Kids Eggy Peggy Chicky Fried Rice

This recipe was born out of desperation and turned out pretty well. I had some left over roast chicken and some slightly moldy red pepper (Mmmm, yummy…) and just chucked it in with some other stuff I had lurking around. With all of my recipes, the veg and meat are pretty much interchangeable. If your child doesn’t like peppers then put something else in they’ll actually eat.

Ingredients

Chicken breast and leg diced (enough for however many kids you have)
One red pepper
A handful of peas
A handful of chopped mushrooms
One onion chopped
One garlic clove crushed
1 desert spoon of Thai fish sauce or reduced salt soy sauce
A good ol glub of Toasted sesame oil if you have it, sunflower or vegetable oil if you don’t
One egg.
Wok

Firstly, put your rice on to boil, then gently fry the mushrooms, onions and crushed garlic together in the oil until soft then put aside in a little bowl. Fry the chicken in the remnants of the oil and add the peas and peppers when the chicken is heated through or browned if fresh.

If your kids are anything like mine, then they hate anything remotely slimey like cooked onions or mushrooms, so what I do is use my hand blender to mush the garlic, mushrooms and onion together with a splash of water and the Thai fish sauce, then they don’t know they’re eating it. He he he…

Once you’ve made the sauce, put it aside and beat your egg, when it’s all mixed together, move the food in the wok to one side and tilt the wok so the food is on higher ground (if you know what I mean…?) pour the egg mixture into the lower part of the wok and make sure it’s over the heat, then stir the egg until it’s no longer liquid and mix in with the other ingredients. If the rice is ready then add it now. At this point you need to turn up the heat and add the sauce, making sure you stir constantly so the food doesn’t burn. Add the punch of salt, taste and if to your liking serve.

I have to say, I was very surprised to find the fish sauce in my food cupboard, it must have been left over from a Jamie Oliver recipe, but thank goodness it was, I usually use soy sauce for these types of meals but had run out!

Hope you like it!

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Babies Who Nap Outside…

IZZY OUTSIDE 2
Claire, my lovely friend and Mumtrepreneur , forwarded me this article on babies having their naps outside, from BBC Magazine . I have always let Izzy sleep in the garden for her daytime nap, even when it was -3 degrees outside and we had to wipe away the snow from her buggy cover to get her out. This wasn’t something I did with my other 2 as babies, but it’s always worked for Izzy and she always sleeps very well and for a very long time outside.

You know what it’s like, you’re out with your little one and they fall asleep in the buggy, then you get them home, walk through the front door and “Waaaahhhh”, they wake up. I think one day, instead of trying to keep the nap going inside, I just pushed the buggy into the back (very secure) garden and let her continue to sleep in the same environment she fell asleep in. Low and behold, she didn’t wake up, she slept for another 2 hours, peacefully and cosily.

When it’s cold, I put the raincover on to protect her from the wind and when it’s super-cold, just make sure she’s wearing lots of layers and has an extra blanket on top of her cosytoes. When it snowed recently we had to wipe away the snow from the buggy cover to get her. She never feels cold to the touch when I take her out (except her cheeky hands if they stray from the warmth of the cosytoes!!), but she does always seem rested and happy. In fact, when I know she’s tired, she gets quite excited when I pop her in the buggy and give her teddy to cuddle. But what’s not to like? My garden backs onto my son’s school, so at playtime she can hear the kids playing which, for my noise-loving babe is like a lullaby. She can also hear the wind, the rain and the birds – it must be lovely!

The article talks about how parents in the Nordic countries believe that it keeps babies healthier letting them take their naps outside and I have to admit, Izzy is a very healthy baby, but that could also be because I’m still breastfeeding her a zillion times a day!

I dunno, it works for Izzy and it works for me. Considering she’s such an appalling sleeper at night, I just thank God I get 2 hours to myself during the day. Maybe I should put her out in the garden to sleep at night? She might even sleep through!…. JOKE!!! Of course she wouldn’t sleep through! Ha Ha Ha! *laughs maniacally and collapses in exhaustion*

Ballet Day

I love YouTube. This morning I fancied finding out how to create the perfect ballet bun and YouTube showed me exactly what to do. In fact it showed me two ways, one of which involved some sort of hair donut which we didn’t own. Anyway, what joy! We made a bun and it looked pretty good until it collapsed and then it turned into a ponytail which was acceptable, if not as ballet-ish.

On the way to ballet, we always pass a dance shop and this morning we popped in to buy some ballet tights. Low and behold just next to the till, they had some hair-donut things, whoop whoop!

So we arrived at Maisie’s ballet class, put on the new tights and put in the hair-donut. It looked ridiculous. Of course it did, she’s three and the bun is almost as big as her entire head, so, as she walked into class, with a massive, over-fussy, donut stuck to her head, I crept away before the ballet teacher could catch my eye and give me a look I’m sure she’s given hundreds of other keeno Mums before me. Personally, I’m feeling inspired, next week we’re going to try a French plait. Might start my research now…

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When we went down to the woods today…

We’ve had a lovely Sunday. Despite the fact that Isabelle decided it was only right and proper that I should sleep for 2 & 3/4 hours last night, we all managed to enjoy the sunshine and go to the park. We played football, practised balance biking for Maisie for the 2nd time and took Izzy out for her first ride on the push trike. Maisie got her balance bike for Christmas and I’m very pleased with it, thankfully Maisie rather likes it too. It’s a bikestar balance bike that I got from Amazon, (I’ll do a piece on balance bikes soon!) image What frustrates me about balance bikes is that people who review balance bikes always say, “They’re AMAZING! My child simply looked at the balance bike and could COMPLETELY ride a real bike without stabilisers straight away!” This has not happened for my children so far. Sam didn’t just simply get it straight away, it took him about 4 or 5 practices (still not much), Maisie today sort of limped on it all the way to the park and back again which was pretty painful to watch, but nevertheless she had a lovely time. I’m sure she’ll get it soon, but she didn’t get it today which left me feelng like she’ll never get it. At moments I found myself acting like a drill sergeant, clapping my hands and commanding her to go faster, to look straight ahead and stop mucking about. Poor kid. Sometimes I just completely miss the point. But it would be nice if I didn’t feel like everyone else’s children got it STRAIGHT away! So, for all of you mothers out there who are out with their child who’s having their first few gos on the balance bike, don’t worry if they don’t get it in the first minute, it just takes a bit of practice and they will eventually get it and probably love it. They may not love it, but that’s ok, they’re not freaks, they just don’t like it right now. Ok, deep breath, rant over.

So, to football, we all played, well Izzy sort of played, she mainly just stumbled around on the grass with arms outstretched asking for the ball and then falling over – brilliant. I was in goal quite a lot, which was fine, but perhaps a waste of my skills, anyway, it was funny and sunny and we all enjoyed being out of the house.

After football we played in the park and the woods and generally just got beautifully tired out. Sam and Maisie are playing so nicely together at the moment. It’s as though someone flicked a switch that made them both realise that playing together is completely awesome and much better than Mickey Mouse Club House. Having said that, when we got home, Fergus and I were very quick to seperate the eldest two and give them some down time, (secret code for avoiding potential conflict due to extreme tiredness), you know what I’m talking about parents. All in all, a lovely day with minimal shreeking. Hoorah!
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Marscalicious Pasta

pastaMarscalicious Pasta

As a student, I always used to love adding marscapone cheese to pasta because it was easy and tasty, so the other day I saw it on the shelf in Sainsburys and wondered why on earth I hadn’t used it in kids meals! Marscapone cheese is pretty calorific but currently Izzy is barely eating anything, Sam’s a beanpole and Maisie wont eat it anyway, so calories are just fine as far as I’m concerned.

Ingredients
A splash of vegetable oil
4 heaped desert spoons of Marscapone cheese
A hefty splash of semi skimmed milk
A handful per child of the kids favorite pasta shapes.
Approx 15 fennel seeds crushed
A meat of your choice (we used ham tonight, but chicken works really well too)
A green veg of your choice (we used broccoli but peas work well too)
Half a crushed garlic clove (that was in a portion for 3 kids)

Method
Heat the oil on a medium heat. Put your pasta on to boil. If you’re using raw meat then brown the meat, if you’re using a cooked meat then add the broccoli first to soften it and then add the meat. When the meat is cooked and the veg is soft then add the marscapone and stir. When the marscapone has melted down then add the crushed garlic and fennel seeds (fennel not compulsory if you havent got it!) and stir. Add enough milk so that the mixture is a good saucey consistency. When the pasta has boiled just add the pasta to the mixture and serve.

The only trouble with this meal is that it’s incredibly tempting for the hungry mummys who are doing the cooking… left-over snack alert!!!

Sock Monkey – A Gift Idea

Monkeygang Sock Monkey
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All of my kids have a sock monkey, Sam got his from his Uncle Grant and Auntie Sarah and Maisie and Isabelle got theirs from their Nana. They’re all rather precious. The Monkeys that Nana bought came from The Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, which has an amazing selection of paintings, sculptures, sketches, prints and… Monkeys! The monkeys, originally came from http://www.monkeygang.co.uk though and are all handmade in Norfolk. Prices range from £7.50 – £20 and can be bought online. We love them, you might too!

Today Izzy Wears…

Ditsy print, lined playsuit from Aya Naya and Mini A Ture dusty pink cotton cardigan both from the Yellow Lolly Sale. Aya Naya tights from Loo Loo’s Sale. Singular shoe from Startrite at Charles Clinkard.

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The best bits about having children

The best bits about having children.

Now, I’m very wary about sounding twee, but as I always honk on about the bad bits about parenting, I thought it may be refreshing to focus on the good bits. It’s taken months of consideration (JOKE) but here are my conclusions…

1. Random acts of affection. When your kid suddenly decides to give you a hug or have a snuggle without an ulterior motive or demand in sight, you feel like melting, like this is what it’s all about. It’s as though you get a glimpse of heaven, where it really is all about love and then it’s over, but you bank that moment and store it up and draw on it when you need to.

2. Funny stuff. There is nothing funnier than your own child doing something cute or hilarious. Maisie’s club-mix of twinkle twinkle little star for example, or Izzy’s attempts at jumping or Sam’s break dancing are AMAZING. Well… At least to me and Ferg and Nana and Pops.

3. Play time. When they play nicely, either alone or with other kids, you feel like you’ve done a good job. There’s something wonderful about thinking that this little person is going to be ok, they’re not to going to grow up to be a psychopath, they may even turn out to be…nice.

4. Chats. When you have a chat with your child and they tell you stuff, it’s just very rewarding. It feels like quite an honour, when this little person tells you the minutia of their day, it’s like you’ve had a glimpse into a fresh and very complicated world full of wonder and newness. This sounds a bit odd, but if your child can communicate sensibly with you and you get a flash of the person they’re going to become, it’s just mind-blowing and terrifying and exciting and really, really sweet.

5. When you see them smile. I’m sorry, I know this is super cheesy, but SERIOUSLY, when you see your kids smiling so much that there’s not really enough room on their face, you find YOURSELF almost overwhelmed with the beauty and joy of it. Grinning like an idiot, just delighted and relieved and and happy that they’re experiencing joy, because that’s what we want for our children, we want them to feel full of wonderful joy.

6. Giggling. Giggling is very different to smiling, because giggling is often related to mischief or tickling or something that they find FUNNY. Watching your child find something FUNNY is fascinating. They have a sence of humor! Who’d have thunk it?

7. That first night when they sleep through. This is the holy grail for me at the moment, but one day it just comes and you notice it and you appreciate it because it’s a milestone that really makes a difference to your life.

8. Tough bits. When the kids are ill or afraid or unhappy and they need you and you help them because you are Mum or Dad, that’s just amazing. To be the person that a child wants when their little world feels shaky, is an honour above all else. But those times, which are often difficult times are the building blocks of your relationship with them. It’s these bits that make you a parent and show your children that you love them unconditionally and although that makes them hard it also makes them good.

9. When your hard work pays off. All kids go through phases of being wonderful or hideous, so when you come out of the other side of a difficult phase and you’ve stuck to your guns and managed to be fairly consistent and you see a difference at the end, it’s incredibly rewarding. It’s also a relief, as occasionally in the midst of a phase, you worry that your child may simply be horrible. When they’re not and you then know it was a just a phase, you can enjoy their actual niceness. Well, until the next phase starts at least…

10. They’re fun there’s no getting away from it, children are fun. They make you do silly things, they stop you taking yourself too seriously and actually they just make life much more interesting. Sometimes we just need to let go, to stop getting our knickers in a twist and go with the flow.

11. When they tell you that they love you. What else matters? Thats it, the pinnacle, the goal.

the end.

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Review of Spotted Giraffe Play-Barn in Linton, South Cambridge

The Spotted Giraffe is a great play-barn on several levels, literally.

Firstly, it’s easy to park.
Secondly, they serve a good, interesting and pretty healthy selection of food and cakes (Toddler Toast is inspired!)
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Thirdly the play-barn itself offers lots for the kids as it’s on three levels and has an interesting (slightly separate) section for tiny ones. The female staff are all lovely and friendly and helpful and there’s plenty of seating (including some super comfy sofas if you get there early enough!) so it doesn’t often feel crowded.

They also offer a reduced entrance fee after 3.15pm so you can take kids there after school for a nice economical treat.

If you live on the south side of Cambridge or any of the nearby villages then I highly recommend this soft play centre.

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Birds Nest Thrift Store – An Eco Friendly, feel good, bit of feathery fun.

I got this activity tip from the Cambridge Botanical Gardens magazine. Basically, the idea is that you and your kids go outside together and create a one-stop-shop for our soon to be nesting, feathery friends. They suggest finding some sort of hanging container like an old disused hanging basket and filling it with stuff that birds would use to make their nests. Here are some examples;

Moss
Feathers
Twigs
Straw
Grass
Lichen
String (?)

Once collected, they all just go into the container and you can watch the birds going back and forth using your bits and bobs for their nests. I think they suggested doing it in March, but if the sun’s shining then a bit of pre-empted foraging certainly won’t do any harm.

Cute idea, thanks, Botanical Gardens!

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