A couple of weeks ago when we were in London to watch WWE RAW we were asked if we would like to go for lunch at Franco Manca, a small authentic sour dough pizzeria in various locations across the city. Obviously being pizza lovers the answer wasn’t a hard one and we took them up on the offer! Not knowing which one we were going to choose made it a bit of a mystery review style lunch which I’ve never done before and I loved.
We went in at about 1.30pm and the place was crammed! We literally got the last two seats inside, which usually makes me think that a place MUST be good if it’s this busy right? I wasn’t too sure about the table arrangements, where we sat it was a table for two pushed together with another table for two – picture Wagamamas style eating where you are essentially sharing a table with strangers, which I don’t really like in a restaurant. Adam wasn’t bothered though, he was of the opinion that it was all “very continental”! Ha!
As soon as we were seated someone came over to take our orders – even though we hadn’t looked at the menus and I couldn’t see the special board because I’m as blind as a bat. It did feel very rushed, which was a bit of a dampener, so when Adam answered “I’ll take a number 4 please” I had to say I needed extra time. The waiter said he wouldn’t come back and take our drinks order and see if we wanted anything else and the next thing we know…. a number 4 pizza was placed on the table!
Obviously, we were a bit surprised and thankful that there is complimentary bottled water on the table because, well, the waiter forgot to come back for our drinks and clearly didn’t listen at all when we said we needed more time! That being said, one bite of the pizza and all was forgiven. It was heavenly. The dough was thin and soft, with just the right amount of crisp. The toppings were really high quality produce and delicious.
I guess because it was so busy it meant that the staff were rushed themselves, but having been in the hospitality industry for years Adam was really surprised by how overwhelmed they seemed to be and how they hadn’t listened. We could have sent the pizza back and said actually, we asked for more time as you are rushing us, but it was so delicious that there was no point. Not only that, because they whole thing was so quick, had we still been hungry we could easily have ordered another pizza and had it faster than a McDonalds meal.
- Really nice decor, very authentic feeling
- Free bottled water, which adds a nice touch and I always have water with a meal so I was happy!
- Delcious pizza, well worthy of recommendation.
- The fastest pizza I’ve ever had – so good if you are looking for a speedy lunch date.
- Seeing the chefs making the pizzas is always a plus for me!
- Price. One pizza was really quite large and cost… £6.75. Which meant our whole meal (because they forgot us) cost £6.75.
- Rushed. I hate being rushed and this waiter was really rushing us.
- Waiter didn’t listen, which annoys me A LOT!
- Felt a bit cramped. I’m not keen on sitting at tables with other people I don’t know, especially not when I want a romantic lunch!
- Staff didn’t seem observant at all, we tried to catch their eyes a few times and got zilch.
All in all, I would definitely recommend going to Franco Manca, it was super tasty and well worth the very reasonable price BUT I wouldn’t recommend going during super busy times, or maybe just be a bit firmer with requesting more time!
So unless you have been living under a rock you will most likely have seen that Chrissy Teigen, wife of John Legend and totally badass presenter and model, has had her baby girl. Even if, like my mum, you haven’t a clue who she is (nor do you care) you will probably have heard the odd muttering of her name because this pregnancy has been very much in the forefront of the media eye, and it appears that poor Chrissy ain’t done yet with grasping the media eyeballs.
Let’s have a think about what has happened to Chrissy Teigen throughout her pregnancy. Firstly, she was brave enough to come out and TALK about her fertility problems, something that most women, never mind celebrity women, will not talk about. It’s a taboo and one that shouldn’t exist. In doing so Chrissy got others talking, she pulled the issue into the limelight and got everyone thinking about the struggles that people face when they are trying to conceive. I can only imagine that thousands of women (and men) are grateful to anyone who helps to shed a light on the pain that is fertility issues.
All was well for Chrissy until she decided to share that she had “chosen” to have a baby girl – for her husband. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t quite get this attitude that daddy has a special bond with daughter and mummy has a special bond with son. I have a special bond with all my kids and so does Adam, but had Adam been able to choose, he would have chosen a boy. I would have chosen a girl. It’s a personal preference really isn’t it? Clearly as a couple they sat down and I imagine that he crooned to her about wanting a baby girl, she thought it over and decided yeah – let’s have a baby girl. Rather than be happy for them, the poor couple were lambasted with hatred. “Playing god” was chucked around a lot, “sexist” was chucked around a lot and through it all, she smiled and said, hey, my baby, my choice. In a statement the woman acknowledged that everyone may not feel that their ability to choose a gender was right, but that was what they had done and they didn’t regret it or apologise for it. I say, rock on. You can choose a specific gender baby that you have struggled for years to conceive and you want to? Who is anyone else to tell you that you can’t? And as for the playing god comments – they were technically already doing that with their IVF in the first place right? Bore off.
Now the baby is here. A bouncing bundle of love and happiness, just like all babies (when they are sleeping). Thankfully both mum and baby are healthy and happy, so in a SHOCKING move… Chrissy left the one week old baby at home and went for a meal with her husband.
Hold up, the 1950s are calling, they want their outdated, sexist ideas back y’all because this is 2016 and there is no such thing as “leaving your baby too early”. It’s a personal choice.
Since the pair were spotted out for their romantic meal, poor Chrissy has been blasted again by the judgey pant wearing hordes because apparently she “left the baby too early”, “was just showing off her post pregnancy body snap back” and “couldn’t possibly leave a baby so young”… Wow. Just wow.
Bare with me while I don my feminist cap (it’s shiny) and have a look around for the comments slamming John Legend for leaving HIS newborn baby to go out for a meal… no, wait, there aren’t any. You know why? Because he’s a dude. Essentially, his dangly bits make him less important to the development of a newborn baby and he really should be bringing home the bacon by now anyway, after all, it’s been a whole week since labour – what more does he want? The gender bias here is strong.
The truth is, whether you care about a couple of celebs who are in the news again, you should care about what this says about our society. Being a new mum is fucking hard, for real, it can be terrifying. It is a time when you are vulnerable, nervous of your every move and you need the world around you to build you up, not tear you down. Whats more, sometimes, you need a break. Sometimes you need to step away and remember who you were before you didn’t have a second to shower, were covered in baby sick and hadn’t been out of the house for five days straight. As a society, the choice was made to tear this new mum down, but nothing – not a single word – was said about this new dad. All this latest Chrissy Teigen bash highlights is a society that undervalues dads and views them as secondary parents and takes great pleasure in sending a woman back to the 1950s as soon as she has given birth.
Chrissy, you want to go to dinner honey, you go to dinner, but make sure you put your shoes on as you step out of the kitchen first k?
This month I’m sponsored by the wonderful Jumping Dog London, a fashion brand with a difference whose primary goal is making the lives of The Lost Boys better.
So let’s talk about The Lost Boys and why they are so important.
These are a group of kids who live in tunnels underneath the streets of Bucharest in abject poverty and face daily challenges that you and I can’t imagine. Where food will come from. Where warmth will come from. Can you imagine having those concerns?
The founder of Jumping Dog and photographer, Joost Vandebrug, spent 5 years with these boys, documenting their lives and setting up the ‘CINCI LEI Project’ which has helped these children to turn their lives around. The gorgeous brand Jumping Dog was founded in 2014 and is a brand that creates clothes that children want to wear but will help the children who need it.
Joost followed four boys, Nicu, Costel, Stefan and Liviu, who had been living on the streets from a very young age. At the time they weren’t named The Lost Boys, rather this became their name because Joost called them so. Their stories are all equally emotive, but none of them are unusual, which is as tragic as it is infuriating. Despite being guided by Bruce, who is a first generation street child, acting as a guardian to the boys in many ways to try and help them seek their sanctuary on the streets, the boys have little to no aid or influence from adults. Isn’t that heartbreaking? One image that really stuck with me is a group of adults glaring at the children from the bus stop… wouldn’t you want to help them? The boys formed relationships which each other that bonded them together with a camaraderie that I truly believe can only come through such struggles, and also formed strong bonds with stray dogs who they cared for as their own, hence the name “Jumping Dog” for the brand. When the CINCI LEI project began the ideal was to build a shelter for the boys where they could lead a safer and healthier life, the chosen location was in a dog shelter, thanks to their love of dogs.
When I was sent the CINCI LEI book, a book that tells the tale of the four boys and their struggles through the photography they allowed Joost to take, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not really one for photography books, I like to sink my teeth into text to read a story, however I felt that this book really resonated with me. The images require no words to tell the coming of age tale of these young boys and their struggles, I’ve included a few in this post but I can’t recommend grabbing the book enough, not only is it for a good cause (as are the beautiful clothes) but it’s also a stunning coffee book with beautiful imagery that really resonates within.
As a blogger there are certain opportunities that come up from time to time where I am lucky enough to be offered a chance to take the family away or on a day trip of some fashion. Consider it a perk of the job, but with it comes a certain date and time frame, just like any other job. More often than not a client would ask you to take the opportunity during a less busy period for them – it makes sense and often gives you more chance to enjoy the holiday or day trip without a huge amount of crowds whilst you are trying to grab photos.
This means taking holiday during school time.
Now, it is by no means a “blogger thing”, rather a parent thing, but it’s one that really grinds my gears. Earlier in the year we took Reuben out of school for a family trip to Center Parcs. I have to say Reuben’s school seem to be excellent with regards to holiday, especially when I compare their attitude towards friend’s schools. Still, regulations are regulations and we put in a holiday request, which is required from the term after your child turns 5. What gets me wound up is, why am I requesting permission to take my child out of school, but I don’t have to request permission to take him out of school altogether?
A couple of friends took a trip with their two little ones a few months back. Their daughter had just turned 5, an age where no fundamental coursework or exams could possibly be a factor, yet they were denied the right to take their child on holiday during term time, a holiday that was to see family members in Australia who they hadn’t seen for over 2 years. They had to pay a fine and a black mark was put against their child, noting that there was “unauthorised” absence.
What is with that?
Look, I get it, some people are totally irresponsible and would think nothing to hoisting a 15 year old in the middle of GCSEs out of school to take a family holiday to Benidorm for a week, but at 5 years old? What could they possibly be missing that is so vital two weeks will make a difference? Nothing. It’s a nanny state complex that has been introduced as a money making scheme by government.
In addition to this, I have a friend who was fined for taking her daughter out of school for a family trip to Portugal. During this two week family holiday she took her girls to museums, aquariums, beach trips and other cultural experiences that they simply wouldn’t have here… Yet it was considered a break in their education and worthy of a fine. No. Just no. This was further accentuated when one of the girls was sent home with a request to visit Pizza Hut for a “celebratory” end of term lunch. During a school day!
Someone draw the comparison for me there between taking time out to further your social and cultural education, build quality relationships with family members and a trip to Pizza Hut with your friends… What on earth is wrong with this system?
As far as my teacher friends go, I have a mixed bag though the majority lean towards thinking it is a ludicrous policy (the only one that doesn’t is rather laughably a primary school teacher, who works with year 1 children and sees absence as a nuisance because her planning could be disrupted…). After discussing it with them it further emphasises to me how this attitude suits no one, and is in no way productive to the parent/school relationship. It is also heavily biased towards people with a higher income too – what is £60 when you are spending £5,000? A lot to some people, not much to others. It’s biased and unfair to those who have to scrim and scrape to make the holiday viable in the first place, not to mention to parents of multiple children.
We will be taking Reuben out of school in September to visit DisneyWorld, and my work is responsible for that choice, as such I would be very upset to find myself handed a fine and, like the father recently who won his court case against paying fines, would look to contest it.
What are your thoughts? Have you been caught out by this or had any issues with taking your children out of school? Do you think it’s fair?
You might remember when Edie started using a dream blanket a while ago when she moved into her own bedroom and into a cotbed? Well lately there hasn’t been as much use for her dream blanket on her bed as she has been using a duvet set from Tuck n Snug but don’t let that fool you, we are still huge aden + anais fans and there is plenty of room for some extra blanket lovin’.
As a family we are a rather snuggly gang, we’ve got four blankets strategically placed around the living room awaiting the moment that they made be needed for curling up on the sofa or sitting on to have an impromptu picnic in the living room. It’s no exception upstairs, and while Edith’s dream blanket has been relegated to the side lines for warmer days while she enjoys her duvet, I have a beautiful new Meadowlark pattern dream blanket hanging over my nursing chair to compliment her bedroom style for when she summons me in the night for her feed/s – it can be really chilly when you are exhausted and sat there for up to an hour at a time!
So why I am I telling you about these gorgeous blankets? Well because I’ve teamed up with the rather awesome aden + anais to offer Toby & Roo readers the chance to WIN a dream blanket of your choice, choosing from their new Meadowlark and Indigo Dream patterns! The blankets are the perfect addition to your child’s room for summer as they are light and breathable but warm and snuggly.
Want to win one? Just join in the rafflecopter competition below:
Good luck everyone! The competition will end on 30th May, so get entering!
I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about transgender discrimination of late, specifically after the issues they’re having over in America with new legislation to insist that trans people use the bathroom of their birth gender. It’s got me thinking really, when did we become so fucking pathetic?
Firstly, you can google transgender and find some pretty big, burly men who have vaginas – if you feel that a male is a natural predator, then you are going to fully shit yourself if he waltzes into your female bathroom to have a wee, because, unless you sit on his knee in the cubical or pull some seriously dubious spy style shizang, there is no way you will know what genitals that person has. And nor should you. More to the point, nor should you care.
This, ladies and gents, is what is wrong with our world. The underlying assumption that trans people should stick in their own birth gender bathrooms is that males are predators. Take a second to think about that. Look at your sons. Are you raising them to be predators? Can they simply not be in a closed space with a female and not attack or rape her. I’m sorry guys but I’m calling bullshit. The truth is, this isn’t about protecting people anymore than victim shaming is about stopping rape culture. This is about discrimination, sexism and a whole lot of people who are too bigoted to think about what they are really saying to the future generations.
The issues that we face here, especially when paving the way for future generations, is that we are continuing a culture of making hate and discrimination acceptable, alongside promoting a “he can’t help it” attitude towards men and attacks they may place on women. I haven’t seen one person argue that the men’s bathroom is a dangerous place to go because, holy shit, a trans woman could be in there, lurking and perverted. Not one. I haven’t heard anyone claiming that their sons shouldn’t go into the bathroom because there could be someone in there who looks like a dude but has a vagina so they could be at risk of attack.
We need to stop. We need to stop this culture of acceptance that men are predators. They aren’t. Predators are predators, they come with vaginas, penises and a whole world of evil. They are not gender defined. As such, our bathrooms should’ve be either.
Answer me honestly girls, how many times have to visited the bathroom in a nightclub to find it chocka-block, and in your wine haze have thought, “nah fuck it, I’m gonna pee in the little boys room”? Were you a predator? No, you were a woman who didn’t want to que, had downed too much booze and needed to pee like a racehorse on a hot day.
I look at my husband, who stops to ask women if they need help lifting their buggy down a flight of stairs on the underground, who takes a camera off a mum of a child with special needs to get a picture of them as a family at the wrestling and I feel so sad to think that purely because of his gender he is labelled a predator. I worry that my boys will grow up to think they they can view women as something weak and for their pleasure or taking as opposed to an equal human being. At the end of the day, that is all we are really saying to people when we discriminate against transgender folks, that men are inherently dangerous and women are inherently weak – we are also telling our children that it is ok to look at someone who, god forbid, lives their life differently to the societal norm and label them as dangerous.
Do you want that for your child’s future?
At this point in our society I think gender neutral bathrooms really make more sense, after all, everyone’s shit smells.
With Edie being so small I’ve had to wait a while for us to properly start our twinning… It’s a must don’t you think? Everyone loves a good bit of twinning with their kids. In case you have been under a rock and have no clue what I’m talking about, twinning is the art (ahem) of wearing matching outfits with your child. It is something that has been going on for years but usually with a bit of a “dance mom” vibe where either the tinker looks like they are dressed as an adult or the mum is rocking a mutton dressed as lamb look that just doesn’t work… Rompers are not cool past toddler years, ya feel me? Neither is saying “ya feel me” in your late twenties but we’ll glance past that shit.
Lately there has been a real rise in beautiful boutique brands honing in on the twinning get ups – the right way. Stylish clothes for mum that suit and flatter an adult with outfits that are just spot on for a baby, toddler or child and don’t make either party look like they are rocking an outfit inappropriate for their age. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites So you can get your twin on in style.
Formerly known as Poppy England, me and E were gifted an outfit each by this gorgeous brand. It’s very much a brand where you can indulge your vintage side – not my usual style, but I love to change it up from time to time. The adult dresses as the perfect summer tea dress, whilst the little girls outfits are fabulous, ranging from identical tea dresses (which suit because everyone looks cute in a tea dress) to adorable little rompers like the one you can see Edie wearing.
Just in case you are a mama of boys and wondering why you can’t twin too – you can! Bryony uses their glorious fabric to make adorable shirts for boys (which matching ones for dads – hello twitchy ovaries!)
Lucy Peach Slice
This is a brand that I remember from years ago that has been given a total overhaul and re-made to provide some perfect summer delights for you and your little lady. What I love the most about this is that the fabric is the same but the styles are totally different. The mother’s dress is a very different cut and style but so pretty and elegant – perfect for slapping on pre-school run in mid-summer (those two weeks we get before the holidays start and rain commences). The daughter dresses start from age 2 and are super cute, ideal for a holiday piece to stay cool and collected.
Totally different angle on twinning over here, but I love it all the same. I have one of the beautiful “MOTHER” sweaters and have been toying with the idea of buying the boys a “BOY” sweater too, you can get so many different ones now but because they are gender neutral (for the most part) twinning is winning with all your kids, girls or boys.
Talk to me about leggings! I love leggings, they are insanely comfy and should be the universal code to say “I’ve had three hours sleep and no coffee yet” they are seriously like pjs for out of the house. Tobias and the bear have some seriously rocking leggings, they are super cute ANNNDDD now available for adults. #win
I often think about how what I say impacts the kids, usually after the event because, well I’m a touch thoughtless in the moment. I don’t mean swearing because I have expressed my thoughts on that before, however I do think there is something I do that I really need to knock on the head and that is talking about myself in a negative way.
I’ve always had issues with my weight, ever since I was young. I was a tubby child and as I got older I became really quite overweight. I guess I sought comfort in eating and the more I was picked on by other kids at school, the more I ate, the bigger I got. It’s a sad circle to be stuck in but not unusual by any means, lots of people find they have been in the same cycle or something similar that leads to them being unhappier and unhappier. When I was about 13 I decided I wanted my belly button pierced. I was an adult size 16 at the time and my mum told me that I could have it done if I lost weight… So I did. I lost a lot of weight, faster than any of us expected really. Let me just say, I might have been overweight but I was never really unhealthy. I was very active at school, I played hockey, Lacrosse and netball for the school. I went horse riding too. I wasn’t unfit, just, overweight. When I stopped eating sweets and fatty foods, I started to drop in weight. I’d choose a healthy option at school dinners, just like I was usually give at home.
Over the years I stayed a comfortable size 12, until I got to about 18-19, and then I started to put weight on again. Maybe it was the boozy nights out with Adam when we first met, or maybe it was trying to keep up with his amazing ability to eat an extreme amount of food and stay trim and handsome, but I grew and grew until I was 5″5 and a size 16 again. Then I feel pregnant, and I thought “Pregnancy is for eating right?!” So, que me having Reuben and a particularly depressing trip to Asda to buy some cheap, comfy clothes to fit me until I could get back into my own and I couldn’t fit into size 18 stretch pants. I was genuinely as round as I was tall, 16.6 stone and I was heartbroken. After years of bullying there is no way I was going to take this well, so I decided to change things up. I lost weight again. A lot of weight. I slimmed down to a size 10, 10.6 stone, and felt and looked as healthy as I wanted to be in my head. So far, through two more pregnancies I have stayed around the 10-12 mark… Though the extra stone I’ve continued to carry after Edith’s birth has really bothered me.
My error is in talking about it. A lot.
I inadvertently use phrases like “I’m so fat”, “No wonder it won’t fit me, I’m huge” and “ugh, I can’t eat that right now because I’m already too fat”. I say all of this in front of the kids, and recently I’ve been wondering what impression that leaves on them. To hear their mother always talking about her body image in such a negative way surely isn’t healthy. I hate to think that Edith will grow up to think that it is acceptable to feel so negatively about her body, to constantly look in the mirror and be critical rather than pleased with what she sees.
We already live in a society where our worth as women is marked by physical attributes all too often. Our weight is a huge part of what society deems to be attractive, thinner is better – more elegant, more stylish. I don’t want to encourage that misled perception at home, yet I am doing so with my constant downer on myself. It’s something I think I really need to work on, something a lot of us really need to work on, but it’s easier said than done!
I want to promote a healthy and happy body image to my kids, so it’s going to be a new way of speaking about myself from now on!
As a mother of three, teething has become a bit of a trigger word in our house. Much like a hypnotised person, I become a raging monster when it is mentioned, spouting more expletives than usual. I have tried every teething gel, powder and toy under the sun, from chewy toys that look like they came from the pet shop to the obligatory Sophie le Giraffe and her expensive pal Fan Fan le Fawn. Teething gels and powders are great but the amount of times I have been bitten or found my nipples coated in some fashion of numbing teething gel has gone beyond counting. Seriously.
This, my friends, is unlike any other teether you have encountered. Firstly, it is a teething gel and powder applicator, so you can spare those fingers from the dreaded bite by applying a touch of your chosen remedy (I personally recommend ashton & parsons teething granules and Nuby tutti frutti teething gel) to the silicone bristles on the monkey’s head and shove it in your little ones chops. Voila!
Secondly, you can use this as a training toothbrush, brushing your little ones teeth with milk toothpaste. Lastly, this in itself is an easy to use, easy to hold teether. It helps to diminish the pain of teething on its own, so if you run out of gels or powders, you can still use it and leave baby alone to please themselves.
How does your little one cope with teething?
The boys have too many toys. I’m pretty confident that this is something that EVERY parent can say with absolution – there are just too many toys in my house. I am finding that I’m struggling to put things away in the playroom, I mean, there just isn’t enough room!
I want to introduce a reading corner so that Reuben can have his much demanded “peace and quiet” but at the moment the boxes upon boxes of toys are just taking over. I’ve been having a little look on pinterest at playroom designs and I’ve fallen in love with so many suggestions – my issue there being that I am *that* mum that will think she’s creative and try to take a little bit from every design and end up with something that would haunt the dreams of any interior designer. Alas, it’s still the way I roll, so I’ve put together a little playroom decor wish list.
Magis Puppy Chair £60
Such a cute chair, I thought this would be super cute for the boys to sit on while they play with their aeroplanes.
Magis Piedras Bench £326
I love the idea of the boys having a bench like area to sprawl out on and read their books or play on their iPads. It would give Roo the quiet area he wants to be on his own.
H&M Paper Bunting £9.99
Ideal for decorating because we don’t have to spend a fortune on something like this and we can change it at any time.
H&M Rhino cushion £3.99
Reuben adores Rhinos and he would love this cushion for his quiet time.
H&M Large storage basket £7.99
I just love storage baskets and bags, so much prettier than big block areas.
Ikea PS LÖMSK chair £45
This would be ideal instead of a bench, Roo would be able to close it off and have his peace and quiet, but Toby might well want to join him!
House Doctor striped storage basket £10
Did I mention I like baskets?
Fiona Walker Giraffe Head £45
We have a polar bear version of this for Christmas and the boys adore it! It is a really fun way to add a quirky twist to the room!
Oliver Furniture Large Low shelving unit with bench top £285
This would be my investment piece I think. I love the idea of a storage unit that actually has a bench area on the top – we’d just have to make sure we didn’t cram toys on it!
What playroom decor do you like the best?
This chocolate cake recipe is one of my favourites – which is saying a lot to be honest as I like cake in general, so it has a fair few others to beat. I’ve just come back from a little trip to London with Adam to watch WWE RAW – the only thing we really have in common other than the kids and an odd sense of humour – and while I was there I decided I wanted to head to Harrods on the second day for a mooch around and to go to the chocolate restaurant. I’ve been before and I always over do it, but washing down a £9 slab of chocolate fudge cake with a chocolate elixir milkshake was probably the reason I felt queasy for the rest of the afternoon and why I’ve been having chocolate cravings since.
Is this as good as Harrod’s Godiva chocolate fudge cake with hot melted chocolate sauce and fudge ganache? No, don’t be daft, but it’s also not £9 a slice so go with it.
For the Chocolate cake:
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 210g plain flour, plus more for pans
- 400g caster sugar
- 90g good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 240ml buttermilk, shaken
- 120ml vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
- 240ml freshly brewed hot coffee (this will enhance the chocolate flavour)
For the Ganache:
- 200g Dark Chocolate
- 1 240ml carton of double cream
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease 2 (20cm) round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
Combine your flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix. I use a kitchen aid electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry whilst stirring constantly (see why I use the mixer now – lazy.) Add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
To make the ganache, you need to add the cream, sugar and dark chocolate to a saucepan and bring to simmer until everything is dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow to cool, it should thicken as it cools. Once it’s done, spread liberally over the cakes and in between.
One of my favourite things to do with the kids in Spring and Summer is go foraging for things that we can cook with. I love showing the children the concept that they can collect parts of their own dinner, and we then head home and make something from what we’ve picked or found. The best place I seem to have found for getting some amazing wild garlic is Knaresborough, which we recently took a little trip to and visited Mother Shipton’s Cave again.It’s such a beautiful place, the scenery is beautiful and at £18 for a family of 4 I really think it’s reasonable for a good afternoon out. You get a tonne of history, a great museum at the end of the trail and they are redeveloping a new play area right in the middle, which will really help spruce up the one they have already.
Foraging is also another really good way to explain children that you should never way things that you find in the wild without being sure what they are. Right from a young age the boys have been taught that you mustn’t just pick up berries and eat them, it’s so important to respect nature and understand how dangerous it can be.
Here are a few of my foraging tips:
1.) Get Educated!
There are thousands of advice pamphlets that you can download online that will give you descriptions and diagrams of what is safe and what isn’t safe to forage for. Not only that but you will be able to find out what is suitable to collect with kids and which season is best to find these things in. If you don’t want to grab printouts and you plan on making foraging a more frequent thing then I would suggest grabbing a book or guide on the topic. There are hundreds out there and they are often pocket size to take with you out and about.
2.) Make a plan on a known route
The pictures we have are of our little trip to knaresborough, a place that is known for its wild garlic and has some beautiful wild garlic that you can grab and take home to prepare. The walk ways are all pretty safe, not to mention beautiful, so you aren’t straying too far from the beaten track.
3.) Stick together
The boys have a tendency to wander, which is fine, however we make it expressly clear that there is one BIG rule in foraging: NEVER pick anything without a grown up. We keep hold of our guide and if the boys find something, even something as obvious as blackberries, we don’t let them touch them until we have come over, checked the guide and made sure, unequivocally, that it is the right thing. Safety is first!
4.) Talk about what you see
As we love foraging so much, we do it often and we talk a lot about what we are planning to make when we get home. The children understand that what we are foraging for is going to go towards our dinner so we talk about making our favourite foods and adding to them – like cottage pie with wild garlic chopped up for flavour. I also let the boys prepare or chop whatever we gather up. They did this with the apples we collected at their grandparents house.
Do you go foraging? What’s your favourite thing to find?
Extended rear facing is something that is STILL a relatively new concept to the UK (or at least a relatively new to main stream UK), though it is becoming more and more popular – it is something that has been going on all over the world for a very long time! In Sweden it is a law that your child must be rear facing until 4 years of age… in the UK its not even law to keep them rear facing for any set time, just that your child is in an ‘appropriate child restraint’. Ambiguous or what?!
I’ve been asked before why Toby is in an extended rear facing seat, he is 3.5 years old now and huge for his age, so it’s something I thought might be useful to talk about here.
So as I have explained before an infant carrier is a group 0+ child seat, suitable to 12-15months, however the child can leave that seat at 9 months depending on their weight. Its all done on weight. 20lbs/9kg is the earliest they can move 29lbs/13kg is the latest. Extended rear facing seats are seats that will take your child rear facing until approx 4 or 6 years of age, or if you put it into the all important weight terms 33lbs/18kgs or a whopping 55lbs/25kgs (though 25lgs seats generally have a slightly lower safety rating). Now I know this seems like a long time BUT if you think about it, your child will never have known any different so is highly unlikely to be bothered by being rear facing.
So, why are they safer?
In the terms of an accident, you will always have the force of any impact carry your body forwards. You break: you go forwards. You get hit from behind: You go forwards. You get hit from the front or side: you move forwards. You get the picture. Anyway, this is why you tend to have a problem with whiplash, however for a child it is likely to be much more serious than that.
“As well as having a disproportionately large head to body size ratio children also have fragile, flexible and poorly developed neck muscles. When a child is forward facing and a frontal collision occurs, the child’s head is flung forward in the seat. This will cause an enormous amount of stress in the neck. A child’s neck and spine are vulnerable because their spines are still soft and not yet solidified like an adult’s. In a crash if the spinal cord stretches too far, a mere quarter of an inch, it can snap.” – Taken from the securatot.co.uk website, a wonderful website that explains everything to do with extended rear facing seats.
So if you imagine you always go forwards in an accident, that’s a huge risk being in a forward facing seat, as a rear facing seat will cushion the child’s neck and back.
The other big issue that people face with wrapping their head around extended rear facing seats is their child’s legs. Where will they go? Well, they do actually have plenty of room (as you can see from the above picture) and children with especially long legs will be able to cross their legs in the seat if they want to. That may sound uncomfortable to me and you, but because they are so flexible, children don’t seem to be bothered by this at all. At the end of the day – a broken leg can be fixed easily, whereas a broken neck rarely can, if that is your concern, let it go.
The other issue I come up against when discussing Extended Rear facing seats is the ‘but they will be bored’, or ‘but its so mean to put them facing the back of a seat for so long’. I have to say this is one that I struggle to tolerate, and I find it irritating to say the least. You spend all your time explaining the safety differences to come up against something as silly as this, however, to allay any fears people have on this issue, there are plenty of toys on the market that provide full entertainment from an early age and your child can still see just as much as they could forward facing as the seats are quite high up, not to mention they have a whole rear window to look out of instead of the back of a chair.
The current law in the UK now has a ‘recommendation’, known as i-Size (thats all it is at the moment, although it will become law… possibly not until 2018) that a child should be rear facing until 15 months of age. Its a step in the right direction, but we’re still miles off! The faster it is law until 4 years of age (in sweden, they already treat it as law) the better, don’t you agree!
I hope this has been helpful for people who are considering extended rear facing, I desperately wish I had done so with my boys, I didn’t have the option at the time (or wasn’t aware I did is probably more accurate!).
P.s – Please check out securatot.com for more information on this topic, it is a wonderful site and their ten top facts page is an eye opener for sure! I would also like to mention that I was unaware of ERF to 6 years or 55lbs until it was kindly pointed out to me by the talented author of ERFMama (you can read her super informative comments below or visit her brilliant blog, she really is on a mission to educate every parent about Extended Rear Facing – such a kind and inspiring thing to do!)
Now that the weather is improving I’m starting to get into the garden and I’m now thinking about getting some things for gardening for kids. We have so much fun in the garden over spring and summer that I am really looking forward to getting both of them out there and making our garden not only pretty but productive this year. We have set up like a little allotment down the side of our house so we can try our hand at growing fruit and veg this year.
I think its really good for kids to do planting and learn about growing fruit and veg, plus its great fun for them to see the fruits of their labour develop, plus we all know playing with mud is a win with kids!
I came across In the Koop last year but had missed the appropriate time for planting a lot of the fruit and veg, but it is officially the coolest garden shop for kids. Essentially they sell the seeds and tools to grow your own plants and flowers, but not just any plants and flowers, these ones are a little different. Their giggle garden boxes contain seeds and instructions on how to grow Green Zebra tomatoes, Dinosaur Kale and Dragon Carrots… all edible, all delicious but all a little bit more exciting and fun than your average veg. They also do a fantastic edible flower set.
I’m going to give these a go with my boys this year, I think they sound like so much fun, and hopefully I will be sharing my fruit and veg with you later on in the year!
Almost 6 months ago now I was sent a special duvet set from Tuck n Snug, ready to use on Miss Edith when she moved on to a duvet. I had just managed to get her sleeping in her own bed (under her favourite aden + anais blanket) so I have waited a time to change her bedding.
I bought a very simple duvet from Asda, and then I followed the instructions for the Tuck n Snug cover. The duvet goes on as normal but there are three extra “flaps” that secure down the sides and at the bottom of the duvet to keep the duvet secure and help avoid your little one kicking it off in the night.
Though Edith is only small, she could still pull a duvet out at sides when she has a mind to – think small but mighty – so it was really interesting to see whether or not she could pull this out, but she couldn’t! The duvet stayed in place all night and only when she sat up and demanded a feed did she come out from underneath. Three nights in a row she even slept until 4.30/5am!! I love that the duvet is simple white with an appliqué dog or cat on the front, while you can buy some beautiful patterns this one is perfect for Edith’s room and accentuating with quilts or pretty blankets.
I think this duvet works so well for Edith, who wasn’t really struggling with kicking off her blankets (the original purpose of the set) because it makes her feel secure and cosy. It seems to cocoon her and give her a “wrapped” feeling, which helps her relax better.
Do your little ones kick their covers off?
Last week I was sent a couple of packets of Get Fruity snack bars for kids (and adults too!) to try out. The bars are something that I have seen a few times but never tried with my own kids.
Get Fruity bars are pretty special because they are made from just three ingredients: virgin coconut oil, gluten free oats and fruit. That’s it! That means they are packed full of nutrition and super simple for almost every diet.
The bars taste like really moist, fruity flapjacks – they were a huge hit with Edith who will hardly ever eat anything at all, especially if she suspects it has nutritional value! We tried out strawberry, apricot, orange and ginger and moist mixed berry – but everyones favourite by far was the apricot, which went down such a treat we don’t have any left!
What makes me love Get Fruity bars even more is that they are made by a mum of 2 who has a passion for home baking and healthy food. Her goal was to ensure that every bar tasted like a treat, looked bright and colourful to attract kids to it more and was as nutritional as it was delicious! Even better the bars are made in the UK, which is another soft spot of mine.
Since I love these bars so much, I’m going to be sharing the love and giving them away in collaboration with Get Fruity to three lucky winners! Just enter via the rafflecopter competition below:
Last week a certain little Miss Edith Rose sprained her ankle. Yup, calling that a big fat parenting fail that my 14 month old managed to sprain her ankle, but it was just one of those things. We visited Tropical World in Leeds for the morning and decided that, since it wasn’t raining, we would pop across the road to have a play in Round Hay Park.
After sitting on the merry go round with her brothers, pottering about the play park and just generally gawping at older kids having fun, Roo asked if he could take her down the slide. I said absolutely, without a second thought. Why wouldn’t I let her 5 year old brother, who adores her, hold her on the toddler slide that I can’t fit my currently rather rotund backside on?
So, he climbs up, I lift her to him and they came down. It’s worth mentioning that a few minutes before Roo had picked her up and tripped with her in his arms, so he was already on my shit list but this little incident was 100% not his fault, despite him initially catching the blame. Edie’s new to wearing shoes, she didn’t know to keep her leg up and Reuben couldn’t stop her foot catching on the plastic of the slide. So that’s how it happened, her foot got caught, she twisted and sprained her ankle. Initially I shouted at Roo, I thought he’d squeezed her – something I later had to apologise for – bad mama.
I first noticed what had happened when, after a good 10mins of tears, I went to put Edie down to totter about some more and she couldn’t put pressure on her foot. At that moment I thought maybe she just needed to rest it for a few minutes and it would feel better soon. But no.
Que us packing up and taking an early trip home, only to find that 2 hours later she STILL couldn’t bare weight properly and was unhappy.
Like any loving parent, I want the best for my kids, it breaks me to think of them in pain. We live just around the corner from the local A&E so we took a little trip to get some advice and see where to go from there.
We were seen really quickly by a lovely nurse but immediately I felt really uncomfortable with a few of the comments: “She’s covered in bruises on her legs” and “Down a slide with a 5 year old at 14m?”
Here’s the thing: I am not a helicopter parent. That is to say I am not that parent that hovers over their kids, wraps them up in cotton wool and just generally frets over every bump and scrape. To me, that stifles childhood. Can you name a person over 40 who didn’t sprain or break a bone as a child because they were climbing trees, jumping in streams and pretty much constantly on the go?
Yet nowadays it has become a parent’s mission to make sure theta their child never has a scratch – we sanitise cuts, we have cool packs for bumps… we’re downright neurotic half the time!
It wasn’t the first time I’ve had the comment, nor the first time I’ve been told I’m “brave” for allowing Roo to hold her. The truth is though, I’m a very relaxed parent when it comes to bumps and scrapes. It’s not that I dot care, not even close, rather that I want to raise my kids to be free, to appreciate running and jumping and climbing – with that comes falling and bumping and hurting yourself on occasion.
Do you have any idea how much joy it brought the pair of those kids to come down the slide together? The smiles that graced their faces? This isn’t a baby that is mistreated or uncared for, this is a child who is idolised by a couple of rambunctious, energetic and rough brothers. I’m not allowing my 5 year old to babysit a 14 month old, I’m allowing him to be a sibling. I’m allowing her to learn through play.
So in short, Edie had an unfortunately accident last week. It wasn’t because I’m brave or careless, it wasn’t because her brothers are too rough. It was because she’s a child and I refuse to stifle that.
So lets talk maternity bras… something that every pregnant woman has to contend with that can be a big worry for some, especially if you don’t know the ins and outs, or are a bit shy about getting fitted yourself.
Maternity Bras: Why can’t I just use my normal bra?
Well, if you think about it logically you don’t usually wear your normal clothes during pregnancy, you wear maternity clothes, so you don’t wear your normal bras either. You need additional support, and a band that will accommodate your expanding diaphragm and changing body.
Also another really important thing to remember is that underwired bras are bad for you when you are pregnant or feeding, especially if you intend to breastfeed as the wire can damage the soft breast tissue of your milk ducts, hence the reason you need a soft non wire bra. Not only are they bad for milk production, but they are also really uncomfortable!
When do I get measured?
Truth is, you will need to be measured several times within your pregnancy, once during each trimester (first at around 12 weeks), and then at 38+ weeks for your nursing bra. The reason for this is that your body will change and need different supports at different times – I’m not suggesting you will definitely need a new bra each measurement but you just might, so be prepared to spend a fair amount on lingerie at this stage in your life!
How do the measurements work?
Well, during my bra fitting training, this is how I was taught to measure a bust:
Take the tape measure and place it under the bust (reading should be taken in inches, and it is best to keep your bra on when you do your measurement) measure around the under bust to get your bandwidth – bandwidth is what offers the support to your breasts and will help to take the pressure of your back, neck and shoulders so it is really important to get it right. Once you have your measurement in inches you add 5 to the number if it is an odd number (so measuring 31inches under bust would make you a 36″ bandwidth) or add 4 if it is an even number (so again 32inches under bust will make you a 36″ bandwidth).
From there you will need to measure across the nipple line to give yourself the cup measurement. Now, the difference between your bandwidth and your nipple line measurement in inches determines your cup size. So for example: if you have measured, following the instructions above, as a 36inch bust and you measure yourself at 38 inches around the nipple line, you have a difference of 2 inches. So we go from 0 to 7 in standard fittings and the scale is as follows:
- 0 = A
- 1 = B
- 2 = C
- 3 = D
- 4 = DD
- 5 = E
- 6 = F
- 7 = GG
So with the above example, an inch difference of 2 would make you a C cup, so the bra size would be a 36C.
Now, this is a fitting guide, but as with all clothing, bras need to be tried on as every 36C or whatever will be different to the last, because, well like everything in pregnancy, it can’t just be easy!
One of my favourite maternity bra brands is Bravado, unlike a lot of brands some of their bras will grow with you to a certain degree which means you may well get away with one bra from your first trimester to your third. I am currently STILL wearing their nursing bras and I love them, intact I may never go back to those pre-baby Victoria’s Secret bras because they seem to land me back in the maternity bras every time 😉
Did you have any positive experiences with maternity lingerie? Are you shy of being fitted?
I have debated this with loads of friends of mine, and even my own husband – its a topic that bugs me big time.
I used to be an instructor in the martial arts industry and after watching countless parents berate their children when they didn’t win or come up tops, I promised myself I would make sure my child knew that it wasn’t all about winning, life is about taking part, loving what you do and doing it your best potential. But is it? In a modern society is life really about taking part, because if that is the case why do we keep score?
My husband is a sports fanatic – he is borderline obsessive, in fact he’s tripped, skipped and hopped over the border to full blown obsessive. It is his belief that winning is important and a drive to win is essential for growing up – please don’t misunderstand me, he isn’t the asshole that will berate his child for not winning but he thinks that going out with the attitude that it is important to win is a good thing. I disagree. I feel that I should instil in the boys that it doesn’t matter if they win as long as they try their hardest and take part to the best of their abilities… so, am I setting them up for failure?
I recently came across an article about what lies we tell our kids by Dr Chuck Borsellino and he said that “Parents are missing the mark if they teach their kids that score doesn’t matter. It does.” He also states that we should encourage children to “keep one eye on their character, one eye on their competence, and one eye on the scoreboard.” I get that he is trying to encourage parents to find a balance, but I can’t help but feel that there is plenty of time for that as children grow up, why burden them with the attitude that they need to win now?
I am a very competitive person, I like to win, but who doesn’t? I constantly try to better myself and ensure that I succeed at what I do – and I absolutely hate failing. I was never pushed as child though or taught that winning is essential, just that I should try my best and accept that sometimes I’m not going to succeed and that is ok, I just have to keep trying. Is this drive to win or to succeed just something that we develop as we become more aware of the world around us? It goes without saying that in the every day life of an adult, coming up trumps is important, for example – you succeed at work, you might get that promotion that will give you more money, you will be able to save more and possibly buy a bigger house or do something as a family that costs extra cash.
In all other aspects of life I try to tell Reuben the truth, I’m just like every other parent the odd little fib will slip out (When was the last time you pulled out the old, ‘ Yes, we’re nearly there’ when you’re 40 minutes from home?!), but I am generally really careful not to lie… so am I a hypocrite in this aspect? I think so, but I also don’t think I mind.
What do you do with your kids when it comes to this parenting crossroad? Do you think that it is important to tell them that they should aim to win at everything they do, or do you remind them that it is important to try your best and learn to cope with failure ( as that really is an important part of life isn’t it?).
Last week I read a post on Selfish Mother about breastfeeding. It was very tongue in cheek and satirical (at least, that’s how I took it) and the general point was that, breastfeed or formula feed, what is important is that mum and baby are happy and healthy.
Within minutes of it being shared, Selfish Mother‘s Facebook page received a flood of “OMG I’m so sick of anti-breastfeeding posts” and “I hate this kind of thing, it stops the sharing of information and knowledge. At the end of the day it’s simply not true that it doesn’t matter, breast is best” and my personal favourite, “I’m totally supportive of choice but just because she didn’t have the dedication and determination to continue on her breastfeeding journey doesn’t mean I’m not doing what is best. I am, breastfeeding will always be better than formula. No judgements if you choose not to but that is fact.”
Fuck off. No really, fuck. Off.
I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding, I am breastfeeding my own child until she is ready to stop. There is no but here, I’m not a but-er, I’m just an avid supporter of breastfeeding, while in addition to being an avid support of women’s rights and with that their ability to choose.
This kind of thing is the reason that women like Katie Hopkins and men like Nigel Farage, with their anti breastfeeding rhetoric, gleen so much support. Get out of my bra and away from my nipples ladies and gents, it is 100% someone’s choice to breastfeed and, I hate to break you’re bubble, but it isn’t always a case of breast is best. Had I breastfed Reuben, he wouldn’t be here. He would have starved to death. I had so much milk with Toby and the same with Edith, that I feel I would to able feed the masses and still have some left over, so don’t make me squirt you when you come at me with the “I’m not judging you” bullshit. In the same way that every pregnancy is different and every human being is different, every breastfeeding experience is different.
When something is written that tries to support both sides and end the debate there is always someone who comes out and shouts “but it’s the best” – well that’s a mighty fine high horse you’re on sweetheart but it’s got a faulty leg and needs shooting.
The whole debate is pointless. Nutritionally we know that breast milk is THE best thing – packed with more or less everything a person could need, certainly everything a baby could need. Unless, of course, that mum is a drug addict. I’m sorry, breast is best-ers, I can’t hear you, what were you shouting at the top of your lungs? Is THAT mother’s breast best? Of course not. It is a unique circumstance where the breast milk would be detrimental to the child. So breast isn’t ALWAYS best. In the majority of cases, of course it is, but not always.
It can’t be.
Is breast milk superior to formula? No doubt about it. Is breastfeeding a magical and wonderful thing for a woman to do? Absolutely. Is it worth postnatal depression, a starving baby and a whole host of medical complications if the baby has to be hospitalised because the mother simply didn’t have enough or couldn’t get the baby to latch? Never. It just isn’t. What I find beyond ironic is that whenever I see something that is along the lines of “who cares how baby is fed, fed is best” it’s always met with comments like “I’m not patting you on the back for basic parenting – feeding your child is a basic thing, do the better option and breastfeed” – actually seen that one, in a “gentle parenting” group – you know the group where parent’s believe in “gentle” parenting but are flat out assholes if you DON’T agree with their every point.
What is wrong with saying do it your way? Why is it that when it comes to the breastfeeding versus formula argument there is always this pressure, this aggression towards women who choose not to breastfeed? I have a whole host of friend’s who didn’t breastfeed, for a variety of reasons: they didn’t like it, it was too painful and they didn’t want to be in pain and not enjoy those first few weeks, they didn’t want to because they don’t like the thought, they wanted to go back to work early. Those are perfectly valid reasons for not feeding. It’s not compulsory, and by trying to make it so, we encourage this image of “nipple nazis”. We live in a society that is rich enough and progressive enough to have the ability to choose how to feed a baby.
So let women choose and for god’s sake, get a hobby that doesn’t involve scouring mummy blogs, social network groups to look for any woman that is apparently “stifling the sharing of information” by saying I don’t care how other people feed their baby.