Wednesday, 10 August 2011


We've been back a week [make that two since I started writing this] - I've just about thawed out.

We did survive and we did get to sleep.

I put up the tent with a bit (read a lot) of help. Mr Jones arrived after the tent was safely up - I'm thinking this was a good thing - it was stressful, divorce proceedings may have been entered into.

I ripped my skinny jeans in the process and spent an entire evening with my bum hanging out until Mr Jones arrived with another pair. Fetching. ALso probably a sign that I'm not skinny enough to wear skinny jeans??

The boy went to sleep without the aid of a blackout blind and total silence and with just a little bit of singing from me. He slept until 6.20am on Saturday morning - pretty impressive given that Mr Jones and I got a maximum of 4 hours sleep due to a combination of bone chilling temperatures, noise and an errant airbed that pinged one of us off the edge everytime the other one moved.

We managed not to get grumpy until Sunday morning - when it really was unbearably cold and wet and the boy was beyond grouchy and I was sick of my clothes living in a damp pile on the floor. If I ever go camping again I'm going to take one of those collapsable clothes rails from argos - or am I missing the point? It's only one step on from the toaster we took this time - what? there was electricity why not take a toaster? Some folk in the tent next-door-but-one had a 32" flat screen tv and Wii - you think I'm joking, but I seriously am not. (Really what is the point in going camping if you take your TV?)

I'm sure everyone else thought we were perfectly awful, but I was rather proud of us for surviving the weekend. We clearly are not campers. I think I'd find any holiday where you're required to build your own house before you start a mite stressful. Perhaps I'm more suited to one of those yurt things on the south downs with the cast iron beds and the en suite bathrooms. Or actually if I'm honest I'm just terribly boring and would actually like to stay in my lovely house and hang out in the garden. I wish I got it, I really do.

That said, we did enjoy time with friends and it was lovely to see how much our littlies have grown and how comfortable they all are with each other.

Aside from the knowledge that we aren't the camping kind, we learned that the boy hates wellies, but loves rain storms. He is fascinated by cars and has a penchant for brake dust (carcinogenic - no?). He doesn't like having a bath in the shower and still loves kissing Miss Scarlett.

We'd probably do it again at a push - but only for a weekend.

PS there are pictures but writing this has taken me two weeks - the pictures might take longer.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Quick question

Does anyone have a car that has properties similar to those demonstrated by Mary Poppins' carpet bag? I thought camping was supposed to be footloose and fancy free? Thus far I have filled the hall with "essential stuff" and I haven't even packed any clothes.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Believe it or not

We're going camping at the weekend - yes you read that right - I, Mrs Jones, of Stamford, her of hair dryers, four walls, feather duvets and Dualit toasters will be sleeping (or not) under canvas for a whole weekend.

If that wasn't enough we'll be joined in this escapade by no less than seven - SEVEN - one year olds - small boy included. We are going to a campsite somewhere in Derbyshire. It has wifi and hot showers - this is all I know. I'm thinking ingnorance is bliss.

We have borrowed a tent and a whole load of other stuff. I am preparing myself for 48hours of sleeplessness - tents it seems don't have blackout blinds. I will be relying on fresh air to knock out the boy come 7pm on Friday night. Thinking positive and humming kum bay ya.

I think the reason that I dislike camping so much is because I feel I should really love it. I like being outside, I like nature and trees, I like looking at the stars and watching the sunrise, I love the smell of bacon frying on a cool crisp morning and eating fish and chips in the chill dusk.

But the thing is all of that is a lot more fun if you know you can snuggle up on a comfy mattress under your duvet with your memory foam pillow and loo within barefoot walking distance. Being periodically pinged off of an airbed while cocooned in a sleeping bag with straight jacket tendancies doesn't have much romantic appeal. Add in dampness (why is camping always so damp??) and all I can see is horror.

But then maybe this time will be different and I'll finally get it? I am seriously hoping for good weather. I shall struggle to be jolly in a wet tent. I may take some bunting to make myself feel at home.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

No big deal

Sometimes you wait for what seems like forever for something to happen. You expect there to be a build up, an inkling that it's going to begin but then it's just there, smacking you in the stomach at 8.10am and making you cry.

This morning, at 8.10, the boy stood up and walked across the sitting room. Steps, five of them, all by himself, with no encouragement whatsoever.

I jumped up and down and clapped and cheered and tried to stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. He bent down, put his hands on the floor and turned to look at me with a face that said "Alright love, calm yourself down." Disdain, from a 1 year old.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

You can come back now

After six weeks of following me around, taking afternoon naps and occasionally doing a bit of DIY, Mr Jones has returned to the world of work. He left on Monday for the other side of the country and won't be home until Saturday. We miss him.

At times during his six weeks off I asked what on earth we are going to do when we retire? Being in each other's pockets 24/7 was not as idyllic as it sounds, especially with a small boy in tow. But now he's gone again and while I like the fact that when I tidy the house stays that way for at least two hours longer than usual, it is a bit lonely without him.

The small boy misses him too. Yesterday I got out the photo albums I made him for his birthday - full of pictures of his first year. We got to a picture of him and daddy in the bath and he pointed at it and looked at me quizzically. I turned the page and he turned it back again and again. When we were finally allowed to move on we got to a page full of picture of him and his daddy and he just burst into tears, which quickly turned into sobs. He was looking at me and pointing at the pictures with the most forlorn expression. In the end I had to put the pictures away and take him out for a walk to calm him down.

Now we are counting the sleeps until daddy comes home - only three more left. We can't wait for cuddles.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Today I decided to pretend that I'm seven again...

so I fell over, twisted my ankle and grazed my knee. I wasn't really pretending to be seven - I'm just a clumsy cow.

I now have a very sore ankle and a gross looking knee. Weirdly I'm quite looking forward to having a scab. I haven't had a scab in a looooong time. This is probably a good thing - I don't think you're supposed to have scabs at 31.

Perhaps it's a mum thing - to remind me just how painful it is to graze your knee for the inevitability of all sorts of minor injuries once the boy decides to finally get up and run.

I've never had nice knees and as they've spent the past six months or so crawling around on hard floors they don't look much worse with a scab as an accessory. In fact it tones in quite well with the bruises on my shins and by friday the leg hair that I haven't had a chance to deal with will have thatched over it nicely anyway.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A birthday in pictures - taken by Stu

1. "Mummy - I got a trike"

2. The small boy chatting through his own naming ceremony

3. Making everyone cry. I made the bunting - with marvellous step by step instructions here

4. That cake, with that icing - made by Auntie Rach - he can have a kids cake next year when he gives a fig. You can get the recipe here.

5. Blowing out the candle

6. Mr Jones trying to lead the boy to the dark side....

7. The boy showing Daddy that babies don't do chocolate - they like strawberries

8. With Pops in the rain

9. Teddy at the after party

10. A little something to say thanks for coming

11. Having some down time watching the rain

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

This time last year

It was as hot as it was yesterday and we had all the windows open trying to keep our tiny new born baby cool. This year we've has all the windows open trying to keep our so-big-can't-believe-how-much-he's-grown boy cool. This time last year I spent a lot of time sleeping on the sofa (when I say a lot I mean a lot of 40 minute chunks). The boy slept (didn't sleep) in his pram/moses basket in the sitting room. We went to bed at midnight in the hopes that the nighttime wouldn't last as long. In case you're thinking of trying it - it doesn't work. Next week last year I started to go to bed at 5 mins past Rufus in a desperate attempt to get that hallowed and restorative four hours.

I can't believe that was all a year ago. We watched a lot of tennis - I think I saw every game - c-sections are a good excuse to be sofa bound in front of Wimbledon. This year I think I've seen half a match so far and that wasn't live. This year is much more fun and a whole lot less scary - unless there is a tantrum in the offing. Oddly tantrums happen less when the boy and I are alone. Perhaps he'll be an actor if his career in interior design doesn't work out - have I told you about his upholstery fabric fetish? He gets that from me *so proud*

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Terrible twos my a*&^!

Some almighty wobblers have been thrown in this house of late. There have been arm flailing, foot stomping, back arching, fist shaking, lie on the floor, scream, shout and cry trantrums issuing forth from that angelic (looking) little boy.

For all his gorgeousness I sometimes wonder if there isn't something just a little bit hellish living inside him. I was rather proud of myself for teaching him to sign to me that he was "all done" with his dinner, or a particular game - until last Tuesday - when he spent the entire day waving his arms in front of him everytime I got within three feet - "I'm all done with you Mummy!"

He has taken to swiping things off of bedside tables in a bid of frustration, throwing remote controls, hairbrushes and toys and getting stoppy if we don't get him a banana fast enough.

This morning I had the audacity to try and take his sleeping bag off as he made a break for the edge of our bed - the tantrum that ensued was so violent that only Buble could calm him down. We googled in despair. Apparently it's quite common - the "terrible twos" it seems are a bit of a misnomer - they don't necessarily start at two, nor do they cease on the morning of their third birthday. I'm hoping that we're just getting it all out of the way early.

Trying to reason with a one year old is nigh on impossible, distraction rarely seems to work and cuddles make him worse. Daddy it seems is flavour of the month - Mummy is akin to ear wax. I've tried all sorts to regain his affection only to be met with a palm in the face - "talk to the hand Mummy". Mr Jones has recommended practicing general disdain mixed with a tiny smidge of contempt - maybe the small boy is like a cat and is irresistibly drawn to people who'd really rather be doing something else. We'll see - I hope I get my cuddles back soon.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Those granola bar/ flap jack thingies

You know the ones, the ones that were in the boys party goodie bag - it seems they were a bit of a hit. The recipe has been asked for. I will oblige - but do forgive me if they don't turn out quite the same because it's one of those a bit of this a bit of that recipes and it's different every time I make it. But the good news is it's always yummy and the boy always eats it.

You will need:
80g butter
140g maple syrup (if your baby is over one you could use honey. If you're being old school you could use golden syrup and sugar - but I went with maple syrup because I can convince myself that it's "natural, healthy sugar")
130g porridge oats (Sometimes a bit more if you've been heavy handed with the syrup)
35g dried dates soaked in boiled water for 5 minutes and then blitzed with enough water to form a sludgy, gooey paste
About 80g of dried fruit chopped up - try apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, cranberries, dried apple - whatever is in the cupboard.
A few tablespoons of a mixture of pumpkin and sunflower seeds
25g dessicated coconut

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the maple syrup, mix in the date paste. Mix up all the dry ingredients and stir into the saucepan. Try not to eat too much of it. Press into a baking tray (no need to grease it) and bake for 15 minutes at 180 or until golden on top. It will still be soft when you take it out of the oven but it will firm up as it cools. Once cool cut into bars making sure to break off lots of crumbly bits to eat yourself.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The big ONE

We made it - hurrah - the boy is one and has been since Saturday. We had a party with all the gorgeous people we know and a few thunder storms thrown in for good measure. It was supposed to be an afternoon tea garden party and instead it was more of a barn raising - but we still ate scones - and a rather marvellous cake made by my sister girl. I will post pictures once my lovely photographer has sent them to me - you're a star Stu.

We decided to make his birthday his naming day too. I wrote the ceremony myself because I wanted it to be personal. I managed to get most of the way through it before the tears started. First birthdays are tricky for Mummies there's the happiness that you've managed to grow your baby for a whole year and your excitement/consternation that your once tiny, helpless little new born is now a big toddler boy with a very independent streak - mixed in with the hideous memories of what exactly you were doing at precisely that time a year ago. I had to give myself several stern talkings too in the morning but by the end of the ceremony I'd lost it. Thank you to every who cried with me. And for those of you who missed it - and to save it for posterity here it is.....

Rufus Anthony Jones – Naming Ceremony – 18th June 2011

It might seem strange to be having a naming ceremony for a little boy who has been wearing his name for a whole year now. But it takes a while for you to own a name and for you to make a mark, however small, on the world. So for us it seemed fitting to wait until Rufus’ first birthday to formally welcome him into our lives.

A name is very important. It distinguishes us from others and gives us a sense of belonging in our family and community. Rufus – your name has been chosen with love and we hope it affords you a long and happy life. It means red head – and while some may fear that association, we feel that you have the strength of character to carry it off.

You have grown into your name in this past year – just as you have grown into our hearts. A Victorian writer called Elizabeth Stone once said that Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. And that is completely true. I never thought that I would be so fascinated by another person, that I could spend hours watching you sleep, eat and play. You have bought an enormous amount of love and happiness into our lives and have truly stolen both of our hearts.

Because of you our lives have changed forever – we are now a family and we are proud to be your parents. We cannot wait to help you grow up and to see what sort of way you make in the world.

It’s not just you who will be on this journey – we will grow as parents too. Someone once said that - As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.

We don’t take our responsibility as parents lightly, we know we have the most important job to do in bringing you up and we hope that you will bear with us while we find our way. For our part...

We promise to always be here for you, to listen when you talk and to guide you through life’s joys and hardships.

We promise to respect and support your choices and nurture your dreams. We will share with you our talents and strengths and guide you away from our weaknesses.

Most importantly we promise to love you forever.

So far Rufus’ life has been all about our little family of three – but now he is one it’s time for him to start taking his first steps into the world. So we have asked you all here today to help us set him off on that journey. Everyone here will have some impact on the sort of person Rufus ultimately becomes. We all share the responsibility of shaping him into a person and we’d like to ask all of you to pass on your love, knowledge and wisdom to him as he grows up.

We have asked that some of our friends take a special role in Rufus’ life – as “guide parents” if you will. Our old friends Sharon and Darren and Catherine and Adam because of the wonderful job they are doing with their own children (we’re hoping to steal a few tips) and Paul – under the careful and sobering guidance of Jo because we know that one day you’ll be fantastic parents too.

We’d like to ask the six of you to make one simple promise to Rufus – and that is to always be there for him in those moments when we as his parents aren’t able to help and guide him. [When he’s trashed the house, dropped an Emma Bridgewater Mug or broken the X-box]

Finally we would like to say a few thank yous. First off to our families for the love and unfailing support you have given us over the past year. And to our NCT friends and other baby folk for getting us through the screaming, the daddy blues, the tantrums and for sharing our highs and lows – we hope we’ll all be together for many years to come.

And I would like to say a special thank you to two people – firstly to Tim – for growing into a great Daddy and being by my side even through the gruesome bits. And finally to my mum – I would never have been able to enjoy this amazing year as much as I have without your help. About this time a year ago you were walking me to my epidural and through the gas and air haze I remember asking you how the hell you did this twice. You said to me “I promise you that it will all be worth it once you have that baby in your arms” – now I don’t say this very often, but you were totally right.

So I’d like everyone to raise their glasses and toast Rufus Anthony Jones – may you live a long and happy life. To Rufus

So there we go - the little boy is one - I really can't believe it has been a year since we brought him home (the Jeremy cat still hasn't come to terms with it). It has been amazing and I feel so lucky to have been with him every singe day - I shall miss him terribly from my office desk - although I will admit I'm quite excited at the prospect of going to the loo in relative peace.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Nearly there

The boy is nearly one. We're having a party. It's turning in to quite a big one. It's supposed to be in the garden. The weather isn't looking too great. Come Saturday 60 people including 15 children may well be crammed into one newly converted barn (hear the beads of sweat forming on my mother's brow). But fingers crossed the weather will play ball and we can play in the garden.

The boy is a bit confused - he can't decide whether to walk or crawl. He's decided he likes Mr Jones more than me - apart from when he wakes up in the night when apparently only mummy will do. I think money must be changing hands somewhere. Today he took two tiny steps away from me and to his Daddy - of course. Jolly exciting.

Mr Jones has a new job, he is currently on garden leave - I'd like it noted that he hasn't so much as picked up a trowel or touched the lawn mower. He has however cleaned out the shed, helped me decorate the sitting room and built me some shelves. I go back to work next week - Mr Jones still has three weeks off - grr.

We have a new garden - it's across town and is full of trees - and nettles and ivy - but one day it will be beautiful and the perfect place for small boys ang girls to play. There are ponies in the next field. On Saturday we took our tools down there to clear some mess - then we sat in the sun and drank champagne instead - ooooh get us.

Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to be too happy? Then the ever present pessimist in me thinks that at some point something horrid will happen to take it all away. I hope not. It's marvellous to be very happy.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Surprisingly sweet muffins

Sugar is evil in the world of small people - although I am gradually coming around to the fact that at some point he is going to have to have sugar. In fact I know that my mother has already fed him a hefty portion of Victoria Sponge - her line of defense at my raised eye brows was: "what? I gave him a piece without any jam."

So, naughty grannies aside I do try to limit the small ones sugar intake and these muffins satisfy his sweet tooth without one single grain. They look a bit dubious and I wouldn't say they were particulary cake like - but they will even do for grown ups on days when the freezer is lacking Ben and Jerrys and a yogurt just won't do. The recipe is from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with cases.

Mix together two eggs, 100ml sunflower oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Sift 225g wholemeal self raising flour into another bowl and add 2 medium carrots grated, 2 dessert apples peeled and grated, 100g dates (If you can only get dried ones - which is all I can get usually soak them first), 50g desiccated coconut, 50g finely chopped pecans or walnuts and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir briefly, then make a well in the centra and add the egg mixture - fold lightly (it'll be quite lumpy). Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 15-25 minutes until golden and springy.

When cooled feed to small boys and any visiting small girls. They freeze well too. Marvllously good if you're worried about your child's iron intake and they refuse to eat meat or eggs because their egg content is beautifully disguised. Plus the carrots and apples add vitamin c for built in iron absorption - what's not to love?

Back to work in two weeks. Such is my fear of being trapped in an office again that I have already offered Ben Fogle my services in the Hebrides. Sod work, I'm moving us all to a crofters cottage with a couple of sheep, a log burner and Boden by carrier pigeon.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

An ode to the Blackberry

The beloved Blackberry is no more - it came to a sticky end amid a hefty dose of Ariel Stain Removal Gel (which consequently does a marvellous job on whites - especially those that have been worn by small boys who like, dirt, blueberries, bananas, raspberries and cheesy, tomatoey things). It does not however do a very good job of Blackberries. I think perhaps running it under the tap wasn't the most sensible of things either, but hey ho. It made a jolly good attempt at working again after a couple of days in the airing cupboard, but alas the screen was all cloudy and it kept trying to call people when I was trying to look at twitter.

So now I have one of those swish new android jobbies. I'm not cool enough for an i-phone so I have the cheap-o eqivalent. It's all rather marvellous. Mr Jones is a bit jealous. I don't have a clue how to use it. It rang earlier and despite great effort I was completely unable to answer it, much to the amusement/chargrin of all the other people in the hospital waiting room. (I'd taken the boy for a routine eye check up - all fine - in fact he could see things I couldn't). Still I'm sure I'll learn how it works in due course - in the meantime I shall perhaps be a bit slow at replying to texts and who knows whether I'll be able to answer if you call me - but I will try.

Apparently the local tote is running a book on how long it will take the boy to smash the lovely shiney screen - odds at 3/1 for the end of the week.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I know, I know

Yes, it's been a while, I have no excuse bar a very long to-do list and sheer idleness brought about by sunshine and the impending return to office drudgery. Thank you for your emails enquiring as to my existence.

Since my last post we have - been on holiday (Blakeney don't you know, in the most marvellous house, I wanted to stay but the fridge was a bit small), cooked a lot of things (I'll post recipes soon), been brave about the boy going to the childminders, stopped breast feeding, had colds, coughs, bugs and all sorts of yuckiness, got two teeth, watched a gorgeous wedding, fallen back in love with a prince, done approximately 8,0000 loads of washing (I've found a 30 minute cycle - it's been a revelation - small things) and discovered Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Frozen Yogurt - same calories as a yogurt but sooooooo much nicer. I get quite nasty if there isn't some in the freezer.

So there you haven't missed much.

In other news Mr Jones has decided that we need another room on the house - so we're converting the loft. All very exciting - until you go up there, see all of the crap and start to panic about where exactly we are going to house the remnants of a wedding, my beloved hoard of Christmas decor (the stuffed mousse might be back in one day!), various boxes of old school stuff, half of our old house and all the suitcases? There was talk of a skip - I begun to feel a touch faint. Still, until someone works out where the stairs are going to go I can forget about it.

Who knows when I may post again - perhaps this will break the deadlock?? If you can't bear to wait you can always follow me on twitter

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Croque Monsieur - warning - possible inflammatory content

If you are French, or have a fear of people fiddling with the classics then you may want to look away now....

This is my version of a Croque Monsieur - I wanted to get a bit of cordon bleu into the small boy. But a traditional Croque is somewhat lacking in vegetables so I tweaked it with the addition of some baby pasta sauce - that mothership of a sauce packed with any veg from the fridge blitzed with a tin of chopped tomatoes. In essence it's just a posh toastie, or perhaps a peasant version of a calzone?? To Rufus it's just yum.

Take two slices of bread - in France they'd probably be white. Butter one side. On the unbuttered side of one of your pieces of bread spread your baby pasta sauce, layer over some ham and then top with white/cheese sauce left over from making a lasagne/canneloni/cauliflower cheese. Squish the other piece of bread (butter side up) on top. Fry in a dry frying pan until lovely and crisp and toasty. Cut into chunks and listen to your baby go mmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmm until it's all gone. (I cut off the crusts - I pretend this is for Rufus, but really it's just because I want to eat them - I want my hair to be curly).

Some say....

he is turning ginger???

Nine months old

He's been nine months old for a few weeks now - but first there was the sick and then the snot and the sore throats. Then the crawling turned to standing, then cruising and now stomping up and down the landing with his little wooden trolley full of bricks, knocking over cats and anything else that happens to get in the way.

So I haven't really had much time for blogging. Plus the sun has been shining and there has been veg to plant and grass to cut as well as the perpetual round of washing. I thank the sun for shining and sparing me from the continuous drone of the tumble dryer.

I have started to have nightmares about dropping him off at the childminder and then not being able to find my way back. I wake up in the night in a cold sweat because I've dreamt that he's been fed sweets or didn't get his mid morning snack or that he hasn't had his nap on time. And I am painfully aware that my days of 24/7 Rufus are gradually disappearing - and it makes me sad.

Getting back to work will be strange, I can't say I've really missed it. I haven't felt like a chunk of me has been missing without it. Rufus has neatly slipped into the gap and has provided me with more than enough of a challenge to keep me busy.

Yes, somedays I do think it would be nice to lie in bed with Mr Jones without having to hold onto the back of an errant boys babygro, or go for a walk on my own, or even have the luxury of shutting the bathroom door when I go to the loo, but other than that I don't really miss life before Rufus. That said I am looking forward to the wonder of a "lunchbreak" three days a week and lockable loos, of course. But I will miss him. Two and a half months left.....

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I miss my boy

I have been poorly sick. The sort of poorly sick that means you spend a lot of time sweating and shivering on the bathroom floor in equal proportions. Unfortunately the sickness had nothing whatsoever to do with gin. It may have had something to do with mackerel, or perhaps to do with time spent crawling around on floors that need a good dettoling. It has not been fun. I'm still not quite right.

My little boy was whisked away from the vomiting by his daddy and today by his Nana. I have seen him for a sum total of about an hour in the past two days. I miss him terribly. He is coming home soon. I promise not to breathe on him. I don't want him to be poorly too.

I'm sure this seperation has been good for my control freak tendancies. However it has not been in the least bit fun. Two days off from mummying duties and I've spent most of it in the toilet. And no before you ask - I am NOT pregnant again.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Pancake day

It's tomorrow - or today - depending on when you read this. I do love a good pancake. My nine year old self use to have them for breakfast everyday - about seven of them. I cooked them myself in an old cast iron pan. Mum was having none of that faffing every morning and has never understood why I couldn't just have toast or cereal like any normal child. But then - I've never been normal.

When I was about seven months pregnant I had pancakes for breakfast with sugar and lemon, I could just about keep them down. Master Jones loves a good pancake. He is most partial to the fluffy American version a la Jamie Oliver - see the recipe here, I can't be bothered to copy it today. We have them for breakfast every weekend, with bananas on them usually.

Because Rufus still isn't a fan of meat - no teeth still - which makes it hard to chew - I have to think of other ways to get iron into him. Eggs are a great source, as is green leafy veg. So I whipped up a batch of pancakes (the traditional English style ones - if you need a recipe I hear Delia's is good. I have been making my own version since I was nine - I don't measure anything so I'd be a useless source of pancake recipe)

Pancakes neatly stacked I sauted an onion and a little crushed garlic with a smidgen of grated nutmeg. Then I shoved several large handfuls of spinach into in the frying pan and let it wilt down. Then I chopped it very, very, very finely with a knife.

DO NOT under any circumstance miss the chopping step. I have first hand experience of long stringy bits of spinach. They get caught in the back of your throat when you're out for dinner with Mr Jones and his dad is a very nice Italian restaurant on Regents Park Road. You make loud, attention grabbing, gagging noises, gulp water in vain, and then end up ramming your entire hand down your gullet to remove the offending article while your boyfriend's dad looks on in utter horror at the sweaty retching mess that was moments before the "on her best behaviour and trying to make a good impression" girlfriend of his only son. Mortifying is not the word - no one should have to go through it. Moral of the tale - never order spinach based recipes on important occasions (or in my case - ever) and always, always finely chop it when you're cooking.

Anyway - chop up the spinach and squeeze out any extra juice. You can do this in a colander with the back of a wooden spoon. Then mix together with a tub of ricotta cheese and season with pepper (and salt if you're a grown up).

Spread a a good slathering over your pancakes and roll each one up into a tube. I offered Rufus these at this point and they were rejected outright. So in a "you will have iron in your diet" strop - I poured some homemade pasta sauce (crammed with additional blitzed up veg) into the base of a dish, stuck in the spinach and ricotta filled pancakes, poured over some more pasta sauce (you could use a jarred one) and finally some cheese sauce, then grated cheese on the top and baked it at 180 for 30 minutes. Et voila - Spinach and ricotta pancake bake - just in time for panacke day. He couldn't eat it fast enough and now looks like Popeye.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Spring is springing

The greyness of the sky is starting to get to me - I feel the need for blue and that yellow thing that radiates heat and that is apparently called the sun. I'm sure it was out last week but that seems like a loooooooong time ago. I'm convinced my vitamin D stores are well and truly depleted and even the big freckle that is always on my nose seems to be looking a touch wan.

As if to save me from a phenomenal bout of SAD and to give me enough hope to get through the day - the garden is sprouting things. There are green shoots amid the dead bits, buds on the trees and blubs poking up through soil (along with a whole heap of weeds, but I'm glossing over that). Call me impatient bu I cannot wait for warmer weather, for flip flops, a baby who just wears a nappy (and select items from Mini Boden), and tomatoes that actually taste of something.

In other news Mr Jones came back for a sleepless night and has gone again for a bit of hotel room induced peace - to say I am jealous is an understatement - but then he does have to work as well.

The boy spent an hour and a half awake last night - chatting - not crying, not crawling around in his cot - just chatting. I changed his nappy, I shhhhhh'd, I tutted and tossed and turned and swore and screamed (silently into my pillow). At 4am I gave in and fed him and he went straight back to sleep. This has happened a fair bit of late.

In desperation I have reintroduced the mid morning feed that I axed two weeks ago in a bid to see if he'll sleep through again. The Health Visitor (who isn't worried, no not in the slightest) mentioned that when babies start crawling their sleep patterns go awry - so it could be that. The first problem is that her solution was controlled crying - but how do you do controlled crying when your baby isn't crying?? The second problem is that he started to crawl at the same time as we dropped with mid morning milk feed - and two days later the sleep issues happened - so we don't know the cause. He is eating his solids well and has never demanded the feed back but when I offered it to him this morning he was all for it.

So now I have mother guilt - for messing around with his routine, for taking the feed away in the first place, for possibly starving him for the past two weeks, for not being able to help him to sleep at the night, for swearing and screaming into my pillow, for eating a Galaxy Ripple (you might think this is unconnected but I blame sleep deprivation for my weak will - I don't even like Galaxy I'm a Cadbury's girl - so the guilt is doubled).

I guess in the morning we'll know - if he sleep through then I stand up to be judged for depriving my son of calories (while feeding myself unnecessary bars of chocolate). If he doesn't sleep through then I may need a large gin to wash down a multipack of finger of fudges or a family sized bar of Green and Blacks - do they do family sized bars?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

In awe of single parents

Mr Jones has been stolen by work again - he's in Wales or something. Kent gets him next - lucky Kent. He's been gone for 24 hours. I am very tired. I'm still feeling a mite sick and achey and the wee boy is still practicising his crawling skills in the small hours of the morning, which is not conducive to sleep. He has also decided that 6.30am is the new half past seven so my restorative 12 minute piping hot shower was reduced to a tepid and functional four minute blast this morning.

The toast was substandard, the porridge a bit runny. I had to empty the dishwasher myself while doing everything I usually do at the same time. Last night when I put the boy in the bath he looked at me with a face that said - "er you're not my daddy - your hair is too long and ginger".

Of course if I was on top form this would all be easier - but it would still be hard. I don't know how people do this bringing up of children on their own. There must be some form of inner adrenalin hidden down deep behind the stuff you already have to hoik out as a twosome just to get through a sleep deprived day. So single parents everywhere I salute you - you must be truly superhuman.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sweet potato veggie cake thingys

He wasn't so much a fan of these - but I liked them. Chop up a pepper, courgette and an onion into similar sized chunks, drizzle with olive oil and roast until soft and sweet. Chop up with a knife into a chunky paste and then mix with left over sweet potato mash and a good handful of cheese. You can add an egg if you like to bind them a bit more, but I'd run out so I didn't bother. Shape into mini burgers and fry in a little olive oil until golden.

I think the reason he isn't a fan is that they are quite soft and therefore are a bit tricky to pick up - even when sliced into fingers - maybe next time I'll make them into little croquettes and roll them in breadcrumbs - in fact you do that - ignore the pattie/cake/burger idea. Meanwhile I'll have to try and coax him into eating the 500 I have left in the freezer.

Today I feel old....

I'd say about 80. My joints ache, my fingers feel creaky and there's a twinge in my left wrist. I can't blame it on the weather - the sun is shining for the first time in a week. My hypochondriac self googled it and I am now self diagnosed with post partum arthritis - apparently it goes away on it's own. In a nod to my aged self I'm going to do some gardening while the small one sleeps - tonight you might find me in a rocking chair with a rug over my knee. (Yes Mr Jones - I know that's how you find me most evenings - shhhh!)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Share and share alike

I am feeling uninspired kitchen wise today - can you help? What should I give the small boy for his dinner? Tried and tested recipes very welcome - especially those that are good for small people with no teeth. Do leave comments on the actual blog or on facebook - whatever suits you. I await with bated breath, wearing a pinny, with a wooden spoon in my hand....

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


It took me a while to come around to the idea that Rufus might actually eat soup. I wasn't about to give him a spoon and let him loose with a bowl on his own - I am not that stupid (most of the time). But then it occurred to me that I could dunk bits of bread into it for him and he could feed himself those, while I snuck the odd spoonful into his mouth while none of the baby led weaning police were looking. It worked quite well. He ate the whole bowlful. We started with butternut squash and have moved onto chicken.

Butternut squash soup - fry up a sliced onion, a sliced leek and a crushed garlic clove in olive oil. Peel and chunk up half a butternut squash, throw in a roughly chopped sweet potato if you happen to have peeled too many for sweet potato chips the night before like I had. Allow to soften for a bit and then add some homemade chicken stock and leave to bubble. Get distracted, then sprint back into the kitchen some 40 minutes later to discover that your soup is nicely reduced and just needs to be whizzed up in a blender - perfect.

Chicken soup - roast a chicken, eat all the best bits and then bung the rest in a large stock pot. Chop an onion into quarters, don't bother peeling it, do the same with a leek and a couple of carrots - add them all to the pot with a bay leaf, some thyme and parsley and some peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and leave to bubble for at least an hour and a half with the lid half on. Leave to cool (I left it over night). Strain off the liquid into another pan. Pick the meat off the chicken and drop into your stock along with the now very tender bits of carrot (you can slip the skins off now quite easily) and the insides of the onions. Blitz this up with a blender until smooth and creamy.

In another pan gently sweat down some sliced leeks, garlic and finely diced carrot in some butter and olive oil. When soft add a table spoon of plain flour and stir. After a minute or so add in the blitzed up chickeny stock and heat through until slightly thickened. You can toss in some peas too if you like. I tend to bag this up into portion sized batches and then put the peas in when I reheat it. I was suprised at how lovely this is - I'd say it could rival heinz and pee all over the New Covent Garden chicken soup that I ate a lot of when I was pregnant.

Eight months old

You may have noticed a lack of blogging of late. The boy has started crawling, in his own special way - commando style, on his tummy - I think he does this in an effort to draw my attention to the blatant fact that the hall floor needs mopping. I've pointed out to him on several occasions that I'm well aware that the tiles need a scrub, I just don't have time to do it. (Yes I know I could be doing it now - but then I wouldn't be able to whinge to you about the fact that I have to keep washing his t-shirts).

Anyway I now spend a lot of time wrestling him away from electricty cables, modems,oven doors, hot water pipes, cat food, the fire poker and the cat. You'd think the cat could fend for herself, but no, she keeps going back for more in the hopes that she might get a mummy cuddle if he damges her. To be fair, that is exactly what happens, so she's actually quite clever.

All of this is better than the separation anxiety which for a good two weeks, had me rooted to the spot, any spot, as long as it wasn't more than arms distance away from him. My sanity was truly challenged. I experienced a huge dose of mother-guilt when I screamed at him to "shut up" for the first time one Wednesday night when that groany, whingy noise hadn't let up for about three hours. Mr Jones looked slightly stunned and I burst into tears and apologised profusely. I still feel guilty about it.

Teeth still remain elusive and I've started to become slightly obsessed about it. What if they come through all weird and wonky, or he ends up being one of those kids with HUGE gums and funny pointy teeth? I have actually lost sleep over this - does that make me mad?

Bathtime currently equals poo time - much to the disgust of Mr Jones. He's becoming quite adept at poop-a-scooping. Funny, we've always flatly refused to have a dog to avoid the necessity of picking up its poo, it never occured to us that we might have to poop-a-scoop after our own child. Nappies are one thing, but fishing it out of the bath is quite another. Rubber duck, plastic boat, blue whale, brown turd.... lovely.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How gorgeous?

Rufus made these for his Granny's birthday - he had some help of course - but aren't they lovely?

I have lived in fear of paint-a-pot places because my mind is more creative than my dexterity allows for. I imagine beautiful creations but somehow can't quite get my hands to make them. Probably because I'm far too impatient and struggle to take instruction.

However at Original Ceramics you can merely describe what's in your head and the lovely Justine will create it for you. Marvellous.

She doesn't even mind if your baby fills his nappy in her studio, and then doesn't judge you when he pees on himself (and her very lovely Cath Kidston changing mat) while you're changing him and you admit that you don't have a change of clothes for him so he's going to have to sit in his wee soaked jumper and vest until you get home. (Yes it did happen, and yes I was mortified!)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Things on toast

There are no pictures - we all know what toast looks like. The small boy is a fan of toast. He has wholegrain, we don't do white bread in this house, unless it's a baguette or perhaps a bit of sour dough. Anyway this week we've been creating toast toppers. We thought we'd share some favourites:

Sardines (I was surprised how quickly this was wolfed down) - simply mash a few bits of tinned sardine - in olive oil not brine or tomato sauce - with some finely chopped fresh tomatoes and a few basil leaves. Fabulous source of omega three fatty acids for creating genius children who can win scholarships to expensive local schools. And packed with calcium (although I did remove the scary looking back bone from the fishes - I couldn't face watching him eat spine)

Mashed avocado with a little chilli sauce and a spritz of lime. So gucamole then! More essential fats for brain building.

Salmon spread - a tin of salmon mixed with a tub of ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice to taste, a grind of pepper and a spoonful of natural yogurt to cut the richness. It's gloriously pink and terribly stinky. I've frozen a load - hopefully it will be alright.

Houmous made from a tin of chickpeas whizzed up with two or three tablespoons of tahini - which incidentally you can buy in waitrose - after three shops I finally found it, it's in the pasta aisle on the bottom shelf on the left hand side underneath the curry sauces (lord knows why?!). A clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, a good slug of olive oil and some water - and a bit more olive oil and a bit more tahini. It's crying out for salt at this point, but of course I didn't add any.

Next week I think we'll try whizzed up roasted med veg - aubergines, peppers, red onions and courgettes drizzled with olive oil and roasted until sweet and yummy. Perhaps with a few basil leaves added in for good measure.

Oooh and we could do leek and cannelini bean mash - fry finely slices leeks in olive oil with garlic until soft and sticky. Drain and rinse a tin of cannelini beans and add to the pan. Fry to heat through then mash to combine and spread on any willing receptacle. When I was a lonely girl in London I used to make huge mounds of this and top it with a piece of cod that had been baked in the oven en papilotte (a posh way of saying in a tin foil/baking paper parcel) with some pesto - it's yum- bu Mr Jones finds it "too much". An extra drizzle of olive oil at the end never goes amiss.

Sometimes I worry that he eats too much bread, but it does seem to be a great way to get other things down him. He has become fickle about bananas - seems he's not a fan unless they are boardering on over ripe, just how I hate them.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Parenting tip #1

Far be it from me to be telling people how to bring up their children - but I'm not adverse to passing on some of what I have learned. This week I have discovered that it is not entirely possible to put on a nappy backwards.

By backwards I mean when your son has decided to turn himself over on his changing mat and stick his poo covered bottom and nether regions up in the air in an effort to crawl away from you - (please note - he cannot yet crawl). Everytime you try to turn him the right way round he laughs his ass off, evidently well aware of the fact that you are risking being covered in poo with every movement.

To help matters further he has discovered how to clench his bum cheeks making the removal of poo even more difficult. After putting the changing mat on the floor and distracting him with a hairbrush I managed to get him cleaned up. But alas the hairbrush didn't supply sufficient entertainment for re-nappying. With his bum back in my face I tried in vain to get him back into a nappy. You'd think it would be relatively simple to do it upside down, but somehow the sticky bits always end up sticking to the wrong bits and everything ends up wonky. In the end I let him crawl about until he bored of the game. He only pee'd on the carpet once before I could get the nappy back on - and what's a little wee between friends?

NB - since starting to write this post this performance has been repeated several times - I would like to make an amendment - it's is not impossible to put a nappy on backwards, it is however a skill that requires practice and an act that requires you to let go of any nappy perfectionism that you might be harbouring (I do like the tapes to line up).

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mini omelettes

These are perfect for the supremely lazy - you can make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a few days. They're great cold too. When they first come out of the oven they are all puffy and golden. Then, rather depressingly, they sink down to a flatter more omeletty shape as they cool. But thankfully this has no effect whatsoever on their flavour.

Ideal for babies, but if you don't have one and are the sort of person who likes to "give" parties and serve canapes alongside a carefully chosen cocktail or two (I used to try and give sophisticated parties like this - but Mr Jones and his friends always managed to turn them into drunken melees in which someone invariably ended up pegged to the washing line) - anyway - if you do like to hold a classy do then these would actually make simple canapes. You could even get all fancy and top with smoked salmon and creme fraiche and snip up a few chives - that would be ever so Nigella.

Anyway - grease a bun tin and pre-heat the oven to 180 (I pretty much cook everything at 180). A two egg mix will make you five or six mini omelettes - a four egg mix will obviously do double that - and all the maths inbetween I'll leave you to work out.

So whisk up your eggs and then stir in your filling. These were made with chopped up spinach which had been lightly wilted in a pan with some fried onion and garlic and a bit of grated nutmeg. Then I added some grated cheese.

But you can do anything - lightly sauted cougette and garlic with feta. Broccoli and cheddar, or broccoli and salmon, tomato and cheese, mushroom and parmesan, leek and cheddar.......

Mix your filling with your egg and then spoon into the waiting bun tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so or until puffed and golden. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing with a palate knife. They do stick a bit - at least in my tin they do. Butter seems to work better than olive oil for greasing for these.

Rufus had them for lunch. I sang this song to aid his digestion. If you're having a swanky cocktail party I might suggest a different soundtrack. I would like it noted that I DID NOT do the actions.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

10 years ago today....

Mr Jones and I first became a couple. Well at this point actually we were still in denial that we were indeed a couple, but it didn't take us long to realise that we were more than just friends really. Ten years ago we were just starting to live the drama - now we're thankful for a more peaceful life.

I don't think back then we quite realised that there would be a house, two cats, a wedding or a baby - but then we were 21 and all we cared about was who was buying the next round (in Tim's case) and whether anyone had taken out the last copy of The Brontes by Juliette Barker from the library (in mine). [Note - I now have my own copy of this book - you'll be delighted to know that fact I'm sure.]

But here we are, after an eventful 10 years together. Through the happy times, testing times and downright sad times we've always managed to find time for a hug and a kiss goodnight. Yes I might nag and we may well drive each other up the wall sometimes, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other. So you'll forgive me for being soppy, but I love you Mr Jones, I can't imagine my life without you in it. I promise to love you forever, be with you always and never let you go.

Monday, 31 January 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged....

that if you are married to a man, even if he is a good man, you do struggle somewhat not to nag.

Mr Jones is a very good man. of course, otherwise I wouldn't have married him. He makes breakfast for me and Rufus every morning, he puts the bins out and unloads the dishwasher, he gives Rufus a bath every night, he goes to work all day, occasionally he'll even run the hoover round - and for all of this I am very, very grateful and appreciative.

But there are times when I have to dig my nails into my palms, cross my toes, bite my tongue and resist the urge to tear out my own hair. You see, helpful as he is, very often he never quite finishes a job.

Take this morning for instance - he made his lunch and took the last yogurt from the cardboard outer carton. He removed this from the fridge, but instead of putting it in the bin, he left it on the side. Ditto the empty juice carton (which actually was an improvement to last week when it was left with barely a dribble in it in the fridge). When he cleans up after dinner he won't always wipe down the side or the top of the cooker. He'll put the bins out, but won't have emptied the various bins throughout the house. He'll load the dishwasher and put it on, but somehow fail to have noticed a stray knife, a glass or as of yesterday lunchtime - two empty tuppawear boxes and a mug sitting on the kitchen side.

All of this means that I spend my life in a constant state of "picking up". I find myself scurrying around after him collecting the left over debris and tidying it away. It basically means that every chore takes twice as much effort.

SO my question is - do I nag about this. or, do I keep on biting my tongue and continue to pick up the pieces while thinking myself lucky that he does anything at all? Am I expecting too much? Is finishing a task just beyond men, like multi-tasking? Or is it just down to training? Will I be able to train Rufus not to be a pain in his future wife's ass? (I realise this is more than one question).

Answers on a postcard please!

(PS - I do of course realise that Mr Jones will read this - I'm wondering if I should have been more subtle??)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

What can only be described as a classic....

I went to see the Health Visitor this week - it was a different one to normal. I had Rufus weighed, he was 17lb 9oz - up from 15lb 14oz just over a month ago. For the last week he has slept through the night - but then he has had a virus and been a pretty sleepy boy anyway. But still - hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.

I asked the Health Visitor what I should do about his night feed. Prior to the sleep throughs he'd been waking up between 4.30am and 6am for a feed. I was wondering if this was just habit or whether he actually really needed the food now that his weight is heading back in the right direction. She told me to press on with weaning and to try not to let him have his night feed back if he started waking up for it again.

That night he slept through, the following night he woke up at 5am. I went in and changed his nappy and tucked him back in to settle himself (he won't settle if we're holding him - he's too used to doing it himself). He proceeded to shout for the next hour with a few fits of crying and a few momentary dozes in between. Not fun.

The next night he slept through and we hoped that he'd learnt that waking up was a bit pointless. Last night however he woke up at just before 6am. So I went in and changed his nappy and put him back to bed. He started to shout, then to cry. I lie in bed squirming in agony feeling hideously guilty.

Mr Jones started chuntering about whether it was all worth it and asking how many nights we had to continue with this until we gave it up for a bad job and started feeding him again? I repeated the Health Vistor's advice and the fact that I thought he was feeding out of habit.

The crying continued. Mr Jones and I started a terse exchange. "This is ridiculous," says Mr Jones. "I didn't think there was anything wrong with the routine we had going before."

"No, love, I bet you didn't - you weren't the one getting up at 5am everyday to feed him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Rufus loves these, I was quite surprised, I thought they might be a bit "sophisticated" for a baby palate, but no, he can't get enough. He evern ate them in John Lewis' cafe while people watching and being told not to judge others by their table manners (I fear I maybe rubbing off on him just a bit too much!)

Make up a batch of baby pasta sauce (detailed directions to come next time I make some but basically stick a whole load of finely chopped veg such as onions, carrots. courgettes, leeks and peppers in a pot and saute until soft, add garlic and tinned toms and whatever herbs you fancy and then blitz until smooth - a sneaky way to add in extra veg). Spread a tablespoonful over half of a wholewheat tortilla wrap. Grate over a whole bunch of cheese and fold in half. Pop in a dry frying pan on a medium heat and fry until the cheese melts and the wrap is on the way to crispy. Turn halfway through. I have also made these with blitzed up bolognaise to get meat into him and it went down a treat.

I cut it into fingers and top the fingers with gucamole. Just mash a quarter of an avocado in a small bowl. If you have a set of Nigella mixing bowls then the smallest one is perfect for this. I used to have a set of Nigella mixing bowls until Mr Jones broke the smallest one. But I'm not bitter about it. In case you were wondering it can't be replaced, they aren't sold individually, you have to buy a whole new set. I'd like to add that I was very brave on the fateful day - I didn't even cry. Anyway - mash your advocado in a small bowl and spritz on a little fresh lime juice. I add the merest smidgen of a dash of sweet chilli sauce to mine - but you can leave it out - and a bit of pepper.

Courgette and feta fritters

Now these are lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely. In the summer when Mr Jones and I had courgettes coming out of our ears these were a staple part of our diet. Perfect with a crisp green salad and a hunk of crusty bread. Or with pitta breads and houmous.

If you're a baby you tend to ignore the salad (lettuce makes you gag) and just go for the fritters - which is good because they're full of vitamins and calcium and are a good introduction to cheeses other than the humble (but actually quite heavenly) cheddar.

Rufus loves them - possibly because I went through a stage when pregnant when all I could stomach was pasta with lightly fried grated courgette.

The recipe is borrowed from Nigel Slater whose books I love to read, but whom I cannot stand to watch on television.

Grate two or three large courgettes into a colander. (In the grown up version sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for 30 minutes before squeezing out the juice - in the baby version, just squeeze out as much juice as you can now). Pat dry in kitchen paper.

Finely chop an onion and fry in a little olive oil until softened and starting to turn golden brown. You can add garlic here too if you like. Add the courgettes to the pan and fry gently until everything is lightly golden. Sprinkle over a heaped tablespoon of flour and about half a slab of crumbled feta cheese (or less or more - it's up to you). Season with pepper (should be salty enough if you've salted the courgettes and if you're making for babies you don't need the salt). Whisk an egg and gradually add it to make a stickyish mixture. You might not need it all. If it seems to sloppy just add a bit more flour.

Put some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and when it's hot drop in dollop fulls of the mixture and fry on both sides for a few minutes until lightly browned. They are very fragile so take care when frying and turning. Leave to drain on kitchen paper. Lovely hot or cold.

Savoury flapjacks

I promised recipes - so here we go. Sorry for the delay - the boy is poorly still and I've had work to do. But now I'm done and he seems to be on the mend. We missed a get together with his bestest friends yesterday, but we dropped off some of these flapjacks so we weren't missed too much. They seem to have gone down a storm and I've had many requests for the recipe. It came from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook - which on first glance appeared disappointing, but on second perusal appears a bit more promising.

Please note - I am no food photographer - and I'm lazy and couldn't be bothered to do a step by step - but it's fairly simple.

Preheat your oven to 180c/gas mark 4. Melt 100g butter in a saucepan. Take off the heat an add 300g porridge oats, 350g of cheese (I used cheddar) and two beaten eggs (don't forget these - I nearly did). At this point you can add in optional veggies for a lighter and slightly more nutritious flapjack. I added 300g of grated carrot, but you could do grated sweet potato, parsnip, courgette and the book even sugests red onion (but I think I'd be tempted to fry it off a bit first in olive oil to take some of the strength out of it and release the sweetness). Press the mixture into the greased tin using the back of a spoon (or your fingers, which I found easier), it should be about 1cmthick. Bake for 20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for five mnutes, then cut into slices and cool on a rack.

The oats in this mean that they're a bit more filling than your average flour based bake and add plenty of veggies and you have a good dose of anti-oxidant vitamins too. There's calcium from the cheese and protein from the eggs - so a pretty balanced little recipes really. And if you don't have a weaning baby on your hands they're still tasty - although if you're on a diet they're probably best avoided because all that cheese makes for a pretty hefty calorie intake.

Master Jones hasn't given an official verdict on these yet because he's been off his food for the last three days, poor little mite. But we're hoping to tempt him with one tomorrow - luckily they keep well in an air tight box.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Seven months old - it's all a bit backwards

Seven months ago around about now Rufus was born and I was in a morphine induced haze - hurrah! Mr Jones and I just watched One Born Every Minute as if to relive the whole thing - I cried, Mr Jones mocked me (with tears in his eyes!!).

How things have changed in seven months. This week small boy has become a whole lot more mobile. He commando shuffles on his tummy - backwards - and round and round in circles. Every now and again he buries his nose into the rug and gets up onto his knees and makes crawling motions. He can sit, fairly reliably, on his own - although there have been several bumps to the head when he loses focus and dive bombs the floor. He's started reaching his arms out to me when he wants to be picked up - it breaks my heart everytime - I am quite pathetic.

After a long and slightly stressful search we have found a childminder and I have started to accept that I need to let him go. Today I got my eyebrows waxed while his Nana looked after him. No one was killed!

I know I promised recipes - and they are coming. There are many pictures on the camera, but between cooking and backwards shuffling there hasn't been much time for blogging. Plus we all have colds so the added chore of snot mopping has been a bit of a bore.

Auntie Rowena - the picture is for you - another dungarees shot - I hope you think it's "awesome" - or indeed "rather delightful" if you're feeling all English and not in the slightest bit Californian. xx

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The hair

Right I have truly had enough of my hair. Whatever I do to it looks horrendous. I was never going to be a yummy mummy - frankly I had enough trouble getting out of the house with make up on and my hair beautifully styled before I had a child let alone now I have one. (Yes I understand the irony - I write beauty features for a living - but if I'm honest life is just too short to spend half an hour applying guff to my face and blow drying my hair - but don't tell the readers).

Anyway in life BR - my hair was always just there. It was never spectacular - apart from maybe when I was about 17 when I recall it being all long and wavy and marvellously coloured - but it always looked ok. A mite fluffy at times and prone to misbehaving in humidity (that's enough from you sister - before you start telling stories about holidays and hair straighteners!!), but in general it never looked skanky.

Now it looks skanky. It's falling out in handfuls thanks to the raging post pregnancy hormones and it gets greasy in seconds. This might be due to the fact that there is a small boy hanging from it at any opportunity - but truly it is quite hideous. My forehead seems to grow bigger everyday - which is clearly down to the flat, ugly dullness of my hair. Just call me slap head.

I have hair envy. Where ever I go I see people with glossy hair, fabulously styled and I just want to grab them, grill them about what products they use and how long they spend back combing, poofing and blow drying every morning to procur themselves such a glamorous do?

The chances are they spend hours (or even minutes) that I don't have in front of the mirror making sure their hair looks great. I'd love to wash my hair every day - but I just don't have time. When it does get a wash I spend a good five minutes untangling lose hair from my fingers and then another five unclogging the shower drain and trying not to gag. Then I blast it (still sopping wet - tut tut) with a hairdryer while Mr Jones scowls at me for taking too long to get ready. If I'm lucky, and I've remembered to turn them on, I might even get to run the straighteners through it before I scrape it back into a pony tail in the hopes of preserving some of the shiny cleanliness before it's pulled, chewed and covered in whatever Rufus is having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I am tempted to have it all cut off. But I am terrifed that I'll end up with awful Mum hair, or something so high maintenance that I have to spend the next six months in solitary confinement until it grows back out again into something slightly managable. Something has to be done. I can't go on looking like I've been pulled through a greasy hedge backwards everyday. But what?Suggestions please......

Friday, 7 January 2011

An ode to chocolate

Well not really, because who writes odes these days? But anyway - I can't get enough of the stuff. Green and Blacks Creamy Milk is my current drug of choice. This might not sound weird to you because after all I'm a girl and most girls like chocolate - but not this girl. In life BR (Before Rufus) I'd have the odd daliance, eat a square or two. feel sick and then vow not to eat chocolate again.

However, I have just, this very moment, eaten six squares of creamy milk. And - I could eat more. The rest of the bar is in the cupboard and it's calling me. Begging to be melted on my tongue and washed down with a chaser of super cold milk. I find this new addiction disturbing not to mention fattening. I don't feel the slightest bit sick. It's most odd.

It's also odd that I now eat two slices of toast for breakfast every morning - one with marmite and one with marmlade - I like two courses in a meal. Again - probably not odd to you (the toast bit, not the two courses). But BR I didn't really eat bread - not unless I wanted to pay for it with a twisted gut or at the very least a stomach so bloated that I used to pat it and rub it like a pregnant woman in the hopes that people would mistake my errant wind for a small child.

Maybe I'm making up for not having cravings during pregnancy, maybe I'm having them now? Maybe broken night's sleep and days spent with a very busy little boy mean I need the carbs? Somehow I think the last stone of baby weight (it used to be half a stone - but then Christmas happened) might take a while to shift. I may have to go cold turkey on the chocolate. Not sure I could go without the toast. I crave it at 2am and at 3am and sometimes I get up at 5am and make myself a slice. In the middle of the night I forget two courses and just have marmelade. Mr Jones makes the best toast - I don't know what he does - it's just perfect.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The stew

If you make this recipe your baby will end up looking like this

Rufus loves stew. As a rule I never used to eat them. Then it started snowing and I dug out the le creuset and felt the need for something warming. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe in truth - I find that a lot of his recipes can be adapted - just take out the salt and make the bits easy for small paws to grasp. In order not to be "done" for infringing copyright laws here is a link to Mr Oliver's website and a big plug for all of his books - they are marvellous. Other recipes will be all my own work - I promise. This is just Rufus' favourite - besides eggy bread (or French Toast if you're being all American and posh).

One quick word - I am happy to use wine in cooking for Rufus - the alcohol cooks off and that just leaves flavour. If you read the Daily Mail and would like to comment on this feel free. If you write for the Mail and would like to do an article on the state of motherhood today feel free to quote me as a lush.

Now to the stew - there is no pic for this - it looks like a stew. It tastes good. It's from the Jamie's Dinners book.

Beef Stew
• olive oil and a knob of butter for good measure
• 1 onion, peeled and chopped
• a handful of fresh sage leaves (I didn’t have sage so I used thyme instead and it worked well)
• 800g/1¾lb stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 5cm/2 inch pieces
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (can leave salt out)
• flour, to dust
• 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
• 4 carrots, peeled and halved
• ½ a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
• 500g/1lb 2oz small potatoes
• 2 tablespoons tomato purée
• ½ a bottle of red wine
* 285ml/½ pint beef or vegetable stock (use baby stock if you are a true salt nazi)

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/300ºF/gas 2. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready. Once it’s cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110°C/225°F/gas ¼ and just hold it there until you’re ready to eat.

I left the veg fairly chunky and Rufus just helps himself to chunks of carrot etc – I always give him bits of beef too but he tends not to pick them up so I pop little bits in his mouth if he’s in the right mood. often he chews them for a while and then spits it out because I think even meat this tender is hard to keep chewing with no teeth. It’s great re heated too. I made the whole lot and froze half and it’s fine once frozen too.

The wonderful world of food

If you know of me at all you will no doubt be aware that I like a good meal. I do not under any circumstances understand people for whom food is mere fuel. To me food is the world's greatest pleasure. I firmly believe that I was put on this earth to eat. So it was not without excitement that I approached the whole weaning thing.

There are two schools of thought these days when it comes to introducing your baby to food. The traditional way with all the purees, Annabel Karmel books and a bit of mess; and the new fangled. hippyish, baby led weaning way - which involves no pureeing, letting your baby feed itself from a very wide range of "normal" food and a whole lot of mess.

Now, keen as I was to start Rufus on his life long journey of eating and hopefully enjoying food, I decided that despite the fact I could have started it all off at 17 weeks, the whole puree thing really wasn't up my alley. Who wants to eat pureed swede for a week with only a bit of pureed apple to spice things up? Certainly not me. Nope it was going to be baby led weaning all the way for me. So we waited until he was six months old and then went for it. (I will add that after much pressure from members of the older generation we did try purees at about 22 weeks but luckily Master Jones, clearly a gourmand from birth, was having none of it).

Anyway I had visions of myself in a pinny (indulge me in a bit of 50s housewife imagery if you will - see the perfectly coiffed hair, the impossibly slim waist, the big old American style fridge and the shiny faced children sat around a formica kitchen table) whipping up culinary master pieces for my son to scoff down with gusto. I saw the satisfied smile on my face as he's lean back at the end of each meal, let out a small, but satisfied burp and smile adoringly up at me as if to thank me for the tasty feast I'd set out before him.

I read the book - it all sounded good to me. Rufus would be eating our leftovers, nibbling morsels from my plate and would gradually introduce himself to a wide variety of foods ensure that he will never become a picky eater. So far, so marvellous.

We began tentatively with toast. It seemed a natural progression since he'd been trying to eat my breakfast for weeks. He squished it a bit, and then a bit harder until it crumbled into bits and made for the floor. A few bits got as far as being sucked - which was an improvement on the previous week when we'd given him a bit of apple to play with. He understood that it needed to go into his mouth - but hadn't quite worked out how to get it there. Instead he took him mouth to the apple and ended up bent over double gumming the apple that he held firmly in his lap - bless.

Sticks of roasted veg went down well, as did bits of poached pear and the odd slice of mango. But I couldn't help thinking that the floor was getting a better diet than he was.

The Health Visitor, she who was not concerned about his weight in the slightest, told me to go for it. To get as many calories into him as possible. She recommended that the only thing I spoon feed him should be porridge made with full fat cows milk. She sent me out for normal porridge oats, warning me off all forms of "baby food". I served this up for breakfast - the first spoonful was met with a wince, the second with a full on gag and the third with a flat refusal. Hmmmm not so good.

After a few days I worked out that he could handle chunks and chewing if they didn't come on a spoon. But anything that came his way travelling on a piece of cutlery had to be super smooth and bordering on liquid. So I sieved a banana and made up some baby porridge and it went down. I could hear the cries of the baby led weaning purists growing louder with every mouthful.

These days I can hear them tutting at every meal - because while he is utterly marvellous at feeding himself and has come on in leaps and bounds, he does tend to get bored/lazy before he's filled up his tummy. He starts off ramming food into his mouth at a pace. He usually has something in each hand and often tries to cram everything in at once. Then he gets tired and sits with his arms out to the sides twisting his hands at the wrists and making a funny groaning noise. And because he has been a skinny bean for so long and because I want him to be heading the right way on the weight charts for once I tend to help. Which I'm sure is very naughty - but I just break up piece of food into bite sized chunks and hold them in front of his face, if he opens his mouth I pop them in, if he doesn't open I don't. What is not baby led about that.

SO we are cooking without salt (a revelation for me - Miss Sodium 2010), we have resigned ourselves to the fact that the kitchen rug will at some point in the not so distant future need replacing, we have informed everyone that houmous/gucamole/toast/stew/fruit puree is indeed the new black and is all anyone with a small child will be wearing this autumn/winter - and probably spring/summer too. And of course we are in constant search of new recipes to tempt him with.

While the book suggests that your baby can at six months eat whatever you're eating we're not quite sure that he could manage a fajita, or would particularly like a Mauritian prawn curry, or steak and cannelini beans. Nor do we want to live on stew, pasta bake or homemade fish goujons. Plus Mr Jones and I are back on a healthy eating mission - and Master Jones needs full fat, not low fat - so I've ended up doing a fair bit of extra cooking - but at least it's not purees.

I love cooking for him and it's fun coming up with new baby friendly recipes. He doesn't love them all - meat usually brings forth a rage and broccoli isn't a big hit unless it's carefully disguised. I do like to share a good recipe, so the ones that are a success I shall post here - along with step by step pics if I have time.

The best news is that it's working - the little man is putting on chunk sharpish and I love blowing raspberries on his little pot belly.
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