Pictures of family cook booksI love to say that I’m the kind of gal who can rustle up a culinary delight with just a few ingredients, rather than reaching for the takeaway menu or visiting the Colonel when the fridge is looking a bit sparse. But I’m not. I love to cook healthy food from scratch but for the most part I’m a recipe planner. I also love nothing more than a good cookbook. My happy place is flicking through my faves with a cup of tea, comfortable in the knowledge that I’ve become quite boring easy to please.

So I thought I’d share with you my favourites, all of which are packed with healthy recipes the whole family can enjoy. I can tell I love a book when all the pages are stuck together…steady… I mean with food splashes.

Everyday Superfood – Jamie Oliver

So I had to resist the temptation to call this post ‘I love Jamie Oliver’ and a list of all his recipe books as I have ALOT. I just don’t think I’ve ever been let down by a Jamie recipe. Anyway, there are some real treats in this book. It’s healthy food that doesn’t taste healthy and the fish tacos are incredible, as is the kedgeree and the butternut squash lasagne. It’s easy to follow, nothing takes forever to make and Henry started eating recipes from here as soon as he started eating solids.

Ready Steady Glow – Madeleine Shaw

Oh-em-gee I just love Madeleine. I discovered her beautiful blog when I was trying to eat foods that would help my skin in preparation for my wedding and so I was quick to pre-order her first book – Get the Glow when it came out in 2015. She followed it up with Ready Steady Glow last year and while both are incredible I think the healthier chocolate chip cookies tip the scales in second book favour. She’s gorgeous, she oozes positivity and she’s recently announced she’s pregnant so I’m excited to follow her baby journey as well as her foodie journey. I’ve also met her and she’s just as lovely in real life – I just had to get that in there.

Superfood for Superchildren – Tim Noakes, Jonno Proudfoot and Bridget Surtees

This is my favourite book for lunch ideas that aren’t sandwiches. I’ve made cheese muffins, cauliflower tots and dips which have gone down a storm with both me and Henry. There’s not a focus on carbs in this book and while it’s an interesting read I’m not into excluding food groups altogether so I like to litter some recipes from here into our weekly menu to try and make sure we’re eating a diet as varied as possible. There’s sections on first foods, foods for teenagers, packed lunch ideas and breakfasts but we’ve eaten from every chapter regardless of what it’s aimed at.

Superfood Family Classics – Jamie Oliver

After eating out of Everyday Superfood every week for about six months I just had to add this to my collection after my friend Hannah made us the fish pie. It’s my most used at the moment and my go to when I’m planning what we’ll eat. The section on pasta and risotto has some corkers and there’s even a healthy take on doughnuts for breakfast which I can’t wait to try.

Deliciously Ella – Ella Woodward

So I know this isn’t really aimed at families, but I’ve been a Deliciously Ella fan for a while and there’s a few really good recipes in here that we all really enjoy. We have a few meat free days a week to keep costs down and Ella is vegan so it’s a good book to get some recipes from. The bean chilli is my favourite. It’s quick to make, delicious, healthy and has minimal fresh ingredients so a good one to throw together when the ‘big shop’ day is looming. As all of her recipes are free from refined sugars, I often whip up a batch of something sweet to nibble on which I’m happy for Henry to eat too.

I’ve included Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals in the picture as I love the recipes but have a little bit of an issue with that they don’t take fifteen minutes for me to make them – I need to work on my chopping skills!

I hope you enjoyed my list. I have a bit of a cook book addiction so I’d love to hear any recommendations.

Cookbooks for all the family


My Petit Canard

A picture of a footIn year 9 P.E I suffered severe psychological damage which I believe has impacted upon my relationship with exercise; I was hit in the face with a rounders ball.

Since then, I’ve never really had what you might describe as a friendly relationship with exercise. We’re much like acquaintances who meet up so infrequently that we never build a proper, lasting friendship and ultimately drift apart, only to reunite a few months later and repeat the whole stop and start process again.

Pre-baby it wasn’t all that difficult to stay slim but now my skin has been stretched to the mother of all limits it’s another story all together and it’s about time I got my sorry arse in gear and got a little more active. Last summer I started, and subsequently abandoned Couch to 5k when it turned a little cooler -I’m not about that running in the rain malarky. So when Flex TV* asked if I was interested in reviewing their online classes I shrugged off my usual excuses, dusted off my trainers and signed up.

I’ve tried a couple of fitness DVD’s over the past year, but one of two things has always happened:

  1. I’ve quickly become bored of the repetitiveness of doing the same routine everytime you put the DVD on.
  2. *Someone* – not mentioning any names but rhymes with MARL – thinks that since it’s a DVD and can be paused, it’s ok to interrupt in the event of a number two nappy.

With Flex TV I didn’t have these issues. Once you’ve joined, you’re able to select types of exercise you’re interested in and the times you’d prefer to do a class and classes will be recommended to you, or you can browse what’s on using the menu.  There’s loads to chose from including barre, pilates, HIIT, yoga,  and dance…Then you just stream the live class using any device connected to the internet – If you use your phone don’t do what I did and forget to switch it to ‘do not disturb’ because it’s really annoying when you have to interrupt your amateur plié to deal with your ringing phone.

Because you’re actually ‘booking’ a class, even though you’re doing it at home I think it’s more of a commitment that can’t be interrupted, almost like having an exercise buddy who you don’t want to let down. You can also invite friends to join the class too, so you’re working out together but from your own homes. And since no one can actually see you, you can do it in your pyjamas. Heck you could do it completely starkers if you so wished. All the classes I did were about 30 minutes long, which is perfect for me to fit into even the shortest naps.

The first class I tried was a post-natal core workout which left me aching for days. But despite my complete lack of core strength it felt do-able and the ache was strangely satisfying. The instructor was great at explaining how to ensure you’re getting the most out of the workout, offering options for different levels. I also tried Barre and Pilates, both of which were enjoyable, and the perfect length at 30 minutes so I could squeeze them into a naptime, although there are classes ranging between 10 and 60 minutes.

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it, and how good it felt to get moving. Sometimes the gym can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re trying something completely new like barre was to me. I’m so uncoordinated that I’d never have dared go to an actual class but with Flex TV I’ve found a way to exercise that I don’t just not hate, I actually like, which after 29 years is a pretty good result.

The only problem I experienced was that any thing that involves jumping or banging around isn’t really a go-er for me when I’m doing it during a nap, because my house is tiny and my child is the worlds lightest sleeper. But since most people don’t have this problem don’t let that put you off! I’ve been picking up the pace with my walks a little to try and get my heart rate up, or walking with Henry in the carrier to add a little weight and once the mornings are a little lighter I plan on trying the couch to 5k again, running before Carl goes to work.

Flex TV is a great option for Mama’s because it allows even the most reluctant of us to get back into exercise without having to worry about childcare. Going out to do a gym class would probably take almost double the time of the actual class when travel is factored in. With Flex, you just sign up to a class and get on with it, leaving more time for changing nappies, prevention of electrocution by sticking fingers in plug sockets, saving the pug from being run over by the V-Tech Train and everything else I fit into a day. Flex TV are currently offering a 30 free trial which you can sign up to here.

*In collaboration with Flex TV – all thoughts my own.

Finding time to work out as a mum


Diary of an imperfect mum

Henry running down the drive

    Clearly feeling much better, chasing the dog down the drive.

So I know just the other day I said I’m no longer a worrier. But… no sooner had the keyboard cooled from my from my frantic ‘write everything quick before naptime ends’ type-fest, did I start worrying about the thing that I’ve known was happening for a while but put to the back of my mind to avoid bursting into tears because last Tuesday Henry had surgery to correct his squint.

Everyone around me was so calm about it, it’s a common procedure, you’re home the same day and you’d probably be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know of someone who’s had squint surgery. His doctor – who’s incredible – was so blase about it, although I’m not sure I’d want any other attitude as there’s no way I’d let anyone with an inch of doubt as to his capabilities anywhere near my baby’s eyes with a sharp object. Nevertheless my heart actually hurt everytime I thought about it.

Despite having fasted, Henry was in such good spirits before the surgery, playing in the waiting room blissfully unaware of what was to come which made his pain when he woke up all the more heartbreaking. He’d been relieved of his hanger when he drifted of to sleep, alarmingly quickly and I left the theatre in tears to wait out the longest 90 minutes of my life. He woke up with closed, swollen eyes covered in ointment and his tears were blood stained, crying hunger, confusion and pain. We gave him his milk, having to restrain his arms from rubbing his eyes – let me tell you, preventing a child from rubbing their eyes is up there with trying to cut their toenails; nigh on impossible.

The rest of the day was a blur, we went home he spent most of the day asleep, or trying to open his eyes and immediately crying. Although he ate a chicken dinner with his eyes closed which I thought was pretty impressive, clearly it’ll take a bit more then strabismus surgery to put Henners off his food.

Watching my baby in pain was the hardest thing I’ve had to do so far as his Mama. I felt guilty that I’d chosen for him to be where he was. I’d chosen for him to be put to sleep and I’d chosen for him to wake up sore and confused. We could’ve chosen to wait until he was a little older, when we could’ve explained what was happening to him. But we’d decided to do it now, when he’d not understand why he’d gone to sleep and woken up uncomfortable, in hope that he won’t remember anything when he’s older.

It wasn’t just the surgery we want him to forget, we’d chosen to operate earlier to avoid Henry hearing comments we’ve heard about his eyes. A few weeks ago we were in a coffee shop with my mum and she overheard two fully grown women whispering about Henry’s squint as we were leaving. When she told me, after the initial mother-bear-protecting-her-cub style rage, I felt a little more confident we’d made the right decision for our little boy. It wasn’t the first time, and it’s only a matter of time before Henry hears comments, whispers and stares. He’s a growing into a happy, sociable and outgoing toddler and I can’t bear the thought of his confidence being knocked before he’s even found his feet in the world.

So I hope that when he’s older Henry feels we’ve made the right choice for him. We had a tough few days but by Saturday he was back to his usual cheeky self, terrorising the feral pug and generally making himself very busy running up and down, doing his best to dodge his four-times-daily eye drops. He was quite happy revisiting the hospital for his check up on Friday so I’m hopeful that he’s already forgotten the experience and it’s not one that he’ll have to go through again, although we’ll have to wait until his check up in a few months to see.

I’ve never spoken about it here before, I’m not really sure why. I think it’s because I know that it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what some families are going through and I’m conscious of that. But I found the experience tough and I’ve not seen alot in the blogosphere about squint surgery, despite how common it is so thought I’d share my thoughts just on the off chance that my ramblings might be of help to someone else.

Has your little one ever had squint surgery? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Squint Surgery - a tough



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Naptime Natter



YReading ALOT of blogs is a huge part of blogging and given that it was already a hobby of mine it’s very little effort on my part. I also take part in a few linkys each week which is a great way to become aquainted with new bloggers.

So I’ve decided to start a monthly feature….*drumroll*… Mum Crush Monday. I’ve also set up a tab on my homepage with a link to all of my favourite blogs so I’ve got my own little directory – handy eh?

So without further ado, here are my the first group of mamas I could be tempted to trade in my husband for….

Hannah – Cagney and Lace


My lovely friend Hannah and I met through our husbands many moons ago, but it was over a glass of wine and our mutual love for online beauty videos that we became soul sistas. She writes Cagney and Lace, a fashion and lifestyle blog which I’ve had bookmarked for years. I’m not even speaking from a place of bias when I say that this girl has STYLE. If you don’t believe me you can see for yourself with her 2016 round up featuring her favourite swoon worthy outfits and the most beautiful etheral wedding dress. Not only can I count Hannah as one of my best friends but we’re also god-parents to each others children and watching their friendship develop is beautiful.  If you’re looking for some toddler fashion inspo, head over to Hannah’s  to see snippets of her beautiful, always well turned out little girl – like mother, like daughter when it comes to sartorial choices. She’s also great at recommending institutions of hospitality, so if you’re in the Sheffield area and it has the Hannah seal of approval, you know  you won’t be disappointed.

Wendy – Naptime Natter

I discovered Naptime Natter through a linky and it’s the kind of blog I wish I’d have found when I was pregnant. I think any pregnant lady would come away with a more realistic view of motherhood after reading Naptime Natter than 99% of books aimed at first time mums – I’m looking at you Gina Forde. I’ve only ‘met’ Wendy through blogging and social media but it’s clear that she’s kind, genuine and an incredible mum to her beautiful boys. Her blog is so refreshingly honest, with helpful insights and tips on breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public, babywearing, pregnancy and parenting a toddler to name but a few, all the while being entertaining and not at all preachy. My breastfeeding road was incredibly rocky, and I honestly think I may have been better prepared had I found experiences such as those shared by Wendy in those first few days and weeks.

Becky – MommyandRory

Becky is another real life friend who I met at our NCT class and we started blogging around the same time, determined to document that precious first year. There’s a month between our boys and they’ll be friends whether they like it or not. MommyandRory is a great read and her Linky List is my go to directory. Her recent post – ‘Have you seen my boobs? I seem to have lost them!’ is laugh out loud funny, even to someone who can’t sympathise with large chested problems having sported two fried eggs even while breastfeeding. She’s also a dab hand in the kitchen and her recipes are well worth a try. Funny and foodie – what’s not to love?!

Emma – Mamalina

I found Emma  through her pretty epic Instagram and ** have I got a mum crush on this lady. Although I am a routine kinda gal – I need my evenings – her zero routine approach to parenting is fascinating and she just oozes hippy cool, planning travels with her boys and giving them experiences of a lifetime. Watching her Insta stories is my favourite way to pass a toilet break, otherwise known as the ten-minute-mum-wee  taken around the time Carl gets home from work. Her post ‘Let Your Kids be Bored‘ is a refreshing change to all of the literature encouraging constant engagement. I definitely think enagement with you children is crucial, but so is giving them a little space to learn for themselves and Emma puts across a great sense of balance.


So there we have it, my first Mum Crush Monday. You can also see links to all these lovely ladies blogs in Mama Crush: The Directory.

My Petit Canard

Baby pushing walkerI generally think I’ve got a pretty good level of tolerance for musical baby paraphenalia. But oh-my-days don’t those things have some catchy songs that’ll stick in your head far into the night, long after they’ve been put away (or discarded in a corner of the room) for the day.

My tolerance hit it’s peak the other night when I’d sneaked off upstairs for five minutes of bathtime peace. No sooner had I dipped my toe into the inviting, steaming hot, bubbled water did Carl, Henry and the feral pug make their way into the bathroom bringing with them the mother of all irritating toys – the V-Tech First Steps Walker. Carl then put on BBC news which was showing Donald Trump making a speech. Now let me tell you, you’ve not experienced annoyance until you’ve heard Donald Trump talking and various songs from the walker playlist AT THE SAME TIME.

So, I thought I’d list some of the frustratingly cheery ditties and phrases from various baby toys for you to guess what they’re from. A fun little way to see how much your brain is taken up by storing this nonsense….

Kicking things off with an easy one…

  1. ‘Welcome to ourr learninggg farmm, weee’ve got lotttsss to showww youuu’ – V-Tech First Steps Walker. I could’ve filled the whole list with this bloody thing.
  2. ‘Turn the pagess to exxplore!!’ – V-Tech Musical Rhymes book
  3. ‘Put a bawll in the monkeyss hat!’ – Bright Starts Having a Ball Hide and Spin Monkey
  4. ‘It’s a great day to visit the BEACH! Full steam ahead!’ – V-Tech Push and Ride Train
  5. ‘I have two feet; one purple, one blue. I have two feet! JUST LIKE YOU!’ – Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Puppy
  6. CHUG, CHUG, CHUGGING RAIN OR SHINE! I hope you enjoy your riddddeee’ –– V-Tech Push and Ride Train
  7. ‘The cat in the square, is speaking out of there! Meow! Meow!’- V-Tech Turn and Learn Cube
  8. ‘Hop on board the animal train, come onnn EVERYONE! Learning about animals is really LOTS OF FUN!’ -Fisher Price Amazing Animals Train

I’ve put the answers in white, so if you highlight the whole page you can see how many you got right. Clever eh? If you’re on a phone you may have to copy and paste into notes to see the answers. Sorry about that. Extra points if you know another song from the same toy.

Despite their annoying sounds I actually quite like all of these toys, Henry dances to the music they make which is just the CUTEST thing.

Cuddle Fairy