14 December 2015

Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment and Moisturiser

I was sent a lovely box of Bepanthen goodies to try out on the willing Jim baby. He actually made a very good guinea-pig. He is teething so has quite acidic pee and tends to have dry skin patches on his tummy so both creams were needed.

Speak to any mum and they all have a specific nappy rash cream they prefer to use. I'm a great believer in Sudocrem others prefer Metanium which I've never had work successfully. But Sudocrem is quite thick and icky to apply for every nappy change so I'm afraid sometimes it's only used when redness is already starting to show. But, as with a lot of things there are so many different products to choose from it's easier to just stick with what you know. So I'm really grateful I was given the opportunity to try the Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment. This cream has a really nice texture - almost gel-like, so it's really easy to apply and your both not inadvertently covered in it by the end of the nappy change. It doesn't contain any fragrance, preservatives colours or antiseptics so it's suitable as a nappy rash prevention cream to be used at every nappy change. The ointment forms a breathable, transparent layer to protect from irritation and rubbing.

The tube is also incredibly easy to use - a flip top lid means you can open and close it one handed which is a massive bonus.

In terms of dry skin again with my eldest I left it until it was a bit late. Only once he had dry skin, mostly on his arms, did I start to apply cream and for him I've always loved Oilatum Junior. I bought stacks of the stuff when Jim arrived and vowed to baste him daily but he still had little dry patches on his tum. These have gone with regular use of the Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser which I try and use every time he gets out of the bath. It has no perfumes or harsh chemicals so it's great for children with sensitive skin and can be used from newborn up.

The moisturiser contains Vitamin B5 which helps to deeply moiturise and nourish the skin and is free from alcohol, colours, fragrances, parabans, lanolin and paraffin.

I would absolutely recommend both of these creams - I'm going to keep Sudocrem on-hand for anytime an antiseptic cream is needed but hopefully this will be a lot less often with the preventative help of the Nappy Care Ointment. Reasonably priced and easily available, Bepanthen works closely with parents, nurses and midwives so they know what they are doing. Their website has a tone of useful information so it's worth taking a look.

What You Need to Know - Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser and Nappy Care Ointment
  • Moisturiser is £5.99 for 100ml
  • Ointment is available in three sizes £3.99 for 30g, £5.99 for 50g and £7.99 for 100g 
  • The Nappy Care Ointment does not contain any antiseptic - it is a preventive barrier cream. 
  • Available in the UK from Boots, Asda, Ocado, Superdrug and Tesco

9 December 2015

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy's can be really hit and miss. At best they are a soothing kick-up the arse for colds and at worse they are an over-spiced lukewarm horror with terrible whiskey. My dad made the best and my mum has now taken over the helm. When I lost my voice and felt near death with the worst cold ever whilst in early labour with Jim she made me one of these and I felt better than I had done in months.

My husband annoyingly always says 'how much lemon'. THERE IS NO LEMON IN A HOT TODDY YOU WALLY. 

Hot Toddy

A good measure of whiskey
A dessertspoon of runny honey
1/2 coffee spoon (small tsp) ground cinammon
1/4 coffee spoon ground ginger
Grate of nutmeg
A couple of cloves (optional)
Boiling water

1. Pour the whiskey into a glass.

2. Put in the honey and spices

3. Pour in the just-boiled water (leaving a spoon in the glass to stop it breaking)

4. Stir and drink as soon as you can

13 October 2015


Most people spend the entire 40 weeks of your second pregnancy telling you how hard it is with two, much like they spent the whole of your first telling you about all the women/babies they'd know who have died or been seriously disabled by childbirth and in my case, all the major fuck-ups your hospital have made. Now I don't want to sound awful but apart from the first-six-weeks-eating-every-hour-and-a-half fiasco Jim has been a really lovely baby. Yes sometimes he sleeps through, sometimes he doesn't and he throws-up. A lot. All the time. But he smiles, and he sleeps and he's funny and he laughs and his big brother adores him. So I'm pretty smug and lucky over here.

I was told I'd forget how to breastfeed. I didn't. Told that Ned would hate him. He didn't. Told that I would never wash again. I do, even if I have to listen to one of my children being cross with me while I do it. I have, however, completely forgotten how to wean.

Ned was known to be a bit of a screamy baby. Hours were spent bouncing in front of the speakers blasting out Motley Crue, Refused and Jay-Z which was one of the few ways to stop him shouting. But man that boy would eat. Anything in a bottle was downed like a darts player on a tight schedule and when it came to weaning after the initial week of not actually knowing what to do with his mouth he would eat whatever came near him on a spoon. Or in an Ella's pouch. My friends marvelled at my wonder baby and his eating.

Not Jim. He eats. But not all his bottle all the time, not all in one go and I keep forgetting to wean him. Some days he has something then I'll forget for a week. I've had to become really focussed on it and I'm thankful that I signed up to an Abel & Cole delivery box years ago which means that, due to my terrible eating habits, there is always something around to puree. I just can't remember what to feed when, what to do with the bottles, when to aim for dropping one. It's as if all knowledge of how to get your child from liquids to solids has fully left the building. It's like it was never there. So of course, it's back to the books. Re-reading the trusty Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner feels like the first time. It's amazing Ned is not just walking round with a bottle of formula.

I've also bought, on recommendation from a friend, River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook, I'm hoping will give me ideas for things that Ned can eat (whether he will or not...) that I can puree for Jim further down the line. So far Jim's had pear, baby rice and porridge. This afternoon we're having parsnip. Fingers crossed something will come back to me soon.

7 October 2015

Jamie Oliver's Chicken and Squash Cacciatore

Having a conversation on Twitter the other day I realised I had no shame in admitting I love Jamie Oliver, yes sometimes my hand twitches with the urge to give hi a little slap but I can say that about most people and they don't consistently make cookery books that I love.

I went to Bree's house and she had the new Jamie Oliver, Everyday Super Food. I had added it to my Amazon wishlist but one look at hers and I bought it (half price in Waterstones) on the way home. Not that it is full to bursting with things I want to cook (I look to Jamie's 15-Minute Meals for that) but because I am trying to lose weight, I need a healthier diet, I live with a man who needs man food, but of the slimming variety and Everyday Super Food seems to have that all covered.

The Chicken and Squash Cacciatore with mushrooms, tomatoes, olives and bread is a good example of this. It's just not really my sort of thing, in fact I hate squash so, as suggested by Jamie, I substituted it for the mildly more bearable sweet potato. But it was delicious, filled us up and Joe cooked it. Successfully but not taking hours. So here it is. I didn't take a photo, I left out the olives and resisted the urge to have it with pasta and had one slice of bread as per the recipe.

I sometimes think Jamie's portion sizes are a little on the small side. This did both of us and a huge leftovers lunch for Joe the next day so it would do 4 but make sure you have bread and pudding. In fact, if you are so inclined this is a great one to cook with a view to having the leftovers for lunch the next day, it is filling and reheats well.

Chicken and Squash Cacciatore

Serves 4

1 onion
1 leek
4 cloves of garlic
2 rashers of smoked pancetta
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
½ a butternut squash or 600g sweet potatoes
100g chestnut mushrooms
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
250ml Chianti or other good red wine
4 chicken thighs, bone in
8 black olives (stone in)
200g seeded wholemeal bread

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. The recipe says it takes 1 hour 20 minutes and I'd agree with that, an hour of it is cooking time.

1.  Peel the onion and cut into eighths, trim, wash and slice the leek, peel and slice the garlic.

2. Place a large ovenproof casserole pan on a medium heat. Finely slice the pancetta, pick and finely chop the rosemary leaves, then place both in the pan with 1 tbsp of oil and the bay leaves.

3. Stir regularly for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, followed by the onion and leek. Cook for 10 mins, stirring regularly.

4. Meanwhile, chop the squash or the sweet potato (wash first) into bite sized chunks, leaving the skin on and discarding any squash seeds. Jamie chops the stalks off the mushrooms and adds all to the pan with the squash/sweet potato.

5. Remove and discard the chicken skin (we didn't) and add the chicken to the pan. Pour in the wine and let it reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon. Half fill each tin with water, swirl about and pour into the pan and mix it all together.

6. Destone the olives (we left them out completely), then poke them into the stew. Bring to a gentle simmer, the transfer to the oven to cook for an hour or until the sauce is thick and the chicken falls off the bone. Season as you wish and serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

23 September 2015

Baby updates

For those who don't know I have a YouTube channel which is mostly make-up stuff but sometimes baby things sneak in there too. Here are the latest ones about lovely Jim


3 months...


16 September 2015

Jamie Oliver's Gorgeous Gado Gado

Jamie's Comfort Food arrived in my life when my pregnant superhero level sense of smell was at it's peak and making a baked egg exhausted me. It has to be one of my most looked at cookery books, there are a ton of recipes I want to try out and every mood and taste is covered but they mostly require a level of time and mental involvement that I just didn't have. Until now. Now I am just about managing two children, I'm going to the gym three times a week and it's not acceptable to send my husband out for pizza 5 nights out of 7 because the large slab of fat on my tummy no longer houses a person and needs to disappear. In short I'm not pregnant anymore so I need to take control of what I eat. I'm back in the kitchen.

One of the recipes I've been threatening to try out for a while is the Gado Gado, an Indonesian salad with radishes, beansprouts and tofu, with a peanut and lime dressing. We eat salad quite a lot and I am very strict about what qualifies as a salad-that-is-a-main-course. If there is cheese or meat involved then it is a main course, without these it is just a side salad and not enough for my supper. Therefore feta and mozarella feature heavily in our diet - it's nice to explore other options. Gado Gado has neither cheese nor meat (though I'm sure you could add both) but the egg, potato and tofu sneak this one in to the main course category and it is incredibly filling. We made the amount from the book, recommended for 4 people and had two large helpings each and both had a large bowlful for lunch the next day.

This was the first time I had cooked tofu rather than using the pre-cooked stuff and it was ok - it sort of disintegrated in the pan so I'll probably use the pre-cooked next time, or just try again until I'm better at it (unlikely). I followed his instructions on cooking the cabbage and agree it's the best way to do it (see below). I do think I'd probably add at least one more tomato to this though. But I'm a tomato fan. This is basically, like all salads, one of those recipes where you use the dressing and add what you like. It's a guideline. A good one.

I've changed the order in which he does things as this, to me, makes more sense. If you want soft-boiled eggs, well I do them almost last, he does them first...

Gorgeous Gado Gado
Serves 4

for the salad:
400g new potatoes
4 large eggs
400g firm silken tofu
sesame oil
½ Chinese cabbage
2 ripe tomatoes
1 handful radishes
½ a cucumber
2 handfuls ready to eat beansprouts
½ bunch fresh coriander
optional: prawn crackers
optional: 1 fresh birds eye chilli

1 clove garlic
50g palm sugar  (I used this)
120g crunchy peanut butter
1-2 fresh red chillies
juice of 2 limes
2 tsps fish sauce
1 tbsp low-salt soy (we just have normal soy)
1 tbsp tamarind paste

You will need a magimix or blender for the sauce though of course you can mix it by hand, and a frying pan for the tofu if you are cooking it yourself.

1. Scrub the potatoes and cook in salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until tender; then halve or slice them up.

2. Finely slice the cabbage if you want it raw of if you want it cooked, which is more traditional, cut into 2cm slices, place in a colander and slowly pour a kettle of boiling water over the top.

3. Cut the tomatoes into wedges, quarter the radishes and slice the cucumber.

4. Put all the veg into a bowl and season with salt.

5. Cut the tofu into 2½ cm chunks and fry in a splash of sesame oil for about 15 minutes, or until golden, then sprinkle lightly with salt.

6. While the tofu is cooking put the eggs on to soft boil for 6 minutes or longer if you prefer. Place all the sauce ingredients in a blender, peeling the garlic and grating the palm sugar if needed, and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning - you want this to be quite limey so I added some more.

7. Traditionally you serve this in individual bowls adding the salad first and then mixing in the dressing. Jamie adds the sauce to the bowls first with the dressing on top so the individual can see all the ingredients while they mix the dressing in. I am lazy. I put it all in a big bowl, added the dressing and mixed. Tastes the same, doesn't look as beautiful as you can see from my picture. If I was making this for other people I would probably do the individual bowl thing.


31 August 2015

Seraphine Maternity and Nursing Jumper

If there's one thing I hate spending money on it's maternity clothes. If I had my time over I would go out when I was three months pregnant with Ned (2.5yrs), spend some money at Isabel Oliver, Seraphine and Topshop and then that would be it. I'd have good clothes that would see me through however many pregnancies I had. But instead I hated spending money and so didn't, until I really had to and then it's even worse because you don't get as much wear out of them. This time round I got so huge so quickly I had to buy more clothes at around 6 months because I was growing out of everything. Now some these clothes are nearly good as new having only been draped over my massive bulk 2 or 3 times. And I managed to mostly stick to my policy of only buying things you can breastfeed in... otherwise it's wear-life really is limited, unless you know you are going to bottle feed.

One purchase I have never regretted however, is the Seraphine Maternity and Nursing Jumper I bought when I was about three months pregnant with Jim (3 months). It lasted beautifully throughout the whole of my pregnancy and breastfeeding, goes with everything, washes well and is a flattering shape. £49 seems like an awful lot to spend on a jumper that you wear for such a limited time, an in fact it's quite a lot for any jumper but because most of us don't have the money to buy a whole new wardrobe I ended up wearing either this, or another jumper the whole way through my pregnancy so you really do get your monies worth. And I didn't feel fat, or gross, or terrible looking because it fitted well and still does despite having been worn through the extreme ends of pregnancy.

I don't often do clothing things on here - I spend most of my money on make-up and skincare, not clothes (I wish...) but this is something that is really worth investing in.

18 August 2015

Baby Day

As the second child (of two) I always maintained you get a raw deal, no matter how much my mother tried to convince me that you love your children the same (I never felt un-loved!) and they both have certain qualities that the other doesn't and are completely individual etc etc. But I still doubted this even as I was pregnant with what would be my second son. How could I love anyone as much as Ned who is so incredibly funny and clever? Then Jim arrived and as the hormones flooded through my body I was worried that this new tiny person was going to replace Ned who was so big and self-sufficient, not small and sweet-smelling and needy like Jim.

What I actually realise is that we were both right. I do love my boys the same, my heart did expand and make room for Jim as everyone said it would (I hate that expression but it works) but my god I don't feel the same wonder I did with Ned. Jim gets moved from room to room, house to pram depending on what Ned is up to and then, when he's at nursery, depending on what I am frantically trying to get done. My two and a half year old and insomnia made sleeping while he napped an impossibility and the fact that I work for myself made me feel pressure to get as much work stuff done as soon as I could after giving birth.

As the weeks passed and I realised Jim was not getting any tummy time, hadn't really smiled (had he?) and I was grinding my teeth through my terrible sub-concious anxiety (related to my depression, often exacerbated by having a baby) and I thought 'the only person who is going to give you time off is you'. It's true. If I say I'm ok to work, then everyone around me will go with it and the older Jim gets the less likely I am to be told to put my feet up. And it's not really about me, yes I love Jim but I definitely feel less bonded to him than I did with Ned at this age, and that's because we never spend that much time together. Because he's nice and quiet when awake and undemanding of me, he wasn't getting the time he deserved.

So two weeks ago I decided that Wednesdays would be me and Jim days. We would hang out together. Yes the odd thing may come up and we need to take Ned to nursery and pick him up but apart from that we are not leaving Chiswick. We'll look at books, chat, cuddle, walk round the shops and in the afternoon we'll nod off together in front of an ITV drama. In a couple of weeks he'll start being left at the gym creche for an hour while I go to the gym and at the beginning of next year we'll start doing swimming lessons but apart from that Wednesdays are ours and so far the difference is already noticable. He smiles a lot and I am calmer and have a day that I really look forward to. This sounds mean, there are lots of days usually but being a self-employed mother-of-two married to a workaholic means that the weeks can merge and everything is a rush.

Because I have named Wednesday's Jim day, I don't try and work, I don't battle against the mountains of laundry and tidying, I don't do face charts and brush cleaning (for those of you who don't know I'm a make-up artist). Instead we look at little toes, blow hot potatoes on his tummy and sing and dance (mostly to First Aid Kit).

I don't want this to sound smug. I just suddenly realised that he was nine weeks and carted around like a bloody heavy handbag and all the time I was marvelling at how the time had flown with Ned. I was so caught up in trying to get everything done and be a working mum that I was neglecting the actual mum-stuff and I can never get that back... Take your time, I think a lot of mum's nowadays are too hard on themselves. Put your feet up and have a good old cuddle.

I used to sing this to Jim a lot when he was a couple of weeks old and feeding every hour or so round the clock - should have listened to what I was mindlessly singing.

UPDATE: The lovely people at the Counselling Directory have asked me to include a link here and in case you need it click here for the specific page on depression. Please, please go and check it out if you need support in some way - it is set up by people who have seen the gaps in the support of mental health.

24 July 2015

Professor Scrubbington

This is going to be one of those weird cross-over posts that works on both blogs (if you didn't know I have another blog here) so that's where it's going... on both blogs.

I was very kindly sent some gorgeous Professor Scrubbington products to try out. They arrived just before Jim and therefore sat, neglected on the side in my kitchen in their gorgeous suitcase packaging until finally I actually listened when Ned said he wanted to take it downstairs (where his bedroom and bathroom are) and they made their way to the bathroom. We've been using them (for Ned, not Jim, he's too little) ever since and I LOVE them.

Like many parents I am a slave to Johnson's Bedtime Bath because we will do anything that implies it may help our child sleep. Jim is too tiny to be having actual bubbles in his bath but I use the Johnson's Bedtime Body Wash but Ned, well Ned is a good sleeper (so far) and not that keen on bubbles or having his hair washed, so he was good and ready to try something new.

Professor Scrubbington's Emporioum of Clean is aimed at 'young people who want to take charge of their own ablutions', from the age of 3 up. To that end they are completely child-user-friendly, foams that don't slip off the hand, containers that are squeezable with one hand and the packaging and design is very cool. I also really love the smell, much more 'grown-up' than I was expecting and have been really impressed with the products I've tried. Ned is too, he really likes that they aren't for babies (he's quite superior now he's a big brother) the design and the name. One thing I would say is that initially it's quite hard to work out how to open them but once you do it's actually very clever and will stop the entire product being squirted out by little hands while your back is turned.

So my top picks from the Professor Scrubbington range are...

Scrubbington's Magically Foaming Face and Handwash - £5 for 150ml we have this in the bathroom next to the kitchen for post-loo handwashing and when we need a good sleuce down after supper. Ned really loves that he can pump the soap out himself and stops the shouting about me scrubbing pesto off his face - he can do it himself.

Scrubbington's Magically Foaming Hair and Body Wash - £5 for 150ml. Great for super-quick baths or as an all-in-one to have in the wash bag.
Scrubbington's Magically Foaming Shampoo - £5 for 150ml. If you child is a fan of bubbles in their bath then this is a great shampoo to use instead of the hair and body wash above. Smells great and leaves the hair clean and shiny.

These are incredibly reasonably priced so I really urge you to try them out - you can see them in action in my video coming soon

23 June 2015


My sister and I keep procreating at the same time. Wonderful for us and our offspring but slightly chaotic and OTT for everyone else involved (especially my poor mother who spends the majority of her time on the M3). Since my father died we have gone on our summer holidays to France at the end of August and beginning of September. Initially to drink bucketloads of rose, smoke Vogue cigarettes and dance around whilst drunk to Tom Petty. Then whilst vast (me not Jess, Jess is one of those people who looks like themselves with a reasonable bump on the front) and ungainly. And then again with cheery 9 month olds who slept through the night and were reasonably happy in a 'baby cage' constructed by their dad's out of plastic fencing (they were fine).
See they love the baby cage

This time we weren't so clever. After a few false starts that would have fitted perfectly with out French holiday ambitions we have now managed to have one arrive in June and one due at the end of August. Yes I may have braved the Eurostar with a 2.5 year old and 6 week old but my sister shouldn't really be out of the country on her due date, even I can see that. So this year we are going to our cottage in Norfolk.

Yes Norfolk. Where the sea is at it's warmest in October and mind-numbingly freezing at all other times and there is usually at least three days at a time of teeth rattling wind a week. And I've managed to book work right on the middle weekend which will involve me, a newborn and my long suffering mother driving to Wiltshire and back...

There are many things that I'm quite looking forward too. It's three hours door to door (traffic permitting). You can take your own car. Shopping for a baby is easy. But I'm going to miss the heat, the swimming pool and the rose. One thing that will be amazing about going to Norfolk, however is the food.

Yes I know that Norfolk isn't necessarily famed for it's food, though samphire and lobster should probably get a mention here, but whilst pregnant I didn't eat any shellfish (prawns are the only thing that I've had terrible food poisoning from) so I am planning on eating my body weight in potted shrimp and seeing if I can get hold of some mussels though I think it's not the right time for them. There are some lovely (ridiculously priced) deli's near us where they sell cheeses that walk home by themselves which again, I haven't eaten for over a year. The fish platter at the local pub is incredible and something Joe and I share when we have a (rare) date night. All of this will hopefully make up for any dubious weather, probable sobriety and average croissants.

17 June 2015

I had another baby...

James Alexander Reuben Harrod, Jim, turned up five days late (how rude!) on 2nd June...


27 February 2015

Green & Blacks Organic Thin Bar

Send a pregnant woman an email asking if she'd like to try some chocolate for review and I think the majority would think like me 'say yes, eat the chocolate, worry about the review later'. If I get sent something and I don't like it, I email the nice person who sent it to me and say why I don't like it and then never hear from them again. This would be sad if it happened with chocolate but it was a risk I was willing to take. I had no need to worry the chocolate arrived and was delicious and better than anything from Green & Blacks I'd tried before. Big statement I know.
Thin Dark Chocolate 70%

Green & Blacks 70% Dark chocolate is the only plain chocolate I really like and the only one I would buy so I was totally thrilled to try the new Green & Blacks Thin 70% Dark Chocolate. The quality and taste of this is exactly the same but the new thin format is a big improvement. One or two squares is perfect with a mid-morning cup of coffee - really smooth and much more indulgent.

As for the whole new flavour Thin Salted Caramel, it is just the perfect side of sickly with the right amount of sea salt. At the beginning of the year when our cottage in Norfolk was finally finished and I spent a lot of time up there unpacking boxes of stuff that had been in my husbands family for decades and looked its age. A depressing and arduous task I took it upon myself to try every available milk chocolate/caramel/sea salt chocolate combination available in the North Norfolk area. I am qualified to tell you that this is the best I've tried.

Having been fairly disinterested in chocolate pre-babies I know find myself getting through bars of the stuff when pregnant (before this arrived an entire big bar of Galaxy went in over the course of one day. This is unheard of for me) - it's an annoying and expensive habit. With these new Thin bars I can have one or two squares and move on - that's the joy of the large flat squares, they last longer. You're not breaking off the next tiny square before you've finished the first mouthful. The Organic Thin Mint Crisp is exclusive to Waitrose until 2nd May and I will be getting a bar the next time I go there without a doubt. May even find an excuse to go out this afternoon.

They are £2.29 each, not the cheapest but great-tasting and seemingly long lasting. I've had these a week and they've survived the insatiable sweet-tooth of a pregnant lady. These new bars are absolutely worth a try. 

Thin Milk Chocolate with Salted Caramel


4 February 2015

Potty Training part 1

I've never felt like I've failed as a mother. I had an epidural, a decision I believe a lot more women should feel able to make, it didn't affect my son and I was less traumatised by the whole thing afterwards which is better for him I think. I breastfed for 6 months but gave him top-up formula bottles from 6 weeks when it became clear that he was a hungry boy that wasn't getting enough. With this next bump I am planning to do top-ups from day 1. He started going to half days at nursery when he was 16 months and has enjoyed it and his speech has improved (his sharing hasn't). He has a dummy which I'm hoping to stop soon-ish and he had a bottle at bedtime until he was just under 2. He still has milk before bed if he wants it and a whole big sippy cup full in the morning, sometimes two.

He's a very happy, I think intelligent, little boy and has been deemed the politest boy the nursery have ever had. I think he is very adaptable to growing up (he accepted the switch from bottle to sippy-cup with little complaint) and is good at letting me know what he needs. So at 26 months when he would repeatedly cry in the mornings and struggle against having a nappy put on whilst shouting 'I don't want nappies anymore' I thought it best to start potty training. Originally I had planned to wait until he was at least 2 ½ so we could get it done in three or four days because he would have a better understanding of what was going on. But he was successfully using the training seat when sat on it and so we went out and chose some Thomas the Tank Engine and Peppa Pig pants and went home to start.

It started well with a few accidents but mostly success but a weekend away from home with certain unanticipated distractions and he completely relapsed. Hated going to the loo and said he wanted his nappies back. Having been a firm believer that once you had started you had to persevere I didn't want to quit but when he was just happily walking around in wet trousers on day 5 having just refused to go to the loo I though 'enough is enough'. I would never have started this early without him wanting to give it a try - it was making me frustrated and this frustration was beginning to show and I don't want this to become an ordeal for both of us that goes on for months.

So he's back in nappies and I feel like a failure. Yes I do think he's too young and I probably should have stuck with that belief. Was I selfish thinking it would be better to get this done before the new baby arrives and we move house? He's adaptable but those are big changes. Will he now be off the whole idea until he's 4 (too old in my opinion though some may disagree)? If he hadn't had a disrupted weekend would he have stayed on track or was success actually just luck because it was just me and him? Though I am always supported by my husband potty training is such a personal thing (many an hour spent playing in the bathroom over the last week) that I now feel very alone with my decisions. I'm not sure how long it will take me to pick up from this.

31 January 2015

Jamie's Griddled Kinda Nicoise

My infatuation with Jamie Oliver is escalating. What started as mild disinterest is now a full-on passion. I was very kindly given Comfort Food for Christmas and am gearing up to cook something from that soon (pregnancy makes everything very slow) but the other night I was cooking for my mother and husband both of whom are trying to be virtuous in January and I'm very aware that the bump isn't getting its 5 a day so I randomly picked this Salad Nicoise from 15 minute meals. No potatoes and no egg but supremely delicious and finished by three of us and pretty easy to cook (and no it didn't take me 15 minutes but I'm a pretty slack cooker). Will be cooking this again and again - nice tuna steaks aren't cheap but the rest of the ingredients are and you can use what veg you have in your fridge.

There were quite a few things I tinkered with on this recipe, for example I'm not a huge fan of green beans and couldn't get the mixed green and yellow from the recipe so I used half beans and half broccoli tips.Where I've made changes I hope I've made them clear - I think the thing with salads is they are endlessly adaptable depending on what you have and like. I also refuse to serve anything on a board so I did this on one big platter... as you can see from the picture.

Griddle Tuna Salad
Serves 4

350g mixed green and yellow beans (or half green and half broccoli tips)
½ a baguette (I used a small one from Sainsburys)
12 black olives (Jamie says stone in, I say stone out)
3 ripe mixed-colour tomatoes (or red ones)
1 romaine lettuce
20g feta cheese
1 lemon

Tuna and Dressing
1 big bunch of fresh basil
6 anchovy fillets
1 lemon
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x 200g tuna steaks (about 2.4cm thick)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp runny honey

You will need a medium sized saucepan with a lid, a griddle pan and a liquidiser/magimix.

1. Line the beans up and cut off the stalks, put them into a pan of salted boiling water and put on a lid (I did my broccoli and beans for the same length of time).

2. Slice the baguette into 2cm chunks and, if you are following Jamie put onto the hot griddle pan. I think basting them in a tiny big of garlic oil pre-griddle would be lovely. Turn when golden.

3. Pick and reserve 10 baby sprigs of basil then rip off the rest of the leaves and blitz in the liquidiser with the anchovies, juice of 1 lemon, the extra virgin olive oil and a splash of water.

4. Pour about 40% of the dressing on to a nice serving platter (Jamie uses a separate one for the dressing and tuna and then places the whole lot on a board with the salad. I used one big platter and it worked very well).

5. Rub 10% of the dressing into the tun and season with salt and pepper. Pour the rest of the dressing into a big bowl with the vinegar, mustard and honey then mix together. Drain the cooked beans, remove the stones from the olives. roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the dressing and mix together.

6. Put the tuna on the griddle pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until blushing in the middle. How you cook your tuna is a matter of personal preference.

7. Chop the lettuce into 2cm chunks, tear the toasts into croutons and arrange over a large board (or on the platter) with the lettuce. I think it's nice to toss half the croutons in the bowl of tomatoes and dressing so they get a bit soggy.

8. Scatter the dressed beans, olives and tomatoes over the top. Tear each tuna steak in half or more and add to the dressing platter (or put on top of the dressing in the centre of the platter if you are not using a board).

9. Scatter over the reserved basil leaves, crumble over the feta and serve with lemon wedges (if you remember).

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