1 December 2016

LILY'S 8 MONTH UPDATE


I've seen loads of people do these monthly updates on their pregnancy/baby/child/etc and I actually intended to do this back when I was pregnant with Lily but I generally suck and so here I am over a year later actually doing it. 
Technically Lily is 8 and a half months old but I'm already late on the bandwagon so I'm not going to let that bother me. 


Weight - 16lbs 4oz
Clothes size - 3-6 months although the feet on her sleepsuits are too small now 

Milk - she's still having a few breast feeds throughout the day and whenever she wakes at night. She has also started to "ask" to be nursed by cruising over to me and pulling at my top. 
Food - we have just progressed onto finger foods! Not a lot is going in the mouth quite yet but she's doing well and coping with the new textures. She has a preference for Organix baby crisps, I think because she finds them easier to hold more than anything. Her favourite food though is definitely yoghurt followed by banana as a close second. 
Teeth - we still have only 2 teeth although I have a suspicion that her top ones are on their way. 


Sleep - Hahahahahahahaha! What's that?! The past month has been THE WORST in terms of sleep. She will have a few naps during the day on average then she will wake about 5930603059 times during the night. Sleep wise this month has been the most challenging by far and it doesn't show signs of improvement any time soon! 
Milestones - Lily has been pretty early with everything so far and she started cruising at 7 months but the last months she's really started to be more confident and will swap from the sofa to the coffee table. She will occasionally have a little panic midway and need one of us to help her down but all in all she's doing amazingly! Although he does look incredibly small to be doing these things already! She is a confident crawler now and has also started to clap and respond to her name. She is "talking" more! She says dada, gaga, baba and aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh (at the top of her lungs might I add) 
Likes - she likes everything that isn't a toy. More specifically my crochet hook, iPhone, Snapchat filters, remote controls, paper (she ate most of a hospital letter the other week), various Tupperware, bottle lids and the light on the front of the Youview box.



Artwork 2016 #1


I've loved art for as long as I remember. Being an artist was my first passion right back to 4 year old me answering the question children always get asked - "what do you want to be when you grow up?" My first favourite artist was Vincent Van Gogh who remains so 21 years later along with Salvador Dali, Audrey Kawasaki and Georgia O'Keefe. 
I have briefly studied Art and Design but found it quite constricting so went off and did my own thing. I've also previously worked on commissions but my own perfectionism led me to stop because I quite simply didn't think I was good enough. 


 I've always been very meticulous when it comes to my own work and very rarely am I happy with my finished pieces and more often than not they get tucked away in my sketchbook for years because I wasn't happy with them. But then it occurred to me, art isn't perfect and there will always be something you can add or something you could change. Art is an extension of your personality and just as so, not everybody will like it. And that's okay. So here is a small collection of my newer pieces, some finished, some not. 



Lemon and Blueberry Drizzle Cake



After watching the first in the new The Great British Bake Off this week I decided that I would challenge myself to bake one of the challenges features each week (haha, rather too ambitious for me I know). I chose a drizzle cake purely because it looked the easiest and I have wanted to have a shot at one for a while and seeing as I had planned on taking a cake with me when I visit my Grandma this weekend it seemed like a good idea. 
After waiting an agonising 40 minutes for it to cook, it came out looking like a cake, I didn't mess up the sugar syrup and generally it turned out alright as apposed to the complete and utter disaster I anticipated. I was struggling to breathe though as my lungs were approximately 89% icing sugar by this point. 
Cake -
180g Self Raising Flour 
1tbsp Self Raising Flour

3 eggs 
Zest of 2 Lemons 
100g Blueberries  
130g butter
130g Caster Sugar 
Syrup -
50g Caster Sugar
4tbsp Lemon Juice 
Icing - 
120g Icing Sugar
50g Blueberries
Vanilla Extract 


  • Mix the cake ingredients together and toss the blueberries in a tbsp of flour and then fold into the whisked mixture. 
  • Pour into a lined, 2lb loaf tin and cook covered at 150 degrees for 35 minutes the. For 5 minutes uncovered until a knife comes out clean. 
  • Heat the sugar and lemon juice at a high heat and boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly. 
  • Poke holes with a cocktail stick over the entire cake and pour the syrup over whilst the cake is still hot. 
  • Leave to cool completely then removed from the tin. 
  • Cook 50g of blueberries with a splash of lemon juice and vanilla in a pan until soft.
  • Strain the blueberries through a sieve and leave the liquid to cool. 
  • Measure out the icing sugar and pour over the blueberry purée. 
  • Mix as much as you can and then add drops of water until the consistency is that of melted chocolate. 
  • Pour over the cake and allow to run down the edges. 
Even my Grandma said it was good and she is the Queen of cakes! 

Raspberry and Apple Pie


I've wanted to make a pie for ages but after misplacing the pie dish I stole from my Mum 2 years ago (along with a couple of knives, a plate and a chopping board, sorry Mum! Haha) I finally bought one of my own! 
I was originally going to make a standard boring topped pie but then I decided to go all out last minute and ended up having to make my own pastry for the base. I'm not going to include a recipe for pastry because it's super easy and I didn't measure anything but basically chuck flour and butter into a bowl, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs then keep adding bits of water until it forms a nice dough. Try to handle the pastry as little as possible, the colder your hands the better. I vaguely remember being told, probably by my Grandma that cold hands make better pastry. 

200g Raspberries 
4 Bramley Apples
640g (or 2 shop bought packs) of Shortcrust Pastry 
Caster Sugar or Light Brown Sugar  (to taste and sprinkle over the top) 


This is super simple to make with minimal effort and you can make it with just about any type of fruit. 
  • Peel and chop the apples and put in a pan with the raspberries and a few tbsps of water. Place on the job and leave to soften whilst you Wait for the oven to heat up (180 degrees). 
  • Roll out the pastry and cut around the dish. (Only do this if you are wanting a standard topped pie, if you're wanting to make roses or do something fancy then skip this step. 
  • Place the pastry over the dish and press down. 
  • Cut around the dish and put the excess pastry to the side for decoration. 
  • Add sugar to the fruits mixture to taste and add to the pie dish. (Light brown sugar will make it more caramely as opposed to the caster sugar)
  • Decorate the top however you like, sprinkle with sugar and put in the over until the pastry is golden (about 20minutes)
TIP: mix a bit of lemon juice to the chopped apples are this will stop them going brown. 

Breastfeeding Week


The first time I ever breastfed I was a clueless 19 year old, in a hospital bed having just been handed my tiny 5lbs 13oz baby daughter. I still vaguely remember the struggle to get her to latch properly and her then being taken to the hospital nursery because I needed emergency intervention. I then spent the next few days in a hospital bed desperately trying to get this little human to latch in between her screaming or having blood tests and ECGs. 
I lost count of the times I had to ask a midwife to help me get her to latch and most of them ended up just offering me bottles of formula. Every time she managed to latch she would feed for hours on end and there were many a time where I felt like giving up. I hated my body for not doing what it was supposed to do, I hated myself for coping badly and I was worrying Eloise wasn't getting enough milk.
 I remember one night in particular where she had been feeding all day every days for weeks and I was exhausted and just thought "fuck this" and went to get the carton of formula i bought "just in case". These days became frequent. I was a single, teenage mum with this beautiful, tiny human who depended entirely on me. It was fucking hard. I wouldn't change it for anything though. 
We had latching issues for months to the point I ended up with ulcers and every time she fed she cut off the blood supply to my nipple. Fun times. For the first few months Eloise was attatched to me approximately 85% of the time but we got through it, and at about 4 months into our breastfeeding journey we both just seemed to get the hang of it and only went on to have a few blips where I got blocked ducts but nothing to write home about. 
My second baby, Lily was an entirely different story. I felt more confident this time, I knew what to do, I knew how to help her latch and I held less doubt over my body. I fed her straight away and although she took a while to get the hang of latching initially because she was so small we got into the swing of the physical side of things in no time at all. It's amazing how different two babies can be! Eloise took a good 40 minutes to get a full feed whereas Lily takes about 10 minutes. I unfortunately got mastitis when Lily was a few days old and she began to plateau with her weight which was worrying as she was only 5lbs 7oz to begin with but I got better and Lily began putting on weight again. Cue hiccup number 3! 
Despite having the physical aspect of latching on and so on and so forth down I never felt right when I fed her. I felt the same with Eloise but at the time I just put it down to being young, single and sleep deprived as hell.
 It was discovered that I suffer from Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER which in laymans terms is where you experience every negative emotion you can possibly think of each time you feed your baby. For me it happens as soon as my milk starts to let down and continues until Lily finishes feeding so I've never had that textbook blissful mummy and baby time when I breastfeed, and I can't help but feel guilty when Lily catches my gaze as she's feeding and smiles and I'm hating every second and just sat there willing her to finish so it's over and I can stop feeling like a huge black cloud is suffocating me. I adore both of my daughters and I love being a mother more than anything in the world but I don't enjoy breastfeeding. I feel awful saying it because I'm supposed to feel all these wonderful oxytocin fuelled emotions when I cradle my beautiful baby to feed or at least that's what all the pregnancy and baby books say. 
I'm just grateful to know that this actually exists and I'm not just going completely mad! It makes me feel less guilty. 
Feeding in public 
The first time I ever fed in public was at Eloise's 6th birthday party, in the middle of Wacky Warehouse. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end! It was coming to the end of Eloise's party and Lily was getting fussy and I was just thinking "oh f**k I'm going to have to go to the bloody car to feed her". If you've ever fed in the car you will know that it results in dead arms, elbows hitting the doors and babies kicking the gearstick. Basically it's not fun and several levels of awkward that would have led me to probably give up on life and come back to the party hating myself for not having the balls to just sit down and do it without giving a damn.
Luckily one of Eloise's friends has a wonderful Mum who reassured me that it's the most natural thing in the world and to basically not give a f**k (thank you Sarah) and so I sat down in the corner of a play barn and fed Lily. No one said anything. No one looked at me in disgust. No one cared.
I'm still quite self conscious but I can now go out and not worry about Lily needing a feed. Today I even planned to feed Lily in public! 
Basically I've broken out of the habit of feeding in cars or avoiding going places for long incase Lily needs feeding and just generally adopted a "f**k it" attitude and get my tits out to feed lily wherever she needs. I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that if somebody has an issue with a mother feeding her child then they're probably an a*****e which isn't my problem.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble



This was an accidental pudding! We have just started weaning Lily and I'd originally bought the fruit to make purées with but then I realised I could use that as an excuse to make a crumble and so I did. 
This recipe was actually quite hard to write because normally when I make crumbles I just throw stuff in without measuring anything at all so it ended up taking me about half an hour longer to make just because I was having to measure things a millions times as I kept adding a bit more and a bit more. 
Topping - 
150g Butter 
300g Plain Flour
150g Light Brown Sugar
50g Caster Sugar


Filling - 
3 Bramley Cooking Apples
360g Blackberries 
50g Caster Sugar (or to taste)

  • Peel and slice the apples and put in a pan with the blackberries. Put in 4-5tbs of water, cover and cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes until the apples start to soften and the juices bubble. Stir every now and then, you don't have to but I burnt a load of Quinoa to the bottom of a pan the other day so I'm being extra cautious. 
  • Whilst it's cooking pre heat the oven to 180 degrees and get the butter and flour in a mixing bowl and rub together until it's crumbly and looks like breadcrumbs. Add the light brown and caster sugar and mix in with a spoon. You can add oats if you like but I'm not overly struck on oats in crumbles. 
  • Once the fruit has softened and all the juices have, well, gone all juicy, pour in some caster sugar. I used 100g but you can put in more or less depending on your taste and how tart the blackberries are etc. Mix while still on the heat and leave to bubble for a minute or so. 
  • Pour the fruit into the dish you are using. I used a roasting dish and it fitted perfectly. Pour the crumble mixture over the top and sprinkle a pinch of dark brown or muscavado sugar over the top and fluff it up with a fork. I prefer to use muscavado because it goes all gooey and sticky but I only had dark drown sugar so it had to do. Actually, I normally put dark and light brown, caster, demerara and muscavado in but I am yet to build my sugar supply. That amount of sugar probably isn't necessary but it tastes good. The sugar amounts are just guidelines really, you can put in as much or as little as you like. Basically whatever tastes good to you. 
  • Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown. 

Chocolate Orange Tartcake


So many people have asked me for the recipe for this and as I've been sitting on this blog for the best part of a month, probably more, with nothing to show for it so here is my official first post much to my perfectionists dismay as I had a lovely "introduction to my life" post idea which I never got round to but hey ho.
I made this for Ben's Dad's birthday, it's my first time making a cake of any sort for anyone outside my blood relations so I'm rather surprised it didn't turn out a complete and utter disaster actually but we wanted to make him something semi decent because of how much he has done for our little family over the past year or so and generally because he's a pretty top bloke.
I'm not really sure if this is a tart or a cheesecake, it looks like a tart but consistency wise it's more like a cheesecake and thus I have created the Tartcake, which as of now, is totally a thing. So, before I start rambling on about something else here it is:


       3 Chocolate Oranges

300ml Heavy Double Cream
150g Butter
300g Digestive Biscuits
80g Icing Sugar

  • Melt the butter over a hob and blitz up the biscuits in a food processor whilst you wait. You can crush them by hand if you are able to contain the biscuits within a zip lock bag for the duration of said crushing unlike myself. Once that's done, pour in the melted butter and mix.
  • Press the mixture into a tin of some sort, I used a flan dish, not forgetting to press it around the sides too. Probably best to use your fingers for this because I tried to use a spoon to avoid covering my hands in melted butter and it did nothing to help and I just ended up with another thing to wash up at the end. Leave to cool.
  • Melt 2 chocolate oranges and set that aside to cool slightly whilst you do the rest.
  • Pour the cream into a bowl with the icing sugar and whisk. I used an electric whisk because my arm would have fallen off if I did it by hand. Either that or I would have had to make Ben do it. Definitely go for an electric one because no one wants to stand there for 5 years whisking cream.
  • When it's thickened enough to make soft peaks you can fold in the melted chocolate.
  • Pour the filling on top of the base and decorate however you like. I just broke up the third chocolate orange and placed it around the edge but feel free to go crazy.
  • Cover and put in the fridge to set. Ideally over night but everyone knows that's probably not going to happen. 4-5 hours would probably do.
Enjoy!


*measurements may be slightly inaccurate because Ben always eats a good 45% of the ingredients before I get to finish.
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