Monday, 29 November 2010

Put On Your Big Girl Shoes

...And take it like a man?

Sorry, bad joke hour, it seems.  We've been out & about today, braving the weather to keep from going crazy.  First stop the library, for a couple of new books each, including a very exciting looking Maisy book for Squeaky.

Then for a coffee & cake in a lovely new cafe, Caramac Coffee, in town.  They've not been open long, and I spotted them at the weekend, shortly after having had a coffee elsewhere.  OMG, cupcakes to die for.  Chocolate cupcake with green frosting & glitter.  I had to share it, because madam was too interested to take no for an answer.  I also persuaded them to sign up for the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme, so that's another voucher for me!

And then! Big adventure. As she was awake and sociable, we popped into Clarks's to try getting her feet measured again.  Last time she was too small for even their smallest shoes. Now, she's just about into the smallest size.  Only just, but all the same.  And I'd like to see her try to get buckles undone - though I put nothing past her, she can manage every other style I've tried.  They even take a photo when you get your first pair fitted, look!  Isn't that lovely?

This is NOT a sponsored post, just what we've done & where.

HIPP Organic Jars Review

I was lucky enough to be sent some HIPP Organic jars for Squeaky to try out, recently. Like 40% of mums in HIPP's survey, we mix & match home made foods & jars - for convenience, for reliability (she can be a fussy creature some days), and for variety. I also think the jars are a good way to try out new flavours before including them in my own cooking - I don't feel so bad if she turns down something from a jar, rather than something I've made.

We received the Lancashire Hotpot, Spaghetti with tomatoes & mozzarella, Cocoa & vanilla dessert & Rice pudding with apple & pear. I've bought both the savouries before, but not the desserts, we tend to go for fresh/chilled desserts normally, but these are great if you're out & about.

And for the verdict... Spaghetti is the favourite, seriously, she'd eat this for every meal if I let her. It looks like proper grown-up food, and goes down a treat. Close runner up was the Cocoa dessert, she's only recently taken to chocolate flavours, but after the first spoonful, it was met with great enthusiasm. I sneaked a little try myself, and it's really tasty!

HIPP are running a winter warmer competition on their facebook site at the moment - see if you can be a winner! Or find out more at 

Disclosure: I was provided with 4 jars of HIPP Organic food free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cheese Straws!

As promised (though without a cut, I'm still not that smart), the recipe for the cheese straws I made the other day.  The book's going out on loan to another mum soon, so I've got an ulterior motive in as much as I want to make some more while it's elsewhere.  No apologies for imperial measurements, I'm Old Skool! 

4oz plain flour
2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
2os grated cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg

Sift the flour, chop the butter into small pieces & rub in to the flour until it turns like breadcrumbs.
Add the cheese and half (or slightly over) the beaten egg to the mixture.  Combine with your hands until it forms a dough and the bowl comes clean.  Wrap in cling film & put in the fridge for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6. (My recipe book told me to do that as step one.  Before half an hour of chilling?  I think not!)
Sprinkle some flour on a work surface &roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into strips, to the size & shape that make you happiest.  Or you could make them cookie shaped if you wanted, I guess.
Place on a greased baking sheet.  Brush generously with the remaining beaten egg.  You could sprinkle them with sesame seeds, a little parmesan, or whatever takes your fancy here.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Don't cook for too long or they'll dry out.
Cool & serve or store in an airtight box for up to 4 days.  Ha!  As if!  They're gorgeous warm, straight out of the oven.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Gosh, the snow's a bit unexpected, isn't it? I was happily sitting in my breastfeeding peer support training yesterday morning, when I spotted the first little white flutter, and within an hour it was properly sticking.  Brrrrrr!  The girls at the peer support group were very impressed with the Symbio, and I had to keep popping outside to demonstrate it to them.  I was very glad it's so light, too, as I had to push Squeaky up the snowy hill from the class to the car park before we could go home.  Our other pushchair would have been pushing me back down the hill!

We spent yesterday afternoon hiding out in the house, making cheese straws.  They definitely get the Squeaky seal of approval, as well as the Mummy & Daddy approval.  Definitely moreish.  If I can work out how to do a cut on here, I might go as far as to give you a recipe, but that's something for another day, 'kay?

Today we decided to stave off cabin fever by heading out into the big wide world.  It's pretty much impossible to get the car out of our road when the snow hits, we're on a steep hill, on the side of another steep hill (does that make sense?).  Last year (well, January this year really), I was hugely pregnant in the snow, and completely stuck in the house for 2 weeks, as I couldn't get past the front door for fear of falling onto my bump.  Very glad that's over.

We wrapped ourselves up nice & warm, gave a silent thanks to Graco for sending us the cosy-toes to go with the Symbio, and walked into the village.  No plan of where to go & what to do, so decided to jump on the bus & head to town.  Snow

The big wheels on the Symbio, as well as how light it is, made it really easy to get onto the bus, and the swivelling front wheels meant we could get into the space at the front with no problems.  Brake on, and away we go.  SOMEone slept through the whole journey, which goes to show how comfortable she was.  On the bus  The subtitle to that photo is "This gives me an idea..."  which it does, or I wouldn't have said it (durrr).  I'm not going to say what my idea is just yet, it's going to take a little bit more planning, but it could be a lot of fun.

Town was freezing, though the streets were nice & clear, and we had a happy shopping excursion, not spending much, but trying to.  The Symbio was lovely to manoeuvre around, and comes in slightly narrower than its predecessor, as I could fit through a couple of gaps I've got stuck in before.  After a while, we popped into the pub for a spot of lunch (fish & chips, yummy), and to warm up our freezing hands.  Chillin'

As you can see, we got the "Moon" grey colour version of the Symbio & cosy-toes.  While I've been loving pictures of the red, I can just imagine it clashing with the snowsuit.  Grey is perfect for us, so stylish, and goes with my roots!

Monday, 22 November 2010

The big day arrives!

After a week or so of antici...pation, the big day has arrived.  And with it, the Symbio!  A couple of false starts, the postie and the breakdown guy both knocked my door without giving me a shiny new travel system, but just before 2 o'clock, the knock I'd been waiting for - the UPS guy.  And of course, I was armed with the camera.  UPS Dude

Not entirely sure he was expecting to have to pose for photos on a Monday afternoon, but he was very obliging.

Nothing in this house can be done without Squeaky's assistance, including opening boxes.  She decided that as the chair was for her, she would be the first to see what it looked like. What's in the box?

As we are good girls, we read the instructions before we started trying to put the chair together.  Instructions

Not that it was difficult at all.  The whole thing took less than 20 minutes, and that included getting the black plastic stuff off the cosy-toes box.  Oh, yeah, Graco gave us a cosy-toes as well.  A very welcome extra treat in this cold weather.  Do they come in adult sizes?

And there you have it, one completed Symbio, with added baby.  All done!

Of course, it's no use having a lovely new travel system if it just stays in our living room.  So we put on our coats, climbed into our cosy-toes, and went for a stroll.  A quick lap of the park, and a ride on the swings, and we're ready for our tea.  Do you like rice pudding?  Trial Run

I wonder what adventures tomorrow will bring?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Weekend Round-Up

Only a quick post for you today, internet.  This week has been busy, one way or another.  Not how I'd've liked it to be, but busy all the same.

After our trip to the NCT sale last Saturday, we went into Cardiff, where Squeaky managed to catch a stomach bug (THANK YOU people with the ill child and very smelly nappy in St David's Centre - if your child is that ill, don't take them out!), which has kept us all being sick & smelly all week.  The washing machine has been on overdrive.  Squeaky's fine, but still a little bit lacking in appetite (as we all are to tell the truth), but we've had a whole week off from our normal activities, and she's bored at home now.

We've also grown a new tooth.  Not the other top front tooth that I was expecting, but the one to the other side of the existing top front one (the one dentists would call 2).  The one we're still waiting for is visible, just not breaking the surface yet.  I wish it would get on with it, though obviously the 6th isn't going to be far behind. Does teething ever actually stop?

She's also learned this week how to put a ball into a stacky cup, and tip it out again, which is hours of entertainment, and that baths can have bubbles in them!  Did you know that?  Squeaky thinks it's very exciting and you should all know all about the bubbles!  She's a little bit unsure whether they're a good thing or not, the principle is ok, but actual bubbles on her hands are a bit strange and she gets very concerned.  But they do go away when she splashes the water about, so that's what we have to do.

Oh!  And we saw a Christmas tree for the first time!  We went into town yesterday afternoon, just as it was getting dark.  The lights were switched on on Friday, and there was a big tree in the shopping centre, all lit up with little silvery lights, and covered in big silver baubles.  So we had to spend a good ten minutes looking at our funny reflection in the balls, and the twinkly lights, while wrapped up like a snowbaby in our spotty snowsuit.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Off to the sales

Yesterday, Squeaky & I had Big Adventures.  We first went off to Pontypridd to meet Boyd Clack, as he was signing copies of his autobiography.  I know that name probably means nothing to anyone outside Wales, and may only ring vague bells to anyone living here, but I'm a great big High Hopes fangirl, and he's kind of my hero.  I met him last year shopping in Cardiff & he remembered me, so that was nice, and I've got a new book to read.

We then drove to Cardiff, because there was an NCT Nearly New Sale on.  Have you ever been?  Honestly now.  I know.  When my friend first told me about them, I thought the same.  Why would I want a load of second hand tat when I can buy new stuff, and/or I've got enough baby stuff as it is, I don't need more.  And then I discovered the reality.  Yes, it's a jumble sale.  But it's the best jumble sale in the world.  Loads of beautiful baby clothes, far more expensive than I'd be prepared to buy new, and for nearly nothing!  I was quite restrained to be honest.  I only spent £10.  But for that, I came away with...
  • A pair of Monsoon jeans
  • A spotty Monsoon kimono style top
  • A red flowery cord dress
  • A pink Gap shirt dress
  • A two layer Next top & shirt
  • A pair of Pumpkin Patch cropped trousers
  • A brand new Feu Follet blouse & jumper
In the real world, I don't think I could have bought one of those for a tenner, never mind all of them.

If I say so myself (and I've been told by others too...) I'm pretty good at finding the really good stuff at these kind of events.  How?  I've got a few pointers, if you want to give it a go yourself.
  • Fabric - I don't look for cotton jersey, it stretches.  Look out for more solid materials, stiff cotton, denim, corduroy.
  • Labels - I'm not a label queen, but there's no point in buying second hand supermarket clothes. They're cheap enough new, and not built to last.  Look out for brands that have a reputation for durability & quality, and ones you'd like to be able to buy brand new.
  • Spot the seller's name - all the items at NCT sales are labelled with the seller's name.  So if you find one good thing from a seller, keep an eye out for their name on other labels, there's a fair chance there'll be other things you like.
  • Condition - the obvious one.  Check for wear, seams, etc.
  • Wearability - make sure you pick things that you're actually going to be able to get some use out of.  That fuchsia pink tutu may be cute, but will it actually get worn? (This was the swaying factor against a very cute Gap poncho yesterday)
  • Budget - Maybe an overall budget, depending on your circumstances, but certainly a Per-Item budget.  That way you'll bypass the cute-but-optimistic items, and go straight for the real bargains.  I didn't pay more than £2 for anything, was prepared to go to £2.50.
  • Labels Again - look for things that still have shop tags on.  What better way to gauge quality than a brand new item?
So yeah.  Hit the nearly news, and tell me what bargains you've found.

Friday, 12 November 2010

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit cold.  Hmmm.  Felt the radiators, nothing.  So went & checked the timer on the central heating, gave it a tweak because it was almost time for it to come on, and waited.  Nothing.  Checked it again.  Ran the hot water - water worked, but still no heating.  Phoned the gas board, and waited for the man to come along & fix it.  Which he did, but it meant Ms Squeaky had to have a late night, as she couldn't go to be while he was working on the boiler in her room.

Eventually it was fixed, Squeaky went to bed, and shortly after, SqueakyDaddy followed, as he's been on early starts this week.  I took the peace & quiet as chance to catch up on the internet, and some of the blogs I read.  Among them, I came across this post from Emma And 3, and thought how lucky she was.  Followed the link to Graco's facebook page, and noticed that they had a competition ending today (Friday)  for people to test the Symbio pushchair.  Better be quick then, yeah?

I put together an email, surprised myself how many ideas I could come up with, with only a mince pie to help my inspiration, and zapped it off, not expecting to hear anything.  How excited was I this afternoon to receive an email telling me I'm a winner????  There may have been a small amount of dancing around the living room.  Maybe.  I'm just glad the camera was away.

So, we're going to be the lucky recipients of a brand spanking new Graco Symbio, and Squeaky & I are going to have loads of exciting adventures with it, and make a photo journal of our experiences.  This is going to be FUN!  We've got a 1 in 5 chance of becoming a Graco Ambassador for a year, which would be just brilliant, and give us the chance to try out other Graco products.  And you, you get to read all about it.

From freezing to fabulous in 24 hours.  All I need now is to win the lottery & the day will be perfect.  Kisses, all.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Growing Up Fast

We had a real & proper adventure yesterday.  I won some Odeon vouchers on Twitter a while back, and hadn't had chance to use them.  SqueakyDaddy had a rare Wednesday off, and Wednesday is when the Cardiff Bay Odeon has their Newbies screening.  Newbies, for those who don't know, is a parent & baby screening, sponsored by one of the nappy rash cream brands (not mentioning it, I use a different one).  Babies go free, lights are on a little, sound is lower than normal, and no-one minds if your baby starts making a noise.  I guess you could go anytime, but people are liable to moan if your little darling starts creating mid-film, or even worse if you start to feed them mid-film.

So, off we went to Cardiff.  I actually really like that cinema.  Even the cheap seats are huge and comfy, though the ticket prices range from absurd to astronomical, but isn't that the same everywhere these days?  Equipped with our drinks, chocolates, ice cream & tickets, in we went.  I'm not going to review the film for you, I'm not that kind of blogger.  SqueakyDaddy was the only man in there, I think most people see these things as being Mum & Baby, and as it's during the daytime, it's mostly going to be mums on maternity leave, but there was no reason why he couldn't be there, and no-one said anything, he was clearly with us.

Squeaky was kind of bemused by the Big Telly and the sound coming from different places, but she was a little gem.  Relatively settled, a few raspberries and "Babababa" from time to time, but I came equipped with boobs, and ricecakes, and the combination of the two kept her entertained.

It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon. I haven't been to the cinema, or probably sat and watched a whole film, since the night before Squeaky was born.  All About Steve was dull enough to send me into labour, and I haven't had chance to go back since.  If your cinema has baby screenings, give them a go, we loved it.

(Odeon have not paid me for, or requested this review.  My free tickets came from an unrelated source.)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Valuable Lesson

... in every sense of the word.

Aside from "helping" taking the washing out of the machine & throwing it all over the kitchen floor, one of Squeaky's current favourite games is robbing my handbag.  If I put it anywhere that she can possibly get to, she'll find it, and remove everything in search of who-knows-what.

I discovered yesterday how problematic that can be.  We trundled off for some mid-week top-up shopping to Aldi, to stop me getting tempted by clothes & shoes in the "proper" supermarkets.  And round we walked, picked up our things, and got to the checkout.  Only to find that Squeaky had removed my credit cards from my bag.  We nearly had enough cash to pay for everything - if they'd accepted M&S vouchers, I could've covered it, or indeed if I were rich enough to do my food shopping in M&S.  But as it was, I had to give things back, and wish for the floor to swallow me up.

So now I know - check everything is in my bag before leaving the house, because otherwise, Squeaky will have hidden something vital underneath the computer table.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fun & Games for mums!

We invented a new game yesterday, at the breastfeeding group.  One that was such fun, I thought I should share it with the wider internet, rather than keeping it all to myself.

Baby Russian Roulette  (not actually dangerous)

Take a room of at least 6 babies.  One of them has filled their nappy.  Select a baby and sniff its bottom.  The winner/loser is the person who correctly selects the baby with the dirty nappy.  Their prize?  Changing the nappy.

See?  Told you it was fun!  Everyone can join in, fun for all the family!