Saturday, 30 June 2012

Making something out of nothing {stuffed mushrooms}

I haven’t posted a recipe for a while. It’s not that we haven’t been eating, we most definitely have (Heathrow injection anyone?!) - It’s just that we’ve been eating the same old, same old or things that everyone knows how to cook, or I’ve been testing out great recipes by lovely bloggers. 

But the other night I found myself with a ridiculously empty fridge, a hungry tummy and a sudden burst of inspiration. So I made these:

Cous cous stuffed mushrooms. And they were delish.

I’m a big fan of stuffed mushrooms. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a similar pic a little while ago – they were stuffed with lentils and feta (Mum’s idea) among other things and made for a pretty tasty brunch.

These new ones however, were even tastier – possibly more so given the distinct lack of anything interesting going on in my fridge at the time. 

Here’s how to make them:

What you need: 

: 4 large cup mushrooms
: 1-2 cups of cooked cous cous
: Diced bacon (as much as you fancy)
: 1 courgette
: 1 red onion
: 1-2 cups of grated haloumi
: lemon juice (about half a lemon)
: Handful of fresh herbs (I had mint and parsley)
: 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
: Handful of grated cheese (anything will do – I had a dry old bit of parmesan to use up!)
: Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

: Trim the mushroom stalks and place the cups onto a baking tray. Chop the remaining stalky bits and put aside for later.

: Cook cous cous according to packet instructions and set aside.

: In a pan, sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the bacon and fry for a further minute or so. Then add the courgette and remaining mushrooms. Cook until soft.

: Remove from the heat and stir the mixture into the cous cous along with the grated haloumi. Add the herbs, lemon juice and salt & pepper and stir once more.

: Then, spoon the mixture into the mushrooms, packing it in as tightly as possible. The fuller the better! You'll probably have some leftover but I turned our leftovers into a yummy salad the next day. 

: Top with the grated parmesan and your mushies are ready for the oven.

: Bake at 200 for approx 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and mushrooms are soft.

: They would probably be perfect with a great big salad, sadly I only had a few asparagus spears available – but they were still damn good.


Have you created any recipes out of nothing recently? Or are you better at keeping a well stocked fridge than me?! 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Party Planning


With all the excitement of our container finally arriving, I keep forgetting that I have a party to plan for. I mean, obviously I know my boy is about to turn three (how could I not). But I’m a little away with the fairies when it comes to dates and didn’t really realise it would be upon us so soon. Next weekend in fact.

This year was a tricky one. Oliver is old enough to understand birthdays and parties (and cake and presents) and is already quite excited about the whole thing. But, given the move and lack of mini-mates I didn’t feel it was the right year for a big all-out bash.

We do, however, have family on tap. Bingo. 

So the plan is a quiet family-and-close-friends affair at home. There will be five children in total (six if you count Lady Lila), so enough for fun and games, but not too many little people that I’m having a panic attack. Actually, who am I kidding?!

Given Oliver’s perpetual love of cars, we figured a car theme would be appropriate. Good old Lightening Mcqueen will feature in there somewhere, but I’m trying to stay away from being too all-out Disney.

I have a few ideas in mind, but have been trawling the internet (as you do in situations such as these) and have found some great sources of inspiration.

I very much doubt Ollie’s party will be anywhere near as polished as these little gems (In fact, it’s highly likely we’ll be partying around a pile of boxes), but a girl can dream right?

Now tell me, what are your top party planning tips? This is only my second attempt, so I’m still practising. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sources: here, here and here

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Weekend Edition

I had such a good weekend.

Saturday was a nice slow day of lie-ins, mooching to the shops, family dinners, afternoon naps, swimming and playing Oliver’s favourite new game – pirates. Bless Paul for getting right into the spirit of that one. I just hope my new dining chairs don’t fall to the same fate as the rented ones when they arrive!

And then Sunday rolled around. Best day in a long time.

As a half way point between both of our houses, we met some very dear, old uni friends of mine and their two gorgeous children at Paulton’s Park - home to the famous Peppa Pig World.

Now, Paul and I weren’t exactly sure what to expect by this place. We’ve never watched Peppa Pig and I wondered if a theme park for kids would be a bit overwhelming or tacky or something. But it was fabulous. Absolutely suberb.

The park was large, green, spacious and geared perfectly to mini-people. Queues were minimal, there was room to breathe and it somehow managed to avoid being too ‘theme parky’. Even the Peppa Pig bit was really sweet, despite being oh-so commercial.

Activity-wise, there really was something to cater for all tastes. I’m talking giant slides, rollercoasters, flying pirate ships, tractor rides, diggers, water slides, play areas, indoor soft play, outdoor water play, animals, a dinosaur trail, sand pits, bouncy castles and trampolines. Serious toddler heaven.

Pretty much every ride catered for children under 1 metre tall - so the kids could enjoy it all. And enjoy it they did.

As you can imagine, the boy-kamikaze was in his element. He loved every single minute. Laughed through every ride, cried when they finished and his favourite was the biggest water slide I’ve ever seen. Even I was a little unsure from the view at the top. He loved it. Of course.

Even lovelier was being with old friends. After meeting 13 or so years ago, watching your children hanging out and finally getting to know each other is really quite special. The two girls were also little angels and we may or may not have let Lila have a little lick of an ice cream cone. Bad Mama. Although I think she’d beg to differ.

In short, I can’t recommend Paulton’s Park enough. And if you ever find yourself in the South West of England, you should pay it a visit. We will definitely be back for more.

And how did we end this wonderful weekend? Why with the footie of course. My two boys dressed in their England shirts, shouting ‘come on England’ whilst punching their fists in the air. Paul with his beer (or beard as Oliver would say) and Ollie with his hot milk with chocolate ‘sparkles’. Paul desperately trying to watch it in peace, Oliver asking a billion questions from start to finish (at half time). What’s that red man doing? (the Goalie), what’s that black man doing? (the referee), are the Blue men Italy Daddy? (yes). And so on.

The football is still on in the background (bloody extra time) and I feel happy and content. This weekend really was perfect from start to finish. And now Monday is almost here once more.

How was your weekend? Was it as good as mine? 

p.s. disclaimer: this post was not sponsored in any way. We just had a really great day out at Paulton's Park and I needed to share. 

p.p.s A big *HELLO* to all the new green tea followers. Thank you so much for stopping by. It's lovely to have you here. Nearly at 100 - it blows my mind! I'm just so pleased I managed to get my blogging mojo back after the move. It was touch and go for a while there. Much love, Ax

Friday, 22 June 2012

Ouch, help! {and other things}


So Lila has been refusing my milk for the last couple of nights. Just like that. She’ll guzzle a bottle but clamps her mouth firmly shut at the sight of my nipple. I knew it was coming, but I feel strangely bereft at the thought that the feed she had a few days ago may have been our last. I wish I’d known to savour the moment at the time. 

The other problem with this scenario is my poor boobs. What does one do when your baby won’t feed but there’s still loads of milk? How do you stop it?! Pump n dump?  Leave them to get huge and hard? Quick - I need your help! Things are getting sore round here.

When I stopped feeding Oliver he was having such a small amount of milk, I didn’t really notice the transition. This time, Lila was still feeding fairly regularly in the evening (and still often at night), so man are they huge right now. I’ve expressed a little but it’s still pretty ouchy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

On the plus side of all this - Paul and I can now start planning our dirty weekend away to Paris. Dinner for two. Lie ins. Sleep. Even sex may be on the cards. Ahh the joys of living in the same country as the Grandparents.  

In other news, the little lady has finally started crawling. This is both yay and oh dear as I suddenly realise how much there is in this house for her to fall onto, pull over, choke on, eat etc… She’s also saying ‘Mama’. Wonderfully lovely to hear after weeks of Dada and Baba.

Our bad patch got better. The box is working and we’re all looking forward to this weekend. A day of bits & bobs tomorrow, followed by a visit to Peppa Pig World on Sunday. I have to confess that we’ve never actually watched an episode (shock, horror), but the place looks great and I can’t wait to catch-up with old friends.

And finally – our container is here. After weeks of making do with rented furniture and a limited kitchen, our very own things are scheduled to arrive at our new front door in two weeks. I’m dreading the actual day itself. Pretty much like moving all over again, but I’m thrilled to finally be able to start making a proper home for us here.  

Until then... please tell me what to do with my boobs! And what do you have planned this weekend? 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Honey & Lemon

There's been a lot of this stuff drunk around here this week. Mostly by me. Honey & lemon reminds me of being looked after by my Mum. It's comforting and makes be feel better even if it isn't a magic cure. 

Earlier in the week I really was on my last legs. It was bound to happen at some point. Life is always in the fast lane and I know I'm not taking care of myself. I'm particularly missing my routine. It's time to get back on track. 

Thankfully Paul gallantly came to my rescue. He came home early on Tuesday and took Wednesday off to take over with the kids and allow me a day of peace in bed. It worked and today I'm feeling SO much brighter. I'm also feeling lucky to have such a perceptive husband. One who knows when I really need him around. This week was one of those times. 

How has your week been panning out? I hope sickness hasn't struck in your house too. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

A crafternoon {or how to make your very own car playmat}

You know when sometimes an idea just pops into your head that is pretty much the best idea you ever had?

Yep. I had one of those today.

Being Friday, I had just about used up my entire repertoire of kid activities. This week has included parks, playgroups, playdates, painting, gardening, football, reading, trains, knights, hide n seek, dens, cooking. The list goes on.

However on this particular Friday, out of nowhere it hit me. A craft activity that I just knew would keep the boy entertained for the afternoon and beyond.

And so we spent the afternoon making our very own car play-mat.

Now, crafting in our house is a rather untamed affair. I tend to just let Ollie get on with it, rather than getting too involved. He seems to have the best fun this way and often comes up with much better, more creative ideas than if I had led him all the way.

Hence why the idea in my head didn’t exactly turn out the way I had imagined. But anyway… this is what we did:

First I flattened one big packing cardboard box (we have lots, as you can imagine!).

Next I helped Oliver draw the roads. He directed, I drew. Then he added some more.

Then he was let loose with PVA glue, a pile of bottle tops, empty boxes and yoghurt pots and lots of paint.

Note the costume change into manky painting clothes!

He painted houses and added a carpark. He wanted a park and a lake for the ducks. We talked about roundabouts and tunnels and added a few here and there.

And he was soooo excited by his masterpiece. ‘Oh this is just such a cool fing isn’t it Mummy’. ‘We are so proud of our car fing aren’t we Mummy?’. And tonight: ‘Can my car mat stay in the kitchen? Can you not move it? Can You leave it there?.’ Not sure he could have been much cuter really.

Sadly, we’re a bit lacking in the craft materials department at the moment. Our ‘fings’ are still on a boat and I couldn’t find the scissors. So I see this as work in progress. I’d love to keep collecting different bits and bobs for it and let Oliver add to it as he sees fit. But the final product from today is a pretty bloody cool, great big, painty, sticky, messy cardboard box with lots of things stuck on it. I love it, he loves it and his cars are very happy with their new home. 

Now I just have to work out where to store a huge piece of cardboard. Perhaps next to the castle which is still residing in the corner of the playroom!

Tell me. Have you had any great craft ideas recently? 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

I don't know how we managed without one for so long...

A garden that is. 

As a mother of an exuberant almost-three-year-old boy, having somewhere he can go to burn off all that excess energy without having to leave the house is just priceless. 

Come rain or shine we're there. Planting peas and sunflowers with Grandma, kicking footballs, playing cricket, digging dirt, making bug hotels, loading dumper trucks. It's ace. And the days of apartment living seem so very far away.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A box, a book and a bowl full of pasta

Our main man has been somewhat challenging of late.

He’s been whiney and rude and stubborn and demanding and strong-willed and (alarmingly) quite aggressive. We’ve tried all sorts. Calm explanations for why he can’t whack the arm of the vacuum cleaner on the kitchen tiles, stern words to tell him not to push his baby sister, multiple trips to the time out spot, followed by half hearted sorrys. Nothing worked and it was all getting too much. For me and for him.

We put it down to the move. The disruption. Not having his time away from us at daycare. Not having friends to play with on a regular basis. His spirited nature. Clutching at straws.

Then we had that moment.

In the bath about a week ago after (shoutily) telling him off again for some misdemeanour to do with Lila (a new habit that has developed over recent weeks), he stuck his fingers in his ears and started shouting. Like a fully-grown, grotty teenager.

I was shocked and appalled. Seriously shocked. Mostly at myself.

In that moment the realisation hit that all he was hearing was noise. I had become so caught up in the daily grind of tantrums and tears that I was forgetting how to parent properly and resorting to loud, lazy words to make him behave. They didn’t work.

That night Paul and I discussed, argued a bit, turned to Google, dug out this book and came up with a plan. Mostly just to calm the fuck down and stop the noise.

The book has helped. Really helped. I can’t believe I let it sit on my bedside for so long. It’s opened my eyes to the words I was using (too many don’ts and no’s) and given me suggestions to use in the future (too many to list here, that might be a follow-up post).

Google helped too. Somewhere on the interweb (sorry, I didn’t save the link at the time) I read about a rewards technique using a box and some pasta. The aim of the game is to reward your child for good behaviour with a piece of pasta for them to put in a special box. When the box is full they get a treat.

Ollie is very treat-driven so this is working like a dream. And it focuses our attention on what he’s doing right, not what he’s doing wrong. 

Sure there are still moments (we’ve only just started), but despite this hurdle in our career as Mummy & Daddy so far, I feel like we’re back on track. That we are back on track as parents. And what’s amazing is that I haven’t raised my voice properly in a few days and Oliver hasn’t had a meltdown either.

Go figure.

Have you ever had a ‘moment’ as a parent? What are your tricks for dealing with bad behaviour?  

Thursday, 7 June 2012


I’ve come to enjoy these monthly Lila updates (whether anyone else does is another matter!). She’s nine months today. Three months away from one year. Which is quite scary given it feels like only yesterday that I was writing this or this.
Last night the little Lady was difficult to settle. We’re staying at my parents’ at the moment so perhaps the unfamiliar surroundings and light room had her confused. Anyway, my baby girl just wanted her Mama. So we lay on the bed together, spooning, but with my mouth kissing her forehead and her head resting in the crook of my arm. It was lovely. She was warm and toasty and fell asleep right there, heavy breathing into my neck. A moment to savour and realise how quickly this little girl is growing before our eyes.
This month has been a lovely one in the life of Lila. She’s started clapping, babbling (Dada, Tata and Baba are her favourites), pulling herself up to standing (but only in the bath) and still loves to wave and laugh at anyone that glances her way.
She’s kind of crawling – but only one or two knee shuffles at a time. Saying that, the girl can move. She gets around a room and into various drawers, boxes and cupboards quicker than I can cross the room. It’s impressive. And she’s thrilled with herself.
Copying is pretty much her favourite thing to do. Whether it’s sounds, actions or faces. She’ll be there, copying away.
Our favourite Lady Lila face of the moment is this one:

It’s a kind of sniffly snuffle and we can have whole ‘conversations’ back and forth in this way. It’s waaaaay cute. Trust me.
The biting is still there. Her two little nipping teeth look sweet but can be deadly. Weaning is happening slowly. Sometimes she has bottles, other times she doesn’t. I’m going with the flow, letting her take the lead.
Toys are becoming more and more important. She loves a good play and now goes to bed with a few favourite cuddlies in her cot. Sometimes she wakes them up for a little party in the middle of the night. If it wasn’t happening around 2am each night it would probably be much more fun than it feels.
There is so much more. I wish I wrote them all down. The coy smiles, the cuddles, laughing at her brother the whole way home in the car yesterday, painting her first picture, holding up her hands for me when she wants to be picked up, the way she sucks her fingers for comfort.
Children are just magical little things. They make even the most mundane amazing.
Thank you lovely Lila for another wonderful month of you.
On another note. I’ve been feeling bad that my baby boy hasn’t been treated to these same monthly updates. He’s three (THREE) soon, so an Ollie post is so on its way. He’s been equal parts wonderful and awful in recent weeks. We may deal with the rough here before we talk the smooth. Watch this space.
Until then... Have your children made any new milestones this month? Big or small I’d love to hear them.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Oh so very English

Ahh the Jubliee. 

A great time to be British (unless you’re a Republican that is), a lovely four-day weekend (that we’re still enjoying) and a really great time to have moved into a friendly little English street in a friendly little English town.

We had a street party yesterday. It was just lovely. Everyone came together in typical British style and got stuck right in to the Jubliee spirit. It didn’t disappoint, despite the oh so very English weather of sunshine and showers.

I really feel lucky that we’ve landed where we have. There is such a strong sense of community here. Neighbours that have lived here for 38 years and ones that have been here for three weeks. The (hundreds of) children rode their bikes in the street until the early evening, played Pinata and decorated cupcakes and we shared food and wine, listened to the band and made new friends.

It really couldn’t have been any better.

So tell me... did you celebrate the Jubilee in any way? Please tell me you saw the concert on TV? Can someone explain what on earth Grace Jones was doing with that Hula Hoop?! 
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