Supporting other parents

**WARNING – I have wrote this post with a ten month old on my lap and my two year old bouncing on my legs playing horsey so please excuse any typos, bad grammar or spelling mistakes!******

I have only just started enjoying our lunch dates with the kids again.

As soon as George turned fifteen months my usual calm, civilized diners started to resemble a scene out of Jurassic Park.
The one where the T-Rex is flipping cars and tearing down fences while the humans watch on, horried, from behind a tree!

I would get flustered and embaressed while George flung himself out of the high chair (those wooden ones are beyond pointless!).
He would chew food up and then let it spill out of his mouth onto the table while telling me
‘Don’t like it’.
Instead of the pasta Arribiata infront of him, he would have his eyes on my moules mariniere (and happily eat every one!).

The floor around his seat would have a mixture of food, snapped crayons and napkins scattered everywhere. It was so messy that I would leave the servers a 40% tip out of embarrassment and guilt.

If I tried to discipline him at the table, he would scream louder and then would come the disapproving glances from around the restaurant.

Considering I took my first four children out all the time, and we would be complimented on how well behaved they were…this was new territory for me.

Add a new baby Arthur, who had a healthy set of lungs on him into the mix and eating out became nothing but an anxiety inducing stress-fest!

Since November, thankfully things have changed. For a start, George has developed a love for YouTube (yep…and I WILL give him his tablet if It means I can drink my coffee while it is hot!)
Also, now he can talk and communicate more his behaviour has taken a huge turn. I would even say eating out with him is enjoyable!
The most important thing I learnt about my number five is that ‘No one puts baby in the corner. ‘
He is happier sitting in an adults seat with the older kids rather than a high chair next to mum!

Last week we took the younger boys out to our local Italian for some lunch.
It is one of our favourites because it is no only child friendly but seriously delicious too.
It was a Friday lunchtime and the restaurant was full of mums with toddlers and older ladies and gents enjoying a retirement lunch.

We were sat between a couple in their 70’s (I am guessing) and a lady with a baby having lunch with her parents.

The baby next to us must have been about seven month and was crying…and crying…and crying.
Her mum was trying desperatly to sooth her but the baby wasnt having it and the mum looked tired and stressed.

Mike was trying to have a conversation with me but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.
I was so distracted.

It wasn’t the baby that was bothering me…it was her mum.
She was flustered and panicking and I could feel every inch of her uncomfort.

I glanced around and realised the older couple had asked to be moved and the mothers with toddlers were rolling their eyes and tutting!

I felt like crying for her!

I walked over and knelt down to the mum with her baby.
‘Most the people in the room are parents and we have all been where you are. Don’t worry about anyone else, you are doing a great job.’
I offered to take the baby while she finished her lunch as ours hadnt arrived yet.

She burst into tears and gave me a big hug.

The mum felt instantly more relaxed and in turn, her little baby calmed down.

George and Arthur were a joy that day and unlike the mum next to me, we were getting nods of approval. Usually I would feel proud that out kids good behaviour is being aknowledged, but when the praise is coming from the same judgemental dicks that are rolling their eyes at a crying baby I just felt annoyed.
Rewind just a few weeks and it was me that was sitting their being talked about and feeling shamed.

George didnt let us down though. As the bill was placed on the table he kicked his shoes off and ran through the restaurant. He ran around tables, giggling and screaming as I chased him like a overweight hurdler after a bottle of prosecco.

As I passed the mums who had been rolling their eyes i laughed
‘It was all going so well! That will teach me for being smug!’ hoping they might find the hint and advice in my comment.
George ran behind the bar, hi-fiving the waiters and I finally rugby tackled him at kitchen door!

A couple of days after this I read in a paper that a lady with a crying baby was asked to leave a cafe because it was upsetting the customers.
I wonder how many of those people offered some help or advice to the mum, who may well have been struggling herself, before they complained to the owner?
Or whether the owner of the cafe thought to ask if there was anything he/she could do to help before they showed her to the pavement.

I do have sympathy for everyone who wants to have a quiet meal without ‘naughty’ children or screaming babies around them. My point is simply, before you roll your eyes, ask to be moved or tut at the parents, take a second to think.
Could this parent be struggling? Could that child throwing a tantrum have a disability that you can not see? Could this parent benifit from a gentle hand of reassurance? Or more to the point…..were your children always perfect?

Anyway, im off out for lunch with all the kids….wish me luck 😜

Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning…..lets talk about this for a moment.

This is a new concept for me. All my children were fed straight from a bowl, to their mouths, on a spoon (or sometimes direct from a pouch) by me.

When Charlie was younger he choked on everything.  Sometimes he brought it up himself, sometimes he needed a firm pat on the backand, and on one occasion our good friends, (who happen to be a doctor and nurse) had to hang him upside down to help bring up the offending food.

That period of parenting left me mentally scared. 

After that, Mike and I chopped up his food into the tiniest pieces until he was about seven!!! 

I had to logically tell myself that if he copes ok at school then I should leave him to get on with it himself at home, but even then I struggled.
I carried this paranoia with me during Libby and Georges early years.

Even now my heart stops when i see a toddler eating a banana, sausage or a whole grape.
And now it is time to wean Arthur and I dont know what to do.
Arthur is quite independent and likes to grab the food/spoon himself which can make feeding him a little frustrsting.

Lets be honest, with an independent baby, a toddler and four older children, BLW is probably the more convenient and obvious option.

I can’t tell you I agree or am doing it to avoid having fussy children or children prone to allergies.  

All of my five who were weaned ‘traditionally’ are far from fussy.  They eat anything from roast diner (even the brussels) to jamaican hot curries to oysters, cockles, olives and even liver!

Food is a big part of our family. We socialise around food, We enjoy eating out, cooking and trying lots of different cuisines and I think that has had a bigger impact on their food choices than how they were weaned (but i am open to suggestion).

We have a rule in our house…..you can not say you do not like something or do not want something unless you try it first.

Back to BLW, From what I understand, you put a selection of food in front of them and let them feed themselves.  

I love the concept and it fits in with our family values of encouraging independence and choices.

The Problem is my anxiety levels go through the roof at just the thought of it.

So recently I compromised and I did let Arthur feed himself…..baby rice and pureed food.

I popped Arthur in his highchair and let him loose with the rice and a spoon.  

Well, i put the spoon in his hand but that was swiftly given to the dog who was waiting patiently by his highchair, then he dived in hands first.

The food was in his hair, over the highchair and even inbetween the plastic strap clickers (you know what I mean if you have ever had to clear the aftermath up!)

After a mammoth cleaning session and a bath in the kitchen sink I decided to re think my strategy.

I am going to try a mummy led dinner again tonight and see how that goes.  

But I would really like to try more BLW.

Does anyone have any tips on what foods are good for babies to eat on their own wihout risking heart failure (mine that is).

I feel like after having six babies you are expected to have all the answers, but things change so much and each baby is so different. 
HELP! 
I’ll update you with our progress over the next week.

Wish me luck!

A weekend in Liverpool

Another one of my best friends turned 40 this week and we celebrated by whisking her away on a suprise weekend to Liverpool. 


Rosie is from Ireland, and when her lovely sister (who still lives over there)  contacted me about doing something special I couldn’t have been more up for it. 

I cant take any of the credit for this weekend.   

I was pregnant while it was being organised and while my intention was to take on the organisation with Jennifer,  I let the side down. 

Luckily, Jenny did an amazing job,  dispite my total lack of cobtribution! 

I told Rosie that I was taking her away for a couple of nights, just me and her. 

I picked her up in an Uber (my first Uber experience, and it was amazing).  The cab dropped us to East Croydon where we jumped on the train to London Euston via Victoria.

I loved every minute of that train journey.   Watching her face, totally clueless and out of control.  

Rosie is the ‘ mum’ of our group,  always looking after us and making sure we are OK.   It was really strange seeing her reaction, having to rely completly on me (I’m not sure she enjoyed that part of the weekend! 😂) 

At every stop I would grab my bag and tell her ‘this is it ‘, I would watch her get up, get to the door and then tell her I was joking! 

She wasn’t impressed but I found it hilarious!  

Once we were at Euston I suggested we grab some breakie at All Bar One…little did she know…. 

Rosie was greeted by three more of our girlfriends, sitting there, ready with coffees and cocktails… shouting suprise!!!

Rosie was in tears, totally overwhelmed,  but it was amazing seeing her register just how much she is loved by us all. 
FYI All Bar One do some seriously yummy breakfasts! 

Over breakfast we gave her some clues to guess where we were taking her:

 

The biggest boy band ever were from there…… She had no idea 

There are lots of Irish people there…. Nope

It had an ‘e’ in it… Huh? 

Brookside was based there…. LIVERPOOL!!


We jumped on the train, opened a bottle of prosecco and had one of the best girls chats I’ve ever had. 

During that two hours we talked about everything from relationships, bladder control,  sex and laughed from start to finish. 

The poor fella sitting next to us was pre warned when he sat down that he was in for a special journey and if he embarrases easily he should probably think twice about sitting there.

I did offer him a drink to calm his nerves! 

When we got to Liverpool we headed straight to the hotel. 


#squadgoals

The Shankley Hotel was a great base for a girls weekend.  It is right in the middle of town.  A 5 minutes walk to the station and even less to the shops,  restaurants and bars.
The hotel is lovely,  decor is fabulous with glamour being at its heart and the rooms are great. 

The main room had six double beds in it and a kitchen area. 

I’m even thinking about going back with the kids as there are not many hotel rooms that can comfortably fit all of us in.

When we entered the room it was beautifully decorated (by the Irish girls who were hiding in the toilet).  They had left out champagne,  chocolates and strawberries. 

When Rosie walked into the room two of her sisters and her best friend from Ireland ran out of the bathroom! 

This triggered another flow of tears and a few ‘c u next Tuesdays’ muttered at us.

She was blown away,  she hasn’t made it home to see her family this year and I know she was missing them terribly.  
For them to fly over and organise this weekend was a perfect present. 

The package we booked worked out at £230 each for eight of us (that includes splitting Rosies costs between us).
That included the hotel, a cocktail making class, dinner on the Saturday night,  a choice of either make up or hair to be done and Afternoon Tea.

The train from Euston to Liverpool Line Street was £85 return.

On the Friday, after we had finished the introductions (this was the first time in 20 years that rosies London friends meet her Irish girls) we headed off for out cocktail making classat The Art House.

It was like going back to Playa de las Americas when I was 17,  downing dirty ouzo shots!

It was a real giggle though and the girl that took the class was lovely.  Also, nothing breaks the ice like slut dropping and making cocktails. 

From there we headed to Concert Square and enjoyed a few more drinks and  Shisha.

The next morning the sun was at full force and with the temperature soaring we were determined to enjoy brunch and an espresso martini by the water. 

We took a cab (£2.30!) to Albert Dock and had some coffee and cocktails at Panam.


We discovered during the weekend that Londons shopping experience had serious competition.   

Liverpool has all the shops you could possibly wish for,  all within an easy walk between eachother.
I would love to go back again just for a shopping weekend! 

While in John Lewis Katie had a Charlotte Tilbury make over which resulted in some yummy purchases.

We headed back to the hotel for about 5 to have our hair and make up done, ready for the night ahead. 

I opted to have my hair done.   I love doing my own make up and am very particular about how I have it.  Also, I am low maintainence with my hair so if someone else can glam it up then it is a no brainer!
Given the scorching weather we headed up to have a drink on the roof top bar before dinner (all at The Shankley Hotel).  Watching the half cut girls dancing in the sun kicked the night off perfectly!

Our first night was fun but fairly quiet given we were all mums, and away from the kids for the weekend. It was also quite ‘studenty’ at concert square. I’m not knocking that but we like a bit of sophistication in our older age (early night anyway) so we really wanted to find the area you could go to and have a cocktail made with proper spirits and not sugar and tequila!  😂 

I asked around during the day and it turned out our hotel was on the road  where all the best bars are! 

After our dinner at the hotel we headed to  The Alchemist Cocktail Bar on Brunswick Street.

The cocktails were out of this world and  the atmosphere was great but it was a bit of an arse-ache waiting around at the bar to order our next round.   That could be out fault for sinking each cocktail so quickly. 

We had cocktails there that bubbled, steamed and even ones that come with syringes of shots!

If you like Cocktails I would definatly recommend this bar. 

The night carried on in a bar down the road where we partied till the early hours.

The difference with partying in your 30’s is rather than passing out in bed with a full face of make up and glass of wine next to your bed, we got back,  made a coffee, took our make up off, and at 3am we were putting Philip Kingsley hair masks on! 

We kicked our last day off with a perfect post party breakfast at Barley and Beans.  I don’t know if it’s because we were so hungry but it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had! 

I went for their granola bowl and bacon and eggs.  The other girls had full English and eggs beniddict.  As you can see from the picture, we had an amazing pile of Nutella pancakes for dessert 🍰 

After a some more shopping we went back to the hotel for Afternoon Tea and a de briefing of the weekend before we said our goodbyes and headed to the station for our train back home. 


I had a great weekend! 

After having Arthur I really needed a bit of child free time to myself. I’m home, refreshed and ready to tackle (literally) the kids. 

I met lovely new friends, caught up with old friends,  partied, relaxed,  shopped and laughed.   

I laughed so much and realised how lucky I am to have such wonderful girlfriends who I love with all my heart 😘




Rosies Coffee Lounge, Lingfield

Today I found what might be one of my favourite places as a mum of a toddler and a baby! 
I have to share this little gem with you because I have been waiting over 10 years to find somewhere like this!  

Rosies Coffee Lounge in Lingfield is every parents Haven.
The front of the shop is set out like a usual coffee lounge with a lovely vintage theme and on arrival you wouldn’t necessarily expect much more than a great breakfast and cup of tea. 

It is the back of the shop that left my speechless, I can only describe It like a mums ‘speak easy’ coffee shop. 

At the side of the coffee Lounge is a babygate that leads into a lovely ‘play room’ full of dressing up clothes and toy boxes. 

On the other side of this lovely room is a fantastic, covered, outdoor area with tables and chairs and a contained soft play area for babies and toddlers.
Perfect for a rainy day, you can sit and catch up with friends or just enjoy some time indulging a coffee and slice of cake while the little ones crack on and play. 

Rosies offers even more to us parents on a sunny day with a gorgeous outdoor garden. 
Completly covered in fake grass it feels a little like being in teletubby land.

They have ride on toys, benches, bouncy castle and lots more to keep the children entertained.
I honestly couldnt find fault in this wonderful place. 
The decor is quaint, cosy and vintage which makes chilling in their garden all the more relaxing. 
Baby gates and fencing everywhere means there is no way of children escaping which takes the anxiety out of enjoying your cuppa.
When i normally take George out for coffee with the girls i’m forever having to wrestle him into staying in a high chair, chasing him round like a lunatic before he starts stealing food from an unassuming diners plate or running out the front door. 

If I am lucky enough for him to sit still he is usually screaming like something out of the exorcist for a biscuit, that once I give him, he chews and spits back out 😣 
The toys, grass and equipment at Rosies are spotless which I am completly in awe of as I have never found a kids space that I am happy to walk around without my shoes on. 
If there was a coffee themed Masterchef, my friend Rosie and I would be the Greg and John and with our vast experience I can tell you Rosies Coffee Lounge capuchinno is one of the best we’ve had. 

The jackets potatoes and breakfasts were great too. 

On top of all this, the staff were so wonderful, welcoming and patient with the children (and parents) it made the whole atmosphere even more enjoyable. 
Rosies also offer children’s party packages and events.   Take a look at their website for more information. 

https://www.rosiescoffeelounge.com
I should add,  don’t be put off of you have no children.  As I mentioned earlier,  the font of the shop is a great area and when I was there,  not a child in sight! 
It’s important,  given my glowing review that you know I did not recieve anything in return for this review.   In fact, I went ‘secret shopper’ style and didn’t even mention Modern Mum to them. 
So, if you want to find me between the hours of 9-2 this is probably where I will be plotted up with Rosie, my laptop, a copy of OK or If I’m feeling like a particularly good mum,  I might even be playing with my children 😉
Let me know if you take a trip down there and what you think and tell them I said hi 🤗

Peace Out

Petworth and The Three Crowns, Wisborough Green

​I am really lucky when it comes to my relationship with Mike.

Being self employed he is at home alot of the time.  

This would drive most wives to murder! But, as it happens,  I quite like it!  
He often joins me for a coffee with the girls in the morning, listens to us moan about shit we find to moan about and then lightens the mood with one of his cocky comments.
I’m completely going of the subject of my post!

What I’m getting at is that he often suggests a random trip out after I’ve dropped the kids off to school.  
It might be that he has a job to price up or check on so we could be off anywhere (I’m writing this blog from the car on our way to Clapham)

Just before Xmas we took a trip out to a place called Petworth.

Petworth is a beautiful, small town in West Sussex, about 30 minutes from Horsham.
A town made up of cobbled streets, antique markets and beautiful boutiques.

We didn’t have much time there as we were restricted by the school pick up but there is a national trust property there which I will save for my next visit. 
Obviously I managed to find enough time to check all the shops out!  

I was so pleased with a bunch of real mistletoe I treated myself to 😘

The indoor antique Market is fantastic. If you like quirky bits for your house that add character or you just love a mooch around, looking at vintage gems it is definatly worth visiting. 

Some of the items we looked at I’m certain would be ten times the price on Kings Road!

After We left Petworth we stopped for lunch at a lovely pub on our way home in a little place called Wisborough Green.
It is a beautiful, quirky village pub set on a picturesque green.

On arriving our welcome was perfectly fitting! 

It was like popping to your favourite aunties who you haven’t seen in years. 

The owner greeted us,  she was over the moon to see George (if you have kids you know how reassuring it is to know kids are welcome, Lots of pubs have an over 50’s only attitude).

After seating us she went through the menu and explained that all locally their meat and seasonal veg are locally produced on nearby farms. She then offered her preference on the dishes, which I loved! 

We were introduced to the two family shit-tzus who wander around the pub and greet all the visiting dogs at the door. 
They did the perfect job of cleaning the floor around George, not that my son tends to waste any of his food! We are usually lucky if he comes away from lunch with his fingers in tact! 

Unfortunately, after a coffee and cake at Petworth neither of us were hungry enough to order a full lunch so we opted for a starter each. 
Mike went for The seafood chowder, which he thoroughly enjoyed and dispite it being a starter, hit the spot perfectly and was washed down with a recommended pint of Ale.

I opted for the sticky pigs cheek with black pudding. Again,  it was absolutely delicious.  Thanks to baby number six, mine was washed down with a lemonade and lime but then someone had to drive us back 😉

George had a lovely sausage and mash, unfortunately it was so good that the dogs went hungry. 

All of this accompanied by a friendly banter with the owner /hostess and the impeccably mannered staff. 
Whether it’s a family lunch out in the country,  a dog walk followed by a drink and a bite to eat or a romantic dinner I massivly recommend this wonderful pub!

http://mobile.dudasite.com/site/thethreecrownsinncom?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thethreecrownsinn.com%2F&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2F#2943

Saint Nick popped in for a cuppa!

​Deck the halls!  
We have had a really special,  festive weekend full of friends,  wine,  mince pies, sausage rolls, tinsel, The Pogues and Santa Claus! 
Back in November I looked into which Santa to take the kids to visit.  
I looked into local garden centres, National trust venues and shopping centres.   

I know most of them are great experiences but when you have 5 children they are also really expensive. 
It got me thinking,  how much would it cost to bring the big guy to us!?

I hit Google and found a company called Hiresanta.  
They sent me a few videos of different Santa auditions and the relevant price for each Santa.

Obviously, the best,  most realistic was the most expensive….. And typically the one I set my heart on. 

The price tag for our Santa came at a wopping £300, but,  considering I was going to spend £100 for 2 minutes with a half decent Santa at the local garden centre, I thought I’d give it a go.

He didn’t disappoint!

The children were absolutely blown away (and so were the adults). 

Turns out our Santa was a professional actor with credits such as Eastenders, The Bill, Frost, Londons Burning and Casualty just to name a few.
He spent two hours talking to the children,  listening to each of their presie lists and told them a lovely Christmas story. 

We are definatly going to book again for next year. 
Some of the older kids were suspicious but he was pretty convincing and left even the most defiant believers wondering….. Could he be!? 

So I can confirm we are now officially in the Christmas spirit! 
If you can get a few friends together and split the cost it is a great experience and a chance to make special memories that last forever. 
It’s also a great excuse for the parents to get together with a few bottles of wine and let a jolly man in a suit entertain the children for a couple of hours. 

Only one problem, Santa left his belt on my bed!…. Try explaining that one too the kids 😆🙊🎅

HO HO HO!!!! 🎅
http://www.hiresanta.co.uk

Recipe for perfect kids

​I totally won my kids over today!  
Today I have been honoured with 

‘ the best mum in the world ‘ and ‘absolutly amazing ‘
They have hung all their clean washing up and put it away for me,

Cleaned their rooms and fed George.
They had a shower without asking them,  and now as i type this we are cuddling on the sofa.
The secret?  Well it was so simple I can’t believe it is taken me so long…… 


OREO COOKIE MILKSHAKE

2 x packs of oreos

Half a tub of vanilla ice cream 

Milk added depending on how thick you like it. 

(just half that If you don’t have a mini tribe like me!) 
All wacked in the blender  

(sorry I didn’t get a chance to take a photo before my angels inhaled two glasses each!) 
Anyway….. Viola! Happy kids!!!

YOUR WELCOME 

(she takes a bow)

New kitchen 

​The person who said the two most stressful things you can do in life is move house or get married never refurbished a house with four/five children! 
We finished our extension just before George was born but put our kitchen on hold. 

(this picture is totally irrelevant,  I just wanted to show off my wallpaper hanging skills !)  

I couldn’t handle the mess and inconvinience of no kitchen and a Newborn baby so we left it as it was. 

Now, nearly a year later we looking into finishing it and the thought is filling me with excitment and dread! 

I’m still cleaning dust up 11 months after the building work finished! 
This always helps :
‘There may not be a kitchen but don’t think for a second I’m living on sandwiches for a month.’
‘ let’s move into nana’s’
‘Can you still make Coco pops? ‘
‘ you should buy our old house. That kitchen was finished ‘
-Just some of the constructive comments my beautiful offspring offered!  
I also seem to be so much more indecisive since George was born. 

I’m no stranger to refurbing or putting new kitchens in but this time I’ve drawn a blank. 

I can’t decide what kitchen to go for, how to lay it out,  what floor to have, what lighting i want,  an island or a bar?  Solid wood or granite?  

This is so unlike me,  i am,  usually quite an impulsive and decisive person.

Either way,  what i want and what it will look like after a couple of months are two totally different things. 

I picture a sparkling white kitchen with a beautiful chandelier,  a huge bunch of flowers in a vase sitting proudly on the island,  a full wine Fridge and the smell of coffee in the air. 

What the ‘ real ‘ picture will show is dirt marks all over what used to be stunning white units,  dead lily’s where I have forgotton to change the water and can’t be arsed to empty the stinking flowers out,  an empty wine fridge (five kids and five dogs,  need i say more?) and the smell of shitty nappies because,  although I have the intention to buy nappy sacks each time I’m out, I never do!  #mumslife

I better start getting my arse into gear, two walls are being knocked down this week and the sooner I have a kitchen picked the sooner an end is in sight.
I’ll start tonight, hold on, Did someone say tapas? 

….

I’ll start tomorrow! 

Shopping for a large family

I think the key to shopping for a large family is bulk and planning! 

I tend to split my shopping into various trips.

I pay a yearly membership to Costco so that I can buy alot of our shop in bulk.

I buy toilet rolls, washing powder, fabric conditionor, cleaning products, nappies and baby wipes.

I also buy things like ketchup, seasonings, tea bags, coffee and rice.

Costco also have really nice meat, their pork belly in particular and I find it hard to resist their caremilsed onion sausages!
On average my shop at Costco comes to £80-£100 and that would last me at least 6 weeks.

The problem with costco is that they always have loads of other stuff that I want to buy but shouldn’t.  You know, the sort of stuff that makes Mike sweat when I start browsing,  pillows, candles, coffee machines, throws (you can never have enough throws),  books and home decorations.

You can guarentee that regardless of how quickly Mike wants to get around and tries to steer me away from anything that is not on my list, if there is a bar b que, tool set or ‘boys toy’ on offer it will add an extra hour to our trip!
I find taking a list always helps me stick to what I really need and also means I don’t come away forgetting any essentials.

Once I left without nappies and loo roll but instead had two paddling pools and a football goal!  

Next stop is Aldi where  I stock up on all our cupboard essentials like crisps, biscuits, cereals, squash, tins and pasta etc.

I also buy their prosecco, wines,  cheeses and ham. 

This leaves my regular ‘pop in’ to Co-op or sainsburys for milk,  bread, fruit and veg much less of a burden.

I can preach this, but I really need to stick to it myself. 

As much as I know I should do it and on an organised month I am religious, I also have months where I spend £200 more than I need to because I leave it all to the last minute and run into sainsburys, hungry and with no plan of action!  

There are also weeks/months where I can get my a#?e to the supermarket which is when sainsburys delivery gets used. 

Speaking of the continence of delivery, I am really tempted to try one of these fruit and veg delivery services where they deliver you a box once a week….does anyone have this?  What are your thoughts?  

I have mentioned in previous blogs I tend to cook alot of big pot dishes such as Curries, pasta, shepherds pies, lasagne, chilli, stews, they all work out cheaper than buying ready prepered food for us as a big family.  
 

 

First week of our holiday

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my blog.
Holidaying with five children doesn’t allow me much free time.
Between applying suncream, feeding them and getting in and out of the pool one hundred times a day I just about have time to take a pi#@!

We are one week into our three week holiday in Florida.  Our first week had been in Key West.
I am going to do a separate blog on Key West but I would sum the Island up as the American Caribbean, laid back and boozy.
I saw a sign in a shop window that said

Key West emergency plan:  GRAB BEER AND RUN LIKE FUCK!
That’s pretty much sums it up.

image

We have met some really interesting people and watched Sarah (my  sister in law) and John get married which was beautiful and a complete honour.

The kids have been on top form this week.  Enjoying every minute of the weather,  pool and the relaxed atmosphere. 
They have always loved the States and, like Mike and I, feel completely at home here.  Mikey has even been speaking in an American accent since he landed…
Slightly embarrassing when ordering food or speaking to a native! 

They have been a bunch of comedians aswell, I’ve been making notes of some of the sh€t this lot have come out with.

Harrison on the toilet

‘Don’t talk to me while I’m pooing, I can talk,  but you can’t…. I mean….I need to concentrate’

Libby whilst trying on my wedges

‘so when you are in heaven I can wear all your clothes and shoes can’t I!?’

Mikey
‘ Mum you look like Megan Traynor, mainly because you both have ginger hair and a big booty ‘

Harrison

‘ how long is this wedding going to go on for?  I’m starving and I want some cake! ‘

Charlie

‘Sarah looks beautiful….. John looks bald but Sarah looks beautiful! ‘

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We have had a great first week to our holiday.  
It’s sad to say goodbye to our family and friends but we are looking forward to our next week of holiday adventures in Fort Lauderdale and Miami!

Feeding the five thousand – Paella

I have had a couple of messages asking me to blog about feeding a big family.

I am a bit of a Ma Larkin when it comes to cooking.
We have an open house policy at home which means quite often we could have 10 + people to cook for including friend and family that pop in.
For this reason I am a big fan of the ‘one pot’ recipe.   It works out cheaper and if anything is left over it can be put in the fridge or freezer for another day.

I am going to try and update the blog with new recipes and ideas every few days at least.

Paella

Paella is one of our family favourites.   I particularly like it this time of year as if the weather is nice there is nothing better than sitting outside with crusty bread,  glass of chilled wine and a bowl of paella.  It’s like being on holiday.

Paella

-I follow the slimming world diet so in this recipe I replace all the oil for fry light or a tiny bit of olive oil. 
Apart from the chorizo that makes this diner really low in syns.

-My kids quite like Uncle Bens 10 minute rice (not boil in a bag)  instead of paella rice.

Ingredients

large pinch saffron strands (or cayenne pepper is a cheaper option)
600ml vegetable or chicken stock
3tbsp olive oil
125g (4oz) chorizo, roughly chopped
500g (1lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (or a mix), chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2tsp paprika
250g (8oz) Spanish paella rice
4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
75g (3oz) frozen peas
250g (8oz) cooked prawns (with shells on or off) (thawed if frozen) and rinsed
small handful flat-leaf parsley

Method

Stir the saffron strands into the stock and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse while you prepare the rest of the paella.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a paella pan or a large deep frying pan with a lid. Tip in the chorizo and fry for about 3 minutes until it’s crisp and the spicy red oil has been released. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.

Stir the chopped chicken pieces into the pan and fry over a high heat for about 8 minutes, or until the meat is starting to turn golden around the edges. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Pour another tablespoon of oil into the pan, tip in the chopped onion and garlic and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is softened and just starting to colour. Stir in the pepper and paprika with the remaining tablespoon of oil and stir-fry for a further 1-2 minutes. By now the pan should have lots of brown crispy bits on the bottom, which will all add flavour.

With the heat still quite high, quickly stir in the rice so it gets well coated in the oil, then pour in the infused stock plus 450ml (¾pint) of boiling water, scraping up the sticky brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring only very occasionally and the chicken is cooked through until no pink is showing. Scatter the peas, prawns and fried chorizo over the top, cover again and leave to cook a further 5 minutes, or until the rice is just cooked and most of the liquid in the pan has been absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat, put the lid on and leave it to stand for 5 minutes. When ready, give the paella a couple of stirs to lightly mix the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper, scatter over the chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges if you like.