Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Littlest Potato.

Baby David at 10 months old, enjoying the swings.

Whoops. I lost track of David's monthly updates. Although, if I'm being entirely honest, I'm pretty sure the same happened with John and I actually went back after his 1st birthday and edited photos to make it look like I'd actually kept it up... Thing is, you wait through those first few months for something to actually document and then after 6 months, everything happens at once.

David is officially on the move. He's graduated from the sniper crawl onto his knees. He can now pull himself (& climb) onto everything. He's starting to get the hang of cruising but I don't think he's quite aware of his ability to move yet. We're not quite at the stage of getting a walker out for him but he does enjoy pushing his piano & activity table around. He claps! Still only two teeth but he's been His eyes are starting to go brown, from the pupils outwards. He's now in to 18-24 months clothes (!!). Sleep is slightly better although he still wakes a minimum 2-3 times a night. He's a complete Mummy's boy, which I do love. Oh, and he eats like a horse!

I'm still in absolute denial that it's just 6 weeks until his 1st birthday. I still look at him and see a tiny baby, despite his size & development. Always my Littlest Potato.


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Friday, 26 September 2014

Chocolate Fudge Brownies in a Jar #DDDHMC

Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas - Chocolate Fudge Brownies In A Jar.

I'm big on baking. If I'm strapped for cash or lacking inspiration when it comes to gift giving, I'll usually bake something. Sometimes though, baking isn't practical; you've only got a couple of days between baking your goods & actually gifting them, which if you can guarantee you'll see the recipient is fine but in the instance of my eldest sister, I never know when I'll see her next! So when her birthday came around this year, instead of baking something that would be stale (or eaten...) before she got it, I decided to make her Chocolate Fudge Brownies In A Jar!

And the great thing about these Chocolate Fudge Brownies in a jar is that they can also be made in advance of Christmas, taking away the stress of last minute baking on Christmas Eve! Plus they're so unbelievably easy to make, you can even get the kids involved! Not to mention they make me all nostalgic about those sand art bottle kits I used to always receive at Christmas as a kid...


What You Need.   
A 1 Litre Jar (I picked up mine in a charity shop).
½ tsp Salt.
½ tsp Baking Powder.
95g Plain Flour.
35g Cocoa Powder.
75g Plain Flour.
135g Soft Brown Sugar.
150g Caster Sugar.
100g Chocolate Chunks.

100g Fudge Chunks.

Method.   
  1. Ensure your jar is very clean before starting; I sterilised mine in the oven beforehand (100°c for 30 minutes). Starting with the Salt, Baking Powder & 95g of Plain Flour, layer the ingredients in order as listed above, pushing each layer down before the next; I used an ice cream scoop to do this but any spoon will do.
  2. Once you reach the top, add some scrunched up grease-proof paper to any remaining space between the ingredients & lid to stop them being knocked out of place & ruining the layered affect.
  3. Finally, add a label with the following so your recipient knows what they need to do to enjoy their scrumptious Chocolate Fudge Brownies in a jar!
Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas - Chocolate Fudge Brownies In A Jar.

• • •
Remember that if you try any of the tutorials in Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas I'd love to know. You can use the hashtag #DDDHMC on your social media of choice & be sure to let me know in the comments too!

Happy making!
Adapted from this original recipe.
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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Potty Training Tips

Potty training tips for toddlers.
I still can't quite believe we have a potty trained 2 year old. I still expect to feel his squishy nappy bum when carrying him about but alas it's just his bony wee bottom! I've previously written about our potty training journey as it unfolded (12 & 3) but today I thought I'd offer my two cents and write about Potty Training Tips.

• • •
Start with a baby. Potty training is something that should start long before your wee one even has an ounce of bladder control. I'm not talking about Elimination Communication (far from it) but instead involving your wee one in your own toilet activities from a early age. Make peeing & pooping a social event! Make it something as normal as getting dressed or eating your tea. Don't let it be something  that happens behind closed doors, something to be ashamed of; instead just a normal part of daily life, that everyone does.

Avoid Negativity. That means no, "oh poo - that's smells horrible!" or "aw no, have you pooped?" The aim is to make going to the toilet a positive experience, something that your wee one is happy to participate in. This is another one that can be started whilst still in nappies and carried right through the potty training process. Put a positive spin on everything, even accidents. Stinky nappy? Well done for doing a fab poop - lets get you a new nappy. Peed on the floor? Oh dear, how about you be a big boy/girl and help Mummy clean it up? Poop in their pants? Whoopsy, lets get you some lovely clean pants on & try again next time.

Wait Until They're Ready. Potty training before your wee one is ready will only result in two things - mess & tears! So how do you know they're ready? First there's the physical signs; knowing when they pee/poo, the ability to undress themselves and being able to tell you when they need to go. There's also thinking about it from an emotional point of view; try to avoid potty training when a new arrival is imminent - John first started showing signs of being ready just months before David was born and typically he regressed as soon as he became a big brother, also try to avoid big events that will disrupt routine and lifestyle changes, such as nursery.

Go Straight To Pants. Not only are pull-ups, expensive, they're also a glorified nappy. They don't allow wee ones to know when they've had an accident, nor identify the difference between what a nappy & pants feel like. Of course, you will feel like the washing is endless but when at home let your wee one just go around in pants (or nothing) to cut down on washing and opt for easy to wash clothes like jogger bottoms.

Poop Goes In The Toilet. This was on tip my Mum gave me - when a wee one does a poop in their pants, sit them on the loo & put the poop in behind them (by dropping it out of the pants - I'm not advocating handling human faeces!). This reinforcing the message that poop goes in the toilet.

If All Else Fails, Bribe. Stickers are your best friend. Even sweeties. If it means they'll do it, they can have it! Obviously it's not a long term solution but if it helps them get in the habit when they're otherwise reluctant, it can be a good deal to make.


• • •
Do you have any of your own tips to add? Let me know in the comments!


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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Just Keep Fishing

Baby John finding Nemo.

Iain's become obsessed. It started with Finding Nemo, back when I was still pregnant with John (think it may be the Daddy/Son storyline...) but since then he's had this idea in his mind that we need a fish tank. And since we lost our last guinea pig earlier this year, he's keener than ever to grant John's wish of a new pet & give him his very own Nemo.

Me on the other hand, I'm not so convinced. I'm a bit hypocritical in my views really... When I was little, my Dad used to have a humongous fish tank overflowing with various colours of tropical fish. There was "Sucker" the catfish, "Mickey & Minnie" the Mickey Mouse Platy and "Red Tail Shark" the, well, Red-tailed Shark (we were original with names, clearly...). I can still clearly remember sitting for hours watching the fish in fascination - it was even better than watching TV at times. We've come through to the living room in the morning & there would be the glowing tank at the back of the room.  I even used them as the inspiration to one of my art projects at school. It's all fond memories really.

So why the reluctance? Well, also like my Dad, I know it'd be me that would become responsible for the fish (& every other pet we had as kids for that matter - thanks for that Dad!) and tropical fish can be pretty hard work. Plus it's actually marine fish that Iain's after which are even more work! You'd be forgiven for thinking that it's as simple as filling a tank with water & popping some happy little fish in to swim about but alas, it's not. There's the size of the tank to think about, keeping the pH levels just so, choosing the best water filter to keep your fish happy, maintaining the temperature with a decent aquarium heater... And that's all before you've even thought about what kind of fish are going to work for you.

But then we take a trip the pet shop or Deep Sea World, or I look back on photos from when Iain & I went snorkelling in Sharm El Sheikh and suddenly I find myself Googling the best species of fish, what tanks are recommended and planning out where exactly we could free up space for them in the house. Fish aren't that much hard work really... I mean, I don't need to the cuddle them when the kids lose interest, nor do I need to pick up their poo everyday. Plus they are pretty entrancing to watch. Maybe a fish tank isn't such a bad idea after all...

Just keep fishing,
This post contains a sponsored link.
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Friday, 19 September 2014

Blackberry & Apple Jam #DDDHMC

Diddle Diddle Dumpling Home Made Christmas Blackerry & Apple Jam recipe.

I have a mental list of all the preserves I want to make as part of the Diddle Diddle Dumpling Home Made Christmas. This wasn't one of them. But when you discover loads of brambles in the local park, you're left with little choice but to pick them & get making! And just like the Strawberry Jam, you can't really go wrong with this gift. You need to be quick though, as like with the strawberries, blackberry supplies will be depleting by the time Christmas rolls around. So, get picking & get making!

What You Need.   
500g of Blackberries (preferably wild but shop bought will do).
500g of Cooking Apples (after coring & peeling).
125ml Water.
1kg of Granulated Sugar.
Juice of one Lemon.
1 heaped Tsp of Ground Cinnamon.
½ Tsp of Unsalted Butter.
3-4 Jam Jars with lids (450g is ideal).

Method.   
  1. Wash your blackberries, chop your apple into small pieces (roughly 1cm cubes) & sterilise your jars.
  2. Pop the apple into your pan (again a large heavy based pan, such as a jam pan) alongside the water and warm for a few minutes. Then add the blackberries and heat whilst stirring for 5 minutes, until the blackberries release their juices.
  3. Add the sugar & lemon juice to the pan and stir on a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. In case you're wondering, the reason you only use granulated sugar instead of jam sugar in this recipe is because the apples already contain the pectin required (the science-y ingredient required to let your jam set) which you find in jam sugar.
  4. Add the cinnamon. This part is optional but gives the jam a bit extra flavour.
  5. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 15 minutes or until it reaches it's setting point. Just like the Strawberry Jam, to check the setting point, spoon a small amount of the jam out and onto a cool plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then with your finger, check that it is of the consistency you'd expect of jam. If not, continue to boil for a couple of more minutes & check again. When happy, add the spoonful of butter & stir before switching off the heat - this stops a yucky scum forming on the top of your jam.
  6. Allow the jam to cool in the pot for around 10 minutes before spooning it into the sterilised jars. Ensure your jars are still warm as cold jars are likely to crack due to the heat of the jam.
  7. Place a wax disc of the top of the jam & seal with your lid. You should get around 3 jars but I like to have an extra jar sterilised & ready, just in case there's more than I expect.
• • •
The use of apples makes this jam a little more interesting, in both preparation & taste. And the smell is divine - I'm tempted to whip up another batch just to have my house smelling so beautiful again! Plus being able to say we foraged the ingredients for ourself is quite a nice wee achievement & will definitely be mentioned on the labels.

If you do decide to give this jam a try for yourself, be sure to share your photos & experiences using the Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas hashtag; #DDDHMC 

Happy making,

Adapted from this original recipe.
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