Monday, 22 February 2016

5 Steps To Frugal Cooking

I kind of get a little kick from getting the most out of my money when it comes to doing the weekly food shop, I also like to make the healthiest meals for the cheapest amount possible.
I thought I would share some of the things that I like to do to save us money!

I know a lot of people say it, but it's true. I started meal planning only a year ago, but I wish I had done it sooner! It allows you to look through the cupboards before doing your grocery shop to see what you have in, and then buy exactly what you will need through out the week.

This is one I have done for a very long time and can't imagine myself not doing it, I like to buy meat in bulk. Whether its chicken, mince, whatever it is, buy plenty, we are a family of four with kids 4 and under and I can make one large chicken breast go between all of us, I can also split a 500g pack of mince into two to make two meals, It may be less meat than you are used to, but it's going to save the pennies and really, you don't need all that meat, bulk up with other things like vegetables to get the most from it, whether it be added to your sauce or or as a side to your meal.

You could label things better than I have here if you get confused as to which meat is what!

The freezer is your friend! It is very tempting when you have made too much food to just do a mega portion of food for everybody, but why not get out some Tupperware and portion some food in there for the fridge/freezer? It could make a great meal for an emergency dinner or just a nice bit of lunch for the next day.
On the same hand, when it looks as though vegetables or even fruit might spoil, chop them up and pop them in the freezer to use at a later date, no waste!

You have to make time for this sometimes, but if you can do it, it will not only save you money, but it's also a lot more healthy for you. It has been years since I last bought a ready made jar of sauce, I feel like people can sometimes over complicate the thought of making a sauce from scratch, but really, as long as you have some herbs and spices in the cupboard, the base for most of my dishes is a tin of tomatoes for 30p.

It's hard not to be drawn in to those offers sometimes, but having worked in retail for many years I can say with confidence 9 times out of 10, those offers aren't worth it. Stick to a list and your meal plan and only get what you went in for.

I hope you at least got some tips there as to how to stay a little more frugal when it comes to the food shop, I know I love reading things like this and finding out something that might be useful, so if you have any other tips that might be helpful, feel free to leave them down in the comments, I would love to know!

Thanks, Anna xx

Friday, 12 February 2016

Valentines Inspired Marshmallow Crispies | Little Appetites

These are my Valentines inspired marshmallow crispies (valentines purely because I made them pink and drew some hearts on there.. that counts, right?)  perfect to do a spot of baking with the little ones, and lets be honest, we all love a good rice krispie cake!

It's nice and simple this one, you will need,
3 Cups - Marshmallows (preferably small)
4 Cups - Rice Krispies 
1/4 Cup - Unsalted Butter
You can use a splash of food colouring too for a pop of colour and a bit of fun!

Melt the butter in a large pan (this is also the time to add the food colouring if you want it).

Once the butter is all melted down, add in the marshmallows and gently melt into a soft liquid, I must say I found this part extremely satisfying and Tom thought it was the greatest stuff ever!

Soon as the marshmallows have melted, take it off the heat and add in your Rice Krispies, you have to work quickly here so mix them in well, then transfer into a baking dish which has been greased, or use baking parchment and then press it down to flatten it.

After that we wait... patiently, sort of. Until the Rice Krispie mix has completely cooled.

Once completely cool, cut into squares, and then the fun part DECORATING! 
We just used some sprinkles and a little icing to pipe on some hearts! 

Tom got very involved in the whole process, but Ewan, as I suspected, didn't really want much to do with the whole thing! Oh well - You win some, you lose some!

This post has been linked with Stephanie and Lorraine for their Little Appetites Linky. 


Monday, 8 February 2016

You Don't Have To Justify Yourself

Picture this, you just had a baby, your first baby, you post a picture on Facebook of the beautiful bundle and there in the back ground.. is a bottle.
Someone leaves a comment "are you breast or bottle feeding?"

Now usually, in a world that doesn't involve parents, people wouldn't even dream of asking such a personal question! "Those boobs, are they your own?" I mean, really? What business is it of anyone else's what you do with your body and the way you choose to feed your child?

Did it cross their mind that this woman might be hurting about the fact she's not able to breastfeed? She could be dealing with some really emotional internal struggles right now - as you so rightly do after just giving birth! - In fact, i'm pretty sure the comment has since been deleted.

Anyway.. The response to this "are you breastfeeding?" came with a "No" followed by "it didn't work out unfortunately" and a whole load of reasons as to why that was.

Now I just thought, if she was breastfeeding, would she have felt like she needed to justify her reasons as to why she was? Probably not...

The Mummy community can often be a very opinionated bunch of know-it-alls to put it mildly, and the outsiders, the people without the kids? can be even worse sometimes!
It's quite daunting to be a new Mum where suddenly people think it's OK to ask personal questions about you and your child.

Just a few other topics that as a new mum - or even second or third time mum, you will find yourself feeling like you need to justify..

Stay at home mum? Working mum? Doesn't matter, you will be justifying yourself either way!

You fed your kids FAST FOOD!??.. Need I say more.

The state of the house "if i can't keep on top of the house, how can I be a good mum?"

When and where your child sleeps? - again as if it's anybodies business..

The groceries you buy - Can I see a share bag of chocolate 'giant buttons' and is that a bag of 'cheesy  Wotsits?' tut tut!

It takes a long time - if at all to become confident in your parenting decisions, but while you're figuring it out, you don't have to justify yourself to me.

Has there been any points that you felt you had to justify yourself? How did it make you feel?
Leave a comment down below!

Anna xx

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Perfect Homemade Pesto | Recipe

My perfect pesto recipe

I have been making this pesto for years now and it never fails, once you have tried this you wont want to buy it jarred again - trust me.
It's a firm favorite in this house, whether it's the kids, or a meal with friends it always goes down a treat.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it to your taste, if you like basil, wack it in, if you are a fan of garlic, go for it! (providing it's not a hot date you're making this for) There is no exact science to it, and that's the way I like my cooking to be!


Basil - One of my favorite herbs to use, something so refreshing about both the smell and taste of basil. Nothing that reminds me of summer days more.
Garlic - I am a big fan of garlic, did you know it has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels and even cancer? So get it down you, raw is best. I remember my Grandad used to eat raw garlic almost every day!
Pine nuts -  They add an amazing crunch, you could roast them before hand for even more flavor.
Parmesan - Try not to buy this stuff ready grated, it quickly loses it's flavor that way, it will last longer as a solid block in the fridge anyway.
Olive Oil - This is what brings it all together into a paste - how much of this you add depends on the consistency you like your pesto.


Simpy Chop everything into manageable chunks and add to your blender, blend to the texture that you like, sometimes it's nice to leave some chunks in there, other times smooth is the way to go! Tip - Start by adding a small amount of Olive Oil and then gradually keep adding to get the desired consistency.

There you have it, how easy was that? 
The best way to enjoy this is with pasta of course! But another suggestion I have tried in the past, is stuffed into a chicken breast and wrapped in bacon, you could also just dip some bread in there!

If you're one of those sneaky parents (like I can be) you can always blend in some spinach, they will never notice!
Also if you make too much, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week. 

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you thought to it down in the comments below, I would love to know!

Anna xx

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Climbing Toddler - Is It Ever OK?

Do you ever feel like you're constantly yelling no to your toddler? "get off there Ewan, Don't stand on the toilet seat Ewan, leave that alone Ewan, don't climb on your brothers head Ewan" I get sick of listening to my own voice a lot lately!

The latest faze is climbing, i'm new to this because Tom was never much of a climber and once you told him no that usually would be the end of it.
Ewan has other ideas though and the word no has no meaning other than 'oh shit, shes going to come and get me so I better make this quick'

But really, is it OK to let your kids climb the furniture? I used to think any climbing furniture should be completely off limits, it's far too dangerous. But now I realize that Tom, now being at the age of four and never really expressing much want to climb, is very unsure of his body and what it can do, he doesn't really jump and throw himself about like I have seen his friends do, he is a very cautious child.

For Ewan, climbing is something he really enjoys to do and by doing so he is learning about physics and what his body is capable of. He is very careful about his movements and takes his time to assess what he needs to do next, and once he has done what he set out to do there is always such a look of accomplishment on his face.
There have been one or two occasions where he has fallen, and that leaves you with your heart in your mouth as a parent, but he cries for a few seconds and is then totally fine to go back to what he was doing!

So I have come to the conclusion that climbing can be healthy, provided that no serious harm can come to him - climbing on the kitchen table however was put to an immediate stop with the tiled floor directly below him!

....Also The purchase of a climbing frame for the garden wouldn't go amiss!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Amber Teething Necklace - Worth It? | Review

I put a lot of research into the amber teething necklace before I actually bought one.

When Thomas was a baby we would resort to the teething granules, Dentinox and the good old Bongela, we never went very far without a bit of Bongela while Tom was teething!

I always just assumed that the teething necklaces were a 'hippie' fad and that it would maybe be a placebo? Not to mention the fact that it was a necklace.. I mean, who puts a necklace on a baby?

Well... me apparently! After having Ewan and knowing what a little handful he could be (to put it mildly) I knew I was going to need all the help I could get when it came to teething.

But what if it strangles my child? What if a piece falls off and he chokes on it? Just some of the questions I asked myself.
The necklace is baltic amber which are meant to be worn up against babies skin, they contain a natural pain reliever and anti inflammatory, called succinic acid.
It works well on babies and toddlers as it has a calming effect along with easing the pain of teething.

The beads on the necklace are all individually knotted so if it does break (which if pulled too tightly it is made to break) it wont scatter beads everywhere for your baby to pick up.

It is recommended that your child does not wear them through out the night. For the first few months we would wrap the necklace around Ewans ankle, though most often he would wake up with it fallen off, now he just wears it around his neck and it doesn't get taken off.

Do I think they work?

Absolutely! Ewan has been wearing his since his first tooth came through at 5 months.
I took it off for about a week once as I thought it probably wasn't really doing much, let me say that week was hell for us, the child did not sleep, until I just thought 'I wonder if I put the necklace back on, will he settle?' YEP! First night it was back on he slept right through no problem, no dribbling, no winging, teeth just pop up like its 'magic' - if it is a 'placebo' (which I don't see how it can be on a baby) as long as it works and Ewan is happy and content, that's what matters to me.

So there you have it, my thoughts and opinions on the Baltic Amber Teething Necklace,
What are your thoughts on them? Have you used them on your children? I would love to know.

Thanks for reading

Anna xx

Is A Caesarean Section The Easy Way Out?

I have wondered whether to write this post or not, I never got to do the natural birth, much to my contempt, both of my children were born by Caesarean section.

But there seems to be a stigma going around that having a C-section is the 'easy way out' when it comes to giving birth. Are they right? Does it make me less of a woman?

When I got pregnant with Thomas I always wanted the 'perfect' birth, I wanted the water birth with no medication, the immediate skin to skin and to be able to go home that very same day.
Unfortunately, that idea was pretty quickly snuffed out by the consultants.
See here forThomas and Ewans birth stories to get more of an idea of why.

Instead I was left feeling like someone had cut me open, reached inside my stomach and rummaged around in there for a bit, taken a few bits out and then sewed me back up again - oh wait.. yeah that did happen.
As much as it sounds relatively easy, I mean, all you have to do is lie there whilst completely numb right? It is still classed as major abdominal surgery and the recovery is really tough, not to mention the newborn baby who now solely relies on you for everything, you barely have the muscle strength to lift your child, let alone anything else.
For the first week you are walking around feeling like your insides might drop out. You ache all of the time, just getting up the stairs is a task in itself.
I was one of the lucky ones, my body is pretty good at recovering quickly, but your body needs at least 3 months for you to start feeling like you have fully recovered.

Those are just some of the things you have to deal with when you have had a caesarean birth, don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that having a natural birth is no walk in the park, but does that invalidate caesarean Mothers, and why?

When I had the kids, all too often I got told, "oh lucky you, not having to push" "you don't know how hard it is having to push naturally like I did" "lucky you got to sleep through it all"
Those are just some of the comments I got, and after having Ewan especially, those comments hurt, so much so I would leave the room and cry about it.

So to anyone thinking that Caesarean Section might be the easy way out, think again, and to anyone thinking of having an elective Caesarean, be warned.. It's not as easy as you are lead to believe!

Let me know what you think, are caesareans really as easy as they're made out to be?

PS. You might also like Toms birth story
                            and Ewans birth story

Thanks for reading,

Anna xx