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babylish-baby-led-weaningSince the addition of Babylish to the family, I feel like my life is busier than ever. I’m a stay at home mum but also a work at home mum which means my days are packed full.

I really enjoy cooking but it’s not something I really have a lot of time for at the moment. With 2 hungry little mouths to feed I need meals that are quick and nutritious.

Weaning the Italian way

Baby at the table is a new book by The Chiappas sisters Emanuela and Michela, both busy mums to young children. Having been brought up in a large Italian community in South Wales, they know a thing or two about family and food!

Baby at the table shares the Italian approach to weaning which aims to get your little one joining in family meals at the table by age 1. Split into 3 stages, baby, toddler and family, it’s crammed full of lovely recipes and tips on essential basics like how to organise your freezer, store cupboard essentials, when to wean, what babies can and can’t eat and portion sizes.

Baby at the table is a philosophy we definitely believe in. Simple, fresh ingredients used to prepare healthy meals for all the family and prepped in less than 15 mins, perfect!

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Weaning Babylish

At 9 months old Babylish has passed the weaning stage and is already eating with our family. We went down the baby led weaning route, mostly because she’s a fiesty one and wouldn’t be spoon fed. Plus she enjoys feeding making a giant mess and throwing food everywhere, herself. I jest, she’s actually a really good eater, enjoying everything that resembles food – even dog food biscuits (really trying to wean her off these!!). With 4 teeth she’s got a good bite on her too which helps!

Despite the fact that Babylish is already eating at the table with us (I always thought I was Italian at heart!) we can still use a helping hand with recipe ideas. I love the clever ideas for speedy lunches like cheats pizza, healthy snacks like apple sandwiches and tasty Italian classics for the whole family like rainbow ricotta gnocci.

Testing the recipes

We have been using the book to make some fab meals this week including the Salmon and Broccoli pasta which we all ate as dinner one night, the girls at the first sitting and Daddy and I later on in the evening. We were all fans of the dish but Babylish was a particular fan and wolfed the lot down as soon as it was in front of her.

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We also opted for the ricotta pudding which we were sold on by the photo of Fiamma (Michela’s daughter) enjoying a large bowl of chocolatey goodness! It was the first time Babylish had tried chocolate pudding and she LOVED it. Perhaps a little too much! Although obviously the ricotta pudding is a treat only to be given occasionally it does feel good to be able to create a pudding that is homemade with a clear knowledge of the ingredients. And while ricotta cheese and chocolate may not be the most healthy things in the world there is no pure sugar in the recipe at all, it is only sweetened with maple syrup or honey.

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We’ve also got the ingredients in to make the Blueberry bread and mini fish pies this week both of which I cannot wait to try!

Making it easy for mums

Written by mums after my own heart, Baby at the table is like the bible your super organised chef best friend would make for you. Always trying to make life easier, never complicating it with long ingredient lists or complicated cooking steps. Everything has been made with time saving and you in mind.

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It feels like a tremendous amount of love has gone into making this book and a real sense of family and joy runs through each page. The photos of the families together with their adorable children tell a heartwarming story, feeding your family should be joyful and so, in fact, should cooking for them. Let’s face it when you are busy mum, cooking is joyful when it is quick, simple and healthy and more importantly it actually gets eaten by your children!

Baby at the table is available from all good book stores, including Amazon. I’m definitely hanging on to my own copy but I do have a copy available for giveaway too. You can enter via the rafflecopter. Sorry but it’s only available to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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review-of-thaikhuns-kids-menu As a couple, our favourite type of food is Thai. If we get a chance to go out for dinner, it’s always going to be a toss up between Thai or Italian for us. If we are going out as a family it’s normally Italian that wins because we know Littlelish loves pasta and pizza.

So we were super excited to hear about the new kids menu at Thaikhun. We had already discovered Thaikhun as a couple at the beginning of the year when we took a trip to Oxford, so we knew Littlelish would love the fun, vibrant setting. The concept is street Thai food and the setting is so colourful and full of wonderful details very much like you would see on the streets of Thailand. It’s a sunny, happy place, perfect if you want to escape for an hour or two and pretend you are on holiday. Plus the food is delicious!!

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Littlelish eats quite a wide variety of food but she isn’t great at trying new ‘unknown’ food. Her only experience of eating Thai food is when we took her to a small Thai restaurant about a year ago and she only managed to eat some chips! Much to our frustration she wouldn’t even dare to take a mouthful of the cashew chicken we ordered for her. So she was excited but a little apprehensive about trying Thai food again…

When we arrived we were shown to our booth table situated just next to the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. At this point all nerves about the food had evaporated and Littlelish was giddy with excitement. The waitress handed her an activity booklet created in conjunction with National Geographic Kids to explore and she enjoyed reading a little about Thailand. It’s a country we all would really like to visit one day so she shared some handy information and taught us some Thai words that were written on the menu.

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Drinks were ordered first. This is one thing we love about Thaikhun as you can order really exotic drinks like guava and tamarind juice and they are delicious! Littlelish opted for a lychee juice which I thought was pretty adventurous and she absolutely loved it (watch her describing it in her youtube video, it’s ever so funny!) We went for a round of grown up drinks which included a delicious ‘my thai’ – yum!

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The kids menu provides 3 courses for £5.95 and starts with crudites with the idea of getting something healthy and green into the children before they get to their mains. I think this is a great idea and very much how I do things at home too, luckily Littlelish is a big salad eater so was very happy with this. The crudites were freshly cut and not withered having been cut hours in advance (we have had this before at our local Italian chain. I never knew cucumber could look so unappealing!). My starter was vegetable and prawn rolls while the others shared some chicken satay. Both were fresh, juicy and full of flavour.

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On to the main course, for Littlelish there was a choice between Phad Thai a Mix and Match tray of either Chicken, Pork or vegetables with either noodles and rice or Fried Chicken and Jasmine rice. She selected the last choice and was presented with a fab colourful plate with sections for her food. In one section there was chicken cooked in panko crumbs which looked absolutely delicious (and tasted it, I did pinch some for a taste test obviously!) and a lovely mound of jasmine rice. This was a perfect meal for her, not too adventurous so as not to be eaten, delicious, fresh and presented in a fun way. She ate the lot with no complaints while we tucked into our thai curries and fish and mango salad which we all loved.

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As a family we love travel so we particularly liked the learning opportunity for Littlelish as we chatted about Thailand, what we knew of their culture and customs. At this point the super friendly waitress asked Littlelish if she would like some worms! We giggled and said yes, thinking it would probably be something that looked like worms, a little fun for the kids? On her return she had two small metal buckets with actual worms in them! Big fat buffalo worms (dried) and smaller silk worms, she explained, are eaten in Thailand as a snack. It was fascinating, but all the girls wimped out of trying this delicacy, even mummy couldn’t stomach it! Simon did try both options and said they tasted rather like… dirty walnuts! Having a good giggle at this, we agreed we were definitely curious and eager to explore this part of the world one day.

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We were all totally stuffed at the end of our meal but Littlelish did manage to squeeze in the icelolly from her childrens menu. I thought it was clever that if children wanted a pudding but you really wanted to leave (and let’s face it that does happen sometimes)  they can just take the lollies with them and eat them on the way. Another super well thought out detail from Thaikhun.

What I’d say is you can tell a lot of attention to detail has gone into delivering a children’s menu that really works for children, but also for parents. It’s healthy so you are happy and it’s delicious, simple and fun so the kids are happy. All in a super fun, relaxed environment. Winner, winner… Chicken and jasmine rice dinner!

Thank you for inviting us to try out new kids menu at Thaikhun, it’s fab and we will be back for more very soon!

 

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girl-with-book Summer is a distant dream, the rain has returned and I’ve even worn a pair of tights and boots which is the official sign that Autumn is well and truly round the corner isn’t it?

Littlelish has started in year 3 and I cannot believe she is 7 already! It only seems a minute ago that we were chatting away about blind people and their guides dogs on the drive to preschool.

School has become a very important part of both of our lives.

As a mum, I do both drop off and pick up, and on my blogging days, the exchanges in the playground can be the only real life conversations I get to have besides Buddy and Babylish. Although I always take comfort in the fact that it will only be a few hours before Littlelish is back to chatter at me till my ears bleed and I wish for silence again, haha.

Our school is a small school with a strong sense of community which I love. I know most of the mums, dads, grans and grandpas in the playground by name. I’ve even made some really good friends at the school gate and our friendship has evolved from making polite conversation in the playground to spa days, collaborative blogging and Friday night dinners.school-1

For me Littlelish’s education is massively important. With such a large amount of time spent at school it is important that she is happy and engaged. She’s an extremely capable child but is pretty lazy if disinterested and bored so it’s absolutely vital she is in the right environment for her to flourish.

Rewinding back 4 years to when we were first searching for a school. I remember trawling through all the relevant information on the ofsted website, trying to make some sense of it all. I knew I wanted a local school that was rated outstanding by Ofsted. I also wanted a school that was creative and outdoorsy and not too large as Littlelish was very sensitive and easily overwhelmed as a small child. A strong family feel with good ethics and principals were also high on the list, plus it just had to ‘feel’ right.

I’m happy to report that we did in fact find what we were looking for in the end and both Littlelish and I are happy with her current school. But I do remember well that these decisions, the ones that will affect your little one for the rest of their life (aaargh the pressure!) can feel really daunting..

This September has seen the launch of a new website called School Reviewer. A one stop shop for everything educational, from searching to find your nearest school, checking out the catchment area on the heat map to reading all the ofsted reports. If you really want to find out what the parents think of the school you can read reviews written by parents as well as finding second hand items for school, like uniform or books which are for sale.

There is also a chat forum for parents to talk about their school or a more general forum for all education talk. Children preparing for exams can watch walk throughs of exam papers, tutoring them in the art of answering tricky questions and where many go wrong. If you need extra tutorial support in the form of a local tutor you can search for this too. School reviewer also has a blog with interesting and current articles provides good, thought provoking reading.

In the video below you can listen to Baroness Karren Brady and her thoughts on the site but of course the best way to find out what it has to offer you is to check it out for yourself at http://www.schoolreviewer.co.uk.

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