My week of silhouettes










I am sure if you know me and/or are a reader of this blog you know that I adore Instagram.  I love being able to snap photos of the babe and my daily life and pop it on instagram not only for my friends and family to see but also as a way of record keeping and for little Jack to look back on one day.  I also love capturing those little things in life - it makes you realise that these are indeed the big things, don't you think?

Anyways, a while back I came across a lovely little weekly feature called @its_my_week and I am hooked!  To quote:

"Born out of a mutual search for even more inspiration on IG, a group of friends created this page! How it works... A weekly theme will be chosen by one of our talented friends. During the week, you can post your photos to our hashtag that reflect that theme. Post either once per day, or even as a collage at the end of the week. No pressure!! After all, it's YOUR week! Have fun and support, compliment, and encourage each other as only the IG community can! xoxo"

So far they have done #myweekofblue, #myweekofsunshine, #myweekoflookingdown, #myweekofred, #myweekofwalls, #myweekofjoy, #myweekoftheeveryday, #myweekoffood, #myweekofpeople, #myweekoffavourites and currently we are on #myweekofsilhouettes which is turning out to be quite the challenge!  But we all love a challenge, don't we?

I have captured a few silhouette photos as above (well tried anyways) and this morning I was determined to try and get it right!  So I got out the big camera (I always say I will use this more but my phone is just so much easier, especially with Jack wriggling around!!).  I did a bit of research on the net and took these in manual mode after taking a phew shots on automatic and seeing which shots looked the best.  After a gazillion photos I came up with these.  They are alright - this silhouette malarchy takes a lot of practice but I just love learning something new!  Go check out the #myweekofsilhouettes - you will find some simply beautiful shots that have been captured, there are some super talented instagrammers out there!

But it is all in the name of fun, that is the whole point of Instagram and @its_my_week.  Capture your life, take part, show others and do it all in the name of fun.  Be kind, encourage and make friends and most of all - enjoy it.




A teeny tiny announcement: 1 year ago today

Don't worry, rest assured - we are not announcing another arrival.  Jeez, my shattered nerves are only coping with the one for now thanks!!

A year ago today we announced that we were pregnant.  One year.  It is absolutely amazing how so many things can change in one year.  Looking at the pictures from one year ago compared to now I can notice a few things.  For instance, we look bright and perky even though it is 6pm in the evening and we have just got back from work.  My boobs are definitely smaller and firmer, I am skinnier...oh and we look so unphased by this whole pregnancy/baby thing.  I mean - if only we could go back and tell us to sleep!  Sleep while you can!!  Seriously though, having Jack come into our lives has been hands down, the most amazing thing that has ever happened to us.  He is utterly gorgeous and perfect in our eyes.  So I thought we should do a little photoshoot like we did for our announcement.

Only this time it includes the actual babe!








What were you doing a year ago today?
I love looking back like this and cannot wait to share other "1 year ago" photo ops.
Happy Tuesday friends ♥

Jack has started solids!!









Now that I have started Jack on solids  I thought I would share some photos and my favourite go-to recipes...I mean they aren't really recipes as much as just steam/poach, add an ingredient, mush and serve or freeze but these combinations are just yummy and most babies will devour them!  We are still in the very early stages but Jack just loves sitting in his high chair and tasting all these new flavours.

So far I given Jack homemade apple and pear with cinnamon, sweet potato, mashed banana and baby rice.  I plan on also doing a bit of baby-led weaning once he is a few weeks older.  Over the next few weeks I will introduce carrots, butternut, courgette, avocado and papaya.

Apple and Pear Puree:
I tend to peel, core and cut my apples and pears into chunks and add to a pan with some water.  I simmer until the fruit is soft, drain the water, add some cinnamon and pulse with a hand held blender.  I often add a couple of teaspoons of baby rice to add a bit of texture.

Sweet Potato:
I boil my sweet potato for about 25 minutes, add some cinnamon too and mash with a fork.  I add a few teaspoons of breastmilk to make the consistency less stodgy.

I always make batches which is much easier as Jack eats such small amounts. I have some handy ice cube type trays which I use as well as cute little tupperwares my mom kindly gave us and use these to store his food in the freezer.  Making food in bulk when you start your baby on puree's really is the way to go and saves so much time.  I am still learning stuff everyday and thanks to other mom friends who have already started as well as reading some books and all the information available online it really is easy to read up on starting your baby on the new adventure that is food.

It is so much fun starting your baby on solids and also tends to give our day more structure with meal times too which is handy.  I love routine and babies thrive on it too.  I can't believe we are on this stage already!  Make it fun and remember to take LOTS of pictures when your little one tries new foods for the first time. ♥

PS>>>>
My friend is involved in Soundscapes of South Africa which is a mixture of South African folk/classical/jazz music for flute, voices, piano & percussion in London in July, and is running some give-aways to promote them.  You could win two tickets and next week there is a £20 Ina Paarman voucher to be won!  Go check it out on their facebook page or read about it on Lindsey's blog.

Jam Drops



I am not sure where I first saw these - it might have been here but as soon as I saw them I knew I had to make them.  I mean, biscuits and jam that are sweet and super quick to make and are just perfect with a cup of tea?  What more could a girl ask for?  So last night when the babe was sleeping I crept into the kitchen and made them.  I can't tell you enough how relaxing it is being in the kitchen with the windows open, the birds singing and the sun shining and doing what I love
the most.

So here is the recipe, if you need a quick sweet fix then make these.  Or if you want to give something homemade to a dear friend then make these.  Or if you just fancy baking these will do too.  They will not disappoint.

You will need:

200g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
Strawberry Jam

And then...

♥ Heat your oven to 190 degrees.
♥ Rub the flour, sugar and butter together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
♥ Add the egg until a stiff dough is formed.
♥ Shape into small balls and place on a lined baking tray making sure they are 5cm apart.
♥ Make a small indent with the handle of a wooden spoon and place a small dollop of strawberry jam (or any jam of your choice) into the centre.
♥ Bake for approx 20 minutes until golden and cool on a wire rack.

Must be had with a cup of tea and even better, with friends!

Happy Baking friends and of course, Happy Friday ♥

Capturing the everyday: getting outside in the garden









I have written previously about capturing the everyday.  Making sure we take photos is such an important thing if you want to be able to look back and see your memories in front of you.  When Jack gets a bit grizzly or just doesn't seem to settle whatever I try (boob, toys, tickling, rocking, baby wrap) I go outside and either plonk him on the grass and sit next to him or wander around.

He quietens almost instantly - it is amazing.  It must be the sounds, the wind, the birds that just make him listen and take his surroundings in.  I couldn't not share these photos that I just snapped with my phone.  I love them.  I love impromptu photos that just happen.  I love that Jack enjoys being outside.  And I am so glad I got to capture this everyday moment.

Happy Wednesday ♥

DIY Coconut bird seed feeder








Back in winter I bought a couple of coconut bird feeders and they have long since been empty, just hanging in our tree.  I didn't want to keep buying ready made coconut feeders as the empty coconuts just go to waste so I thought I would start making them myself.  It is so easy and feeds the beautiful birds who seem to be very happy chatting away now that summer has properly arrived!

All you need is:

Mixed bird seed
Lard
Half coconut shell (or you can use a clean, empty yoghurt cup)
Small bits of cheese, dried fruit, peanuts, cake crumbs
Twine

Melt the lard over a medium heat and let it cool slightly before adding the seed and other food like cheese, dried fruit, peanuts or cake crumbs.  Spoon into your coconut or yoghurt cup (if using a yoghurt cup then make a small hole at the bottom and stick some twine through so you can hang it up once firm.)

Let your seed cakes firm overnight and then hang in the trees, out of reach of any cats and high enough for the birds to feel secure feeding from it.

They will love you for it and it should attract all sorts of birds such as wrens, blue tits, sparrows and maybe even a bullfinch! (I spotted one out the front the other morning and it was just beautiful!)

Here are some of the birds I have been spotting in our garden lately if you missed it!

Happy Monday!

Paleo Chocolate Brownies: the best brownies EVER






So I love baking (duh!) and I also like my traditional baking, as in using butter, sugar and flour.  Nothing beats a huge slice of cake and a cup of tea and I know how many times I have said that on the blog.  Countless.

But a few of my friends are into their paleo recipes and clean eating or whatever the kids are calling it and I was sent a chocolate brownie recipe which they called "divine" and I saw some pictures and I thought they looked pretty good.  So, I caved in and bought the ingredients - no harm in trying, it sounded a bit iffy to me but hell, why not give it a go.

And I am glad I did.  I was blown away.  Seriously.

The only thing I cheated on was the flour, I didn't use coconut flour I used normal flour.  Sssshhh, don't tell!

Here is what you need:

♥ 1 medium raw white sweet potato, peeled and grated (approx 2 cups)
♥ 2 whole eggs
♥ 2 tsp vanilla extract
♥ 1/2 cup of honey
♥ 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
♥ 1 heaped tbsp baking powder
♥ ½ tbsp of bicarb
♥ 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
♥ 2 tbsp coconut flour (i just used normal flour)
♥ Dark chocolate for the topping

And here is what you need to do:

♥ Preheat your oven to 185 degrees
♥ Mix together the sweet potato, eggs, vanilla, honey and oil.
♥ Add in the baking powder and bicarb and mix.
♥ Add the cocoa powder and flour.
♥ Once all combined, pour the mixture into a lined and greased tin and cook for approx 25 minutes.
♥ Let cool and then spread some melted dark chocolate over the top

Now, I won't be going all paleo on you. I still love my good ol' traditional baking but isn't it lovely to know that there are recipes out there that use raw, clean food that can result in something so scrummy and chocolately and divine?  There is a whole world out there of clean and healthy food if you are willing to see it.

Happy baking friends! ♥


Jack: 5 months








Oh my...Jack you have changed so much this past month - it is amazing.  You are so strong, you are wriggling and squirming and just don't want to sit still.  You love to stand on my legs or sit by yourself and just play with your toys.  You LOVE sitting in your bouncer and staring into the garden.  You have started to notice the cats, Tom & Lucy and you love it when Tom comes to sit next to you with his tail waving over your hands.

You bath in the big bath now and splash about, squealing with joy when I squirt water out the rubber ducks.  You have started gripping your toes and feet and you can really pull off some amazing yoga poses!!  And you just love to giggle - that sound - it is the most beautiful sound - it gets inside my heart each time and makes me love you EVEN more.

Blowing raspberries is your new thing at the moment and you get through about 4 bibs a day with all the dribble you are getting everywhere.  And you are constantly sucking and chewing your hands.  It is so sweet.  You had your first taste of baby rice this week as well as mashed banana and you LOVE it!  Apples and pears next week and then onto some vegetables too!  There is just so much to look forward to my boy.  So many firsts still to experience.

We are getting into a proper little routine now and you have started to go to bed a bit earlier which means Mom can get her life back a bit and do things for me.  Hooray!  You have slept in your own room for 3 nights in a row now, I am feeling SUPER anxious about this but it doesn't even phase you one bit.  You are so relaxed and happy and just tend to go with a flow.  I love that about you.  You are just like your Dad.

I am going to savour each and every moment this summer Jack, I am going to appreciate this time at home with you and it is going to be great.  I love you so so so very much.  You are perfect in every way.  Happy 5 months!!

Date Squares




My mom's good friend always makes her batches of date squares and I have always meant to ask for the recipe and for some reason or another just never got round to it.  So I took the leap and just googled a recipe and hoped for the best. And they were oh so scrummy.  I found they tasted better with time - I kept them in the fridge and they were so tasty cold with a cup of tea.

Filling

500g dates
250ml water
2 tbspns lemon juice
2 tbspns brown sugar
1/2 tspn bicarb

Crisp

400g oats
250g flour
180g brown sugar
1/2 tspn baking powder
180g butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 20cm baking tin.
In a saucepan, bring the dates, water, lemon juice and sugar to the boil.  Add the bicarb and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the dates are soft and falling apart.  Let cool.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Spread half the crisp in the tin and press firmly.  Layer the date mixture and cover with the remaining crisp.  Bake for approx 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool overnight and cut into squares.

These really are a treat and quick to make & bake! They last well and dates are nutritious too - bonus!!

Happy Baking ♥

Being happy all the time


//source//
As someone who is prone to feeling a bit down at times and who has gone through bouts of depression due to various reasons in my lifetime I often feel the need to be happy all the time.  I am not sure why - there are so many articles out there saying "Find your happiness" or "The secret to happiness" etc.  Guys, there is no secret or any need to find it.  It is within you and you just have to know what it is that makes you happy.  It is pretty simple really.  But it is vital to understand that you are going to have days when you don't feel happy.  AND THAT IS OK!  There is nothing wrong with feeling a bit weepy or a bit sad due to whatever reason.  Hell, there doesn't need to be a reason.  We are human and sometimes due to chemical imbalance, circumstances, that time of the month or whatever, we just are not going to feel jolly.  Embrace that, let yourself feel what you feel and do things which comfort you.  Go for a walk or a run, get under a blanket with a chocolate and a cup of tea and watch a series or your favourite movie.  Phone a good friend and have a good ol' chat.  It is all about finding what works for you.

I know that if the weather is going to be bad, it is vital for me to get out and about and be outside otherwise cabin fever will set in and I will start to feel down.  If I have days of restlessness or just feeling a bit sad I will bake something or ring up my mom and just chat about anything to get my mind off of it.  It is a bit different now that we have Jack as he keeps us busy but I have certainly had some days where I feel awful since he has been born.  And I still get a bit anxious that I feel that way but I know it will pass - it always does.

So embrace your feelings, get to know yourself and what makes you feel better and if all else fails...  have a cup of tea and a big piece of cake.  That always helps ♥
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