Everything tastes better with bacon #ThePrompt #PoCoLo

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In 2012 I became obsessed with food – or more to the point – what was in it! After my 4yo was diagnosed with her corn intolerance, I realised what a minefield it would be cutting it out of her diet. She isn’t anaphylactic allergic, but is much more than a little bit sensitive. She reacts in various ways even if she only has a small amount. It’s a bizarre thing to witness and a complete exclusion diet was our only chance of her ever losing the intolerance. Suffice to say I did a lot of experimenting in my kitchen that year!

Corn derived ingredients are everywhere, but are never listed under allergy advice on food labels – hence why it’s such a minefield (check this out for further details). The only way to know with absolute certainty that she isn’t having any is for the whole family to have a corn-free diet, and make almost everything from scratch. There are a handful of pre-made staples that I buy, but in the main they are few and far between. One of these ingredients that crops up way too much for my liking is ascorbic acid, also labelled Vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant, and is found in almost all pre-packed supermarket meat and other fresh products as it makes them last longer. This is another reason that we buy most of our meat in bulk now.

One of her favourite things to eat – bacon – became a big no no. So I watched some online tutorials, quizzed the lovely ladies on the meat stall at my local farmers market about the best cut to use, and learned how to make it myself. I was disheartened at first, as following a recipe to the letter for batch one produced a very salty end result, plus I didn’t cut it thin enough. Batch two was ok, but it was third time lucky for me. After getting the salt/sugar ratio spot on, batch three was sheer food heaven. I sharpened my best kitchen knife and sliced it to perfection too. As you can probably tell I’m rather proud of this little achievement. And yes, everything tastes oh so much better with home made bacon ;-)

Ingredients:
500g piece of free range pork chap
4 tbsp crushed sea salt
4 tbsp unrefined dark muscovado sugar

Method:
- mix the salt and sugar together and put into a clean, sterilised, airtight jar

- wash the meat and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper then place in a large Tupperware box

- sprinkle a teaspoon of the salt and sugar over each side of the meat, then place in the fridge at an angle (as pictured below). This is to ensure the moisture released by the meat collects at the bottom of the box away from it

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- 24 hours later drain the liquid from the bottom, and add another teaspoon of salt and sugar to each side of the meat

- repeat this for the next five days

- on the last day sharpen your big kitchen knife. Cut the very thick rind off the meat, then slice into thin strips (you can cook the rind separately)

- cook for a few mins on either side in a hot pan, and serve with other breakfast delights

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Linking up to Mum Turned Mom and Verilly Victoria Vocalises

20131219-072533.jpg The Prompt

My word this week: Enjoyable #WotW

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I’ve written some very honest posts recently about how dire our situation has been. Less than a month ago life was like the film Groundhog Day – tears and tantrums fuelled by sleep deprivation seemed never ending. As you might imagine I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the Easter holidays!

I don’t want to go jinxing myself, but I’m pleased to report that overall we’ve had a fab time! We had lots of fun last week with hubby off work, and although we’ve missed him, I’ve coped really well with all three kids and we’ve had a lovely time catching up with friends every day.

Our week started with a gorgeous day in the park with one of my besties and her two girls. The photo above says it all: little ones holding hands walking up the path, trailing in the wake of the bigger girls scooting off in the distance. Tuesday and Wednesday we saw two more of my best friends and their kids, and yesterday we did an Easter egg hunt with our NCT crew. We’ve had a few wobbles, night time antics and 5:30am starts, but overall it’s been really nice.

So, my word this week is enjoyable. What’s yours?

Linking up to The Reading Residence

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Easy home made chocolates #DairyFree

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I learned how to make coconut oil based chocolates a while ago, oh happy days. I’ll be honest, they won’t ever be a match for something as decadent as a champagne truffle, but they are fab in their own right. With Easter looming, chocolate is everywhere, and being dairy intolerant means my will power has to be air tight.
Be warned though: the hazelnut butter give these little beauties a Forerer Roche taste, that is very moorish. One is never enough!

Ingredients (for 24):
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp hazelnut butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Method:
- mix all the ingredients together

- spoon into petit fours cases or silicone moulds

- refrigerate for at least four hours before serving

Linking up to Honest Mum and A Mummy Too

recipe-of-the-week tasty tuesday

Easter Holidays: Week One #MagicMoments

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The first week of the holidays have already whizzed by. Having hubby off work was fab - and dare I say it – we had a lovely time! We had a handful of nights that both the girls slept through, and entire days where 4yo behaved herself. The grown ups actually enjoyed the company of the kids, and spending time together didn’t feel like a headache inducing chore. We kept ourselves busy, but not overly so, and even managed to catch up with some friends along the way.

There were several highlights, the first of which was going to Battersea Children’s Zoo. If you get the chance, I’d really recommend going. It’s a fab little place, with lots of small animals to see, as well as a great play park for the kids to run around in. They also had a cabin set up for Easter arts & crafts, where the girls made some cards. A family ticket will set you back £28, which is a fair amount but not a patch on the bigger places. The park itself is huge, with lots to see and do in its own right. A worthy day trip, especially if you’re fairly local.

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Another highlight was a family meal that I made us all – roasted duck Chinese take-away style, served up with pancakes, hoi sin sauce and various bits and pieces. The kids absolutely loved it, and it was a complete win. We don’t get to eat as a family as often as I’d like, but when we do it’s really lovely.

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The other highlight that has to get a mention was yesterday. Hubby’s folks took the girls out for the day, and we went off for lunch and a mooch around Brixton Village. It’s often our default location when we’re presented with free time. There are good vibes running through this place, and a feeling that things are happening. I guess it also reminds us of days gone by, and who we were before becoming mummy & daddy.

I’m flying solo this week, so it’ll be a different experience. Interesting if nothing else! What have you lovely lot been up to?

Linking up #MagicMoments over at The Olivers Madhouse

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Thrifty Bargains

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I have a rather unhealthy obsession with bargains, so imagine my delight when my local Oxfam became the discount shop! I’ve blogged before about my love for their brand new range, and my shop gets all the fab bits and bobs the other shops are unable to sell. Prices are between 20% and 50% of (not off) the original RRP, which means massive bargains to be had. If you don’t have a store nearby you can order through the Oxfam Website – and they are currently having a sale :)

Heres what I picked up on a recent visit…

Pack of ten notecards @ £1 instead of £5.99 – perfect for using as kids birthday cards

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Monkey backpack @ £2 instead of £12.99

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Mini skittles game @ £1 instead of £4.99

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Headband/necklace making kit @ £1 instead of £4.99

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I also picked up this stunning winter coat by the designer Jil Sander, which is in as new condition and would have cost hundreds, for the measly sum of £7.99! Potentially my best charity shop buy ever, and I’ve had some good coups before.

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If I want to stretch my maternity leave out for a whole year, then I need to be as thrifty as I possibly can. Seems fitting to make my #WotW Thrifty. What’s yours?

Linking up The Reading Residence and VeViVo’s

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The beauty of a good friend #ThePrompt

Linking up an old post from last Summer to this week’s #ThePrompt

On Friday I spent the most beautiful day with one of my best friends. She had her third baby a couple of weeks ago, so I took the day off work to go and visit while my girls were at nursery. Hubby kindly agreed to work from home and do the pick up, witching hour and get dinner sorted for when I got home. That in itself was a huge treat!

We spoke about the baby and I told her my news, but this was only a brief part of our conversation. I don’t think a [poor hard done by] third baby will ever get the same time dedicated to describe every single thing they do the way their siblings did. Mummy’s time has become a precious commodity, not to be wasted on poo talk. We had bigger fish to fry and set about putting the world to rights.

It was nice to be reminded of who I am – which I’m sure most who read this blog can relate to. So often lost in the midst of being a mummy, it’s easy to forget that I’m a person with wants and needs too. We met in a lovely canal-side cafe and had a three hour long lunch, then went back to her house for tea and more chatting while her hubby sorted their older two out to get ready for a school disco. I felt honoured that she was comfortable enough to just whip the boobs out at feeding time without bothering to find a muslin first. She just laughed and said ‘you’re family, you don’t mind do you?’ Of course I don’t.

It’s was a perfect and idyllic day, even further enhanced by the glorious weather. Hopefully we’ll manage to get some dates in the diary with all the kids over the summer, which won’t be the same but will still be fab. I’ve known this lady for almost a decade and a half, and know with absolute certainty that I’ll be taking her to the grave.

The Prompt

 

My Valentine’s Birth Story #MagicMoments

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In my post announcing the birth of my son, I promised the full story – don’t worry it isn’t gory or harrowing, quite the opposite really. Hubby and I have never celebrated Valentine’s as a couple because our anniversary falls within the same week, and we’ve always made an effort with that instead. Now we’ll always have cause for a very different celebration!

It was an odd start to the day. I’d had a really bad nights sleep and woke up feeling that ‘things were happening’. As my girls were 8 and 12 days late however, I didn’t want to get too excited and honestly didn’t think we’d meet our little dude for a few days yet. Erring on the side of caution, hubby worked from home and I spent a very surreal morning doing all the things I usually do. Made 4yo’s lunch and sent her off to school. I cleaned the house. I blogged. 2yo had her nap. I cooked a hearty early lunch (thankfully!). I blogged some more. Read with 2yo while she ate her lunch.

Then at around 1:30pm the contractions picked up pace and by 2pm were 4-5 mins apart. Being a third baby I didn’t think it wise to take chances. Hubby went and collected 4yo from school early, and I called my wonderful friend who was having the girls for a sleepover. She was with us within half an hour, brought us to the hospital and took the girls off our hands. I will be eternally grateful to her for taking such good care of them.

By 3:45pm hubby and I were at the birthing centre, in the same room I had given birth to our 2yo. I didn’t manage the water birth I’d hoped for, as just couldn’t get comfy and the water did little for me this time in terms of pain relief. When I got out of the pool I asked for some pethadine, hoping it would calm me down and take the pain away even for half an hour. It wasn’t meant to be though, I was already fully dilated and would need to start pushing very soon.

I couldn’t believe it, as was convinced I was only 7/8cm! I dilated so much quicker this time round and went from 5cm to 10cm in an hour and half, explaining why the pain was so much more intense. The midwife asked if I wanted her to pop my waters, but a big push on the next contraction saw that happen by itself. Then it was go time! I pushed for about 20 minutes – or so I’m told – it’s all a complete blur. I went into primal animal mode, let my body do what it was built for and by 6:30pm our new addition was here.

I’m not going to lie and say that I enjoyed the experience, or want to go through it again any time soon, but I am incredibly proud of myself. A friend who’d recently had a third baby herself advised me to not be scared of the pain, and I wasn’t this time. It made all the difference.

Once again the birth centre did a wonderful job and I felt completely confident in their capabilities. We’re very lucky to have it, as our hospital was almost stripped of its maternity and A&E services and turned into a planned ops only hospital as part of the government’s ‘better services, better value’ policy. The midwives were utterly fab, and we even got to see the lady who delivered 2yo when they changed shifts at 7pm.

A very #MagicMoment and memories that will last forever. Linking up to http://theoliversmadhouse.co.uk

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