Tuesday, 30 September 2014

♡ Little bits #7 ♡

Its feeling pretty autumnal around here right now. Hooray! Its nearly cheese and port season. Anyone else think about cheese and port all year long and count down the weeks until its socially acceptable to have it for dinner? No? Just me? 

Well, in case you're wondering, there's only 8 weeks to go :))

1. Yep. I shopped. In fairness I bought very little. And nothing at all for myself. So that makes it ok, yes? The best thing I picked up was this superhero mask hoodie for Ayden from Baby Zara. Its the kind of thing I know he'll live in and he looks bloody gorgeous in it too.
2. Practising my Elsa braiding. Hmmm not quite there yet, but a good effort I thought. Its not often my little princess will sit still long enough for me to do something like this. She must have been feeling poorly or something!
3. Playing in his big brother's bedroom. And very happy about it he is too. 
4. No explanation required.

1. He loves playing with little wooden cakes. So adorable. No idea where he gets the cake obsession from though…
2. Autumn in a bowl. Seriously. I don't think I've made this since last autumn but its a regular in the repertoire once the weather gets a little colder. You can find the recipe here.
3. This little lady has well and truly mastered riding her bike without stabilisers now :) very proud mama
4. Cuddles with my little peanut ♡


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Comfort in a bowl

This may not look like the most exciting dinner but, let me tell you, Pasta e Ceci is one of the most comforting, tasty, autumnal and easy meals. And a real crowd pleaser. The whole family love it and it's a great one for younger children and toddlers too.

It's also one of those recipes you can add anything to, once you've made the base of the soup. I serve it to the little people as it is, but then add some dried chili flakes or torn up basil leaves and an extra drizzle of olive oil to ours afterwards.

So what is it? I think its a bit of a soup / pasta hybrid. You could certainly make it more soupy by adding extra stock or water, but I prefer to keep the consistency quite thick.

My sister gave me this recipe from one of her Jamie Oliver cook books years ago and I look forward to the weather getting a bit cooler so I can add it to the weekly meal plan again. Perfect with a glass of red and some garlic focaccia. 

2 x tins of chickpeas, drained
150g short pasta (preferably ditalini, but mini shells are a good alternative)

500ml chicken or vegetable stock (plus extra boiling water to adjust consistency to preference)
small onion, finely chopped
stick celery, finely chopped
sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus some for serving)
salt and freshly ground pepper
optional extras - parmesan cheese, chili flakes, torn basil leaves

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pan, cook the onion, celery and rosemary in the olive oil over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, until softened.

Add the chickpeas and stock and cook for a further 15 mins.

Remove half the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and set aside. Puree the remaining ingredients. I use a handheld 'zapper' to do this, but you could transfer to a blender and then return the pureed mixture to the pan.

Put the whole chickpeas back in the pan, along with the pasta. Let this bubble away, uncovered, for about another 15-20 mins until the pasta is cooked. At this point I tend to stand over it and add some additional hot water to get it to the consistency I like. I also stir frequently to stop the pasta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve into bowls and add optional toppings as you wish.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

5 things I do while the baby naps

If I was a better human being the answer to this would be exercise, clean the kitchen, file a mountain of paperwork and make the phone calls I keep forgetting to make.

But here I am with an hour or so of 'free time' and, its fair to say, those things are not at the top of my list. So what do I typically get up to when the baby is napping?

1. Eat. Usually breakfast. Naughty I know, but its not often that I manage to grab anything to eat before he goes down at about 11:30am. I have a coffee first thing and that fills me up for a couple of hours. But by the time he's asleep I'm ravenous and food is the first thing on my mind. Usually something like scrambled egg on brown soda bread toast, porridge, or yogurt, fruit and granola. 

2. Neutralise the chaos. Post school run, the house usually resembles some form of battle zone. Pyjamas, books, bowls, bags, toys, felt tips, paper, toothbrushes…. crap, everywhere! Whatever I haven't already tidied away while Ayden 'helps' me, gets put away and I guess I do give the kitchen a quick clean at this point. Just a weeny one. 

3. Blog. Literally the only chance I get to sit down and blog. I'm working on a bit of a blogging plan at the moment to try and organise my posts. Hopefully this will help me to plan ahead and give me a schedule to work to. In an ideal world I would know exactly what I was planning to write about each day and I'd draft it early in the morning. That's the dream.

4. Online shopping - 50 minutes into nap time and I've spent £575! Ok, not really but it would be so much fun to actually click that buy button. I'm definitely a window shopper - I love planning outfits online, for me and the beanies. I very rarely actually buy anything, but its fun to look. At the moment I've added this to my basket about 12 times!

5. Watch Youtube videos. I could spend hours watching them. Most of the time I put them on in the background while I get on with something else - tidying up, prepping for dinner, blogging, reading other blog posts, folding washing. My current favourites are the Shaytards, Vivianna does makeup, Lily Pebbles and Hannah Maggs. Much better than daytime TV that's for sure. 

What do you get up to while the baby is napping?

Friday, 19 September 2014

The perfect weekend

It's Friday people! Yes. 

Despite being a SAHM (I hate that term - can I invent a new one please? How about domestic ninja?), I look forward to Friday just as much as I did when I worked full time. I get to spend time with my husband, who works long hours during the week and plenty of quality time with my oldest two beanies after a busy week of school. That is between swimming lessons, birthday parties, ballet classes and all the running around their crazy social lives demand.

We're real homebodies and will usually choose a cosy night in with our favourite food, a bottle (or two) of red wine and Netflix, rather than a night out. OAP much?

So what makes a perfect weekend? 

Friday night means dance classes - aka 90 minutes sat on a (very) uncomfortable wooden bench in a church hall, staring at a door which I'm not even allowed to peek through. But after that, we all snuggle under a blanket for Friday Night Movie Night. We even have a song for the occasion. There are usually snacks involved. Perfect.

After swimming lessons first thing Saturday morning, which at least get us up and out of the house relatively early, a coffee is in order. Now the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back, a trip to Starbucks is pretty high on my list of priorities. 

If there are no parties to go to (unlikely, but we can dream…) we'll head to the park or the beach. Dylan and Meryn have really got into riding their bikes recently, after being loyal micro scooter enthusiasts for the last few years. Meryn was quite late to join the 'no stabilisers club' and is so proud of herself now that she can ride her bike all on her own. 

One of my favourite things about the weekend is being able to eat our meals as a family. This doesn't happen often during the week. Given the choice, and if we're feeling extravagant, the perfect Saturday night dinner would be fillet steak with bĂ©arnaise sauce (for us, ketchup for the kids) and fries. Even Ayden enjoys this. Tiny pieces of cut up steak with sweet potato mash for him. What makes this extra perfect is that my husband is such a steak snob that he always cooks them himself, so I don't overcook and "ruin" his steak. Fine by me.

Follow this by bundling three hopefully exhausted children into bed as close to 8pm as humanly possible and then a night of trashy Saturday night TV and some wood crackling away on the log burner… awesome evening right there. Oh and more wine.

Sunday morning pancakes. What could be more perfect than that? Except maybe Sunday morning french toast? Either will do. I'm not fussy. As long as there's maple syrup and, if I'm feeling really cheeky, some crispy streaky bacon on the side. 

Full tummies need a long walk by the sea. Makes the guilt of scoffing a pile of pancakes a little less. As the weather gets cooler, I love bundling up in hats and scarves for a walk on the beach. 

My husband would step in here and say that a perfect Sunday needs a roast dinner with all the trimmings. But that's why this is my blog and not his! If he promises to help with the clean up afterwards then yes, a roast might be on the cards. 

Sunday afternoon… maybe a movie, a game of monopoly, another bike ride, trip to the cinema, Mario Kart. Any of the above. As long as I'm with my awesome, crazy, noisy, beautiful family, its all perfect to me :) 

What would your perfect weekend be?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

♡ Little bits #6 ♡

How has another week gone by? Wow. Slow down already.

On the plus side, Autumn excites me. A lot. So I'll just go with it. Anyone else started Christmas shopping? No, just me? :)

1. I love discovering a new recipe. If I'm stuck in a food rut - pasta for dinner again? - I'll spend a few minutes looking for some food inspiration and try out a new recipe. These tostadas were easy to throw together, pretty healthy (if you go easy on the cheese) and delicious. Check out the recipe here.
2. Little lady feet and tiny baby toes. Queueing up to get in the bath. I have no words. Too cute.
3. This cheeky little monkey is getting more mischievous by the day. Look at that face.
4. We're enjoying getting back into books now that the new school year is in full swing. Over summer we didn't read as much as normal. Bedtimes were later and mummy and daddy waaay more tired! Its nice to have those quiet pre-bedtime stories and cuddles back. Anything by Roald Dahl is a winner.

5. Picture this. Its 5am on Saturday morning. Baby decides its time to get up. We have no coffee left.……….. husband decides its a five shot kinda morning!
6. This little lady has my heart.
7. I came downstairs on Sunday to find that she had cuddled her baby brother to sleep ♡
8. My beautiful biggest boy enjoying some quiet time exploring on the beach.


Friday, 12 September 2014

What we're reading

We love books. Some of my most precious memories with my children are being all cuddled up in bed reading their favourite stories. 

Dylan loved story time so much that, from about 18 months old, he could recite most of The Gruffalo and Monkey Puzzle. With only one baby at the time, we had a lot more time to read so he must have heard it multiple times a day!

Even with three little ones we still make time to read every day. I love the picture books aimed at younger children, so its lovely to rediscover them all with Ayden. 

This is Ayden's favourite story. He carries it around everywhere with him (as you can see from the state of the cover). He holds it up for me and then climbs onto my lap to read. 

This series of books is lovely. Its called BabyLit and takes classic books like Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and adapts them for little people. Some focus on counting, some on colours, others on basic words. The illustrations are beautiful and its such a lovely idea. We have a couple already and I plan to invest in a few more - starting with Dracula and Frankenstin in time for Halloween.

For some reason he particularly likes page 3… hope this isn't a sign of things to come!!!

I am always amazed by how well Dylan and Meryn can read now. To me, they still seem too small to be able to sit and read a book themselves. Ridiculous I know. But they still love to have us read to them at bedtime. 

Dylan was given a full set of Roald Dahl books for his last birthday and we're working our way through those at the moment. They love them. We're just finishing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They've asked for The Twits next. Fine by me :)

As for me… well, after starting The Husband's Secret on holiday in June (!) you'd think I'd have finished it by now. No. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was determined to carry on reading when we got back. Not so much. I think I'm averaging a chapter a month. I'll finish it eventually.

What are you reading at the moment?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ta-da tostadas

Quick, easy, (reasonably) healthy and delicious. Usually my main criteria when deciding to try a new recipe. 

If it involves olives and avocado, then it's a total no-brainer. 

Tostadas are a new phenomenon-menom for me. But I'm a huge fan of mexican / tex-mex… call it what you will. So I was excited to try these.

I stumbled across various versions of this recipe and decided to cobble them all together to make my perfect tostada. These were super easy and very tasty. Love at first bite. Enjoy!


Corn tortillas
Oil of your choice for frying (I used coconut oil)
Grated cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
Ready cooked and sliced chicken breast
Ground cumin
Ground chilli powder
Sliced spring onions
Baby spinach leaves
Cherry or plum tomatoes
Sliced black olives


Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy bottom frying pan. Fry the tortillas for about a minute per side, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

When you've finished frying all the tortillas (I used two per person), put your cooked, sliced chicken in the same pan and just briefly stir fry it to warm through, adding your cumin and chilli powder to taste.

Top each tortilla with some grated cheese and place under the grill to melt.

Once the cheese has melted, take the tortillas out and start adding your toppings. I tore up the spinach leaves and added these first, followed by the warm chicken. Then I just went to town and chucked everything on! Spring onions, diced plum tomatoes, olives, sweetcorn, avocado and salsa. Yum.

The beauty of these is that you can just add more or less of whatever you fancy. 

Be warned; there's no way to eat these without making a mess! Perhaps not one for a first date.