Just A Quick Note To Say…

We all need to sit on a step outside our mum’s house in the middle of nowhere and watch the sunset sometimes. 


And we definitely all need to sit on a beach and watch our child laugh and screech with joy whilst playing with a simple scarf with her mamie.


And finally watch your brother carry your daughter on his shoulders for the first time across a field and see the smile on both their faces (until he told me he was going to faint because she’s heavy?!)


I am grateful for these moments. I love France and I love my crazy family. 

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A Perfect Friday or A Cooking Class At Leith’s

For my birthday, my husband bought me a gift voucher for a cooking class at Leith’s called “Flavours of the Pacific Rim”. I had already been to a knife skills course there before and really enjoyed it so was really excited to go back. I don’t work Fridays and the idea of no work, A in nursery and a cooking course was basically my idea of heaven and I wasn’t disappointed!

Leith’s was founded in 1974 by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave, it offers professional (Lorraine Pascale is an alumni for example) and non-professional courses and a lot more (they have a shop, organise corporate events etc). If When I am rich, I will definitely be hiring one of their chefs to come to my house! They are based in West London and so off to Shepherd’s Bush I went on a rainy August Friday morning.

The school is at the end of a very pretty street, I was nosing into the houses as I went along

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The class was from 10 til 2.30PM and I have to say I was exhausted and elated by the end. Anyway back to the beginning! They provide tea, coffee and freshly cooked pastries, whilst you are waiting for the class to start

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All sorts of people go to these classes the first lady I met was house-sitting in Brixton (she lives in France most of the time) and then I was paired up with an American and a Anglo-American couple, I was really lucky, my group was really fun, we had a seriously good laugh, Tom, who I was paired with was super enthusiastic, I thought he was going to jump into the oil to eat a wonton at some point!

I won’t go into all the details of each recipe but point out the tips (I have provided photos of them all). After a safety briefing, we went off to start making dessert in the nice big room that was at the perfect temperature (I thought it might be stuffy). Our main teacher for the day, Jess was really great. She was very clear, hands on, miraculously seem to manage to spend time with all of us (we were 10) and had amazing eyelashes!

Everything is prepared for you, all ingredients weighed out etc

The menu we were about to make was as follows:

  • Deep Fried Wontons with Nam Prik dipping sauce and miso dipping sauce
  • Pan fried duck breasts with plum and teriyaki sauce
  • Sesame soba noodle salad
  • Mango and passion fruit pavlova

We started by making the pavlova as it takes 1h30mins to cook, here is the recipe:

img_0469The key tips I retained from this part are:

  • use  metal instruments and make sure they are grease free
  • older egg whites work betterimg_0374
  • start by beating the eggs slowly and remember to incorporate all the mixture and go round the sides or there won’t be an even consistency (Jess’s eagle eyes spotted I was making this mistake)
  • You can use some of the mixture to stick the baking sheet down in the corners
  • Always add icing sugar to the cream or it can taste a bit too savoury

Nope we didn’t do the over the head test but apparently mine was a really good consistency! I took to a party the next day and it was a great success.

Here is one the others made (I decided to not eat mine or the day but had some of theirs!)

And here’s a video of the cream whipping action:

We were then take through the wonton recipe including a little chopping demo:

The wontons were DELICIOUS! Fiddly but seriously delicious, so more-ish.

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The top tips for these amazing babies are:

  • You have to remove a  lot of the layers from the lemongrass and discard the top 3rd, what’s left should be pliable, soft and thin. I had clearly not been discarding enough! You can use the rest to add flavor to sauces etc but you cant eat it.
  • Expel as much air as possible to avoid exploding wontons! and make sure there are no holes
  • Wrapping them isn’t easy, use water to stick the edges together and aim for a “moneybag” shape.

We checked the first one but it was still raw inside so we turned the oil down so the inside would cook but the outside wouldn’t burn. The next ones were perfect and delicious!

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The main tips for the super easy sauces was to peal the ginger and roll the limes before juicing, both super efficient!

Finally, we made the duck, its sauce and the soba noodle salad (which was a doddle).

Here is the duck recipe and the beautiful meat:

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The duck was all about the rendering…I had never rendered any meat but it is so easy and worth it! You basically just get rid of the fat by really slowly heating the duck to get rid of as much fat as possible, you need to start with a cold pan and then wait about 8 mins on a low heat. I turned mine up a bit too high so it was slightly burnt…

We then put it in the oven and made the soba noodle salad , which could not have been simpler and prepared the delicious teriyaki, plum and red wine sauce:

And here it is all coming together:

I had such a great time, I’m really considering doing their Cooking with Confidence evening course and will definitely do some more day classes. They are super professional, friendly, organised and make it all seem so easy. If you like cooking, you can’t go wrong with Leiths!

Linking up with Honest Mum’s Brilliant Blog posts because it really was a brilliant day!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Bravissimo To The Rescue Of My Post-Breastfeeding Boobs

My boobs used to my “thing”, one my “USPs” if you will but then I got pregnant, had a baby and lost weight. I’ll never know if this was due to breastfeeding for 19  months or the stress of being a new mum, probably a combination of both!

Anyway, things are not the same anymore, I guessed what size I am now but it just wasn’t good enough, I needed professional help so I jumped on the tube to Oxford Circus to go to the best place I know medium- big boobs(they cater for D cup upwards), Bravissimo to get fitted for some new bras.

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A good fitting bra is like well shaped eyebrows, it can change and improve things A LOT! I had an appointment for a fitting but you can just walk in, I actually turned up an hour early like an idiot but that was no bother at all and the lovely Jessica was assigned to me. The fitting area is in the basement and has a lovely waiting area:

I explained that I was looking for an everyday bra and one for “going out out” and low cut tops. They don’t use measuring tapes at Bravissimo, they basically have a good look at you and at the bra you come in wearing. What’s important to remember that Jess pointed out to me was that 90% of the support comes from the band and most women wear a bra that is too wide, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable but you should be able to get more than 2 fingers into the back of it. Here is a great video that clearly explains what good fitting bra should feel and look like: http://www.bravissimo.com/perfectfit/fitting-video/#

They have a lot more tips here and here.

We then tried on different styles as like with clothes some shapes are going to suit you better than others, it’s not just a size thing. Here’s how you know if the bra is fitting properly:

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Jess asked me if I minded if she stayed in the (rather large) changing room whilst I tried bras on or if I preferred her to leave, I was not bothered about her staying at all. Plenty of room in there and I’m not prudish with things like that.

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I probably tried on about 10 different bras. She went upstairs to get me some tops to try them on (they also sell clothes via the Pepperberry brand) and settled for this one for everyday and this one (that I would never have picked because it was a soft cup) for more revealing tops…I also really liked this one but they didn’t have my size so I will probably order it soon.

I’ve worn the first one a few times and love it! Perfect shape and comfortable! I have gone down 2 to 3 back sizes and a few cups sizes since being pregnant so ladies you really need to get fitted! I bet lots of you think you are a 34-36 C, I bet you’re more like 32D!

Have you worn the same bra size for over a year? Does the back of your bra ride up? Do the straps fall off? Do your boobs pop out at the front? Are you pregnant or have you recently had a baby? Then get yourself down to Bravissimo!

Thank you Jess for helping me find some great new bras that fit properly and make  me feel more confident. I can now embrace my smaller boobs!

 

Bath Time With Childs Farm

Disclaimer: Childs Farm sent me these products for free, however I had been buying and using their hair and body wash for a year.

I’ll never forget the first bath we gave A. It was 3 days after she was born and she finally seemed to relax.

The next pic is from 6 weeks after she was born, she seems so content and pensive (*mummy tip* – we used to cover her with warm flannels to keep her warm, it worked really well). Needless to say things are a bit more lively nowadays! “Sit down, please don’t splash mummy…sit down…”

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The first few days were tough (mainly due to feeding issues) and she didn’t seem to really settle but she did in the bath. I’d highly recommend buying a bath seat for newborns, so much easier than holding them and a lot less stressful as they’re not going to fall in the water (which is what happened to my “baby” when we were learning to bathe them at our NCT class).

We’ve never had problems with A’s skin, except for some dry skin the first few weeks. Coconut oil really helped, it’s natural and cheap so ideal for babies and children (it also really helped when I had thrush on one nipple, sorry for TMI and yes it hurts as bad as it sounds!).

About a year ago, I was given a sample of Childs Farm Body and Hair Wash at a local mum’s meetup and loved it after using it the first time and that’s all I have ever used since.

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It smells divine and seems to last a long time, you don’t need much to get a good lather going.. For those of you, who don’t know Childs Farm, it is a great, award winning British brand that makes toiletries for babies and children. What is super nice about their products is that they are adapted to sensitive and eczema-prone skin and if that wasn’t enough, here is a full list of why they are great!

✓  ” Dermatologically tested and approved

✓  Paediatrician approved

✓  Suitable for newborns and upwards

✓  Suitable for children with sensitive and eczema prone skin

✓  98% naturally derived ingredients

✓  Made with organic essential oils

✓  Free from parabens, SLSs, mineral oils and artificial colours

✓  Never tested on animals, only on people

✓  Tested and approved by my little ones for you to use on yours”

Until they very kindly sent me some new products to try, we had been using the organic sweet orange bath and hair wash, which I LOVE!!!! It smells so nice!!!

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We were sent the new blackberry and organic one to try and it was a great success, her skin came out nice and soft after the bath and the next morning her hair was still smelling of blackberries! The apple scent wasn’t very strong at all but the blackberry really came through and as I said was still there the next day!

I trust their products, they tick all the boxes (no parabens, artificial colours etc.), the packaging is super cute and we have now have a lovely bag to use as well. We were also sent some suncare to try out and I will write about that later.

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Their products (that come in various sizes) are widely available (Waitrose, Ocado, Boots, John Lewis etc.) and on their website too: http://shop.childsfarm.com/ . They haven’t just won the “European Mummy” award, they have won tons so I am not the only won who thinks they are great!

Thanks again Childs Farm, I report back on the sunscreen soon.

Do any of you use their products? Please leave a comment about what you think of them, I would love to know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things I Hated and 5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding

*The original version of this was posted on the Huffington Post Parents blog section
A was born at the end of 2014, for those of you who regularly read this blog, you’ll know she was born with tongue-tie, which meant breastfeeding started off very badly. However after having her tongue-tie clipped (twice!), I continued feeding her for 19 months and 2 weeks, I can tell you that on day 2, when my nipples started bleeding and I fed her in absolute agony, I would never have believed that would happen. I had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding and here’s why:

5 Things I Hated About Breastfeeding:
1.Tongue-tie bloody tongue-tie -, it was so painful and stressful, it ruined the first month with my baby. It’s simply a nightmare and I’d recommend getting it fixed ASAP if it happens to your baby. I wrote the story here
2.The time it takes at the beginning, especially if you have a “comfort” feeder, you can basically spend your life feeding. Newborns love boobs and so you better get used to your sofa and using one hand. Don’t even get me started on growth spurts…
3.The fact that you’re basically the only person, who can feed your baby and the stress this implies if you leave them too long. Because of the tongue tie A had a bottle every day for the first 3 weeks but then I made the mistake of stopping and she wouldn’t drink from a bottle for the next 10 months! Once I left her for a few hours and my mum had to spoon feed her milk!
4.You have to wear tops that can be opened or lifted up AT ALL TIMES. Goodbye good old bodycon dresses that obviously you used to wear on a regular basis!
5.It ruined my boobs, I lost 3 cup sizes, my boobs were “my thing”, I no longer have “a thing”

However, as with most things in life, it’s not all bad! On the contrary, in my humble opinion and experience, the good outweighs the bad and I have no regrets. There is indeed a silver lining in everything…

5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding
1.Tongue tie may have been very painful but thanks to my blog post about it, all sorts of opportunities came my way – including speaking about it on national TV.
2.I loved the fact that you have to stop and feed, it did stop me from running around like a mad person and made me slow down and share special calm moments with my daughter
3.Breastfeeding was the one thing that would CALM my baby, PUT HER TO SLEEP anywhere!

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Post boob nap

Comfort her and generally have a magical effect on her. It would have been a hundred times harder to get her to sleep on planes, trains, stop a tantrum and generally calm things down when there was a crisis! Also killed a lot of time during said plane and train rides.
4.She loved it, it made her happy, and it made me happy knowing I was doing something healthy for her (to make up for all the TV and biscuits she’s been consuming!)
5.It sure burned a ton of calories over 19 months, yes my boobs are gone but so are quite a few lumps and bumps and for that I will forever be grateful.

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The last time I fed her

For any of you, who breastfed, what did you enjoy about it? What were the bad bits? I would love to know!