Friday, 31 October 2014

Fancy s'more cake?

It feels like forever since I actually blogged about cake - which is ridiculous as it's essentially what I set this blog up to do. Mind you, times have changed quite considerably since those days in our old flat and the baby takes up a lot of my cake baking time. Takes it up beautifully however.

Back in July in was M's birthday. Happens every year. Every year something comes up that stops me making him a cake on time. You'd think the same happened this year - Harry was a month old, we were 2 weeks out of NICU, and yet somehow I managed to make his cake. Go me. Also, go sleep deprivation.

Inspired by s'mores, one of our favourite things, this chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting was a quick bake. I actually used (in the name of experimentation) coconut oil in the place of butter as we'd run out. I feel like I should say, in response to all those posts on Pinterest that say 'you can't taste the difference' you can totally taste the coconut. Or at least I can.

S'mores cake

3oz self raising flour
1oz cocoa powder
4oz butter (or coconut oil)
4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

4oz marshmallows
2tbsp milk
2 egg whites
1oz caster sugar

Beat butter & sugar until light and fluffy
Seive flour and cocoa powder together
Add vanilla extract and eggs slowly to mix. Add a spoonful of flour with each egg
Fold in the rest of the flour/ cocoa
Divide mixture equally between 2 greased and lined 6 inch sandwich tins (I used 8 inch and ended up with a rather flat cake)
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes
Cool on a wire rack


Melt the marshallows and milk together in a pan over a low heat
Leave to cool
Beat the egg whites and sugar until you get to stiff peaks
Fold the egg whites into the marshmallow and leave to set

Split the frosting between filling the centre of the cake, and using a pallette knife smooth over the sides and top

Decorate the top as you wish - I used sparkly silver stars

Also, isn't my new cake plate beautiful? I'm completely in an Emma Bridgewater phase and this is personalised for our wedding - see

If you've liked this post and would like to read more of my baking adventures - interspersed with new baby posts and meal plans. Then please look to your right and follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook Twitter Pinterest or Instagram

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Fenugreek tea - one way to help with your milk supply

I know I said I'd post this ages ago, but... well, just new baby really.

As I mentioned previously because of a premature birth, emergency caesarean section and being separated from Harry directly after the birth, it took ages for my milk to come in. Distressingly so. Harry was fed by naso-gastric tube during this time, and I felt like a total failure. Breastfeeding was so important to me and it felt at the time like another thing in the list of things I couldn't do right. I can see now that it was ridiculous getting so upset about something that was outside of my control, but - well, hormones.

When my milk did come in (8 days after Harry was born) I needed to increase my supply and once we came home from the hospital I started attending our local breastfeeding support group. Staffed by two amazing midwives and a Breastfeeding counsellor they were awesome. Extolled the virtues of box sets and cake, have a nursing holiday - go to bed, take the baby with you, have lots of skin to skin time and feed feed feed. Hence the box sets and cake.

The recipe for this Fenugreek tea was given to me by the midwives at the Breastfeeding support group. I've changed it a little to make it less startling taste wise. I would also recommend diluting it, by measuring out half a cup into a strong fruit juice. You can also dilute your tea into a mug of hot water, but the flavour is still too strong for me. You see, I fundamentally dislike fenugreek.

The effect of fenugreek on breastmilk is purely anecdotal, however - I have seen results as have other women at our support group. To my eyes, if you're worried about your supply why wouldn't you try it?

Fenugreek tea

2 litres of water
1 tablespoon of dill seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of ajwain (I had to order this from Steenbergs as my local Health food shop didn't stock it)

Fill a large pan up with the water, and add the spices
Bring this to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes
Drain the liquid through a seive or fine colander into a jug or jar
Allow to cool

You should drink 1/2 a cup of the tea daily - either diluted or neat (if you're a braver woman than me).

If you can't find the ingredients for the tea - remember that you can get Fenugreek capsules from Holland & Barrett - 2 capsules, three times a day.

My original post on Breastfeeding is here If you didn't see it when I first posted, do give it a look as it gives more of an overview of my breastfeeding story and other things we did to support me.

If you've liked this post and would like to read more of my new baby adventures - interspersed with cake, naturally. Then please look to your right and follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook Twitter Pinterest or Instagram

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Saturday swimming with Waterbabies

 Harry and I on our third lesson in the water - I don't know who's enjoying it more - him, or me!

 M and I decided fairly early on that we wanted Harry to learn to swim. Partly inspired for one of us by a Nirvana album cover, the other as an essential life skill. Especially when you bear in mind that 51% of children aged seven to eleven – cannot swim the 25metre length of a typical swimming pool unaided(1). More scarily, in 2011, 47 included children and young people (up to the age of 19) drowned accidentally across the UK. (2)
Because Harry was premature we were limited as to where he could swim, so after some careful research we went with Waterbabies as they use local hydrotherapy pools which are warmer and therefore easy for very little babies to cope with. (General guidance is 30° minimum for no more than 30 minutes) We signed up, duly purchased swim and Happy nappies, and I wildly overpacked a bag.
The lessons with Waterbabies are lots of fun, none of the dull learning to swim I remember. We sing songs, blow bubbles and generally get the babies used to the water (and get us parents to lose our inherent fear of our newborn in the water). All too soon we're singing Twinkle Twinkle - which we've adopted as a bedtime song as all our baby groups use the same song to signal the end. As with all baby groups, parents need to leave their dignity and any stuffiness at the door. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment signals to your baby that this is a safe and fun environment.

We've already booked for the next term of classes, I love our Saturday afternoons, and not just because Harry sleeps like an angel for the rest of the day. Which he does.

I just wanted to pop our swimming essentials here for anyone else thinking of booking up with their newborn.

  • The aforementioned Happy Nappy. If your baby is very small the instructor may recommend a neoprene wetsuit
  • Two towels, one for wet and the other to wrap your baby on for warmth over the wet towel. The second towel also provides extra padding on the floor.
  • Change mat. It is recommended that you change the baby on the floor and  waterproof slightly padded layer is helpful. Huggies sell disposable ones, but I use the one from my change bag and spray it with milton when we get home.
  • Pyjamas. As Harry is prone to falling straight to sleep after his class. I always put him in pyjamas, a hat and cardi afterwards so he is warm and comfortable for the long sleep ahead. (I say this with fingers crossed. Long may it continue)
  • Swimming kit for you. Goggles will be required later in the term.
  • A drink and a snack for you for afterwards as the baby is likely to want a feed.
  • If your baby is small then there's a distinct lack of small swim nappies around - we found that the smallest Huggies ones were just about OK when Harry started - he was about 7lb 10oz at this point.
Other than these practical essentials I would say, whatever you think or feel about seeing your tiny baby in a swimming pool, don't let on - they will pick up on your tension, or if you're sat on the side declaring "my heart was in my mouth" they'll pick up on the tone of your voice. Whatever you do, be excited, encouraging and slightly overwhelmed that yes, your baby can swim.

(1) Taken from
(2) Taken from

This isn't a sponsored post, I just wanted to share how much we enjoy our swimming lessons and how exciting it is that really tiny babies can take to the water.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Feeding the mummy

One of the things I've noticed since having Harry is just how difficult it is to fit in eating when at home with the baby. Essentially you need food that can be eaten with one hand (as the baby is in the other), is quick to prepare and has minimal fallout. Tell me I'm not the only new mummy who's dusted the baby's head with flakes of pastry, toast crumbs, and the odd grain of rice?

There are some things I've found that make actually fitting eating in easier as well as some foods that are easier to eat.  And not just chocolate digestives!

*  Chop things like veggies up into bote size pieces the night before - either once the baby's in bed or when you can hand him over to your husband/ partner. This serves two functions, if you can just grab a bowl out of the fridge then you've got snacks ready.

*  Mini babybel (other small cheeses are available) Again, can be grabbed and eaten one handed. And yes, I know that I could chop cheese up, but it's something else to remember to do. And I just chopped those veggies, remember? Its time for bed now I particularly like pairing them with an apple.

*  Ritz crackers, again grab and go. also see cereal bars (I like the Naked ones)

*  If your partner (or you) are doing packed lunches then double up and pop it in the fridge. Sandwiches work best cut into quarters. Lettuce is pointless unless you want to give the baby a hat.

* Leftovers - make (or get someone else to make) extra dinner. Flasks are your friend: tea, leftover pasta (not spaghetti) soup, coffee. Oh coffee. All stay hot, so you can fill it during a nap and if your lunch falls during a feed you're sorted. Because it does, it always does.

*  A sports bottle. I mentioned this in my previous post about breast feeding,  but it's really true. I wouldn't refill a glass as frequently as I would need to, but a bottle keeps !e going long enough so I stay hydrated.

*  Fruit - I either chop up fruit so its in pieces (I learnt this when working in Dementia services: people are more likely to eat fruit that's in pieces as opposed to whole. If you squeeze a lemon over it you get that Haribo sourness as a bonus (just me then)

*  Cake. It's a given but it never hurts to state the obvious.

*  And if all else fails: chocolate digestives

Monday, 13 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday: the heating's on

We caved last week - my summertime obsession about the baby overheating has switched (much like the weather) into an obsession about him being too cold. Which is hard when he wriggles his socks and hat off, and screams the house down if you try and shoehorn him into a cardi or jumper. Blankets and heating it is then.

Unsurprisingly there's another casserole in the oven as I type, and dumplings ready to be popped in before too much longer. This weather just seems to call for tender, slow cooked meat in rich winey gravies with lots of root veggies. Full marks to Aldi for their Super 6 this week being fantastic for said casserole.

The weaning is... shall we say interesting? Some days the baby rice stays down and seems to have the same effect on Harry's milk, on other days it doesn't seem to make a blind bit of difference. I'm keeping on, and just hoping for the best.

Breakfasts - we're back on porridge, with chopped up banana

Lunches - I'm randomly trying to use up some halloumi that's languishing in the fridge so - griddled halloumi and houmous in pitta bread with carrot and cucumber sticks

Dinners -

Monday: Leftover beef casserole with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Tuesday: Courgetti spaghetti

Wednesday: Chilli con carne (freezer) with rice

Thursday: Chicken casserole with baked potatoes

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Pesto & pecorino salmon with sweet potato wedges and veggies

Sunday: Slow cooked beef brisket

Lots of comfy, cosy food for chillier evenings here. What goes on your menu when the weather changes?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday: a change in the weather

Well I don't know about where you are, but here it feels like autumn blew in over the weekend and all at once the temperature dropped, the leaves changed and with them my appetite. My obsession with cherry tomatoes is abating, I had porridge for breakfast, thought about soup at lunchtime and have a casserole on the meal plan. Defnitely autumn. 

Harry is starting - as per the paediatrician's instructions - baby rice this week. I have my fingers firmly crossed it'll help the reflux as the acid and vomiting were really distressing him this weekend. 

Breakfasts for me will be porridge - I've got some frozen berries that I'm planning to defrost and stew with a little sugar as a topping. 

Lunches - I'm planning to move away from pate and houmous on ryvita to soups. Tomato soup to be precise. 

Dinners - 

Monday: Chilli and rice

Tuesday: Chilli burritos with wedges

Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken & butternut squash casserole

Thursday: Leftover casserole with baked potatoes

Friday: Pizza 

Saturday: Toad in the hole with veggies & onion gravy

Sunday:  Courgetti spaghetti (freezer)

A first outing for the slow cooker for a while, and some nice easy suppers from the freezer. Hopefully a relatively straightforward week to help me with the baby/ weaning/ reflux...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Weaning - intial thoughts and decisions

I don't think I've mentioned it on here as yet, but Harry has reflux - it's very common in premature babies and to do with an immature muscle at the top of their tummy. We've tried Gaviscon (caused constipation) and are currently on Ranitidine, which is helping with the acid but not the vomitting. There are more meds for us to try but the paediatrician suggested we try early weaning as an alternative.

People have commented about how calm I've been since Harry was born, how in control - in actual fact I'm channeling a a swan and staying in control by paddling furiously under the surface. One thing I wasn't prepared for about motherhood was just how many decisions you have to make, how responsible you are for another person. Sometimes those decisions overwhelm me, it feels like there's just too many, that they're just too big. I'm lucky to have M by my side, but still it feels like the weight of those choices presses on me.

Early weaning is one of those decisions - in my head we weren't going to think about weaning until six months, possibly even correcting by six weeks. My milk supply is stable, Harry is putting on weight, albeit slowly - but the reflux is something we can't ignore. So last week, I logged into Amazon, bought a couple of books and have spent the weekend reading up - I didn't really know the first thing, not even the difference between baby led weaning, and purees.

Oddly, if you'd have asked me as soon as a few weeks ago I'd have guessed I would be in favour of Baby led weaning. However, the fact that we're starting early has meant that purees seem to be the way forward for us. So, for the next 6 weeks we're going to be entering the world of the puree. Starting with a couple of teaspoons of baby rice, made up with my breast milk, we'll be moving on to vegetable and fruit purees in a couple of weeks. The vague plan I have in my head is to start involving finger food and moving towards more baby led elements when Harry can sit up more easily and we're using the high chair and eating around the table, so I guess in reality we're doing a combination of Baby led and puree based weaning.

Reading up and learning about weaning has been interesting and enlightening - I'll certainly be keeping you up-to-date on the blog about our progress and recipes and foods that prove to be a winner for Harry as well as updating my Meal planning Monday posts.


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