Quick and Tasty Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Butternut squash and potato soup
350 grams butternut squash and sweet potato (if you want to cheat a bit tesco sell a bag this size of them ready prepared)
2 garlic cloves
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
1 tsp of nutmeg
Splash of milk
2 stock cubes mixed with 500 ml of boiling water
A third of a celery stick

 

1. Cook the sweet potatoes and squash. I steamed mine but roasting would work fine too. They usually take about 40 minutes in the oven.
2. Dice the onion and the celery. Cut up the garlic finely or crush it.
3. Heat a little oil in the bottom of a large pan or pot. Add the onion and garlic and some salt and pepper. Add the celery. Sprinkle the nutmeg in. When the onions are mostly cooked, pour in the stock.
4. Bring to the boil and add the potatoes and squash. To make it easier to blend I mashed the vegetables up a bit with a fork.
5. Using a hand blender, blitz the vegetables and stock so it starts to thicken. (I kept the soup on the heat to do this but you can take it off if you prefer)
6. When the soup is smooth add a splash of milk to thicken. Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. If it is too thick add a bit more water.
7. Either eat immediately or cool and store in the fridge and heat up within 2 days.

Turning One

Amelia’s birthday is fast approaching and to celebrate we are throwing her an afternoon tea party for her and her little friends. With work and uni to juggle alongside the titchy princess I have to be organised.

The to do list for a first birthday party is surprisingly long. So far I have:
Gone shopping for all her presents
Paid for and put together the party bags
Got the balloons and banners
Got the plastic cups and paper plates
Got the wrapping paper
Got the icing sugar and other decorations for the cake

What I still need to do:
Wrap the presents
Make and decorate the cake
Buy and cook the party food
Find the princess an outfit
Buy batteries for my camera so I can take some decent pictures for once

Who knew a one year old required so much? I’m not a big fan of huge parties for first birthdays. Being an only child there aren’t that many children that Amelia could invite and I think Amelia would find a hall filled with people overwhelming.

Her little tea party is going to be in nanny’s back garden with lots of toys and people that she knows and loves. Small and sweet for our little sweetheart.

Four weeks Monday my baby is officially one. Where has the time gone?

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Easter Monday

So many people I know were celebrating having a long weekend. Well not for us. Retail, catering and emergency services don’t get bank holidays off. Everyone still wants to go out for dinner, do their shopping and see a doctor if they go to a and e.

Amelia’s dad and I both worked this morning, much to her annoyance. She likes having both of us with her all day, not one at a time. (Rob came in at half eight and ten minutes later I had to leave for work.) Daddy won a name the bunny competition at work – kind of although that’s a story for another time – and came home with this fluffy friend for Amelia.

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To make up for me rushing out to work Amelia had a real treat for breakfast – strawberries with a mini chocolate chip hot cross bun and a bit of one of her Easter eggs – and has spent the time Ive been at work chilling in her pyjamas with her daddy.

Amelia did her usual rummage through the bags when I got back from work, looking for treats from the staff shop (luckily I got her juice cartons and baby ginger bread). Amelia’s nanny on her daddy’s side dropped round a chocolate egg which is being saved for later:

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After all the excitement the little lady is now relaxing next to me with her juice watching CBeebies. Perfect way to spend the last day of Easter.

My little princess is one, five weeks today. When did she get so big?

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Easter Egg Biscuits

Easter biscuits

Easter Biscuits

(These biscuits are meant to be Easter egg shaped but Lakeland had every cookie cutter apart from an Easter egg shaped one. They even had a one shaped like two cats sitting next to each other. But no Easter egg one!)

Ingredients

125 grams sugar
125 grams butter
225 grams of plain flour
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Icing sugar
Food colouring
Water
Sprinkles

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees (lower if you have a fan over

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the vanilla essence and the flour. Squish together with your hands to form a dough ball and roll out on a floured surface. (We cut ours out with a knife and it made 16 good sized biscuits).

Cook them until golden which is about fifteen minutes. Leave the biscuits to cool on a rack and make the icing sugar. Mix icing sugar with water until a thick paste is formed. For ours we added a few drops of blue food colouring. Using a spoon smooth the icing over the cooked biscuits and add the sprinkles.

These are what our finished biscuits looked like. No, they aren’t perfect but Amelia had fun helping make them and loved licking the icing off when they were finished.

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Easter or the New Christmas?

Easter or the New Christmas?

It’s Amelia’s first Easter and there is certainly the temptation to go over board and buy her a bucket load of chocolate. But one she wouldn’t eat it and two I don’t want to spoil her.

I have seen many memes and posts calling Easter the new Christmas. In our family that is definitely not the case. Easter is not Christmas and for us does not mean a pile of presents. Emphasis on the PILE part. (Her nanny and great nanny have each used the money they would have spent on chocolate on clothes as the little lady is nearly in the next size up.)

So what are we getting the titchy princess for her first Easter weekend?
I’ve had an adorable little skirt and hair bow set made for her by a lovely Instagram business called ‘stitchlings creations’. She also has a pair of bunny ears and an Easter bonnet which we are going to decorate later with Pom poms and fluffy Easter chicks.

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As far as chocolate goes she has a small hamper with little chocolates in it: kinder eggs, kinder bars, a small Cadbury’s egg and some caramel mini eggs. We also treated her to some gold Easter bunny’s this morning in the lindt shop at bluewater.

As it’s raining and horrible out today we are going to make some Easter biscuits and some chocolate nest cakes. Recipes to follow.

Have a good easter everyone

Amelia’s Ten Month Progress Check

Ten month check

Going into it we knew Amelia’s was going to go well. The checklist came through when she was nine months and she could do everything on it then.

But we could never have imagined it going as well as it did. The health visitor that carried out the check marked Amelia 60/60 on every category and said her mental and physical abilities were more that of a two year old and we should ask her preschool – when she goes – to adjust her activities to match that.

What does it really mean?
Well anyone who knows Amelia will know she is unusually active and extremely noisy. She’s been able to climb out of her cot for months, has no trouble with stairs and is never still – even in her sleep she kicks her legs. She wiggles in time to music and waves good bye whenever you leave a room, normally with very little encouragement.

She says four very clear words – Mum dad dig and Nan. She also says all the variations. Mummy mumma daddy dada ect. She tries to copy you when you speak and will try and sing along to music.

Amelia’s favourite foods are pretty much all fruits and vegetable. On a normal day she has rice crispies and fruit for breakfast, morning snack of fruit, lunch of cheese and crackers with dried fruit, rice crackers for afternoon snack and dinner of steamed veggies with a small portion of meat or my veggie option. The health visitor looked very surprised when I told her this. She said it was very unusal to have a parent balance her diet as well as we had, which makes me wonder what are other people feeding their little ones? Amelia just has smaller helpings of what we do. Are we that healthy?

While I am very proud of her and pleased that the health visitor put it down to our parenting I do know that not all babies are so far ahead.

Some little ones need a bit of extra help in certain areas. And there is nothing wrong with that! Having a baby is not a competition. Babies will do things when they are good and ready and if that means with extra support than that is absolutely fine. As long as they are happy and well looked after the rest will fall into place.

here is a picture of my little princess eating her favourite snack – banana

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Chocolate Trial Birthday Cake

Anyone who knows me knows I bake cakes. A lot. If I had the patience and time and money I’d go to all the decorating classes and learn how to do it professionally.

Instead I just have fun making cakes at home.

Amelia’s birthday is in less than two months. Birthday cakes made in bakeries instead of in supermarkets are very expensive. I’ve had quotes ranging from £50 to £150. (Nothing against supermarket birthday cakes, just want Amelia’s first birthday to be extra special. Okay maybe a little bit against supermarket birthday cakes then.)

So I am going to make one myself. I’m torn between making a vanilla cake or chocolate cake.

My chocolate cake trial sponge was adapted from an old easily memorable recipe my Nan taught me when I was little.

Simply
3 eggs
6oz of caster sugar
6oz of self raising flour
6oz of butter

Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the flour and eggs a little at a time.
Cook in two round baking tins at 180 for 25 minutes or until a knife in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

To make the cake chocolatey and rich I used 4oz of self raising flour and 2oz of cocoa powder, instead of 6oz of flour . I also swapped out half of the normal sugar for 3oz of brown sugar.

For the top I made butter cream and mixed in melted chocolate and decorated with sprinkles and a pretty flowery chocolate centre piece.

The centre was filled with mango and passion fruit jam. Maybe sounds a bit of a weird combination but it was actually really nice (admittedly I used this because I couldn’t find the strawberry jam, the fridge seems to have eaten it)

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(getting a close up of this cake and having the sprinkles and chocolate flower on focus was a nightmare…so I’m using this photo as I like it) 

When I get another spare hour I’ll have a go at a vanilla one. Who knows. Maybe a red velvet sponge or a strawberry one too.

Mental Health and the Stigma

Mental health

Mental health is a subject in the public eye a lot at the moment. As I write this I can easily name ten bloggers that are open and honest about their mental health struggles. This is something I’ve been reminded of in a uni lecture last week, a lecture about mental health and violence.

Mental health covers a whole range of disorders, illnesses and conditions. Often mental health disorders are portrayed horribly in the media. Newspapers are particularly awful for blaming violent incidents on those with mental health conditions. As a society we are being far more conscious and considerate of mental health conditions and related treatments but we do have a long way to go.

There is still very much this idea that crazy people are out wielding knifes and axes and attacking members of the general public. This is partly as a result of the media blaming violent behaviours on individuals who should be sectioned. In reality those suffering with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder are not usually violent. And if they are it is often because of a trigger event or a lack of treatment. The lack of treatment is the area we should be focused on fixing. The bigger problem is that those with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of crime.

Mental health services are often very difficult to access. Some areas have year long waiting lists to receive an assessment. This means that sometimes those individuals don’t receive help until they have caused themselves or someone else harm. This is too late.

It’s brilliant that we as a society are encouraging people to ask for help but the help offered needs to be in a timely manner.

Charitys that you can contact:
Cruse bereavement care
Rape crisis England and Wales
Relate – for counselling regarding relationships
Samaritans – to talk about any problems at any time
Victim support – a service for those who have been victims of or witness to crime

So if you are reading this and aren’t sure where to go to ask for help either visit your GP or contact the charities above. Nhs website is also a good place to start.

First shoes with Golden Boot

First shoes: the facts

Where did we go for Amelia’s first shoes?
We went to Golden Boot a lovely independent store in Maidstone town centre. It has been there years and is where my Mum purchased my first shoes.

When did we go?
A few days after Amelia turned 10 months. My little brother was walking by 10 months and Amelia is very nearly there too. We have a family of early walkers!

What shoes did we get?
An adorable pinky corrally coloured pair with a t-bar strap.

What size is the little princess?
3G – pretty average for a baby her size.

Why golden boot?
They offer a little book with their picture in at a first shoe fitting so I have a lovely picture book and photo for Amelia’s memory box. They also offer shoes at lower prices than other shoe shops and their staff are wonderful. Amelia tried on 4 or 5 pairs in three different sizes. They don’t sell the shoes until they are completely happy with the fit.

Does Amelia like her shoes?
The honest answer to that is no! She likes having her tootsies free and always pulls her socks off. But she is getting used to the shoes. To start with she went back to tip toe walking but is now flat footed again.

I couldn’t recommend golden boot enough for baby and children’s shoes. If you live locally then pop in with your little ones. This post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of Amelia’s new shoes. Getting pictures of her sitting still is becoming a serious challenge so apologies for the quality.

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First shoes, Golden boot, titchy princess

Lunch with Appy kids co

Lunch with Appy kids co

Now that Amelia is nearly walking and always talking, packing lunch for trips out is a must. She’s a growing little lady and enjoys her food.

Trips to the park and days at nanny’s mean Amelia’s lunch box comes out. Something I always put in there is a juice pouch from Appy kids co.

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Why Appy kids co?
Appy kids co pouches are decorated with popular cartoon characters – Amelia’s current stash are peppa pig and paw patrol themed. They come in a variety of flavours and contain no added sugar, no GMOs and no gluten. They are also vegan certified. This makes them perfect for little ones with special dietary needs.

What flavours do they come in?
Amelia’s favourite is tropical but they also come in orange juice, apple juice and mixed berry juice and summer berry juice.

Where can I buy them?
Appy juice co drinks are stocked in a variety of places, online and in stores. Tesco, Spar, b & m, poundworld, toys r us and whole foods all stock the juice drinks. Online they can be purchased from amazon and Ocado.

Will they break the bank?
Definitely not! Depending which pouches and where you purchase them from, Appy kids co drinks are no more than £2. (The cartons come in packs of 3 and the pouches come in cartons of 5)

So next time you’re going out for a picnic don’t forget to pack these tasty drinks

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*** I was sent these products for the purpose of this review. All opinions on my own***