New Year, New Me

I didn’t welcome in the New Year with a glass of bubbly and tons of chocolate like my previous life, instead I was curled up in bed with my hubby chatting through some of the things that we can each do to make 2015 a better year for us both, and Sunflower.

Now I haven’t make resolutions, these generally fall by the wayside by the end of January.  Instead, I’m going to do things more consistently, simplify my life, and create the space to be a better me, better mammy. better wife, better friend, better blogger, better me.  Because I want to be better; and I can be better.

Now there are some things that I cannot change (and I have tried!), such as Sunflower’s habit of waking me a number of times per night, the job my husband currently has and the stress it introduces into our life (not a short term fix at least), who my family are and how some people around me behave.  However, I can change much much more, and they all start with me.

To help me become a better me, I have taken a commitment to:

  • Make, and keep refreshing my To-Do list.  I’m not usually a list person, though I find that when I do have a list, I don’t have to remember so much and can be much more productive with my spare time. I know what to do in a split second rather than wreaking my brains for 20 minutes to figure out what was it I was supposed to do today?!
  • Create a weekly food plan.  Removing the daily decision of what are going to eat and what preparation do I have to do will remove a lot of internal stress (it’s surprising how much these little daily decisions wear you out, I will blog about decision fatigue soon)
  • Run the house like a business.  No business would ever survive in the manner that we run our households (speaking from the general public view), they would lose money hand over fist.  So I’m going to adopt sensible ways of doing things, introduce some routine (which I usually rebel against) that will actually make me and the house more efficient.
  • Blog more frequently.  I’ve been attempting to blog for a while but have not made the commitment to do it.  I’ve promised myself I will blog at least once per week.  I need to do more to create my online profile and generate content for you to read, however, I will aim for one and hopefully achieve more!

If you have any suggestions for becoming a better you I would love to hear them! I cannot promise that I won’t borrow other people’s ideas!

For now – good luck and good evening.  Have a fabulous 2015!

Child friendly Cookie & Cake decorations

Well, it’s been a long time promised, and I apologise for that, however, here are the details for the decorations we used for Sunflower’s gingerbread cookies before Christmas.  They were so successful that they are by no means limited to Christmas cookies!  And they are soooo easy! It took minutes to make them and she has had sooo much fun playing and eating them!

I admit, I cheated a little, doing the 80/20 rule with regards to sugars as I was pushed for time, but I will highlight in each recipe where there can be improvements.

Icing / Decorating Glue

This icing is delicious, so smooth, nice and sweet although no sickly so, and so so easy to make.

Icing - delicious icing

Icing – delicious icing

2 parts Coconut Oil
1 part Mild Honey

  • Put the oil (at room temperature so that it’s solid) and the honey into a food processor and mix.  Simple as that!
  • Store in the fridge
  • To use, bring to room temperature so that that the icing is spreadable.
  • Use as the “glue” for the sprinkles and chocolate pieces onto cookies
  • Use as you would use Royal Icing, for a smooth finish or spiky!
  • This icing sets solid in the fridge but unlike Royal icing will not remain solid when out of the fridge for any length of time, but it will hold its shape
  • Use for piping – this means the designs are endless!

Sprinkles

For these I cheated slightly and used commercial food colouring gel – I was stuck for time and given the amount of food colouring actually used, I applied my 80/20 rule!

Coloured sprinkles

Coloured sprinkles

1 tbsp desiccated coconut
3-5 drops Food colouring gel
1 Zip Seal freezer bag

Heather over at mommypotamus.com has some great recipes for food colouring.  Her recipes (although within her play dough post) are all food based and don’t really impart the taste so you will still end up with coloured coconut sprinkles.  I haven’t tried these myself yet, however, I think that the coconut would need soaking in the coloured water and then drying out in a cool oven or dehydrator.

Chocolate Drops / Buttons

And yes, these are just fabulous on their own as baby friendly chocolate!

Chocolate drops and bits

Chocolate drops and bits

2 parts Coconut Oil
1 part cocoa
1 part Mild Honey
pinch of sea salt (optional)

  • In a bain marie (double broiler / heatproof dish sitting over a pot of boiling water but not touching it), melt the coconut oil
  • Mix in the cocoa until lumps are gone
  • Stir in the honey (taste at this point for sweetness)
  • If you like your chocolate to be a bit smoother than dark chocolate, then add in the sea salt a tiny pinch at a time! This has the magic effect of producing a creamy chocolate!
  • Pour into chocolate moulds of your choice, or create drops on a baking tray
  • Chill until solid!
  • This chocolate is fabulous, and because it is made with coconut oil rather than cocoa butter, its cocoa solids content is much lower (40% ish) and therefore is not as rich as dark chocolate – perfect for kiddies! Sunflower loves it!
So delicious and tasty and colourful!

So delicious and tasty and colourful!

Next week I’m making a toddler friendly birthday cake for Sunflower and her friends and plan to use these decorations – will post about how it goes and how it is received, especially as the cake will be allergy friendly (except for nut allergy sufferers) and as healthy as a cake can be! Basically, I won’t have to limit how much Sunflower wants to eat of it!

 

Christmas Gingerbread Men – healthy, allergy (except nuts) friendly and soooo Delicious! Part 1 – the Cookies

The Best gingerbread man in the world…ever!

The Best gingerbread man in the world…ever!


So Sunflower’s childminder gave me a week’s notice – she was going to be doing Gingerbread Man decorating with the kids she looks after before the local play school Christmas Party – and what could she use for Sunflower…..

Hmmmm……. Thoughts of Smarties and Skittles and 100’s & 1000’s and silver sugar balls entered my head followed by the thoughts of “how am I going to help Sunflower with this one in a much healthier way”??????Google….. not much….. forums…. not much more…. this was going to be down to my own brain!…..

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Sleep Deprivation – a reality for many

Sleep deprivation, tiredness, exhaustion, too few hours in the day.  Call it what you will, many, indeed probably most if not every mother will have experienced this, at the very least in the first 6 weeks of baby’s wonderful life.

Some mothers are lucky and baby starts to establish longer sleeping hours within a few weeks, others must wait a few months, and then there are the few who have to wait years.  And I mean years.

Many of my friends don’t really believe me when I say that I can honestly count on two hands the numbers of nights in the last 2 years when Sunflower has slept for 9+ hours in a row, and because I don’t go to sleep 5 minutes after she does (I have done on occasion!), then the longest I have slept has been 6 hours, once, and that was wonderful!

The reality of it, however, is that sleep deprivation, especially over prolonged periods really impacts how we function, not just concentration and memory, but it affects our ability to think rationally, logically, to manage and balance our emotions. Personally, I have struggled to perform at work, and this has been noticed by the people I work with.  Before Sunflower, I was really “on the ball”, quick and accurate in the deductions I would make and made good decisions.  Now, I sometimes feel like I cannot make a decision at all! More on decision fatigue in another post at some stage.

So what can we really do about it? I know that I push on, I have to.  I must look after Sunflower, I want to look after my husband who is away from home at least 11 hours every day.  I am advised by “professionals” that it would be ok to leave the housework for a few days….really?  I actually find such advice patronising.  If I am in a tidy space, physically, then my mind can be much more at ease, and when I’m doing something, say cooking, then knowing the kitchen is a tidy space makes it a much more enjoyable and relaxing task than if the kitchen were a total mess with about 2 hours worth of cleaning to do.

With a tidy home, my brain can rest.  Over the last few weeks, Sunflower has been up again up to 5 times every night, first of all it was tonsillitis, then it was teething, and now it has been a tummy bug, with only brief interludes between each, meaning that it has been impossible to establish a proper sleeping routine.

And so I push on, I keep the house tidy, I enjoy my days, and form this week, I am only working for my “employers” for 1/2 day a week until Christmas, meaning I can spend my days when Sunflower is with the childminder to get the house sorted and find some “me” time – sewing, crafting, planning the next weeks food menu and my evenings are free to sleep, watch telly and relax….until I get that much needed rest!

I’m interested to hear other people’s experiences!

What a Mammy wants to do…

It’s been a long year, teething, back to work, overall exhaustion amongst much more means I’ve let this slip. I have not, however, slipped on my goals as a mum. I still want to give my little Sunflower the very best that I can. I am learning how to do this without spending hand over fist!

Over the last few months, I’ve started to get a handle on my role, and indeed Daddy’s role, as Educator in Sunflower’s life.  We are the primary educators until she goes to school, that said, we don’t plan on quitting this role ever and want to be there as role models and educators for her as long as she chooses! This means that we have to continue learning ourselves so that we can continue teaching! Sunflower also goes to a childminder 3 days a week which she loves. And this is not only good for her to have someone else to interact with other than me, it also gives me some time – for work, for rest, for chores, for play etc!

A fabulous blog I found last week is called The Imagination Tree. And the most interesting post, and probably important post I will read in a long time is on the Important of Play.  I suggest you have a read – the best 10 minutes reading any parent could do!

This, along with some other fabulous websites mean that I don’t have to do all the thinking for myself, instead I can learn from them and experiment alongside my daughter. I am truly looking forward to making and creating things with my baba, and learning and having fun with her through doing so. There is lots to do, and lots of time to do it. So bring on the fun!

 

Baby Feeding Part 1 – Feeding Mammy

The most important part of feeding baby is feeding mammy.

There is increasing evidence that gut health directly influences generalhealth, emotional health and psychological well-being.  The importance of establishing a healthy balance of the right bacteria for babies is being recognized and the opportunity to positively impact your  lifetime health is now – in their earliest years. Continue reading