Saturday, 15 March 2014

MADELEINES


I think these little French cakes are so elegant. They're perfect if you want to quickly knock something up for guests, or if you're just craving something sweet. They're ideal for parents on the go, and they're simple enough to put together that kids could join in too!

Fun fact: the reason they have one side shaped like a shell is because they're originally from Brittany in France, which is famous for its seafood. 

Ingredients:
2 eggs
100g sugar
100g all purpose flour
100g butter (melted)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1tsp lemon juice OR vanilla extract

Method:
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6
- Brush melted butter on your madeleine pan, and dust with flour. Tap off excess
- Whisk together eggs and sugar until frothy
- Mix in flour and baking powder, followed by the melted butter and vanilla extract/lemon juice. 
- If you have time, leave the mixture to rest for 20 mins, but not absolutely essential
- Bake in oven for 10 mins
- Cool (and dust with icing sugar if you want)


Friday, 14 March 2014

BABY FOOD RECIPE: BROCCOLI!


Making your own home-made baby food is so cheap and easy, and you know exactly what's in it! This is a recipe for babies who have just begun mashed food - around six months! 

- Peel/chop potatoes, and boil until soft. You can throw a peeled garlic clove into the water with the potatoes for more flavor. 
- Chop the little fronds off the head of the broccoli: 
- Boil the broccoli bits for just a couple of minutes and drain (if you prefer, you can leave the tiny broccoli pieces raw for extra texture/nutrition).
- Mix together with the mash. 

It's great to make batches of baby food. I store it in individual microwave-safe containers, and put them in the freezer. So when it's time for her to eat, I just defrost and reheat one of them.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

HOW TO ENTERTAIN A BABY


10 months old. For my daughter this was a time of frustration. I can't quite put my finger on it, but she seemed desperate to access the world in a way she wasn't quite able to yet. I had the feeling that her mind was running slightly ahead of the body - she wanted to move more quickly and go places but she couldn't, and she still wasn't able to really concentrate on one thing for more than 10 minutes. 

I found it really difficult to keep her entertained, and think of new and creative things to do; mostly for her sake but partly for my own sanity too. I was in a rut as well as her! There are only so many nursery rhymes you can sing and baby toys you can play with without going stir crazy. 

One of my biggest obstacles was the fact that there aren't many planned baby groups where I live, so I had to utilize what I had access to. Most things seem simple, but it was just having a plan for each day - just one new thing that we would do - that turned this time into something enjoyable.

My 7 day challenge:

DAY ONE:
Animals. Go to a nearby farm, petting zoo, proper zoo or even a pet shop with fish tanks. Animals are so funny to babies at this age, and they can watch everything from their buggy or sit on your lap to stroke the animals.

DAY TWO:
Gardening. You have to be prepared to let them get their hands muddy though! I grew lots of vegetables last summer and had sugar snaps, strawberries and tomatoes which were all baby-height and she just gorged herself on them (make sure they're completely organic). Just giving them a patch of earth and a bucket and spade is pretty entertaining too. And if you don't have a garden, you could always take them to a garden centre, or plant some indoor flowers/kitchen herbs on the windowsill and watch them getting bigger each week. 

DAY THREE:
Go to a museum. One piece of advice I'd definitely give is not to hold back on activities which are slightly ahead of their age range. Museums are designed to be stimulating, and they normally have a kids area (not to mention your baby will probably get in free). You can enjoy the museum whilst your baby gazes on everything in wonder! 

DAY FOUR:
Visiting friends or family. They'll be interested in the new environment and you'll have an extra pair of hands to help out too. We went to a friend's house for a BBQ and she got to taste freshly caught salmon from the river. 

DAY FIVE: 
Swimming. Take your baby to an indoor swimming pool or, if it's summertime, pick up a little paddling pool for the garden. We're lucky enough to have great lakes and rivers to swim in, so she loved doing that in the summer. I felt that swimming in the wild felt much cleaner than being in a pool full of chlorine too. If you live in the UK, you can find local 'wild swimming' spots here: www.wildswimming.co.uk

DAY SIX:
The park. Even though they seem small at this age, and probably can't walk around yet, the park is still a great place. You can take them on the swings and help them down the slide - they love it and there are lots of other children around which is always super interesting for a baby! 

DAY SEVEN:
Invite another baby/toddler over to play. Pick up some blowing-bubbles in the local toy shop, they'll both love it! They'll enjoy each other's company and you can enjoy a tea and a chat. 

Skip forward 5 months and it's a whole new world. They begin to walk and look around them and understand the world in a way that is more satisfying - and that settles them down a lot. Even now she is a 19 month old toddler, the activities I listed above are still keeping her entertained, and probably will keep doing so for years to come! 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

AVOCADO LOVE



I LOVE food! Tasting and cooking new and different things is one of my favorite things, so having a fussy eating child would be a bit of a nightmare for me! 

From the word go, I've been determined to try and encourage my daughter to enjoy lots of different foods. And so far it's working! People are amazed - she'll eat absolutely anything! 

The first solid food that she had was mashed avocado. You can mash it on its own, or mix it in with the baby rice. She went through phases of liking it and not liking it, but as she got older I would squeeze a bit of lime on the avocado pieces or mix in a passion fruit, just to brighten up the flavor! It's also great with a boiled egg for breakfast. She still loves it, and it's great for me because it's such a quick and easy snack or breakfast food. 

As well as starting them off early, I think the key to having a food-loving baby is expressing your own love of food to them (not ever saying 'yuck'), giving them home cooked sugar/salt free food (you don't want them getting a taste for synthetic, processed flavors), but also not being afraid of exposing them to spices, herbs and food that tastes strong naturally, like oily fish.

Monday, 1 July 2013

SCRAPBOOK

No one will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside

LOOK LESS TIRED: A MAKEUP TUTORIAL

As a new Mum, or even a not-so-new mum, looking tired is a common problem. Makeup isn't going to solve it, but I found that just putting aside 5 minutes (actually Lyra loves playing with the little boxes) to make an effort just helps you to feel a lot better! 

And if you're not a regular make-up wearer, then this video is helpful even if you just use it for special occasions. 

This tutorial is pretty much exactly what I do, when I actually wear makeup. She uses really great products too. As a new mum, it's worth investing in a few new things (assuming you already have the essentials of foundation, mascara, eyeshadow & lipstick). These are my picks: 

Concealer for under the eyes ~  Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Éclat:

Illuminator serum ~ Lancome's Éclat Miracle:

Blush ~ Mac's Powder Blush in Desert Rose:


A light eyeliner for the lower water-line ~ Dior's Crayon Khôl in white (although the girl in the video makes a point that a nude shade would be less harsh if you're not wearing much else on the eyes):


And here's a less-is-more makeup tutorial which will have you looking like you've had a full 8 hours sleep, even if you've been up all night with a baby!



Hope you like it!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

EASY ROUTINE

There is this assumption that, as a new parent, you have to fall into one of two 'camps' - you're either a parent-led routine 'scheduler' (leaving baby cry/forcing a feeding schedule) or a baby-led routine 'hugger' (doing what baby wants). From my experience, you can be both. I still fed on demand and comforted her when she needed it - it was just a matter of trying to draw out a routine from it all.


Nap-time cuddled up in bed
Between the ages of 2 weeks to 4 months old, we had a fairly solid routine established for her (in terms of sleeping and eating). We weren't strict with her in the beginning - I never let her cry herself to sleep for the sake of the routine - we just let a pattern develop naturally, with the help of things like bath-time and the bed-time feed, and then stuck to it once it was established. 

As she got more settled in to the day-by-day rhythm, she seemed to become happier and comforted by it - it was something which helped to anchor her whilst everything was new and unfamiliar. I felt like it was a really good way to show her she could trust us and rely on us. 

Whilst at first I thought the main benefits were that it encouraged her to sleep through the night (which it seemed to do), I now think it was probably the psychological benefits of making her feel secure and safe which were greater.

It was also good for us, because we knew what was going on and we knew we'd have certain times of the day to ourselves. Having the regularity probably also helped our body clocks adjust to the night-time wakings too (although, I have to admit, I've still not got used to it). 

The only down-side that I encountered to having a routine was other people's opinions on it. I don't know why it bothers some people so much - I think it's because you're new-parent mind is somewhere else a lot of the time, and you're thinking of your baby and what's coming next...and perhaps it's also a control issue? ...I'm not sure! But anyway, we stuck to our guns and kept our routine - and we're glad we did!

My experience in establishing a routine:

  • Have a set bath time every evening. Having fun in the bath is a bit of exercise to tire them out before bed.
  • Follow that with a set time to give the last feed/s before bed 
  • Have some strategic playtimes (e.g. we would keep her awake late evening so that she was more tired for bed time)
  • Try to encourage them to see night-time sleep as different from day-time sleep. In the first 4 or 5 months, I never put Lyra to sleep in her cot unless it was night time. I always let her sleep in the living room during the day/on my chest/in the bed with me, where it was still light and slightly noisy from other people. That way, she got used to her night-time sleep as something different from just a nap. 
  • Use feeding/singing/soothing to establish sleeping routine. 
  • If they wake in the night, just take them up, feed them/sing to them. Don't turn the light on or talk/play because then they think its play time in the middle of the night.
  • After a week, you can kind of see a routine establishing, and just observe that and try to do the same things at the same times. 

More cuddles to help her sleep, this time from her Aunty
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