took to Google to figure out what could be done to rectify the situation.  I used to be a big cook, making up and blogging my recipes for fun (fun? what's that again), spending my days doing the rounds of trial and error. Now, I cook for necessity for the kiddies unless I'm cooking with the boys - that's a whole new kind of fun right there.  However, there is no room for error here; one mistake resulting in less than perfect produce will inspire a tantrum worthy of, well, a three year old.  Anything that takes longer to do than ten minutes results in flour, butter or anything else he can get his hands on being flung about the kitchen and on to the dog.  So, no making up of recipes here!

Jammy Biscuits - Cooking with kidsWe ended up making some deliciously gooey Jammy Biscuits to pass some time; just five ingredients and a pair of clean hands and you're off (NB in our house clean finger nails and no sight of bogies passes for clean - his bogies that is), with lovely, time saving instructions from  Hard to get wrong, this forgiving dough allows little hands to abuse it and still turn out a biscuit you'd give to a friend rather than an enemy... and the fact that these particular little hands made less than perfectly shaped biscuits (those on Good Food were clearly made by, oooh, say, a five year old), makes them all the more endearing.  The only thing I'd note is to use bloody good jam - is it worth doing any less?

How to?

  • Measure out 200g self-raising flour, 100g sugar (recipe calls for caster but only had granulated so it had to do) and 100g butter and get your little hands to rub
    together to make a breadcrumb like texture - 'i said rub, not throw!'

Jammy Biscuits - Cooking with kids

  • Finish off for them when they get bored.

  • Dribble in a lightly beaten egg and get those hands in again to form a dough - I left this to the little hands - I have nice nails and I'd like to keep them that way.

  • Roll said dough into a sausage about 5cm in diameter and cut into 2cm thick rounds - you'll end up with 12 or so.FullSizeRender (1)

  • Stick your little ones finger in the middle of each to make an indentation into which you're going to plop a teaspoon of jam (alternating a spoon full for yourself of course).

  • Put them on a baking tray, leaving a good 3cm around each one for spreadage and bake for 10-12 minutes at 190 degrees.

  • I don't need to tell you that hot jam is like molten lava, so make sure you leave them a bit before you get greedy and shove one in in one go.... erm I mean allow your little horror to eat one delicately (I'm not talking from experience here or anything...).

May your day pass a little faster, if not sweeter.

This isn't a food blog but...

Any blog about Family Life and, indeed, Living, should, must include an element of food - am I wrong? Whether it's a celebration, a way to pass the time or just day to day eating food plays such a massive part in family life that it'd be churlish not to include it.

I'm no stranger to food blogs (I have a food blog out there somewhere), but this blog isn't food for foods sake; it's food that my family love, whether it's been bought, made or served to us in a restaurant.  I may have made a recipe up that I want to document or share, or perhaps sharing an internet find that anyone who reads this might find useful.

Having a family has made me want to cook good, honest, healthy food for my family as opposed to the show off food I used to cook for the blog and then never again.  The recipes you find on here will be ones that I've done over and over again.  There probably wont be many - who knows yet how this blog will turn out - but those that do find their way on here will be worth it.

So, roll on the recipes, reviews and restaurant. Yum

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Here we are... well not quite - Welcome to Living Life Nottingham

Except we aren't - in Nottingham I mean. Not yet anyway.  Originally hailing from Nottingham, I'm on my way home after 15 years via Leeds, Amsterdam, London, Manchester, Congleton, Buxton, many, many unsuitable suitors and the realisation that, actually, there is no place like home.

The realities of moving house with a baby in tow

I've spent the last few years in Manchester and Cheshire and made it my home having met my husband and had our two beautiful, challenging, pain in the arse (God love 'em) children here. We made a home and tonnes of friends, some of whom have been in The Man's life since he was just 2, but came to the realization early this year that, with a young family and no close family near by we had lost our life together, my family were missing out on our boys, and we were missing out on them. Two very close family members tragically died within a week of each other at Christmas and there was our wake up call - life's too bloody short to miss out on the ones you love.

So, decision made - it was time to go home, back to Nottingham.  Three days later, we received an offer on our home - you can hate me if you like, but I do realize just how lucky we are - and 30 days later we were homeless.  That's how I've come to find me and my boys, all six of them (yes, I'm counting the cats and dogs) in a two bed holiday let in the Peak District.  We've an offer accepted on a house in the motherland and we expect to be on the move in 4-6 weeks (ha - they said that two weeks ago).

Which brings me here, to this blog.

Even though I'm born and bred Nottingham, my friends and the life I had with my boys remained in Cheshire when we left. And I'm nervous as hell.  Everywhere you turn in Cheshire or Manchester, there's a smart new bakery, a pottery painting place for the kids, a city farm to visit, a 50 meter outdoor water slide to fling yourself down, a new bar/restaurant/pop up tearoom, hell, even a new area in town!  There's so much going on - and Nottingham (or at least my memory of it) seems dead in comparison.  I don't know the people in it, the shops, the nightlife, the family life, nothing. So, I did some research and I found a website that shows amazing (their words not mine) things to do in areas of the UK - hundreds of listings in Manchester, not one in Nottingham - sob! What have we done!

This can't be the case, can it?  That this supposedly cosmopolitan city has nothing to shout about?  So today I made a decision - this will work for us.  We will make friends, we will find nice restaurants and I'll be damned if I'm moving again, so this has to work.  And I'll find those little places, those jewels that make a city home, the places, the restaurants, the lovely walks that you want to show off to your friends you left behind, and I'll write about them all. I'll also write about the family life we're make here. The things we do, the friends we make, the good times, the bad times, the restaurants, the parks.  I'll write about our family, the food, the fights and the fun.  I'll write about it all.

I'll document our journey of making a family life in Nottingham and I'll show that we are Living Life. In Nottingham.

Wish me luck.