Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Journalling addiction & herb theft

1. I received a tip-off that After Eight mints were dairy-free. Upon investigating I found that butterfat had been added to the recipe. Hmph. However, the Asda equivalent actually are dairy-free (as well as being cheaper and not-Nestle). So while everyone else is eating Easter eggs I may well be found working my way through boxes of Asda dark chocolate mint thins & Tesco value bourbon biscuits.

2. This morning I found my 14-month-old cleaning the skirting board with a baby wipe. This is very definitely not something he's seen me doing, but will be encouraged :-)

3. Hayfever has hit. While everyone else was enjoying the sunshine over the weekend, I was sniffing and sneezing. (And walking through fields of daffodils and budding trees. Probably not a great idea). Hopefully the medication will start to work in the next couple of days (by which time it will predictably be normal cold March weather again). (These drug information factsheets are incredibly useful for breastfeeding mums, as pretty much every medicine says you mustn't take it, whether it's true or not).

4. I have a tiny rosemary plant/twig in a pot in my yard, which isn't able to keep up with the demands of my cooking. So I've started picking some from the huge healthy plants outside Westboy's nursery. It feels kind of sneaky, and I always wait until noone else is around, so this is my blog-confession-time. A couple of sprigs have sprouted roots since bringing them home, and are doing well in pots, so there's hope that my herb-thieving ways might eventually end.

5. The boys gave me the 'RollerJournal' App for Mother's Day. It randomly selects questions to prompt journal writing, and is billed as "a new and addictive journalling experience". I've figured out what's addictive about it: It feels like someone's interested in what I'm rambling on about. It asks "What are you looking forward to?" I answer. I click "Another question". It says " If you could be anywhere right now where would you be?" I answer. I click "Another question". It says "What are you worried about?" I think "aw, thanks for asking...". I realise I am being sucked in by its unconditional positive regard...

6. Here's Ed Sheeran

7. I'm enjoying the NHS Choices 'Behind the Headlines' website, for the 'unspun' version of health research (without having to plough through the original research papers). A useful reminder of how often the health research that appears in the headlines is wildly inaccurate and misleading.

8. I love this list of What Mums Want. My top 3 are Going to the toilet ON MY OWN, a weekend of sleep, and drive through everything :-)

9. I've felt a bit cornered lately in terms of what I can cook for my family... Westbaby can't eat dairy or anything acidic (such as tomatoes), Westboy is going through a randomly fussy phase: won't eat anything with sauce on it, many vegetables, and most meat, Tom isn't a fan of pulses or vegetarian meals, I'm also dairy-free and would prefer to eat 'better' meat less often, ...while all within a tight budget and without cooking four different meals. This article resonated with our current situation, and this one reassures me that we're doing okay and it'll work out in the end.

10. Having fun in the mini-sandpit in our yard...

Oh, and if you didn't see it last night, watch "Chaplains: Angels of Mersey" to see James Harding, his lovely family, and the St James in the City team. There are 5 more episodes left, at 8pm on Mondays, on BBC2.

Linking up with the other ten-on-tuesday-ers: Sarah, Jo, Lucy, Hannah, & Laura .

Have a great week!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ten on Tuesday: In Pictures

So it's Tuesday again, but I'm too sleepy to write, so here's my ten in pictures...

1. Pie. Sweet potato, red onion, spinach, goat's cheese (in the non-dairy-free half), thyme, cumin & roast garlic. Even my carnivorous husband approved.

2. Bird watching/spying on the neighbours.

3. Hand washing

4. Hand holding

5. Mother's Day breakfast in bed...

6. ...and flowers...

7. ...and lovely framed photos of my boys.

8. Felt coasters for our Mums

9. Marmalade cake (with icing, rather than chocolate)

10. Playing in the park

Linking up with the other ten-on-tuesday-ers: Sarah, Jo, Lucy, Hannah, & Laura .
Have a great week! 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Ten on Tuesday: It's a Numtum day...

After a week of pear & almond cake, pear & ginger muffins, pears, eggs, & more pears, (and poorly feverish children, -probably not pear-related) I'm back with another ten:

1. Bored in Ikea... (well yes, it was me that was bored, but so were they... I think. Anyway, turning packaging materials into a race track solved the problem).

2. I have a beautiful friend who comes round every Wednesday evening, has tea with us, helps to bath the boys and get them ready for bed (they love her bathtimes), and then cleans the kitchen and polishes the hob. I am indeed very blessed!
3. I made this nest necklace for my lovely Mum's birthday. 

4. Yesterday Westboy said "You're a milky cow" to me. I know it sounds bad, but he really seemed to mean it affectionately. I reckon his reasoning is that Westbaby feeds on milk from me, and he knows that milk comes from cows. So put the two together and it's not illogical that mummy is a cow....

5. This made me laugh and cry. I keep thinking that I should try writing a five-minute-friday post, but it scares me & I really don't think I can write without editing.

6. And from the same blog... I'm not great at getting places on time, and having two little ones to get ready adds extra complexity to something I already find difficult. If I'm tired (which is usually) and rushing (which is often), little things become big problems and I end up frustrated and fraught. This was a good reminder to keep some perspective when we're trying to get out of the house to a deadline.

7. The Lost Nap reappeared while the Westboy was ill. I think it's time to get rid of it again now, unfortunately.

8. Anyone want to make a ukulele from an iPad and iPhone??? Well, now you can...

9. We've started doing a Hanen course at the local SureStart centre. It's a bit random, but will hopefully help with Westboy's speech problems. I thought it was rather ironic that in the first session we learnt about "tuning-in" to our children and following their lead, while they screamed in the creche down the corridor.... Anywaaaay, it looks like it'll be good overall. This article (produced by the Hanen centre) summarises the evidence on children's books. (Interestingly, Westbaby's longstanding favourite book is this one that's illustrated with colour photos of pets).

10. Why-oh-why have CBeebies put Tree Fu Tom and Waybaloo in the hour leading up to tea, when a bit of telly would be so useful....??? (Magic, levitation, crystals and weirdness, in case you aren't a 'beebies watcher). On the plus-side, Octonauts has made giving Westboy an inhaler (with spacer and mask) so much easier (we pretend that it's Octonaut breathing apparatus), and Numtums is fabulous. I was tempted to do a ten consisting entirely of Numtums episodes, but I think that might've been cheating....  here's number 10.

Have a great week! Check what the other ten-on-tuesday-ers have written (Sarah, Jo, Lucy, Hannah & Britgirl), & maybe Lyn and Laura (go on!) :-)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Pear & Almond Cake

Even before I received a bumper delivery of pears and eggs (see 3) I was thinking of making this cake. We ate it warm with ice cream for pudding with guests, and I had a slice with a cup of coffee the following day. Virtually the same recipe appears in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's The River Cottage Family Cookbook and River Cottage Everyday, except that it uses apples in Everyday. Both versions are great.

150g butter (Vitalite, in my case)
125g caster sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp almond extract
75g ground almonds
75g self-raising flour
3 pears (fairly firm conference pears give the best results)
25g butter & 1tbsp sugar to prepare the pears

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base. Preheat the oven to 160C
Peel the pears, quarter them length-ways and remove the core. Melt 25g butter in a frying pan, add 1 tbsp sugar, and stir until it bubbles. Add the pear slices and fry them for a few minutes, until they have a few caramelised brown flecks, but without letting them fall apart.
Beat the butter and sugar with a freestanding mixer or an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Break in an egg and beat well, then beat in the second egg, along with the almond extract and a spoonful of flour to stop it curdling. Add the ground almonds, sift in the flour, and fold together gently.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and gently smooth the surface. Arrange the pears on top, and trickle over any juices from the pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
Serve warm as a pudding with cream or ice cream, or cold  as cake with a cup of tea or coffee.

Right, only another 16 eggs and 15 pears to eat... Pear omelette anyone?! ;-)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Biscuits & Bunting

1. This week I've been busy with a little project: starting something that will (hopefully!) connect and support mums at St James in the City. I've also had poorly boys, and the start of Westboy's speech therapy, so this might be more like 'Two on Tuesday' plus a bunch of fillers.

2. Photos from when the boys were ill, snuggled on the sofa. (Westboy is incredibly polite when he's not well. It's very sweet).

3. My ASDA substitutions this week have left me with 18 eggs and 18 pears. I'd just been thinking that it was a while since I'd made a pear & almond cake. Now we can have several.

4. Mother's day is approaching, and I've just remembered that I have an etsy shop full of jewellery. Who knows, It might be the answer to your "what should I get for mum?" questions.

5. Tesco value bourbon biscuits are dairy-free. This is a very dangerous discovery!!!

6. I have an over-affectionate iPhone. My predictive text changes "Hx" (how I usually sign off) for "Hxxx". As I press "send". Oh.Dear.

7. Westboy has started doing magic tricks for us. Unfortunately Westbaby (his assistant) usually reveals whatever's supposed to have vanished (i.e. is hidden under a blanket).

8. Bunting. I'm not sure I 'get' it (that's probably like saying i don't 'get' chocolate to some people I know!), however it seemed to be what this space needed...

9. Self-portraits by the boys. Westbaby on the left, Westboy on the right (just in case you  couldn't tell?!) 

10. The obligatory "ooh, spring is here, isn't it nice" photo. (I do love Sefton Park at this time of year).

Have a good week! Check what the other ten-on-tuesday-ers have written (Sarah, Jo, Lucy, Hannah & Britgirl), & maybe perhaps Lyn and Laura??? :-)