Friday, 14 November 2014

Toddler cooking (6) - 3 ingredient cookies


It's week 5 of "Little Chefs" link-up over on Baked Potato Mummy. We've missed a few because of being away but are excited to link-up this week :)

So following the healthiest (and easiest!) pancakes in the world a few weeks ago I decided to re-jiggle the breakfast bar recipe I made when Doof was weaning.BREAKFAST BAR RECIPE I made when Doof was weaning.

And here are the results - delicious cookies, using only 3 ingredients - all of which are super healthy :)

  • Sugar-free
  • Gluten-free (depending on oats)
  • Dairy-free

First is the original recipe and below are 2 variations that we tried (and loved!):

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Strawberry-banana cookies

Ingredients:
1 banana 
5 strawberries
Cup wholemeal oats


Recipe:
1. Mash up the banana ("over-ripe" ones with black bits are perfect for this, especially if your kids pick at the dark bits and won't eat them!)
2. Chop the strawberries into small chunks and add to the banana
3. Mix in the oats (I used M&S wholemeal oats as then the cookies were even more healthy with extra fibre!)
4. Leave to stand for 5 minutes - this is important as it softens the oats slightly before cooking and makes the cookies extra tasty. If you forget or are too impatient, don't worry - they still taste good but the oats are a bit more chewy
5. Shape into flattened small balls and place on buttered or lined baking tray
6. Cook for 15ish minutes at 160 degrees in fan oven (180 in normal oven)
7. Remove from oven when golden brown on top 
8. Either eat straight away (they are soooo delicious warm) or place on a cooling rack - they keep ok in a Tupperware for a few days

So there you go - cookies just made with fruit and wholemeal oats. Even if you eat the whole batch in one sitting (hmmmm I may be guilty of that...) all you've eaten is a cup of oats and some fresh fruit. Perfect!

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Pear-raspberry variation

Ingredients:
2 pears
Large handful raspberries
1.5 cups wholemeal oats


Recipe:
1. Peel and square the pears
2. Mash up in a bowl (the riper the pears, the easier this stage is)
3. Add in roughly chopped raspberries
4. Mix in oats
5. Leave to stand for 5 minutes
6. Place on baking tray in shapes of cookies, or bars, or any other shape that takes your fancy
7. Cook for 15-20 minutes in 160 degrees fan oven (I found the pear ones needed slightly longer than the banana-base ones)

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Pomegranate-banana variation 

We experimented with pomegranates as I'm always reading what a 'superfood' they are etc but I can never think of where to put them in my regular diet...

Ingredients:
1.5 bananas
Handful pomegranates 
Cup oats

To show how easy these are to make, Doof made this batch from start to finish. Here are the steps he took:

 
Mash the banana and ad a spoon of oats

Add the pomegranates

Add the rest of the oats

Mix everything together well

Put round or bar shapes on a lined baking tray

Laugh when you accidentally throw some mixture across the room

Be sure to scrape out the whole bowl - it would be a waste to leave any behind...


Then the only bit I did was putting them in the oven (cook for 15ish minutes 160 degrees fan) and taking them out. 


Making cookies? Child's play :)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Shocked beyond belief

***This post contains some sensitive material that people may find disturbing so please use your discretion before reading. There are no images but even the thought is disturbing in my opinion***

A cheery pic for you before you start reading...

So this is a completely unplanned blog post but I have been so shocked and disgusted by something this afternoon that I had to vent...

You often read about Facebook banning photos of mums breastfeeding or cuddling their newborns after birth when a bit of flesh is on display. Today one of my Facebook friends commented on a photo that someone else had posted, meaning it appeared in my timeline. I am deliberately NOT going to say who the post was by, post a link to it it put up a screen grab as that would just give them the attention they want.

A "Facebook appropriate" breastfeeding photo...

Instead I will very briefly describe it, only so you understand. It was a collection of 4 photos. Each contained a dead baby. Abandoned in a field/by a river/somewhere out in the open. I do not know if it was repeated photos of the same baby, or 4 different ones. I did not look at the images long enough to tell. But each was bloodied and broken, all on their own and looked like they had just been thrown away. All looked like newborns.

In my line of work I have seen lots of dead bodies. Sad but true, it's a fact of the job. And that has included dead babies. But I was truly shocked by these photos. Who posts them? Who likes to see them appear in their timeline? When you look back at the poster's homepage they repeatedly post things like that to receive lots of comments (for example, "you have to say amen for these babies" - cue 10k+ likes (WTF??!!) and the same number of comments). Do people really find it so exciting to receive Facebook comments that they would post this sort of material?

Anyway so that was shocking. But it gets worse. As any normal person would do I reported it to Facebook. Surely posting pictures like that breaches one of their guidelines? Well, no. They wrote back saying the photos were not inappropriate. I couldn't believe it, surely they had maybe looked at the wrong photo? So I reported it again. But no, they were serious. This is their exact reply:

We reviewed the photo you reported for annoying and distasteful humor and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards." (click to see their definition of community standards).

I am speechless. How do these photos not fall into the "Graphic content" section? Or the "Nudity" section? How on earth do these not violate everyone's "community standards"?!

I have never been tempted to start any sort of campaign/speak out about anything before but this has completely appalled me. How can this be right? What sort of society are we living in that it is deemed not acceptable to see a mother breastfeeding but is to post photos of dead abandoned babies to garner "likes"? What makes me even more sad is that my children will grow up in such a society.

So have a think. What do you think? Should you be allowed to say anything to anyone? Be aware - on Facebook you don't have to actively "like" things yourself or follow people directly to see such material. It can come via a friend, or even a friend of a friend, liking or commenting on a post.

It could appear in your kid's timeline next time.

Or the timeline of your friend who just lost their baby.

Or just an average person like me who still thinks this is shockingly disturbing.

I don't know about you but I would much rather see a newborn suckling on their mother's breasts (even with an exposed nipple...) a hundred times a day for the rest of my life than see anything like that again.

I think Facebook need to wake up and accept more social responsibility, and act accordingly.

******


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Top tips for travelling with a toddler



Having recently road-tripped up the East coast of America with a 2 year old and 2 month old (yep we are crazy!) here are my top tips...

1. Long haul? Really?

Think of the flight length. And then the time difference... Arghhh, suddenly the nice family trip to Sydney may not seem as appealing. But sometimes you have to just do it. Our latest trip was to attend a very close friend's wedding - so in that case you just suck it up and enjoy (hah!) the ride :)

Would you trust him as your pilot?
 
2. Who needs toys?

Obviously luggage space is a premium but never fear - when hotel rooms have phones and electronic safes to play with no toddler will ever get bored...

Hmmm I'm going to keep my biscuit safe from my little sister...
 
Hello?? Room service please :)
3. Switch body clock ASAP

There are lots of "best" ways to get over jet lag but I find the just-get-on-with-it approach usually works best - just go with whatever time it is in the country you are in at the time. Even if it means they nap at slightly odd times in the first few days. Even if it means they miss a few of the famous sights!

Wasted on him!

4. Ditch the controlled crying

Even if you advocate controlled crying at home (I don't) then don't do it for the first few days of holiday - they didn't ask to be taken away and be put in a strange hotel room. So just roll with the punches, let them nap when they want to (as long as not after 3.30pm) and settle them gently to sleep.

5. Take calpol and/or nurofen sachets

You never know when teething might strike... For us it was at 20000 feet as we were preparing for descent! The sachets are small enough for hand luggage and are just the right size dosage-wise for most toddlers :)

6. Don't go when they're sick

Difficult to predict 6 months in advance when you book your holiday but this one is pretty critical...
Both ours had colds with temperatures for the first few nights. Baby + snot + toddler + temperature + jet lag = pretty horrific combination!

7. Never underestimate the power of the sock

Especially if they have faces on... This tip is also known as " don't ever forget the remote control for the portable DVD player". Doofy's socks entertained him for hours in the car - for which we will be forever grateful :)
   
Roooar, my right hand lion sock is going to eat my right hand lion sock...

8. Snack-happy

Along with the jet lag, change in routine, extra travelling I think you need to have an element of flexibility. Doof ate lots some meals, very little other meals and was very good at putting up with his meals being at completely random times. At home/nursery he eats lunch at 11.30-12.00 every day. On holiday he had it anytime from 11.30 to 1.30. To counteract any hunger pangs we had a supply of healthy (most of the time!) snacks kept in the car.
 
Who ate the rest of my cake?!

9. Museums (in America at least) are awesome!

Nearly every town in America seems to have a "Children's museum". We went to our first one by mistake and I expected it to be a museum about childhood (a bit like the one in East London). However they aren't. They are awesome!!! Basically they are a combination of soft play, creative space (eg bakery with fake food and drink to serve) and interesting things to do/see/play with. Underlying each activity is some sort of educational benefit but to be honest it is just all so fun! And even better if you go midweek when all the local kids are at school you quite often have the place (especially outside the large cities) to yourselves.
Even learnt to spell when we were away ;)

And lastly... 

10. Never try to open a hotel door or operate a lift without their help

At your peril attempt to do either of these without them... I think there must be some unwritten law of toddlerdom that this is their domain - hence why there is BIG trouble if you try to impinge on their territory. Just don't. Humour them. It'll make their day :)





Button... button... BUTTON!!!


Munchkin Undersea Explorer review



A few weeks ago we were sent the Munchkin caterpillar spillers (see here for review) and loved them, so jumped at the chance to "road test" another Munchkin bath toy. This time we were given the Undersea Explorer – a mini submarine for the bath.

What we liked:

1. The size

The toy is about 15cm long and nicely “chunky” so perfectly sized for toddler hands. 

Instantly fascinated by the water trails...

2. The portability

Linked to point 1, this is a great size for a "travel toy" - indeed ours came with us to the States as a familiar bath toy to try and keep the bedtime routine similar despite different hotels each night.

One of the hotels had the perfect sized cubbyhole for it in the bath!
 
3. The plastic-ness

Sounds a bit weird initially? But I'm fed up of all the squishy plastic bath toys (like our ducks and squirters) that all go mouldy inside after a few weeks because you can never completely empty them of water.

4. The bubbliness

When you submerge the submarine underwater it generates loads of bubbles :) for someone as bubble-mad as Doof this was a definite plus point :)

Difficult to see in a pic but he is watching the bubbling!

5. The scope for imaginative play
 
It's nice to have toys which represent real-life things (rather than just cups etc). With this submarine Doof has started to act out “real life” scenes and situations, which I imagine will only develop further with time. He also enjoys spinning the cabin round and seeing the man inside flip round and round.

Spin spin spin

Overall impression:

To be honest it's a pretty inoffensive toy - there's not much to actively dislike. However it hasn't become a firm "favourite" yet either. This may be because we've been travelling for 3 weeks and so living out of our suitcases. Or because D has a plethora of bath toys and so is spoilt for choice now we are home. But it will be interesting to see what happens now we're back. There is a LOT of competition in Doofy's bath toy basket so you've got to be pretty special to get to the top!

Would I buy it if we hadn't been given one? 

Yes - if I saw it in a shop (it retails between £6-£8 depending on where you look) then I would. The bold colours, size and design and all the different features it contains makes it appeal to me (and so hopefully my children!).

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Double dinosaur cookies

In the last week we've bought two things - very different but perfect when combined :)

The first was a dinosaur imprint rolling pin from Etsy (read about it here) and the second was a Funpod (bargain at £25 - thank you to the local Preloved Facebook site!!).

Also fun to hide in...

So at the weekend Doof and I made double dinosaur biscuits :)

It was so much better having him "standing" at the right height - rather than doing everything with him sitting on the kitchen table. He LOVED getting properly involved and wanted to join in with every step. He actually got cross when I tried to pour the vanilla essence without his help! My proudest moment was when I asked him if he wanted to crack the egg, he said yes, took it and somehow crushed/cracked it in one hand without spilling any yolk or white! 


I love how his language is coming on so quick at the moment - he tries to copy everything you say and has new words everyday.  Today he kept chanting "roll-y roll-y" as he was using the rolling pin. So sweet! Even though we've cooked together for the last year I think I have nursery to thank for some of his kitchen skills as this was the first time we'd made cookies together and yet he knew exactly how to roll out the pastry, making sure to sprinkle flour down beforehand, and how to use the cookie cutters (even if a few of our dinosaurs did end up with out heads due to cutter-pastry misalignment issues...).


The end biscuits turned out great - the dinosaur imprint from the rolling pin is awesome (although I need to train D to push a bit harder into the dough with it to make the dinosaurs more pronounced) and next we're going to experiment with imprinting fondant icing on cakes :)

Double dinosaur biscuits

Overall a lovely way to spend the afternoon - thanks Doof!

"Where's his head gone? Oh well, never mind!"

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Biscuit recipe:

230g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
425g plain flour

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add egg and vanilla extract
3. Sift flour and salt
4. Slowly add and mix well
5. Roll out and cut out shapes
6. Place on buttered baking tray
7. Cook at 180 deg C for 10 minutes

Doof is 23 months and did every step except for the putting in/taking out of the oven :)

Friday, 10 October 2014

What is MTV doing to my baby?



As Doof stares open-mouthed at Robin Thicke's blurred lines video I can't help but wonder...

It started out innocently enough. When he was teeny tiny I'd watch TV when doing those long tortuous hour long breastfeeding sessions - perfect for an episode of CSI or Rookie Blue. But then one day I realised I wouldn't want him to be in a room with 2 people shouting at each other, so equally I didn't want him to hear it on the TV.

So I decided we'd watch music TV instead... And a music-TV-addict was born!! Even now any tantrum or sadness can be averted by putting on One Direction's comic relief song... But be aware - not all music videos are PG and some are downright freaky/scary!

There are definite songs Doof likes (he's a bit 2013 I'm afraid!):
Wake me up - Avicii
Roar - Katy Perry
Blurred lines - Robin Thicke/Ti/Pharrell
Burn - Ellie Goulding
Love me again - John Newman
Just give me a reason - Punk ft Nate Ruess
I knew you were trouble - Taylor Swift
I love it - Icona Pop
Dear darlin' - Olly Murs

And there are some bands he loves. At the moment it's mainly One Direction or the Peppa Pig orchestra. I'm not sure which is more embarrassing to be honest...

Equally there are some he doesn't - and when they come on you know about it. From a worryingly young age he would pick up the remote and point it (right way round!!) at the TV. Either to turn it on. Or off if it was *not* a favourite song. And even before he learnt to pick the remote up he became conditioned to smile every time I did!!

With D I had the same good intentions that I think most parents have. Of course they won't watch any TV until they're 3. Or maybe just when they're sick. Or when you really need to get something finished. Or when you've been all night and just need 30 minutes quiet time... Etc etc. My excuses keep coming and in the end I've produced a toddler addicted to Peppa pig and MTV. Anyway we were completely busted a few months ago when grandparents came to visit for the afternoon. Of which D spent a large proportion pointing desperately at the (dark and silent off) TV and saying "arghhhh" repeatedly. Oops.

Iz on the other hand has watched TV since she was born (second sibling syndrome!). Will be interesting to see how she turns out... :)

Hang on, this is the wrong remote! Who put this here?!

Bah! Caught in my stealth approach to get as close to the magic box as possible!

I've got the remote and I'm not afraid to use it...

Where's that One Direction CD gone?!

Sshhhhh I'm watching One Direction

Why isn't the TV on?!
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What songs does your little one like? Have you got a future rock god or pop princess? And do you censor what music videos you let them watch?!
  

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Top ten essentials for life with a baby


I meant to write this when D was more "baby" than toddler. But life happens, combination of work and D distracted me... But here it is, better late than never, my top 10 essentials for a baby*:

* which I stand by now having a new baby again!

(In no particular order)


1. Blackout blind

The holy grail of getting your baby to sleep longer (apparently). We don't have an actual "blind" - more a concoction of black cardboard pieces taped to the window and a dark blanket over the top... But it makes the room dark so at least D knows its bedtime. 

2. Carrier 

I think a baby carrier is one if the most essential things. Especially if you live somewhere like London and want a social life that doesn't always involve "accessible" routes. A carrier leaves both your hands free, means baby gets nice snuggsies and you can access anywhere you want.

Personally I L.O.V.E my ergo. I could go on and on and on about how much I love it (apart from this minor downside). But if I did that we'd never get to my next 8 essentials so I'll be brief... Basically I hate baby bjorn carriers. With a passion. They are bad for babies hips, make them dangle by their crotch (oww who wants that?!) and can lead to overstimulation. But the ergo... Oh it is great. So comfy, no backache even after wearing it for hours. Baby falls asleep within seconds of going in it. Toddler can be back carried in it. Has useful pocket for my phone :) what's not to love?

Look how cosy I am :)
3. Giant muslins

Everyone loves muslins. Well giant muslins are just *that* bit better. They have a million uses - for swaddling, as a blanket, a blackout cover in the buggy, a breastfeeding cover, vomit mopper-up, etc. The uses are endless. We've even used ours as a whole body cover when there was a super poonami and we had no spare clothes with us... and draped over a hospital cot to try and darken the super-bright room so D could get some sleep. I always carry at least one with me at all times :)

Use as a light blanket, swaddle, or to cover your hospital cot!
 
4. Video monitor 

So useful to know if the moaning baby is settling to sleep or building up to a crescendo scream. And to see if the toddler is lying down or galavanting around his cot. Or for peace of mind when you hear a little noise and aren't sure what it was. I wouldn't go back to a non-video monitor ever.

So cute when they're sleeping....

5. Giant playmat

Everyone has the little square playmats but why settle for that? D outgrew his pretty quickly and as soon as they're able to roll it only takes 2 or 3 turns for them to be off the mat and on the floor... Our giant playmat (about 1x1.5m) is great - room for even toddlers to sit and play (or all 6 babies at our NCT reunion!). Iz can roll and roll to her heart's content and still stay on the padded area :)

I love my giant playmat!

6. Lion mobile (or equivalent)

Ok so this is a specific example of a general "group" of items. We had a lion that clipped onto D's buggy and when you pulled it at the bottom it played a tune for about 60 seconds. D quickly associated it with falling asleep when in his buggy and so anytime he needed to sleep on-the-go all we needed was the lion. Fingers crossed it has same effect on Iz!

He's clutching the lion mobile in his right hand after it had it's desired sleep-inducing effect

7. Ewan sheep

A lifesaver when you want baby to go/stay asleep but don't want to have to stand there saying "sshhhh sshhhh sshhhh" for hours on end...

Ewan - also good for wrestling...

8. Sleeping bags  

Never have to worry about blankets riding up and covering their face? A deterrent to them being able to climb out if their cot? An extra layer to stop them scratching their eczema-affected knees? Win. Win. Win.

9. Clothes pegs

No one will tell you this as a new parent but invest in clothes pegs. Always have at least 3 on your person at all times. Then when your precious darling falls asleep (finally!) in the pram/buggy you can rig up one of your giant muslins (see above) and you have a way of securing it strategically so baby stays shaded and in darkness with no risk of dislodgement or being blown off into oncoming traffic (this may or may not have happened to me...). Hello baby nap time and mummy coffee time :)

Clothes pegs = staple

10. Inco pads

You know the ones? You probably had them under your sheets as the end of pregnancy approached in case your waters broke one night? These are great as on-the-go nappy changing mats. And when a bit of poop gets on them --> bin it. When D had a vomiting bug we lined his buggy with them so he could still go out but there would be no horrific cleanup if the worst happened... Very light and portable with a million uses.

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So what do you think? 

Did you have all these? 

Or did you have a different "top 10" list?