Thursday, 28 November 2013

Comfort Food - Banana Jam Roly Poly.

What am I making with these ingredients

While making dumplings for our casserole the other day, I saw the recipe for a Roly Poly. Roly Poly's weren't a childhood staple for me but it made me want to try and make one. What about the filling though, we have lovely Strawberry jam in our fridge that could do but we love bananas here, and I had seen on one of the websites I frequently visit Banana Jam. 

Banana Jam
400g of banana (skins on, roughly 4 smallish bananas not the tiny ones)
1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of Light Muscavado Sugar
1 cup of water (can add more if you want a thinner consistency)
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon (less if you aren't a cinnamon fan)
Pinch of Salt

Cut the bananas up and let them simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

The more you mush the banana's the thicker the jam will be, I like a smoother jam but left a few chunks as others like chunky jam.

I made the suet up to the recipe on the back for dumplings. I made a slightly bigger batch, so 60g of suet, 120g of flour ( I had plain flour so added a teaspoon of baking powder)

Roll out your suet pastry, & add a layer of your jam the pastry. The right hand edge was left clear as that was used to stick the roly poly together.

Ready to go in the oven.

I baked the Roly Poly at 170 for 30 minutes and made custard using our normal milk (Koko) and birds custard powder. It was a hit here with all of us going back for seconds. There was enough banana jam for jam on toast for breakfast. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ski holiday

I am the person who is always complaining about being cold; I'd have my electric blanket on all year round, as soon as October starts I'm in thermals. Now there is a chance to be a Mark Warner mum and the options are a skiing holiday or a sun holiday, you'd think I'd want the sun, but no I'd love to go skiing.

When I was offered the chance to go on a ski holiday with school I ummed and ahhed for ages, worrying about the cold. In the end I went and I loved it. I was cold for all of the five minutes it took to walk to the ski lift, once I was on skis I was lovely and toasty. There is of course the necessity to wear layers but I often went out in the evenings in just a windproof jumper (and thermals of course). However, I haven't been skiing since Nate was born or actually ever since meeting Nate's dad. 

Looking back on my skiing holidays, I was always impressed by the little children who would fly down the mountains, think of a motorway (not the M25, or the M1 they are always slow) and the car zooming past in the fast lane doing at least 100MPH that's what these little people were doing. I have always wanted Nate to enjoy skiing and have been planning to take him as soon as he was a good age, but what is a good age? 

This is a debate my friend and I have had since Nate was born, at first she thought 2 was a perfect age to just let them go. I wasn't so sure, but now Nate is two and not that tiny little person I think I'm slowly coming down to 3 (I was previously saying no earlier than 5). I'd love Nate to love skiing and not have the fear I did when beginning, although there is no promises that learning to ski early will protect you from the fear.

The thing about a ski holiday is that it's not just about sitting down doing nothing, it's about having fun and the best bits about the ski holidays were always the fun on the way up the mountain and what we did after skiing. Now I have no reason to believe Nate wouldn't love skiing, knowing him I'd have trouble getting him off the mountain at the end the day, but even if it's not his favourite there is always something else to do. We'd live for the Hot Chocolate at lunch, there is nothing better than sitting at the 'top' of a mountain with your sunglasses on and lovely warm cup of hot chocolate.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Advent Calendar

This year will be Nate's first time having an advent calendar, and it'll be a homemade one. There are a lack of good pictures of the advent calendar as Nate insisted on it going in his tent and then either laying on top of it or hiding under it. It is also not 100% finished, at the minute it doesn't have his name on it.

All of the numbers are in order unlike most advent calendars this was mainly to make it easier for Nate to get the right present and also so he can learn the number orders.

It makes a perfect blanket to hide under

What am I going to put in each of the pockets? Well every day there will be two little chocolates and a sticker. I found some lovely scratch and sniff stickers in one of our local shops. Nate loves his stickers so will love having a sticker everyday. For the weekend days he also has another little present such as a little puzzle from Tiger Stores(£1 each). 

As Nate is dairy free, I have been making little advent chocolates in non-advent shapes (Dr Who) from his favourite dark chocolate. These were made using the Chocolate mould from lakeland. 

Dr Who Advent chocolates

As Nate is a bit of a Who fan & the Doctor Who Magazine had a advent calendar as their free gift, Nate also has a Dr Who figurine for each day of advent.

We're starting to get a bit excited now.

Monday, 25 November 2013

BritMums Xmas

A picture post, there were so many lovely things and people, so I thought I'd leave the pictures to do all the talking.

A tip for those who are dairy free, put lard instead of butter under the skin of the turkey or a little olive oil (be careful with olive oil don't go mad) 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Barbados April 2012

I've been recently thinking about our holiday last year. Mainly due to BericeBaby going there now.
Last year we stayed in a beautiful hotel called Almond Casurina, in St Lawrence Gap. The Gap as it is otherwise known as is the place to be for nightclubs, rum bars etc. It is not where you would expect a lovely peaceful family hotel, but this is where both the Almond Casurina and Turtle Beach (another lovely family resort) are based. The Almond has since closed and reopened as Couples, an adults only resort. We would have loved to have gone back, I haven't written this blog post before due to the closure of the hotel.

Nate 'reading' in his cot

My grandmother lives in Barbados so I have only stayed in a hotel for 2 visits there and a three day stint another time. So to experience Barbados as a Tourist (can you ever really) was fun although we really didn't need to leave the resort as it was an all inclusive.

One thing I would recommend with any island is check the beaches, if you can't see any locals there is a reason for it, especially Barbados as you cannot own a beach. This beach was not as rough as those on the South-East coast in Barbados (i.e. Sam Lords Castle or The Crane) but it wasn't as serene as the beaches we visit in the rest of Christ Church (Barbados is divided into Parishes a bit like UK is  counties). We didn't swim at the beach here, Nate didn't like the waves and we had access to two pools which he was used to.

It's very hot, I think I need to repeat that again, it is very hot. Nate took an extra nap every day and was exhausted by 6. It was hot and he handled it well but it did exhaust him. Be careful in the sun with little children, their skin is thinner than adults.

This was our balcony, we enjoyed "breakfast in bed" one morning we were there, no where near bed as you can see. Nate loved the birds that would come and steal crumbs. There are lots of animals to watch, this time he loved seeing the lizards. 

Nate spent most of the holiday in as little as possible however, there is a tipping point. It is very hot so when in the sun he was covered up and we spent as little time as possible out in the sun, pre-breakfast swim and post-lunch swim were our main times for being out in the sun and in the pool. 

We took Nate to Harrison's cave, which is a crystallised limestone cavern. He was a little young to enjoy it but I think he enjoyed the coolness of the cave. He'd enjoy it more now he is slightly older and could ask questions but did sit quietly on my lap. I remember growing up I would want to go to The Cave every year but they closed it often to doing work to improve it.

As you can see we really enjoyed our time at the Almond Casurina. It was a lovely resort that had lots of things to do. Since becoming an adults only resort they have recommended the resort next door which is Turtle Beach. We however, didn't stay there but have had a lovely stay at The Crane, which has two sections the original 1887 building and the new buildings. We stayed at the original 1887 building when they were still building the new buildings over 10 years ago and recently stayed in the new building. It is lovely and the views are gorgeous unless you get a room overlooking the building work (we did) but there was still a beautiful view if you ignored the concrete. 

There is plenty to do in Barbados for all ages.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Busy making for Christmas

Just a teaser post :)

Flavourings and icing

These are the ingredients I'm currently using. 

Any ideas what I'm making?  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Free Birds Movie

Last weekend we attended a screening of Free Birds. The film is about Thanksgiving and how one turkey who's very different from the rest decides (with the help of a friend) to get turkey off the Thanksgiving meal. There were lots of bits that made Nate jump and he was a little scared of parts of the film (not that they were traditionally scary).

We saw Free Birds in 3D but I can't really remember much of the 3D, not sure if that means the 3D element was subtle but good or non-existent. Nate as normal watched all but the first few minutes without the 3D glasses.

After the film there was a meal laid out of the new Thanksgiving foods that the turkey's introduced, I have to admit it took me a little while to work this out. There were also a few great activities to do with the children, there were make your own chick, making a turkey, having your picture taken and an entertainer. The entertainer was great she was dressed up as a farmer and had the children spinning plates and other great things, Nate was most interested when she started to make ballon objects (dogs, swords, butterflies etc). He waited patiently right in front of the lady and when she asked who's next he put his little hand up but was one of the last to get a ballon sword. It was great to see him waiting so patiently and involved while being one of the smallest in the room.

"I'm not doing it don't try and make me"

I'd recommend going to see Free Birds, there are lots of mentions of Thanksgiving and the traditions surrounding Thanksgiving at the beginning but it doesn't spoil the film if you know nothing of those traditions. Free Birds is out 29th November, it's great fun.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

School Worries

Nate is 2 and a quarter and this time next year I will have chosen his school. He will be one of the youngest in his year and I have started to worry whether he will be 'ready' for school. It is something I have worried about since he was tiny, there were children that will be in his year at school that were walking/eating solids/sleeping through the night before he was even born. Many people have told me there is nothing to worry about however, I'm still concerned about putting a young child in such a formal learning setting where results are all that matters.

Now schools are cracking down on term time holidays, whatever they are for, I am even more concerned. At four, I'm sure Nate will learn more outside of the classroom than inside. I don't mean generally but in the case of a one on one trip to a museum over sitting in a classroom with various different abilities and one teacher (and possibly a Teaching Assistant) he would be far better off in the former situation. However, with the new rules I would not be granted the ability to take my son out in term time for a day, and there maybe school holidays but many of these places are full at these times.

Many of my apprehensions over school are possibly down to my own experience. I was able to read when half of the class couldn't, so I was sat next to someone who couldn't read and who was actively encouraged to just copy my work. That benefitted neither of us, I didn't get the extra work that would have academically stretched me and they didn't get the help they desperately needed. I'm not a Tiger mum but I do want the best for my son and I don't want him to stagnate and my biggest worry is he will not be in the academic middle but somewhere in one of the extremes. Or maybe my biggest worry is he will be so small and not emotionally ready for school.

 Whatever my true worry is, I know I feel uneasy with a (my) four year old being in full time education.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tiddler Review

Last week Julia Donaldson visited our local bookshop. We have many of her books, What the Ladybird Heard being Nate's favourite at the moment (or was his favourite). Nate had the option of any of her books to buy and get signed, he chose Tiddler.

He loves the sea, and fish so we happily bought him Tiddler. It's a lovely sing song book, with the repetition that Julia Donaldson does so well. There is a surprise guest from a previous Julia Donaldson book (The Gruffalo) which to me illustrates the fun in this book.

Just today alone we have read the book three times, Nate loves it. He loves the refrain and really enjoys giving Tiddlers reasons for being late. And as a sign of his growing, for the first time Nathaniel is joining in with the story. Aided by its repetition, he'll say "Tiddler? Tiddler? Tiddler's late!"

So as with her other books, Tiddler comes highly recommended by Nate. and his Dad and Mum, who have all enjoyed reading it.

Bedtime Story


When people talk about sharing and toddlers/children it never ends well. There are some who believe that forcing your child to share isn't really sharing at all but glorified snatching and there are others who think you should encourage children to share. I'm going to get splinters here and announce I'm on the fence. I do think you should encourage taking turns, which sometimes can fall under sharing. However,  we have always encouraged Nate to share by sharing with him. Sounds strange but we share most things with him, if we are eating we don't make an issue of him having some off our plate but welcome it. On the whole he is good with sharing things, he has started to call things "mine" but isn't as possessive as some children with "mine" objects. They are simply his, but mummy, daddy or Joe Bloggs can play with them but remember they are his.

Recently we have started to realise he is insistent that everyone has something. Nate wanted a biscuit so we offered him one and he picked three up (one at a time) we said "only one" his reply was: one for him, one for daddy and one for mummy. Very sweet. Even sweeter he'd finished his biscuit and wanted another so I offered him my one. He started to cry because he didn't want me to not have a biscuit. I love it so much that Nate likes to share with us.

Friday, 15 November 2013

London Eye with a Toddler

We are quite often at the Southbank. Nate's dad is a Doctor Who fan and as it's the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who there have been several events at the BFI which we have been lucky enough to attend a few.  Every time we cross over the bridge Nate likes to look at the boats and we've been promising him we will go on a boat at some point.

On Monday we visited the London Aquarium and on the way in Nate mentioned going on a boat, I happily agreed to this as we had all day to do whatever we wanted. Nate then pointed at the London Eye and said "This one mummy" I had already said yes, I can't back track now can I? Thankfully there is a deal if you visit two attractions in one day so when we paid at the Aquarium we also paid for the Eye.

Nate happily got on one of the pods, then he started to realise it was moving. He got a little unsure when he realised it was getting higher. However, we started talking about all of the things we could see and he started to relax until I mentioned the train (he normally loves trains) and he got a little upset. Soon we got to nearing the top of the wheel and he got excited about us reaching the top and then really enjoyed the rest of the trip on the Eye.

The London Eye experience was a great experience for Nate and we really enjoyed talking about all the things we could see and Nate wanted to stomp on the boats below us. If we were to go again we would go either first thing or after we'd had lunch and a Nate a nap, as he was a little teary in part due to being tired.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Christmas Traditions

Well it's November so I don't feel that guilty about writing this post. We have a tradition for Christmas Eve. Nate gets pyjamas and a bath goody normally from Lush. He has a Christmas bath and changes into his Christmas Pyjamas after supper on Christmas Eve.

Last years Pyjamas

This year we have decided on these Christmas Pyjamas and I think we have settled on Gold Fun for his Christmas bath. As Nate is a little older this year I have been tempted to get a DVD for us all to cuddle up and watch before he goes to bed as well.

Happy with last years bath product
Last years pyjamas and bath product, were from Gap and Lush. Lush are stocking the Melting Snowman again this year.

I love hearing about others Christmas Traditions.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

London Aquarium & Octonauts

The Octonauts have been at the London Aquarium (sea life) for the last week, so we decided to take a visit there while we were in London. The last time I went to the Aquarium was when I was pregnant with Nate so it's changed a bit. They have penguins now which Nate loved. We arrived at the penguin tank at feeding time, but the penguins weren't that interested in feeding. We were told the penguins liked playing and would play with visitors if they waved a piece of paper about in front of the tank, Nate had a go and loved 'playing' with the penguin but then decided the penguin wasn't allowed to steal his paper so tried to tell this to the penguin.

Sorry for the blurry picture but two moving things are hard to catch.

At set times Peso & Captain Barnacles were appearing in the activity centre and you were able to have pictures with them. Also in the activity centre there were a few Octonaut toys to play with, two huge floor puzzles and colouring in pages. Nate happily spent an hour playing in the activity centre and waiting for Peso to arrive.
Working on the second puzzle

Meeting Peso
Nate is quite a big fan of the Octonauts which was why we visited when we did but I was very surprised but happy when he correctly identified the Lion-fish which was thanks to the Octonauts. In fact he got lots of enjoyment from going to the Aquarium because of the Octonauts episodes he had watched. He knew exactly what he wanted to see, the turtles (because of a previous sea life visit), Sea horse, jellyfish, Octopus (we didn't see one) & a Shark. However, he wanted to look at all of the fish there and wanted to know what they were/their names.

The little Octonauts signs with facts and questions on kept Nate entertained but in places confused us slightly in one instance the Octopus sign was someone where I couldn't see/find an octopus. He'd go up to each sign and ask for me to read it and knew the fish on the sign (not sure if that's a good thing, may be a sign of too much TV watching).

All in all a good day out, the Octonauts are at London Aquarium until 16th November if you are around London and have a Octonauts fan.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Organix Fruit Gummies

We were recently sent a box of goodies from Organix to review.

Too many for one review
The fruit gummies come in a little packet which is perfect for keeping in pockets or having a couple in your bag. There are two flavours Strawberry & Apple and Mango & Apple a packet costs 59p and are currently on offer in Tesco and ASDA (Tesco- 3 for 2, ASDA 4 for £2) 

The gummies are the perfect size for little fingers, I haven't had a chance to taste one for myself as Nate loves them and gobbles them up as soon as he sees a packet. There are five ingredients: Apple Juice, Apple puree, Strawberry puree, Pectin and Rice Flour. There isn't any information on the website as to whether they are guaranteed gluten free but there is no dairy and no warnings about them maybe containing dairy.

These are definitely a snack staple in our house, we have been out and bought several packets mainly of the Strawberry & Apple flavour as the Mango & Apple seems to be harder to get hold of. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mumsnet Bedtime Stories

We were recently sent the Mumsnet Bedtime stories book which contains 10 stories written by Mumsnetters.

Nate hasn't had all of the stories read to him yet but mainly that is because he keeps choosing the same two to be read to him.

The Dancing Bear is one of the stories that Nate keeps choosing. We (the adults) liked the beginning of the story which is written beautifully however the story comes to a rather abrupt end. The story is poetically more than narratively pleasing.

We all liked the underlying moral of not to judge by appearances in Allie to the Rescue, especially pleasing considering Nate's mixed race background.

The stories were more for a slightly older age group than Nate, but this didn't effect his enjoyment of the stories, and think he'll enjoy some of the other stories when he's older himself.

All in all there is the feeling of the old stories I used to have read to me before going to bed as a child, and that same soothing atmosphere within the Book of Bedtime Stories should appeal to both mums, dads and their children.

We were sent the book in exchange of a review.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bonfire Night

Yesterday was Bonfire Night, I'm sure most people were kept awake by the fireworks. The town where we live Bonfire Night is the most important day of the year. There are processions, people dressed up in their societies smugglers (jumpers) or in costume and the blowing up of effigies. We didn't get to see any of the effigies as we only went to the first procession. The processions go on until midnight, & Nate wanted to go home during the first procession(7pm).

It's best to leave you with pictures from the evening.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


I have been experimenting with baking without eggs as they are on our shortlist of things that Nate reacts to. I liked the pancakes we had been served at the MomenTums launch so decided to tweak the batter to make cakes and to match what I had in the cupboard already (it was 6pm on a Sunday, no chance of getting to the shops)

I used this mixture to make a scotch type pancake and cakes

1 cup of Gluten free Bread flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking power
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 can Coconut Cream
1/2 Coconut milk (I use Koko)
4 Dessertspoons Sugar

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients, mix well. If you are making cakes fill up cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven for 13/15 minutes at 180 C
Pancakes - I left the batter while the cakes were baking and then heated up a non stick frying pan with a little oil, ladle in some of the mixture to make a pancake roughly 7cm in diameter cook them for a few minutes until golden (when you see lots of bubbles on the surface that's a good time to turn them) and then turn them over and cook until golden

Cooking the pancakes

These are the first cakey cakes I've made since baking without eggs, a lot of vegan cakes end up very oily or heavy, these are lovely and light. We then decorated them with a little icing.

These cakes didn't last long

Monday, 4 November 2013

Time loop

On Friday evening I saw an event for children at Tate Britain being advertised. We haven't taken Nate to either of the Tate's previously, we decided it would be a good idea to go.

As we walked in we were handed a pair of glasses (cardboard) and a time loop booklet. The glasses were for viewing the artwork through time, perfect for imaginative children/adults. There were a few activities for the children to get involved in. My favourite was the children drawing while musicians played, the children were encouraged to draw what they thought the music represented and then draw something for the musicians to interpret into music. It was great watching the musicians looking at these drawings and playing.

Nate looking for something orange

There were tours going on as well. We followed one until Nate got bored and it was remarkably well done to engage the children. If you wanted lots of information regarding the paintings you were following the wrong tour but he encouraged the children to look at the paintings and have a laugh before quickly moving on to the next one often walk very quickly (& with a silly walk) to another part of the gallery.  

While at the Tate Britain, Nate discovered some sculptures he really liked. They were by The Chapman Brothers and were in a mock African tribal style. I originally thought Nate wouldn't like them as they were in a dark room so quickly walked on through the room and then realised Nate and his dad hadn't followed me so went back and Nate was pointing to the sculptures he wanted to see. There was one sculpture with Ronald McDonalds on that I had noticed originally and thought was strange but dismissed it when Nate asked who it was he thought we said Old McDonald so went around singing "EIEIO"

Nate's favourite room

Sunday, 3 November 2013


This week was halloween, and we had great fun carving our pumpkin. Nate enjoyed scooping out the seeds.

We didn't want to waste any of the pumpkin, so we promised Nate we'd make a soup. Nate chose the vegetables to go in the soup; carrots and parsnip. After carving our pumpkin and putting a candle inside it, Nate got a little scared of it, good time to make the soup.

In a pot we put the chopped up pumpkin and water with a stock cube we let that simmer for 10 minutes while we cut up the carrots and parsnip then in went the carrots again, letting them simmer for 10 minutes and for the final 10 minutes we put the parsnips in along with a teaspoon of turmeric, cumin and garam masala.

I then used the hand blender and plused it until smooth and served it with a sprig of coriander

Even the pumpkin seeds were roasted so none of our pumpkin went to waste. It was rather yummy so hopefully we'll be carving a pumpkin again next year.