The Wonder of Freecycle! By Nicki Cawood

July 20, 2010

I recommend FC to anyone and everyone locally and otherwise. I stumbled across it several years ago and have never looked back. Basically the idea is you give away your unwanted things to members of your local community, for free, encouraging recycling and keeping items out of the landfill.

It is so simple to use too! Basically you post a “wanted” request or “offered” post. If you, for example, “wanted” a computer chair, you would ask if anyone has one, then if anyone locally does, they will email you via the site. Then, it is up to you to collect the item. The rules stipulate that the item must be free; no payment is to be offered or asked for (bonus!).

If you are “offering” an item you post a description and wait for the emails to come in. You’d be surprised what people will ask for and accept too!

I have given away loads including a freezer, fridge (which was a bit dodgy but I listed it as such and the guy who picked it up was thrilled with it as he could fix it easily), bookcase, old magazines, Slimming World books, baby & child items…. and have received a pc chair, baby and child items, homeware, a brand spanking new printer (seriously!), all given and received for nothing!

It really is an amazing case of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! If for example I wanted to get rid of my fridge & freezer, my council were going to charge me a minimum of £35 to collect and safely get rid of them, instead they were picked up by someone who could use them and were grateful for them and it saved us both a packet!

Now, you can see why its a great idea, but for those of you moving house, setting up house for the first time, having a child perhaps who is going to uni and needs essentials or a new mum to be with a list of wants and needs… is a Godsend!

Lots of people dismiss it as a faff, but seriously, it could save you a packet and really help you get rid of the clutter/unwanted items. It’s very easy to use and there is a comprehensive FAQ file to read to help you with the basic rules and FC etiquette so there is no need to be worried or apprehensive about trying something new.

Not my usual witty blog type but an important one, both environment and budget-wise.

Give it a whirl and look it up, after all, what have you got to lose? Look up your local group now!

Will catch up with you all again next month.

Nicki Cawood, Mum to 1.5 kids, blogger and general lunatic.

Di’s Jam Doughnut Muffins – Irresistable

July 11, 2010

JAM DOUGHNUT MUFFINS 

125ml Milk 

85ml Vegetable Oil (plus a little extra for greasing) 

1 Large Egg 

Half a Teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

200g Self Raising Flour 

100g Caster Sugar 

12 Teaspoons of Strawberry Jam (you can use any jam though if you don’t like Strawberry) 

100g Butter/Margarine 

150g Granulated Sugar 

 1 Extremely well-greased Muffin tin! 

 Preheat the oven to 190’C/170’Fan/Gas mark 5. With a fork, beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Stir this into the flour and castor sugar to combine – just mix as it doesn’t matter about the lumps because if you overbeat the mixture, the muffins will be tough. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, just about a third full, then add a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each one. Then put more muffin mix in until they are just about full. Put them into a preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the sponges feel springy and they look a bit like mushrooms!! When your muffins are nearly ready in the oven, melt the butter slowly so it doesn’t burn, and put the Granulated sugar in a large shallow bowl/plate. As soon as the muffins are ready, remove them from the tins, dip them in the butter so it covers all of it, then roll it around in the sugar so it’s coated all over. Eat them warm. 

ENJOY!!!! I apologise now to those of you on a Slimming regime as you really won’t to be able to resist these!!!!  Love Di xxxx 

  

  

Di’s Lemon Cupcake Recipe

July 11, 2010
LEMON CUPCAKES WITH LEMON ICING

110g Butter/Margarine

225g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

150g Self Raising Flour, sifted

125g Plain Flour, sifted

90ml Milk, at room temperature

2 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon grated Zest of 1 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 160’Fan/180’C/350’F/Gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s pale and creamy which will take you approx 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each one. Combine the 2 flours in a separate bowl and combine the milk and juice in a jug/cup. Add about a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and mix well, then add about a thrid of the milk mixture and mix well again. Repeat these steps until it’s all been added and mixed well. Add the lemon zest with the last bit. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until raised and golden brown.To check if they are cooked, put a sharp knife or skewer into the cake and it should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave them in their tins for about 10 minutes, then put on a wire rack to cool completely before adding your icing.

LEMON BUTTERCREAM

110g Butter

500g Icing Sugar

2 Tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Grated Zest of 1-2 Lemons

In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter, lemon juice and zest with half of the icing sugar, this will take a few minutes with an electric hand mixer. Slowly add the rest of the icing sugar and keep beating until it’s all mixed in well. Your icing should be smooth and creamy, if it’s bit too runny, add a bit more icing sugar. When you have iced the cakes, put a small amount of icing sugar into a small sieve and just sieve a little bit over the top of the cakes. *TIP* When you are mixing the icing sugar, hold a clean damp teatowel over the mixing bowl or you might find that the icing sugar goes everywhere!! Happy Cooking xxx Love Di xxxx

Dispelling the Myths – Birth and Beyond!

June 27, 2010

Dispelling the myths. Birth and Beyond! By Nicki

When I fell pregnant we were overjoyed! I have PCOS and associated fertility problems, so a successful pregnancy didn’t happen overnight, like we assumed it would. From 14weeks when we started to feel “safe”, I was in those baby magazines, pregnancy books, read the NHS guide cover to cover- you name it. Well! I can tell you now that not everything is as it is written, from birth to the 101 “essentials” you need for baby!

The Birth! My birth was nothing like I expected, and like I said, being a good first time Mum I read the books and the forums and packed what now seems like a ridiculous amount of “birth” stuff i.e. lavender for the wrists, spritzer to keep me cool, little fan, cds, small snacks, books, the list goes on. My birth plan was neatly typed:  No pain relief apart from Gas and Air
Female attendants only if possible -No students Yeah right!

July 1st 06, 5.40am I got up, went to the loo and my waters broke with a bang! I was instantly on the floor with a massive contraction. Obviously something was wrong, it must have been… I was a week early- that couldn’t be right? And besides, my contractions were in my back? I crawled to the phone- they asked me to come in as my contractions were exactly nothing apart- just constant. Picture me, curly hair everywhere flying wildly dragging huge labour bag to the door whilst screaming “owww owww owww MOVE IT” to the poor husband! I rang Mum from the car (on all fours!) to tell her it was burning and to hurry and get to the hospital!

We got to the hospital (thank goodness for clear roads) and no joke I was running down the corridor dragging bag one of useless rubbish, hubby to the rear with another bag with baby stuff. We walked (hop, skip, jumped) into the labour room for a preliminary exam, I whipped my trousers and pants off and leant over the bed.
Midwife: Um what are you doing Dear?”
Me: I’m PUSHING!
Midwife, Oh bless (pats my hand- which she was lucky stayed intact), I take it this is your first? You said on the phone baby wasn’t engaged yesterday- shall we have a look?
Me: GRUNT
Midwife: OH! Ok, I can see the head- um can we get another midwife in and get Mrs C settled?
Me: EPIDURALLLLL
Midwife: Sorry sweetheart- no chance – would you like some gas and air?
Me: NOW!
You can see how labour turned a usually shy and retiring girl into a raving lunatic in a pretty short space of time! Not sure that was in the NHS guide?!

The labour went on pretty quick after that. Mum got there fairly quick, they took the Gas and Air off me “Mrs C, you are pushing with your throat dear”. Have to disagree with that one, my throat didn’t hurt at all lol! The team were actually fantastic and despite the fact the midwife who started off with me had finished her shift during the first half an hour, she stayed with me, with the other midwife. An hour in someone found my birth plan (like I cared lol!) which said no students- one student was present throughout and she was absolutely fabulous. On reading the birth plan, I was asked if I wanted her to leave, poor girl nearly lost her arm when I grabbed it and said “Noooo she’s loooovely!”.
The only time I really snapped was when my midwife said “One more pushhhh”, I pushed, “That it, one more push” I pushed, “One more push hun”. “ONE PLUS ONE PLUS ONE IS THREE, NOT ONE!!!”. Bad Nicki!
At 8.05am Kieran was born, 7lb 13oz. And for any first timers- the pain does just stop. I consider this a very positive birth story. I tore very badly and had to be stitched (by a MAN < seriously, you just don’t care!), and was a little disturbed when they gave me the gas and air BACK for stitches having taken it off me for labour!
That first cuddle was amazing, and I was SO tired but didn’t care! Mum cut Kieran’s cord as we’d planned and my fantastic husband did exactly what I need him to do, stood nearby, made slightly encouraging noises, and allowed me to glare at him with murder in my eyes every so often!
My one worry was that my placenta didn’t want to come out despite the injection and they were considering rolling me through to theatre. There was NO way they were putting me out etc after a natural birth lol, so they gave me a bed pan, catheterised me (just in and out to get rid of any wee build up!), I jumped up and down on the bed pan and placenta (intact), shot out! Don’t mess with me, I’m a Mum now don’t you know! The student and the midwife after I was stitched popped me into the ensuite and helped shower me down (they were angels, and a shower on the hottest day of the year was magical!).

So that is it, my much quicker than expected, but fairly amusing birth story. I do hope no2 is similar!

Just goes to show though, the real truths of giving birth etc are the ones you will hear from those that know – Mums! I have to say I do still chuckle when I think of my hospital bag/trunk/monster. This time (Yes, I’m doing this again in December lol!) I will leave out the lavender but might scour eBay and invest in a taser (ha ha ha here hubby, hubby, hubby!).

After Birth(As in after baby comes home, not the actual afterbirth!). I had some fantastic gadgets, every cream, powder, lotion and potion, this bathing aid, this special cushion, that ridiculously priced box of cables that I never quite worked out, and am sure is under our bed somewhere! Yup, being a first timer, bored and on maternity leave I bought everything every online advert told me I needed. I used 30% of them if that, but the things I did use were invaluable! Having learned my lesson after assuming that the books that described my labour would be spot on (lol!) I have decided this time I would ask the true experts what items on the market are really worth buying, really do what they say on the tin/box/bottle and am very happy to be someone who can now help other Mums, first time and otherwise by having become a BizzieBaby Tester! Those in the know, parents and their children test items on the market and report back with a REAL LIFE review. If you haven’t had a look at the site please do. And remember, don’t believe everything you read in books and magazines, believe in recommendations from real people, in real situations. (Oh and unless you have a good aim, a king-size bottle of lavender essence is NOT going to ease your labour – take it from someone who knows J )

Weekly Recipe from Di – Vanilla Cupcakes

June 27, 2010
VANILLA CUPCAKES (makes 12 muffin size)

  

110g Butter/Margarine (I use Stork) 

225g Caster Sugar 

2 Large Eggs 

150g Self Raising Flour sifted 

125g Plain Flour sifted 

120ml Milk at room temperature 

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

Preheat the oven to 160’Fan/180’C/350’F/Gas mark 4 and line a 12 muffin tray with cases. 

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. A hand mixer is ideal for this. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after adding each one. Combine the 2 flours in a bowl. Put your milk and vanilla in a separate cup. Add about a third of the flours and mix well, then add about a third of the milk mixture and mix well. Repeat until everything is added. Spoon the mixture into the 12 muffin cases filling them to about 2/3 full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer or a sharp knife in the centre of one of the cakes-it should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in their tins for about 10 minutes, then put them on a wire rack to cool completely before icing them. 

VANILLA  BUTTERCREAM ICING 

110g Butter/Margarine 

60ml Milk at room temperature 

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

500g Icing Sugar sifted 

In a large mixing bowl, beat everything together until it’s really smooth. If you think it’s too sloppy, then add a little more icing sugar. If you wish to colour your icing, then you can add any food colouring, only use a drop at a time as it will be quite strong! 

Hope you enjoy them!! 

Love Di xxx 

Donnas’ Scrummy recipe of the Month

June 26, 2010
Chinese Style Sticky pork kebabs
2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
200g hoisin sauce
2tbsp light soy sauce
500g cubed pork fillet
2 tbsp runny honey
Selection of fresh vegetables suitable for bbq, cubed. (Mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc)

Make up your skewers by alternating pork and vegetables making sure they are all pretty even with each other until you have no ingredients left. Combine the 5 spice, hoisin sauce and soy sauce and marinate your skewers for a minimum of 1 hour but preferably over night. Grill or bbq for 15-25 minutes depending on heat, all the while brushing with the honey.

Serve with a simple
Jalapeño coleslaw
1 half raw cabbage thinly sliced
3 carrots grated
1 onion finely chopped or grated
1 Jalapeno finely chopped
4-5 tbsp Mayonnaise
Combine the ingredients in a bowl adding as much or as little mayonnaise as you like and as much Jalapeno as is suitable to your taste.
Enjoy Donna x

Donnas’ Blog – Cooking with Children

June 26, 2010
Cooking with Children.

Harrison and I made some jam tarts today. Most of the jam was spooned, by Harrison, around the tart cases but I managed to scoop most of it into a case without too much effort. What is most difficult is stopping him from eating the jam and, spooning more into one case than the others. I know how his mind works. As he deliberately over filled one particular case, adding so much it looked like a jam mountain, he was most likely thinking, “this one is for me!” When I attempted to scoop some of this excess jam out he protested so loudly and strongly I was sure his head was going to pop off his neck and land, plop, onto the jam tarts. There are some battles you should just let your opponent win, this was one of them. The jam tarts came out of the oven looking perfect. That is except one, the jam mountain, this one now resembled a sticky, gooey mess sitting on a token piece of pastry. It had erupted it’s inners like a volcano and covered most of the tray with it’s apricot lava. So whilst the tarts are cooling and Harrison is napping, I am preparing myself to use a chisel and hammer to remove the erupted jam mountain. Now I’m thinking this was one of the battles where I should have stood my ground.

I feel I should confess; I’m no genius in the kitchen, actually I cannot say I’m a genius at anything. Just the other day I burnt the Diane sauce that was to accompany the steak at dinner. I’m not going to blame the children, even though it was their fault, I’ll just say other things occupied me. Luckily I had enough ingredients to make some more before the rest of the dinner turned sour. Talking of this particular meal, I was chatting to my relative and she seemed most astonished that I would give Harrison steak (medium-well), vegetables, new potatoes and Diane sauce for his dinner. As it turned out she cooks different meals for her children and since speaking to her I found that lots of people do. Now to me that is astonishing. Isn’t our job as mothers hard enough without cooking several different meals to satisfy our children? A friend confessed to cooking anywhere up to four different meals a night for her family of five. I cook one meal and suddenly feel very blessed about that. I love the kitchen but not so much that I’d want to be chained to it all day!

I feel a bit cheeky talking about this home cooked food as I sit here and munch shop bought, cheese twists. You can’t be perfect all the time you know and I could have lied and said I made them, you’d never have known. Plus I couldn’t have made them at the price I bought them for and I’m clearly feeling guilty because I’m justifying myself and I never even had any need to mention them in the first place. They are really very nice though, I think this packet will not last much longer… gone.

For dinner tonight we have chicken and bacon pasta with crispy croutons and probably some crusty bread. Again I am cheating, the bread maker is making the bread. I might stretch myself and make some garlic butter but then again I might not, it is going to take long enough to make the pasta. Ok another confession, I’m not making the pasta. It sounded good though didn’t it? I can knock up a meal, from scratch, in next to no time. Pasta on the other hand takes me all day, how these chefs on the telly do it so quickly I’ll never know. I end up flouring the whole kitchen, myself and, the last time, I even managed to flour the dining room too and I didn’t have the excuse of children then.

Layla is in an absolutely foul mood since Harrison decided to wake her up. It was his parting shot on his way upstairs for his nap. That little cherub just has to make sure I do not get any me time till they both go to bed in the evening. I have come to the conclusion that I need more rooms downstairs. I need a room for me, one for Harrison, one for Layla and one for my dog, Zuki. That is the only way I’m going to get any peace at all during the day. If I put Layla and Harrison in the same room you can guarantee she will have had a toy car dropped on her head, pen all over her face or juice in her eyes, maybe even a combination of these things. Harrison is not malicious in the slightest, he genuinely believes he is helping, it is just a real shame he isn’t.

Breakfast this morning would have passed without issue had Harrison not decided to wear his cereal. My darling husband thought it would be a wise move to teach our dear son how to drink the left over milk straight from the bowl. Only this morning it wasn’t left over milk he tried to drink, it still had the Rice Crispies floating in it. Before I had chance to react Rice Crispies and milk littered his pyjamas and the floor and I watched as Zuki gleefully licked her lips at the crispy offerings that had fallen just feet away from her nose. Time to have a word with that husband of mine.

Will be back next month with more updates.  Donna x

Spiritualism My Story by Haylee

June 11, 2010
Since I was little I have followed spiritualism through my Nan. She attended Warrington Spiritualist church as often as she could and talked about the existence of ‘ghosts’ all the time. I remember one of the last times I saw my Nan in hospital she described an experience where the lady in the next bed had died and whilst the curtains on the next bed were drawn, my Nan saw a lady stood at the foot of the bed beckoning to her asking her to follow, which she declined to do. My Nan died not too many weeks later and as 15-year-old you can appreciate how this conversation left its mark.
 
I tried spiritualist churches and found that although I enjoyed the readings the religious side of the services was too strong for me. I wanted to concentrate more on life after death and less on the God. I know that the two are strongly linked but that was how I felt.
 
So instead of the church I looked to personal readings. My first experience was of a lady medium close to where I live. I was probably about 21. I went her house clutching my Nan’s ring in my pocket, which she did mention during the reading. throughout the reading I felt as though she was throwing random names at me trying to find something and there where times when she found a name and information was given. As the reading was ending and she was saying goodbye I asked if I could ask a question. I asked if I could pass a message through her to ‘the other side’. She suddenly glazed and said someone else had appeared to her. She went on to give me a message from a young man who had recently killed himself. His name, the circumstances of his passing and messages for named members of his family. I was shocked. A friend had recently taken his life and it was this person I wanted to pass a message to. Understandably I was hooked.
 
After this session I tried the Spiritualist churches again and then tried some Medium shows. I have to admit I prefered the shows. Not only where they a good girlie night out but when you were picked the feelings were amazing. Eventually after chatting to other people at the shows I hit upon the name David Traynor. You can google him although I feel I have  to apologise for his cheesy American site. Believe me when I first found out about him he was a Warringtonian hairdresser with a cheap site. I blame fame!!
 
Anyway, I started going to his shows. I was picked a couple of times but that was not what convinced me. If you read his books he talks about how he now focuses on people who have lost children because he understands how deep this pain is. At his shows he seemed to home in on people who had lost children either before birth or any time after. He gave them times, dates, names, anything that would convince. He even claimed that the children where touching the parents and some if not all of the people this happened to agreed they could feel the cold touch of their children. How could you not be convinced.
 
Some time after several of these shows I heard a competition on the radio to have a gallery reading for up to ten people with David. To cut a long story short we won and I gathered my friends. It was a fantastic experience. It couldn’t really fail to be. This man I had watched on stage was now in my living room, but I was disappointed. The people I had gathered were all in one way or another related or close to me. For example, my brother, his wife, her sister, my Mum, my other sister-in-law, my cousin and two of my friends. So we were all close.
 
When the gallery reading was over we all compared notes and although we had all had a great time there was nothing concrete. After the gallery we were invited to one of Davids shows in the week and three of us went. For what ever reason this was the first show I did not enjoy.
 
I have not been to another show, church or personal reading since then. I will, I can guarantee it, but I need a break. I want to believe in life after death so much. Even more so now I have my children, but I need more proof.
 
I live in a house that the last owner had from new and died in. Even my very sceptical husband has admitted that things go bump in the night. I have been awoken by bright orbs and figures in my room. Things appear that have moved when they shouldn’t have (bear in mind I have 3 kids!). Most convincingly of all is the strong scent of perfume I get now and then that we don’t wear.
 
My Mum believes and she says that if they were going to harm us they would have done so by now. I repeat this so often.
 
I don’t know if my belief now is any stronger now than it was when my Nan was here. All I can say is that I have had and will have some fun finding out and I would love it all to be true. Where’s the harm in that.
 

Donna’s Recipe of the Month

May 26, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Every month I will be posting a special recipe for you all to try out.  So let me know how you get on and you could always post image of your dish on Facebook and on the Bizziebaby Forum.

My recipe of the month for May – Hidden Vegetable Lasagne.

Bolognaise sauce

3 small carrots

1 large courgette

 150g mushrooms

 1 tble sp Worcestershire sauce

 1 tble sp balsamic vinegar

 2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes

 1 level tsp dried basil

 1 heaped tsp dried oregano

 1 heaped tsp garlic puree or two garlic cloves crushed

 100g tomato puree

 1 onion chopped

 500g lean mince, I use beef but it is your choice

 White sauce

 25g flour

 25g butter

 300ml milk

 90g grated cheddar cheese (optional)

 250g Fresh egg pasta sheets

 Sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some slices of fresh tomato to finish (optional)

 Preheat oven to 200° C/390° F/gas mark 6.

To make your bolognaise sauce peel and finely chop the onion and mushrooms, alternately give them a whiz in a food processor. Grate the carrots and courgette and add to a large saucepan with the onion, mushrooms, herbs and garlic along with a dash of olive oil. Place on a medium heat and cook until the onion and vegetables are softened. Stir in the mince before adding the tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Finally add the tomato puree and leave on a low heat to simmer until the sauce is thickened slightly, about 30-45min.

To make your white sauce melt the butter in a pan and using a wooden spoon stir in the flour to make a paste, also know as a “rue“. Add a quarter of the milk whilst whisking to prevent any lumps. Gradually add the rest of the milk a quarter at a time, whisking as you go. Allow the sauce to cook fully for about a minute before adding the cheddar cheese if you are using, stir and remove from the heat.

To make your lasagne spoon a third of your sauce into a oven proof dish, follow with a couple of lasagne sheets making sure not to overlap. Over that layer poor a third of your white sauce and over that another third of your bolognaise sauce. Again cover with a layer of pasta, then another third of white sauce and the last of the bolognaise sauce after that. Place your final layer of pasta and cover completely with the remaining white sauce. If you so choose you can place some slices of fresh tomato and an extra sprinkling of cheese to finish your lasagne.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25-30min or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with crusty garlic bread and salad or fresh chips.

Happy Cooking and will be back next month with a new recipe for you all.

Donna x

 

Donna’s Monthly Blog ‘Cooking with Children’

May 26, 2010

This month has been a hectic one for me, Harrison, my son, celebrated his 2nd birthday and just the day before that I celebrated, all be it very grumpily, my 27th.  What happened to the days when we looked forward to birthdays, having a whole day completely about yourself and doing whatever you wanted and everyone had to lump it. I have just taken a second to think and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t actually miss those days; Those were the days before Harrison and before Layla my 4 month old bundle of joy, I say joy in the loosest term as there is no joy in waking to her in the early hours of the morning, when it is still pitch black and there is no calming birdsong outside the window. Alas, joy may no longer be found in my birthday but so much more joy is found in their happy, smiley faces on their birthdays. Ok so Layla will not have any clue when it eventually gets to her first birthday and Harrison at his second birthday party had a somewhat bemused look on his face before taking a running jump onto the bouncy castle we had hired; but we’ll get there eventually.

Well for my birthday I wrongly assumed I got absolutely nothing from my darling husband, Dom, however as I type I’m using my new notebook which was delayed in arriving as it was out of stock. Unbeknown to him he was in my bad books until this little cutie arrived this morning, thinking I will not leave his work shirts at the bottom of the laundry until he decides to do them for himself, think I’ll fish them out and do them a bit quick now while he is out with Harrison trying to get a replacement paddling pool. Oh yes, the paddling pool! The one we bought yesterday and I so gleefully blew up with nothing but my own puff this morning to find it has a puncture and has to be exchanged, “oh how blooming marvellous”, said I, “can you get a foot pump whilst you are swapping it?”.

Harrison’s party was arranged in just over a week, with the surprise news that family were to be visiting for the day we had to do something, even if it was half because I wanted to make sure we were keeping up with the Joneses. Here we go back to that simple little word again, Joy; oh the joy of making sure you are seen to be the model parent by those people that for some, probably completely unreasonable, reason we feel pressured into living our lives in a seemingly better way than them. We all have those people in our lives somewhere along the line. I’ve tried to avoid those people that make me feel like I’m 5 years old all over again and that I cannot do anything right, but they are always lurking around some dark and dingy corner waiting to pounce on you, particularly on the day you haven’t bothered with your hair and you are still wearing your pyjamas at two in the afternoon.

Anyway this gossiping isn’t getting me very far, although I really am enjoying it, I must tell you about my learning to cope with my children and cooking and of course the mess. I should probably start with the fact my mother has an OCD and yes it is for cleaning and yes it rubbed off on me. I have overcome it since having Harrison, I am still finicky about germs and bacterium and I wouldn’t dare eat chicken off a bone or eat off the floor and I have even learnt to cope with my husband who truly believes in the 5 second rule. One day when I was lovingly spooning pureed food into a six month old Harrison, and mopping his mouth after every spoonful and cleaning him up every time he tried to take the spoon and do the hard work for himself, it dawned on me, “what is the harm in mess?” I have nothing that cannot be cleaned nor anything too expensive to replace if the tomato sauce plastered all over it wouldn’t come off. Let him have the spoon, let him at least try and let him be himself. I will not deny it was hard to sit and watch him as he repeatedly splattered all manner of surfaces in the red stuff and looked as though he had been attacked by an over ripe tomato with a bad attitude. The wonder in his face and the excitement when he picked up a fist full of squishy vegetables and pasta and shoved it very squarely into his face, mostly missing his mouth but not completely, and enjoying the taste of something he had fed himself more than made up for the fact my dining room had been redecorated a somewhat distasteful shade of red.

Getting Harrison into the kitchen was probably the most natural thing for me. I love cooking and before Harrison came along I spent a lot of my spare time creating and baking away the hours. In order to continue with my passion I had to think of a way to keep him occupied and keep him safe and the safest place for him is with me. So I invested in a bebe pod and placed him on my kitchen side next to me with a plastic bowl, a wooden spoon and some flour. My kitchen, its contents and ourselves eventually looked like we’d gone three rounds with the Pillsbury dough man but I managed to make some wonderful muffins and a delicious dinner and best of all Harrison and I really had fun.

Some people really hate cooking and I can see why, lots of mess to clean up, hot and sweaty surroundings and loneliness. Unless you can afford to have a huge open plan space and a cleaner and a really good air conditioning unit you have to get around it in other ways. I have a dish washer, it is a start, and I have a fan for those really hot days but best of all I bought my family into the kitchen with me. Harrison loves helping me with recipes now, stirring and adding the ingredients, although some always manage to go missing; particularly chocolate.

Happy cooking everyone and much love from, Donna and the rest of the Lovegrove family xxxxxxx

We will update you all next month.

 PS. Don’t forget to check out my recipe of the month, Hidden vegetable Lasagne!