Thursday, 30 October 2014

Our Thursday Photo #25

Half term, even with two pre-schoolers is somewhat hectic at the best of times. During term time, we have a nice, easy little routine that involves a different club or activity each morning and a  nap in the afternoon. When it's half term, this is all thrown a little out of kilter when the activities stop, and this week has been even more difficult because Libby had a tummy bug on Monday afternoon, forcing a day at home on Tuesday. We are rubbish at days at home and it involved far too much screen time watching nursery rhymes and Christmas songs on the computer because I let her do what she wanted owing to being poorly.

As a consequence of her day of nursery rhymes, we are now on a screen detox so there has been no TV or computer at all today. It has been a real relief to me, there are only so many times you can pretend to be happy and you know it.

So today, I told Libby that we were going out and she could go wherever she wanted and I'd buy her lunch of whatever she fancied. This didn't backfire too badly, as she chose our usual day out of going one stop on the train, staying there for a bite to eat and coming home. Libby chose a banana milkshake and a salad, followed by a flapjack. This was her perfect day, and Lia also seems to be showing a rather unhealthy interest in trains, so she enjoyed the day just as much. Except when she finished her cucumber. At five months old, it seems, finishing your cucumber merits a total meltdown.

Meltdowns and train spotting aside, here is our Thursday Photo #25. Both girls love to sit with one of us to read a book, and when we've finished, Libby likes to tell Lia all about the book. Incidentally, we were reading The Snail and the Whale today, which my sister bought for us recently. What a lovely book.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bubble of Delight

I have always felt it was really important for everyone to sit down together at the table at dinner time. It is the only time when we all come together and just talk with no distractions. That's why dinner is a big deal, and dessert is an important part of that, especially for Libby!

As a child, we didn't have Angel Delight at home, so my #AngelDelightMoments came in the form of going to my friend's house and keeping my fingers crossed that it would be Angel Delight for dessert!
For Libby though, things are a little different, particularly having been given the opportunity to try the new bubble gum flavour Angel Delight! We all loved the flavour, and it was particularly complemented by hubby's bright idea to add frozen berries to it. This was quite possibly the best thing he has ever created. I also love the fact that it is vegetarian, as many mousse desserts aren't.

Here is my little Angel of Delight enjoying creating her own little bubble of bubblegum flavoured #AngelDelightMoments.

This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments Linky Challenge. We were delighted to receive a couiple of free samples of the brand new and delicious bubble gum flavour for taking part.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Our Thursday Photo #24

This week has been somewhat busy, but in a good way. We looked at a house on Saturday and loved it, so we decided it was time to put ours on the market. On Saturday, we spent the day in London, visiting the poppies at the Tower of London. It was a lovely day, but exhausting for us all and we got back home very late. 

On Monday morning, I put in an offer on the house and it was accepted on the condition that it would remain on the market until we sold ours. So then it was all go to get the house ready for the estate agents to come round, and the for sale board has gone up today. I've had this house for 11 years now, and it has been up for sale a few times during that time, but for one reason or another I've ended up not having to sell. I can't help thinking that the same thing is going to happen again, the house we've offered on will fall through and we'll end up staying here. I think I would be happy with either outcome, because we love it here and it would be nice to stay a little longer, but I love the other house too, it's a beautiful area, near to great schools and I know we'd be happy there too. 

So with things all up in the air, it is nice that the girls are still on an even keel. Lia has completely mastered staying upright when we sit her up now. This seems to give her a bit more freedom, because she can sit with the other children at playgroup and watch what's going on. Her sleeping is getting slightly better too, so I'm starting to feel a bit more human. 

Our Thursday photo #24 has a photo bomber. Pluto and Lia have a strange sort of bond, which perhaps is based on the fact that Libby and Soxa get along so well. So when I sat Lia on the floor next to Libby, Pluto insisted on coming to keep an eye on her. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Letters from Santa

This year is quite a special Christmas for us, because it's Lia's first Christmas, and it's the first time that Libby has been really interested in Christmas, Santa and what's going to happen. Libby, in her usual manner, is blissfully unaware that it's only October. She has dug out her Christmas books and we are reading them on repeat. So when I was given the opportunity to review some letters from Santa, I reluctantly agreed.

The Lapland Mailroom website gives you the opportunity to choose between different letters so that siblings don't receive the same letter, and there is even one for baby's first Christmas. Whilst I know that Lia would only try to eat her letter this time, it will be a lovely thing to keep. You are also able to personalise the letters, so that Santa knows a little bit about each child. I've added a little P.S. to Libby's letter, just thanking her for being such a good big sister to Libby.

As well as the letters, children can have a little activity pack to colour in, including a sign to put out make sure that Santa stops here. Libby will enjoy doing this, but I don't think she is yet old enough to colour it in to a standard that she would want to keep. Next year though, I'm sure an activity pack will be ideal.

At the moment, the letters also include a free certificate to say that they are on the nice list. The letters arrive in the post, which is even more exciting. Here is a little sneak preview of Libby's letter.

My next plan for Christmas is to get around to making my cake and also make an advent calendar for the girls. I want to do an advent calendar on the front of a Christmas present sack, and I also want the girls to share it because I think it's good for them to get used to sharing and to open their presents together. I'm not really a Christmas person, but it seems that I'm going to have to persevere, and I think that letters from Santa are a great start!

Please note, the Lapland mailroom kindly sent me these letters for the girls free of charge in return for an unbiased review. Views, opinions, Christmas loving children and half hearted attempts at becoming Christmassy myself in October are all mine.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

More healthy meals

I'm very aware of how lucky I am that Libby loves healthy food. I see other parents struggling to get their children to eat anything, while Libby sits there happily munching on salad or fruit. I don't think this is anything we've done right or they've done wrong, her tastes have just developed to enjoy healthy food.

One of the only things that Libby wasn't keen on when she was younger was eggs. We persevered with them though, because as a vegetarian, eggs are such a key part of my diet, especially for protein. Luckily, they are now one of Libby's favourite foods. Most days she asks for either hard boiled eggs or egg and soldiers for lunch, but luckily, she also enjoys my favourite, poached eggs.

What I love about poached eggs is that they're so versatile. I'm also really keen on the fact that I have some control over the source of eggs. In order to carry the British Lion Eggs logo, eggs have to meet a certain standard. One of the most important things is the labelling, so they are not allowed to say that they're "farm fresh" or indicate that chickens are free to roam if they are in fact battery hens. This gives me the confidence to buy free range eggs, safe in the knowledge that chickens are kept in good conditions and I'm not inadvertently supporting a cruel practice.

My favourite poached egg meal (call me a heathen if you wish!) is this one:

Good old poached eggs with beans on toast. This is making me hungry just looking at it. But I also have a trick for sneaking poached eggs into a posh meal, and it's also a vegetarian meal that people tend to be quite impressed with at a dinner party.

I make a risotto with assorted mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. I fry the mushrooms in the oil from the sundried tomatoes and add a little white wine before they go into the risotto. The vegetable stock is then complemented with a bit more white wine (do you see the theme??) while the risotto is cooking.

When the risotto is virtually cooked, I put on a pan with some butter and a drop of water to sauté some asparagus and samphire. This only cooks for a couple of minutes, and then I add a twist of lemon juice and some pepper to the pan, stir it around and take it off the heat, so the asparagus and samphire are still nice and fresh and crunchy. To serve, the risotto goes on the plate, followed by the asparagus and samphire. This is then topped with a poached egg and then a few shavings of vegetarian hard cheese. This is quite possibly my favourite dinner party meal, easy to make so I'm not stuck in the kitchen, but the fabulous ingredients make it relatively impressive none the less. I'm afraid I don't have a photograph of this masterpiece, as it would be sacrilege to cook it when asparagus is out of season!

Please note, I was sent a small gift for writing this post, but views, opinions, health food loving children, dinner party recipes and an undeniable love of wine are all mine. Sadly, this beautiful looking dinner wasn't mine, it was my sister's.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Salad for lunch

I've recently been thinking a lot about healthy eating and exercise. One of the main reasons for this is because I'm finding it so difficult to fit in exercise at the moment and cooking healthy meals has to be a quick process because I'm so short of time. In the winter, I usually gravitate towards soups at lunchtime, but perhaps it's because our summer lasted so long, but this year I'm still totally hooked on salad.

One of my favourite books of all time was Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It's a few years since I've read it, but it often comes up in conversation and recently, I was discussing it with my sister, who mentioned the use in the book of chia seeds. I had already bought some of those when we had the conversation, but chatting about it made me think about seeds in general and how beneficial they are, particularly if you're vegetarian like me, because they can provide nutrients like calcium that are so important and often missing in the vegetarian diet.

The other way to get both calcium and iron in a vegetarian diet is through the use of green leafy vegetables. Of course, my love of salad at the moment is making this easy to achieve. I've recently discovered a new type of salad that has just been introduced by Florette. Baby kale is a relative of curly kale, but it's much better for eating raw. It tastes great and contains calcium and iron. And aside from anything else, it's new, so it makes a bit of a change from the usual salad leaves. 

It's pretty rare for me to eat lunch on my own, but the other day Libby went to my mum's for lunch. For Libby and I, our usual routine is to have boiled egg and salad, sometimes with some bread or some crisps. In the absence of egg or bread and owing to a lack of willingness to go to the shop, I used avocado to make the salad more filling and sprinkled hemp seeds on the top for protein and texture. And I came up with this beautiful creation, I wasn't quite sure whether to eat it or photograph it, so I did both!

Please note, I was given the opportunity to sample some baby kale for the purposes of an honest review. All views, opinions, salad addictions and beautiful edible creations are my own.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Our Thursday Photo #23

Every week since Lia was born, I have been posting a photo of my two girls together. The more I think about it, the more delighted I am about the photographic record of them growing up together. I also keep wondering when it will be that the girls go off each other!

Yesterday, I ordered a personalised letter from Santa for both girls. One of the options for the letter was to add in a little note to say well done to the child for something in particular, or to give them a special message. I sat and thought about it before writing anything for Libby, and I realised that her huge achievement for this year has been how amazing she has been with Lia. She is genuinely helpful, particularly when it comes to looking after Lia when she is upset or grumpy. The other thing that always amazes me is that Libby always wants to be with Lia. I thought it would be the opposite, that she would crave one to one attention from me or her dad but actually, she would always rather have her sister with her. I hope that as they grow up, they will always be just as close.

This week has been another difficult one for me. I have to admit to being a huge fan of sleep. Before having children, I had been known to sleep from 10 pm to 11 am or later at every available opportunity. When Libby came along, we had eight weeks of sleep deprivation before she started sleeping through. Sadly, Lia hasn't taken after her big sister and she is still waking two or three times per night. As I'm generally working until around 1.30 am, sleep just isn't happening. I did manage to fit in a run yesterday though, a very slow 11 km but it was good to get out there.

This week's Thursday photo #23 was just a quick snap when the girls were playing together. Lia is sitting up by herself now, but they both still enjoy lying down on Lia's play mat together.