My top 5 tips for having a good day with a new baby 

Today I was up at 5am. Huxley hadn’t slept much and with Bodhi coming in sporadically throughout the night complaining of achy legs , I think in total I bagged myself 3.5 hours kip. I’m not going to deny it. I feel like crap.  There’s no hiding the fragmented expression of a woman willing to maim if someone or something makes a sound above 3 decibels. It’s clear to anyone who has nursed an infant through the night, I’m a woman on the edge. 

Right now nursing my 4 and a half month old baby, a good nights sleep seems another lifetime away. So I’m just sucking it up and cracking on with it. However sleep deprivation is flammin harsh. I managed it in the 90’s because after a good night out on the tiles I only had to think about the 3 weetabix I was going to scoff not the three kids I need to feed, bathe, dress, clear up after, source clean school clothes, make lunchboxes, sign forms… you see where I’m headed. 

 A decent nights sleep is a good antidote for most things so when you’re surviving on 4 or 5 hours of broken sleep it’s okay to admit you feel like had a frying pan has been slung around your head and that also you’re silently telling everyone to fuck off. 

When it gets to the stage where you feel as though you’re falling apart and a nap is not a feasible option, then try one of my top 5 tips. With 3 kids under 8, these are remedies, post all night baby rave that have made a mamouth day ahead feel a little more achievable for me. 

Get out 

Don’t stay in the house if baby isn’t settling. Walk or drive to your local cafe, shop, park whatever. It’s unlikely Nanny McPhee will be popping her warty head round your door anytime soon so step away from the vacum, dishes and don’t even attempt mount laundry. Phone a friend, meet for lunch, even if you pootle up to the road to the pharmacy for a tube of bonjela and some paw patrol plasters ( one of my past parenting goals achieved)  just leave the post apocalyptic scene and head for somewhere you can use actual words. Somewhere where you won’t be looked at with bewilderment and get covered in drool. Because the best bit about leaving the house, other than ignoring the sea of laundry and dirty dishes, is returning home again with a tiny sense of accomplishment (and potentially a newly stocked medicine cabinet) When getting your head on a pillow is a no go, a change is indeed as good as a rest. 

Play music 

Don’t just reserve your favourite tracks for going out, pull out some classic sing a long anthems and crank them up to a level the neighbours wont complain too much about. Babies love music; classical music and R&B are particular favourites but anything you can move and sing to. Jason Mraz, Bob Marley and Bruno Mars were played endlessly when my first child, Savannah was born. Singing and dancing with baby is also a great bonding excercise. Babies love to be sung to and it gets you moving around on your feet. I often pull out a full dance routine in the kitchen for my youngest whilst I’m cooking tea and he sits in his little chair looking on in pure bewilderment. 

Call in the squad 

If you can’t manage to lift yourself from the sofa then call around and bring a crew of parents with their offspring in tow. They can take you as you are: baby vomit marinated sweatshirt and all. Oh and they can jolly well bring cake. It’s easy to think no one cares when you’ve been looking at the same 4 walls and the same drooly ernest face of your baby, but just cos they ain’t there, don’t mean they don’t care. People aren’t psychic, you pull a great poker face but no one will know you’re struggling unless you holler. And there’s no shame in gathering your homies to take the edge of an otherwise long slog of a day. 

Bake 

Since The Great British Bake-off hit our screens way back in 2010, we’ve gone potty for pastry, crazy for cupcakes and bonkers for bread. 

Baking is therapeutic. The act of gathering a few humble ingredients and transforming them into something delectable is so simple yet incredibly satisfying. 

We don’t do it enough and instead we take short cuts and easy options which at the time may be convenient but it sure won’t feel anything like that sense of slendour when you’ve spatulaed a few fresh cookies onto a cooling rack 

Baking a tray of cookies or a simple loaf can take minutes to throw together – some of the best bakes I’ve done are 5 minutes in the making, 15 minutes in the baking. You’re 20 minutes away from a batch of fresh baked goodies. 

Right now I highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s new book 5 ingredients for whacking together an array of dishes for your Family with a fab baking /dessert section at the back. 

Baking and cooking has been proven to be good for your mental health. Author Marian Keyes claimed baking saved her life after she turned to a bit of sponge therapy after depression struck. Roll up your sleeves and make something from scratch today. 

Don’t sweat the housework

It might not sound particularly rock and roll but for me there’s nothing more satisfying than a crashing out at the end of a day in a semi together gaff. But the reality is – it ain’t happening until 2021 when the newest one starts pre school. So in the meantime I like to live by this rule. Whether the dishes from the drainer have been stacked away or I’ve simply mopped up the puddle of wee marinating the bathroom floor tiles ( one of the many joys of an independent 4 year old boy)- if there’s just one room I can walk into that vaguely resembles the home of a woman that has her shit together then I consider that a success. The thing to remember is it’s never ending. Liken it to cleaning up after party you were never invited to, living with 3 kids is an endless drudge of sticky banisters and removing random tiny items from one area of the house and placing them in another area. So wipe up the wee, that I recommend for a house to stay smelling fairly fresh, and just do what you can when you can. Everyone is in the same boat and you’re doing great. 

Advertisements

Coffee, where it comes from and why we love it so

For many of us, coffee is an important part of the day; from our early morning espresso fix before a business meeting, to an ear bending chat over a flat white with a good friend. Whatever your choice of style or flavour, or your reason for drinking it, coffee is the worlds most consumed drink -with over 400 billion cups drunk worldwide.

But where did our fascination for the rich fragranced velvet drink come from?

Coffee, as a drink has been around for some time. Some reports date it as far back as the 10th century. There are many fascinating stories which try to give us a definitive answer of how we came to drink coffee, but the general ideas are the same and so it goes something like this…

After eating the berries of the coffea plant, animal’s behaviours were observed as hyper or joyful. In one tale, goats were described as dancing after eating the berries of the coffea tree. Intrigued at the animals behaviours under the influence of the berries, humans decided to try them for themselves. Disgusted by their raw texture and flavour, the berries were thrown into a fire where they were roasted; thus the rich coffee aroma was born and that fresh roasted coffee scent has had us hooked ever since.

coffee shutterstock_660230209.jpgBut it’s not just the bold chocolaty bouquet that keeps us drinking the world’s most favoured hot beverage. Coffee has become more than just a habit for a pleasant caffeine lift. Instead, drinking coffee has become a religious affair. Getting together to drink coffee is about fostering communities, repairing sorrow and building bridges between despair and hope. How many times have you heard those sacred words ‘do you fancy a coffee?’ and your little cup of joy has overflowed at the prospect of an hour of putting the world to rights, pouring your heart out or formatting an indestructible life plan?

Drinking coffee on a social level does more than give us an artificial buzz. It nurtures our souls, it binds communities and stimulates conversations and these are the things that are important to us. These are the things that make us human. And that is why, apart from being woken up and having our senses stimulated, we enjoy consuming coffee on such a colossal scale.

Whilst getting together with friends, colleagues and families, you are encouraged to be aware of the coffee industry and help support the 3rd world countries that produce it. Most of the world’s coffee is produced between the tropics; the areas where water is most scarce.

UK coffee week (16-22 April 2018) is sponsored by the Allegra foundation which raises funds for areas such as Tanzania and assists them with producing access to water facilities, so that women and children don’t have to walk up to 15 kilometres a day to get their days’ supply of water. To date, Project Waterfall has raised over £230’000 which has benefited over 10’000 people in Tanzania.

You can donate to the charity here at Allegra foundation .

The London Coffee festival takes place 12-15 April 2018

An Ocean Of Happiness

An ocean of happiness

The ocean and food are a marriage made in heaven. We all love to eat by the sea; especially when the weather allows us to enjoy a spot of alfresco dining. Over time humans have developed and maintained a strong tie with the marine environment – firstly for our survival in terms of food and secondly for recreation. Whether we live 2 or 200 miles from the ocean, as a species we are drawn to the sea.

So when we thinking about where we would like to eat out, whether it’s for a light brunch, a long lazy lunch or a romantic supper, it’s not surprising that we flock to a seafront location to refuel. The mere sight of an ocean for many produces awe and a profound sense of invigorating peace. What better way to ensure a relaxing and stress free eating experience than by heading towards a view of a vast ocean.

Taking children out to eat can often bring with it a myriad of challenges, yet as a parent I often feel a gratifying sense of peace when I am near the beach with kiddies in tow. Partly because there is an endless landscape of flat sea and sand for them to run across, paddle in, discover and create things on, rendering my mind partially free to roam, daydream or simply switch off -but also because I know that they are absorbing healthy negative ions and that maybe at some point, we are all subconsciously being lulled into a meditative state by the sounds of the waves.

A tranquil surrounding of turquoise waters and brilliant blue sky can guarantee happiness and contentment as the colour blue had long been associated with a sense of calm and serenity. Let’s face it, any parent will opt for a composed eating experience over a ‘stuff it in their faces and get out of here’ style marathon any day of the week.

Children that have eaten well, sat still and remembered their manners, whilst maybe throwing in an extra portion of cuteness for spectator purposes, is every parents pursuit of happiness. Being able to eat out at a restaurant that is child, family and dog friendly that is based at a seafront location, for me – is happiness personified.

 

Into the wild

foraged chesnuts

Once upon a time, long before the evolution of the monetary system and corporations, it wasn’t unusual to see our ancestor’s literally defining the meaning of fast food as they chased after an antelope and dragged it home to utilise every element of the creature for food and well-being. These days the hunter gatherer in us can merely press a few buttons on an app on our smart phones and voila! Food arrives!

Unleash the beast!

As convenient as this is in the modern day society, within all of us – lying dormant, is the wild creature who is capable of heading into the wild to source food with our bare hands; or at the very least, a few primitively assembled tools.

Unleashing this natural beast provides incredible benefits for the body, soul and bank balance. To be at one with nature and to connect one’s self to the earth is rewarded with an incredible sense of place and self, diversifies the palate and helps your body fall back into the rhythm orchestrated and conducted by the natural world we inhabit. Mother Nature has provided us with a veritable smorgasbord right on our doorstep. And it’s all free.

dandelionOur connection to the earth

Over the years we have all definitely lost our connections with the environment around us. The centuries that we spent teaching ourselves which plants and berries are edible and which we should avoid, is now redundant in a world where food from across the globe can be accessed via a few clicks. But foraging for food in the hedgerows and undergrowth is beginning to prove popular again amongst a few daring souls who are not only willing to brave the elements and bring home food that hasn’t been pre picked and packaged but are realigning themselves with natures body clock alongside fresh wild seasonal produce.

Some forageable foods that are available all year round are:

  • Shepard’s Purse – flower tips can be used to snack on and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked
  • Crab apple – leaves can be used for tea and the crab apple can be used for cooking.
  • Clovers – the flowers are the part mainly used; the leaves can cause bloating if eaten in excess.
  • Nettle – nettle leaves can be cooked, eaten raw or used in a tea.

foraged mushroomsPoints to remember before you set out to forage

Foraging for any wild food should always be done with professional guidance and it is not recommended that you venture out to forage without fully consulting and cross referencing several information sources first.

If you are trying foraging for the first time, you should first seek out a reputable forging organisation, of which there are many that run all around the country.

You can find one close to you by looking on the internet.

If you are unsure about any food item, DO NOT EAT IT.

The Law

Many forgeable items will be accessible from a public right of way; nature reserves do not count as a public right of way. Certain plants may be considered ‘protected species’.

It’s not always possible to uproot a whole plant without the landowner’s permission

Rules in England and Scotland do differ.

If you are unsure if you should be foraging on a particular piece of land, you can always check with the landowner, if they are unavailable then contact your local authority for further advice.

Seasonal foraging guide

Autumn

Chestnuts – Pickle the chestnuts or eat roasted

Damsons – Jam

Crab apples – Jam, chutney or eat the leaves

Blackberries – Freeze them and add to smoothies or make blackberry jam

Sloe – Make sloe gin

Elderberries – Eat raw, add to berry fruit salads

Winter

Cranberries – Make cranberries sauce, jam or chutney and bake in cakes

Chickweed – Add the leaves, stems and flowers to salads and eat raw

Mussels and Oysters – Clean well and cook

Wild Garlic – Eat the leaves and flowers in salads or flavour olive oil

Spring

Stinging nettles – Make tea with the leaves

Elderflower – Make elderflower cordial

Mallow – Add the leaves to salads or dry to make tea

Primrose – Eat the flowers and the leaves in salads

Summer

Clover- Eat raw in salad

Pignuts – Eat raw or in salads

Some useful foraging websites and apps

www.wildfooduk.com

general advice on what foods are ideal to forage and at what time of year

www.fathen.org

a wild foraging school with plenty of blog posts about wild foraging

Foraging flashcards fall

an app to test yourself on edible plants