Category Archives: Recommendations

Products, services, people and stuff I like

Pancakes are for life

Not just for Shrove Tuesday and don’t let it catch you out as Pancake day is Tuesday 16th February 2010.  Yes indeedy it is time to pour the milk, crack the eggs, whisk with flour, flip, fill and eat – nom, nom, nom! 

Don’t take my word for it, allow me to introduce you to Lyle, he’s the guy that makes Golden Syrup don’t you know?  Anyway Lil’ H and I didn’t manage to make the Pancake training session Lyle’s Golden Syrup held down in London due to us being in Cheshire and Baby G being so wee still.  However the everything you need to make pancakes kit and new website with Emma Forbes showing us the inside track taught me everything I needed to know when it comes to pancakes and to not have to throw the first or two one away (the pan isn’t hot enough says Emma!) head over to and swot up!  There is a step by step guide to pancake making  and loads more that will get you in the spirit for this years flipping fabulousness.  Heads up from me there is now an alternative to the, whilst iconic, still sticky, tin of syrup with the new Squeezy Syrup a no drip, no mess (disclaimer:  not guaranteed if used by over excited toddlers!) easy to use bottle.

Pancakes aren’t an annual event at Lancaster Towers they are a regular favourite as they combine a really easy & fun toddler activity.  My best advice is weigh out and measure everything in advance it’s super easy for a toddler to pour, tip, crack & whisk the mix together.  Also best left overnight to relax its an activity that can cover an afternoon shift by making the mix and also late morning making lunch together.  I’ve mentioned before about how involving my H in cooking positively increases the quantity consumed (I own one picky eater already hoping Baby G won’t make it a pair!) and pancakes are a clear winner for this.  Even spinach gets eaten in a cheese, ham and spinach pancake combo as first seen on My Daddy Cooks!  Here is H and I making pancakes together and him sitting down to eat them with the assistance of his digger fork – count the “get my toddler to eat” tricks!


Don’t forget: Pancake Day 2010 is Tuesday 16 February – don’t let it creep up on you and get prepared with exciting recipes and new methods to impress your friends and family.  For the complete “Four Steps to Perfect Pancakes”, advice, recipes, tips and more visit



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Advice for first time mums

I can hardly post up a media request and not contribute!  So following on from the request for advice for first time mums here’s my thoughts on the questions posed …

How painful IS birth. No *really*.
If you are expecting it to hurt then your expectations will be met and it will hurt but it will hurt because you’re frightened and tense because everyone’s told you it’s going to hurt!  After my first I would’ve said yes it hurts more than I ever would have thought possible but not at all after you’ve had an epidural!  For me it wasn’t the intensity of the pain or pressure that was the issue first time round it was the duration, the endurance and stamina required that beat me down after three days of slow labour.  I also wasn’t expecting the sickness that came with my first labour, I threw up constantly for three days.  Reflecting on my first labour in the hindsight a year or so gives you, I could see just what a mental, mind over matter, mountain childbirth was.  I really engaged with, explored and prepared for my second baby using hypno-birthing techniques (I recommend a visit to Dany at and indeed second time around I got to the elusive fully dilated 10cms with my mind “in the zone” still waiting for it “to really get going” when in fact, not only had it got going but it had almost gone!  Although baby and I weren’t quite on the same page and I can confirm that there is no pain, no input and no effort required if you deliver under a general anaesthetic with a crash c-section!  For me I think child birth is a rite of passage, everyone’s birth story is their own very personal experience, understand all the options and possibilities and mentally be able to go with the flow, the labour and delivery experience will be what it is and you won’t know what that will be until you reach that point!  Anyway childbirth is the least of your worries when it comes to having babies, it’s over and done within a few days it’s the next 20+ years of child rearing you need to worry about!

What do you DO with your newborn baby all day?
The first two weeks or so they feed & sleep pretty much all the time and you’re busy with visitors and staring at your precious bundle.  There’s washing but not much else to do as I found a flurry of people around “helping”.  As baby gets older they spend time in their baby gyms, bouncy chairs etc. and you take hundreds of photos of them, download them and email them to people or upload them to Facebook!   You will start getting out and about meeting up with ante natal and post natal groups, hitting the coffee shop circuit and going to each others houses for baby to try out a different baby gym, bouncy chair, bumbo, door bouncer etc.  Very quickly by about 3 months baby can start to get bored if left too long and require some entertainment, read first board books to baby, massage baby, go for a walk, you will learn to play with your baby – grandparents are good at teaching you how to do this!  Whatever it is that makes baby smile or laugh you will do a thousand times over for that smile or giggle.  If popping out from behind the newspaper with your cheeks puffed out & eyes crossed gets a guaranteed laugh, the fact that you used to be a highflying barrister is irrelevant.  You will do it and it won’t stop there, you will then do it in front of other people just to show them how adorably cute your baby’s giggles are.  Don’t believe me?  Just you wait and see!

What’s the best way to avoid losing your marbles with lack of sleep/adult company etc?
Get dressed and get out of the house at least once a day. Irrespective of season and weather get some fresh air every day.  I also recommend taking a multi vitamin, make sure it contains B vitamins too such as Femibion  

Can you breastfeed while technically asleep? Like a cowboy sleeping upright with his eyes open etc?
I fed both of mine lying down in bed at night and as hard as I would try to not fall asleep I would more often than not.  I was paranoid with my first that I would roll on him, unless you’re on medication or have had a drink I do think a mothers natural awareness and instinct would never let this happen, I had never moved an inch when I did fall asleep.  Dads however don’t have that instinct so I use to lie between Dad and baby.

And on that vein, is there any way to have a drink while breastfeeding?
It’s all in the timing with this one, I used to find a glass of wine in the evening after baby is in bed around 7pm would help me relax and also when I was expressing to express and I wouldn’t feed again until 10:30pm.  If you want to have a night off the boobs I would express 2-3oz a day and freeze it, ‘til I had enough for three full feeds then I would feed baby at 7pm go out and Daddy or Grandma could feed baby at 10:30pm and also the morning feed.  I found I needed to pump and dump when I got in for my own physical comfort.

What will seem like a good idea initially – and what I will quickly realise is a total nightmare?
In the very early days deciding you need to get out and get some fresh air as you head off for your walk you will remember you have vaginal stitches which is why you have been sat down on your ass inside for days!

Am I really going to be forgetting my name and putting the loo roll in the fridge for a few months after birth?
I have lost my purse, to date remains uncovered but I swear it is in the house, the lost car key has been discovered in fridge, I left mail over the microwave combi oven nuking a jacket potatoe and very nearly burning the house down and I have also recently burnt rice – who’d have thought that was possible!  I regularly walk into rooms and have absolutely no idea why I am there but I irritatingly know there is a reason which comes to me eventually, usually all too late.  It goes on for at the least the first year!

How does it change your relationships?
For me friendships weren’t massively impacted, I have less time and I think those with babies and children are in the same boat and those without are always pleased to catch up when you get a chance.  Extended family relationships can be put under a lot of extra pressure.  A new family addition of a grandchild, particularly if it the first grandchild, can cause some significant tensions amongst families.  I’m just going to say the dreaded words – the in laws!  The in laws can become the out laws very quickly if expectations aren’t managed, feelings and wishes not respected – bottom line is good communication, be aware it goes out the window with hormones and tiredness.  Be proactive with managing the in law relationships explain how you want things to be when baby arrives, which visitors are welcome to the hospital and how visiting will be managed.  I’d recommend researching and buying “a guide for grandparents” for both sets – you are all new at this!  Sadly extra weekends don’t come with baby so if the new grandparents are overzealous in their weekend visits your opportunities to see others may shrink considerably.  Do not be afraid to say “no that doesn’t work for us”, “it would be helpful if you could bring your own bedding/meal etc” and also to ask for your baby back just say “I think baby needs some mummy time now” and take baby back.

My best practical tip
My best practical tip would be when your baby’s nappy explodes, and it will, leaving you with a baby with poop right up to their neck.  Strip them down to their vest and get a pair of scissors and simply cut them out.  By all means you can wrestle them out of the poop filled vest over their heads and scrape, stain remove, wash and stain remove the vest some more if you like but when you’re standing in the baby change at John Lewis with a parcel that is more poop than baby gurgling back you you’ll be glad you read this post as you use the scissors you’ve just bought from the kitchen department!

If I could only offer one piece of advice
The best piece of advice I received and if I could only pass on one tip to an expectant first time parent it would be this – don’t be too hard on yourself.  Life with your first newborn baby is unknown territory, hormonal, emotional, exhausting and really difficult.  It does get better though and continues to get better and better and better.  You will wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.  You will understand just how small and insignificant things in life that used to stress you out are and your life will have real proportion to it as well as a gorgeous new person in it.


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Chambers & Beau Giveaway

For a good while now I have hankered after a piece by Chambers & Beau – I love my kids, I love beautiful things and I love jewellery.  Amy, the talent behind the brand (creep, creep, please pick me, *sighs* bloody random number generator!) is running a FAB competition.  She is giving away one of her fabulous pieces of jewellery of your choosing, from their new collection, to the value of £150!  In order to enter, you must simply post a link to the competition on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments section of Amy’s blog!

I know exactly which piece I will be having if I win and have literally everything crossed!

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Bloggers for Haiti

The situation in Haiti is terrible to watch, the images too tragic to see.  So I don’t watch.  I can’t watch.  But I can’t ignore it either.  The most constructive way to help from overseas is to donate to support the charity efforts which in already financially challenging times can be difficult, but please if you can, donate whatever you can afford.  Simply click this link and donate to Bloggers for Haiti

The link takes you through to the JustGiving website which is raising money for Shelter boxes going to Haiti, you can read full details on the JustGiving page Bloggers for Haiti aimed to raise enough for one box costing £490 when I left my donation funds has been raised for seven boxes, the cumulative total of many donating what they can afford which is just AMAZING.  Clearly with an estimated 1.5 million homeless the more that can be sent the better to help provide shelter and survival equipment to victims of the disaster.
Devastation in Haiti
Bloggers are working together to help raise funds for the relief effort, if you can help spread the word then please do.

You can find out more and make a donation here.

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This weeks ENJOYING food!

At Lancaster Towers this week I am dieting, as I was last week, I started on 2nd January and this baby weight has its days numbered! I have enjoyed eating creamy mushrooms and I thought I would share the recipe, the word recipe is an overstatement by the way, with my #twiet buddies. Continuing through the family Lil’ H has thoroughly enjoyed making and eating Annabel Karmel’s “Bang Bang Chicken” and Baby G has been chuffed to bits with Aptimel, 6floz, 6 x per day!

Creamy mushrooms (serves 1)
Simmer 200g sliced mushrooms in a non-stick frying pan with 6tbspn of hot vegetable stock for 4-5 mins, until the liquid has almost evaporated. Stir in 40g of low fat soft cheese, Philadelphia Light in this house. Heat through for a couple of minutes. Serve on toast for breakfast or mix into 60g cooked pasta with steamed veg and chopped lean ham or chicken for lunch.

Bang Bang Chicken
1 boneless chicken breast
skinned 3 slices wholewheat bread
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil

Directions: Cover the chicken with waxed paper and flatten with a mallet or rolling pin, then cut breast lengthwise into approximately 4-6 strips. Make bread crumbs from the slices of bread in a food processsor. If you are using the parmesan and parsley, mix these together with the bread crumbs in a bowl. I use parmesan because I always have it in and don’t use Parsley because I never have it in ;-)! Dip the chicken into the flour, then into the egg, and finally into the bread crumbs. I make this recipe in big batches and freeze the “Bang Bang Fingers” in foil at this point. To cook (if frozen defrost thoroughly first) fry in oil for 3-4 minutes each side until golden on the outside and cooked through. Drain well on paper towels and then serve.


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Potty training … in a jar!

To quote a genuine “potty mouth”, Gordon Ramsay, “Potty training, done!” 

It arrived on the “to do” list when Little H turned two years old in April.  I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t a chapter in his or my life or the childcare books I was looking forward to but the more nappies I changed the more appealing it became.  Deciding when was right for toddler H was obviously important but almost not as critical as when the time was right time for us a family.  Everyone says “do it in the summer, its easy in the summer, just let them run about naked” blah, blah, blah.  Well Summer 2009 involved us moving out of Lancaster Towers for a month whilst a new kitchen and a new bathroom were supposed to be installed!  The one month project became a four month project which left us April to September with only our ensuite bathroom functioning on the second floor.  It also made me a stressed out & heavily pregnant mummy!  I’m now a very proud mummy of two with only one of those bottoms in nappies, so this is what we did – proof you don’t have to wait until it’s Summer! 

We started back in August, we introduced the potty at bathtime started taking his nappy off before bathtime and encouraging him to sit on it, occassionally he would do a wee & we’d be delighted and he’d be pleased.  Then we started taking his nappy off after tea ’til bathtime, mixed combination of success & accidents.  Summer was passing, Autumn was looming, everything says don’t do it with a new sibling on the horizon, I was getting more pregnant, more tired, patience, in fact everything, was becoming an effort and carrying the potty up two flights of stairs was something I didn’t have to do.  So we stopped.  Just like that.  I just stopped taking his nappies off and left things as they were, Little H became a big brother and we all got used to being a family of four. 

We read lots of stories about going the the potty, there were always some in the library and we bought our favourites which include Pirate Pete’s Potty by Andrea Pinnington, Peek-a-Poo what’s in your nappy? by Guido Van Genechten and Nappy Duck and Potty Piggy by Bernadette Ford and Sam Williams – I’ve put hyperlinks to these on amazon.

I wanted to do it at home, I didn’t want nursery to do it, happy for them to support but wanted to get the back of it broken at home.  The next  “window” I could see was Christmas when H would be off nursery for a few weeks as would Mr L.  Everyone thought I was mad – Winter, Christmas, Baby G less than 12 weeks old etc. etc.  but we were accident free in three days!  Having now trained him this week I can look back at our half hearted attempt/introduction to the potty in August and see that H didn’t have anywhere near the same bladder control as he does now.  He was having a wee within 40 mins or so, when we took his nappy off last Monday he could go 2.5hrs between wees so he definately had markedly more physical control.

Potty training, I was still not really sure what I was training to be honest when I started, but there is no point if they don’t have some element of physical control.  I’d read the books and I still hadn’t found the list of “what I am training” and now I know you are training:

  1. Sitting on the potty, sitting still for long enough to use it!
  2. Recognise the sensation of needing to go
  3. Communicating the need to go in advance

I used the Gina Ford potty train in one week guide as the basis for my plan of action. Our efforts a few months ago at bathtime pretty much meant he knew what the potty was for and we would let him watch tv to encourage him to sit on it for long enough.  I also had a big jar of smarties, maltesers etc. I put all the Christmas chocolates in it and when he used the potty he could have one for a wee and two for a poo.  Day one we just let him be in pants and had a few accidents, day two in the afternoon we had pants and trousers and two accidents.  Every time we had an accident I said when you feel that your wee is coming tell mummy and we can use the potty.  Day three we had no accidents but we were still having to ask him and put him on the potty every two hours to use it.  Day four it clicked, he started saying “I need the potty” without it being a mad dash too. 

I took H’s nappy off last Monday and our last accident was last Tuesday!  H still has a nappy on at night but I have noticed this is barely wet in an morning now and I have no plans to night train him for a good while.   We are moving on to the toilet – now its a smartie only for using the toilet.  I am sure there are accidents ahead, everyone warns of a relapse, whether that is you or them getting remiss in reminding/remembering who knows but I shall carry trousers & pants and continue to be one very proud mummy. 

I’d just like to thank my Twend, Bec, over at Beetroot and Gherkins for her support and advice – she too has a toddler bottom which out of nappies and in pants – High Five Bec – we rock! xx


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Competition time!

Very sadly one of my Twends (Twitter Friends) Caz Arnold aka @dougggie sadly lost her father very suddenly on Christmas day.  The reason for this post is that Caz is currently in the middle of raising money for the Dogs Trust Arctic Dogs Sledding Challenge.  As you can imagine this has knocked her sideways and she is appropriately focussed on her family and unable to put much energy in to it.  The lovely Dany from Tums2Mums, a specialist hypnotherapy practitioner for fertility, pregnancy and childbirth and who helped me with both my pregnancy & birth of Baby G, has put together a great competition to help raise funds, as the meerkat on TV says “simples” …

The prize – 3 lucky entrants will win my complete 5 x Hypnosis for Childbirth mp3s worth £26. If you’d like to find out more about these mp3s click here

To enter – All I ask is that you click on Caz’s fund raising link at the bottom of this page and put a minimum (more if you want) donation of £2. All names will then be entered into a draw. In order for you to be contacted please ensure that you put the following information in the comments box when making your donation:

Tums2Mums competition and either your Baby Centre or Twitter ID. If you do not have either of these please leave your name and then tick the box that enables Caz to see your email address and she will then make sure your prize reaches you. Your email address WILL NOT be used for anything other than ensuring that should be be the winner you get your prize.

The competition will close at midnight on 9th January 2010 and the winners will be announced on or shortly after 10th January 2010.  This competition will be promoted on a number of other notice boards, if you are willing and able to promote it please do so – the spirit of this is to help a friend out in need, start the year with good karma, click on the link and donate.

To enter and make your donation please click here

Thank you for helping me help a lovely lady and a worthy cause.

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