Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Enormous Crocodile Review

I loved Roald Dahl books growing up. Fantastic Mr Fox I read several times and I still count it as one of my favourite books so much so I couldn't wait to read it to/with Nate. Fantastic Mr Fox was the first non picture book we had attempted to  read to Nate so we went to find another for bed time.

Nate really enjoyed reading the Enormous Crocodile. The version we chose contained full colour illustrations so he enjoyed looking at the pictures and pointing to the animal being talked about in the story. However, even on pages were there were no illustrations he stayed  sitting listening to the story. Nate loves animals so loved listening to the different animals in the story. It took about three nights to read and finding a good place to stop each night was difficult but it will definitely be read again. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Dairy Free Eton Mess

Earlier this week I had a huge punnet of strawberries, I had decided I wanted to try oven dried strawberries and then thought it would be nice to have an Eton Mess, Nate is dairy free so we hit a bit of a wall. So I got thinking what would be a good alternative.

Eton Mess Nate style
Handful of strawberries - chopped
Meringue Nest - crumbled
Tablespoon of Oven dried strawberries
2 Tablespoons of Coconut Cream - tinned version

Make sure you get the coconut cream and not milk, you also don't want to shake it up as you want the thick bit at the top of the can. Add more or less coconut cream to your taste.

Scatter the dry strawberries on top after you have mixed the strawberries, meringue and coconut cream. Eat immediately.

If you want the taste of cream it hasn't quite got it but for someone who hasn't had cream for a while it is a worthy substitute. Nate finished his bowl and then came and helped both of us finish our Eton Mess the finest compliment I think.

To make the over dried strawberries, you need to wash the strawberries, dry them and then chop them into quarters. Lay them on to a baking sheet that has been covered with baking paper or greaseproof paper, make sure they aren't touching.

Strawberries laid out not touching ready for oven drying.

Cook on low (100C) for about an hour and a half and then turn them over and continue cooking for another hour and half. If you like them slightly chewy you will need to adjust the times.

Dried strawberries

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Flying with a toddler

How can you make flying with a toddler fun? This is how we did it, for a few weeks before the flight we talked a lot about airplanes we even went airplane spotting. We're lucky enough to live near Gatwick and the train line we use goes right under the flight path for Gatwick so whenever we were on the train we would point out airplanes to Nate. We explained to Nate we were going on an airplane to Barbados. He was involved in the process of packing the hand luggage.
Airplane spotting.

Hand luggage
We pack way too much in hand luggage. We packed three magazines, gNappies for nappy changing, wipes, two books, cuddly toy, a playmobil easter egg with toys in(mainly free toys from the front of magazines), two blankets and a change of clothes for Nate. Now on the way back as it was only Nate and I, I dropped it down to a blanket, cuddly toy, fewer nappies (night flight), two magazines and a change of jumper. This is only what we packed for Nate I still had a few bits such as a Kindle, mints etc...

Crying Toddler
He was perfect on take off and landing as there was something to look at out of the windows. However, during the time between both where you still have to have your seat belts on but there's not much interesting to look at out the windows he started to get fidgety. Now's the time to introduce a magazine.

This is something I found out due to flying back alone. I decided as Nate would be on my lap that I would pay for the upgrade to British Airway's World Traveller Plus. It was worth it as the cabin was half empty so Nate ended up with his own seat and also the cot seat was a window seat, which made Nate a lot happier. If you can afford the upgrade in my experience it is worth it. You have quite a bit more space and the food was nicer.
A whole seat to himself

Perfect for sleeping in

Travelling with a baby
The first flight Nate went on he was 9 months old, we packed even more in hand luggage and used half of it. We had full size sun cream, two books, ten nappies (someone suggested one per hour of flight and then a spare just in case), a full size pack of wipes and loads of toys. I would always suggest spare nappies but one per hour of the flight was overkill even with Nate having a reaction to some milk in the food we didn't use half of the nappies we'd packed. I found it impossible to book a meal that was dairy free and so ended up trying to avoid the food I thought had dairy and obviously I didn't avoid it all.

Both of the airlines we have flown with Nate said they provide baby food and have suitable changing areas. Neither provided any baby food and looked and me blankly when I asked if there was any food for Nate, so always pack your own just in case. We found the pouches came in useful, Plum or Ella's Kitchen as they don't take up as much room and aren't as heavy as jars.

Nappy changes, when Nate was 9 months old I couldn't find the toilet where the changing table was situated and there were queues in any case, so we had to change his nappy by our seat. The sky cot came in useful for this. This time when we flew Nate was that much older and it was impossible for both of us to get into the toilet at the same time and the changing surface was half the length of Nathaniel. I got him changed into his PJ's in the toilet but it was a struggle (understatement). Take your own changing mat and be prepared to change your toddler by the seat.

My Tips
Make a checklist of what you need, what would be nice etc...
Think about where you need these things, do you need everything in hand luggage
Pack a day in advance
Use your checklist

Monday, 22 July 2013

Chocolate steam buns

I have quite a few things to write up. The nice weather has really got my creative juices going. We love Char Sui Bao here and I wanted to make something using the bread outer as I wasn't confident that I could make the Char Sui the same. I decided on Salmon, so I cooked the Salmon in the oven and filled the Bao with a mixture of tomato, cucumber and cooked courgette. The outcome was lovely however, I wanted something sweet.

Salmon Bao

I had an idea, we always have chocolate and I had coconut cream. So I melted a tablespoon of chocolate chunks and added two tablespoons of coconut cream to the melted chocolate and used this mixture to fill the Bao dough. Steamed the bao for 10 minutes and they were ready.

Over flowing chocolate Bao.

I used this recipe for the Bao dough. For the chocolate filling:
3 tablespoons of chocolate
6 tablespoons of coconut cream

Melt the chocolate however you would normally, I used the microwave method 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir etc until melted. Then stir in half of the coconut cream, once it has been stirred in add the rest of the coconut cream. Divide the dough up into 24 balls. Take one ball and make a big hole add a teaspoon of chocolate/cream mixture and then pinch together carefully. Try not to let the mixture touch where you are going to pinch the sides up as it won't close properly. Steam for 10 minutes, I only have a little steamer so steamed them in batches of two. Let them cool down slightly and eat.

None of these buns made it to the next day or to dinner for that matter, they should have a slightly coconutty taste but it shouldn't be overpowering. I'm sure the coconut cream could be swapped out for normal cream for those who aren't dairy free.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Baby Swimming

Just before his first swimming lesson

I've realised I haven't posted much about swimming and swimming is a big part of Nate's life. Nate started swimming at 9 weeks old, we both enjoyed the swimming lessons it was very relaxing in the water especially as the water was warm.


At 3 months old he went on his first underwater photo shoot. We started swimming with Little Dippers and took part in the photo shoot with them as well. Take a look at the photographers other underwater work, Zac Macaulay.

Swimming on holiday in the pool

We continued swimming until Nate finished Stage 7 of the Little Dippers course. After that we decided to take him swimming outside of lessons, unfortunately we didn't keep it up. Mainly I didn't enjoy being cold and as Nate was beginning to want his own freedom in the water the children's pool was always full.

Then a heated pool opened up near us, with the Little Dippers taking lessons there along with the Little Swim School so we decided to take Nate along. It took Nate a couple of weeks to get used to swimming again but he really started to enjoy it.

While on holiday Nate was either in the sea or the pool most days and was really swimming, it really surprised me that he could get to me from the side of the pool with little help from me. I just had to pick him up when he got to me.

I don't know if swimming has helped his confidence but Nate is a very confident little boy especially around water. He can happily get himself in the pool and hold on to the side and if the side is low enough he can climb back out.

He got himself in the pool...

and then out again.
Nate wasn't very sure of the sea and it took most of the time we were there for him to happily swim between us. Instead he favoured holding on to my back while I swam.

All in all we have loved our swimming lessons, in the beginning it was a good way to make friends with other mums but it has soon grown into something Nate loves and asks to do all the time.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Cool souvenirs

We wanted to get Nate a souvenir that was relevant to where we had been and in our search we found this a Canimal.

Its a stuffed toy in a tin can. On one side of the can you have a picture of the stuffed toy and a warning about how adorable they are.

On the other side of the can is information about the animal we got the canimal turtle so there is lots of information about their nesting habits. The other canimals I have seen are monkeys and black belly sheep but we didn't see any of the others this time.

The only issue with this is you have to use a can opener with it, it would have been nice to be able to keep the can with a resealable lid .

What's hiding in the can?

There it is, the canimal turtle is born. The turtle isn't the best quality stuffed toy we've had but Nate loved the novelty of having to open the can (mummy had to do that) and finding out what was in it. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Barbados family friendly destination?

We've just recently come back from being on holiday in Barbados, this isn't the first time we've been as a family but while there this time I started to think about it's family friendliness. The first time we went as a family was last year for our wedding and was our first holiday as a family. The hotel we stayed in had everything so you didn't need to leave at all. However, as I have family in Barbados we explored the island and found there were issues with baby changing facilities.

 One major attraction on the island told me I could find the baby change in the "ladies washroom" so off I went and there was no where to change Nate, it was the floor or nothing.
I thought this would be a one off occurrence and other places would have space to change babies but this time we went to an event and the baby change facilities with a sign post for it was on the counter top next to the sinks. For an older baby this isn't much of an issue as noted by my noticing only one place this year without proper changing facilities.

Using the carrier in town

Barbados as a whole I would say is family friendly however, unless you use a carrier it isn't going to be easy to get around. The pavements when there are pavements aren't built for prams or wheelchairs for that matter. Remember to pack that suncream and to take little children somewhere cool during the midday sun.

In the pram near Grandma's house, notice the lack of pavements.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Holiday in pictures

Here are a few pictures from our holidays:

This was taken in Speightstown, to the North West of Barbados. Nate loved looking out at the sea and was pointing to another beach.

All cuddled up to daddy. 

Happy to be in his big boy pants

At North Point in Barbados there are lovely picture opportunities. Here you can see an anchor in the distance. 

Enjoying the view from North Point

At The Crane, the lovely hotel in St Phillip Nate enjoyed looking at the fish, there were two ponds for the Koi, one outside one of the hotel blocks 

The other with lovely large Koi outside the Zen restaurant

For daddies birthday we went on a picnic in Barclays Park along the East Coast Road

Nate's favourite thing was airplane spotting so here we are at my favourite beach for the same reason. When I was younger I always thought the planes flew close enough to touch so would jump when the big jets flew over. 

Scratch meals

While wandering around food shopping in a jet lag induced daze. We came across Scratch meals which contain everything necessary to cook a meal and all prepped ready to go. Perfect for me after flying 7 hours. It serves two people, however in our house it also served a little person as well.

It says it'll take 8 minutes which is slightly longer than a ready meal but a lot nicer and more healthy. I think it took us 10 minutes which wasn't a bad time for a nice meal. 

As you can see the instructions are simple to follow. We will be trying another of Scratch's meals again soon. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Hevea Alfie on holiday

We were lucky enough to be given a Hevea duck called Alfie while at the gTea last month. Nate loved Alfie so much we decided to take it with us on holiday. Here are a few pictures from our travels:

On the beach, Alfie made himself at home in the sand.

Alfie having a little swim

After all the hard work at the beach it was decided Alfie needed a jacuzzi bath.

Nate and Alfie enjoying bathtime.

Alfie gets to have a look at the beautiful Atlantic Sea from The Crane

Yummy, Alfie is tasty.

I'm really impressed with the Hevea duck it stood up to Nate chewing on it (his form of affection for his toys it seems) and it doesn't have that awful hole in the bottom that lets water in and then you're left with a mildewy duck. Plus Nate loves it.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sunrise on a plane

I normally love flying. I dreaded flying this time as it was going to be just me and Nate with the 5000 things a toddler needs I wasn't sure I had enough hands. Nate was great, it being a night flight probably helped. I thinned out our hand luggage and I have to say I was glad I had as we used the things we had and didn't require anything else.

Packing list
Magazines(2 for Nate, 1 for me)
A book (Nate)
Nappies & wipes (3 changes worth)
A change of clothes (for Nate) 
Passport etc
A couple of baby flapjacks

Nate slept for most of the flight, after breakfast Nate woke up walked over to me and asked for a flapjack. This flight was almost dream like.