The Making of an Autumn Wreath

Fall may be one of my favourite seasons at the moment. I have never really paid much attention to it till the child came along. Don’t get me wrong, I have always appreciated the beauty. Love the various shades of autumn leaf colours, falling leaves and the crisp refreshing air but I have never truly experienced autumn till I shared the season with my daughter. An eye opening experience! Such innocence and joy when they discover autumn and they genuinely take it all in with great enthusiasm from having races with her friends through the leaves, rolling around in them, squirrel spotting and her absolute favourite ‘treasure hunting’. We have hundreds of conkers in little boxes and a handful of acorns and pine cones. All part of her autumn treasure collection. Oh how I burst into laughter when she came home from pre-school and told me ‘Mummy, look in my school bag. I have a surprise for you’. Her bag was filled to the brim with autumn leaves. She refused to chuck them and kept them in a box too. We also had lots of pumpkin fun leading up to Halloween. We treated her to a few tiny pumpkin, squash and gourds and she was so proud of them.

One day, she came running home from school with a ‘note’. There is a parent child Autumn Wreath Competition much to her delight. She is a child who loves homework of any sort. Odd child alert. She immediately mentioned she was going to make one filled with conkers from her collection. Hoorah! What a fabulous idea little one. All I need was a glue gun.. Amazon to the rescue!

Surely every mum needs a glue gun. At long last, I am a proud owner of one now. . No more faffing about with the silly glue stick. This wreath project kept her busy for a few days. We did it in stages. We cut out a cardboard box as the base of our wreath. I also assigned her the task of cleaning all her conkers. She loved scrubbing them with soap and an old toothbrush haha. We had to chuck out her leaves as they were all gross and mouldy. We found a brilliant pack of fake autumn leaves at The Works for a quid. She arranged her treasure on the wreath base and I stuck it on. Voila! The end result surprised me. It looked fabulous even if I were to say so myself. Enjoy the pictures.

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Pumpkin Picking with Our New Addition

For the last 3 years, we have taken our eldest child to Cattow’s Farm for our annual pumpkin picking day and every year they have made it bigger and better. This year, they have really outdone themselves. Superb family day out. It was busy, jam-packed with humans yet it did not feel too hectic. Thank goodness they had a bigger carpark and lots of activities to keep the children very excited and happy like bouncy castles, face painting, pedal powered tractors and more.

Flashback time, oh I love looking back at old pictures and blog posts. Time really does fly by and I feel like I am starting to forget so many precious memories (already!) especially since we were blessed with another child. People will ask, so when did your eldest crawl or walk and I have to really crack my head to recall. Blimey and this is with 2 children. Documenting our memories is definitely worthwhile, so come on Iris. Write more 😉

2016 – Peek at our delightful 2 year old’s first experience at the pumpkin patch HERE.

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2017 – 3 year old bubba and soon to be big sister! Aaaah, bump pics.

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… and today, October 2018 as a family of 4. Surreal to be honest. Do you know what was really handy? Our baby wrap was a fantastic move as we didn’t really want to deal with a super muddy stroller. The wrap we have is from Joy and Joe and its brilliant for less than £20. Initially, the soon to be 4 year old was wary and not too keen to be honest about all the ‘mud’ on the pumpkins. She soon warmed up as she sprinted up and down the farm trying to pick the best ones for her to bring home. Little ones for her collection and a huge one to carve with her daddy. A real adventure for her and also a great lesson that our food does not only come from the shops but they actually grow in soil on a farm.

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Till next year, Cattows Farm. We had an ace time creating precious childhood memories with our children.

Dairy Free Banana Bread

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Slightly crunchy crust and soft and moist on the inside. One of my all time favourite bakes, but this time around we found the most delicious dairy free recipe! Winner, winner chicken dinner! Too good not to share, I will not be using any other recipes for the rest of my life I don’t think. That’s how good it was. The best banana bread we have baked and its pretty much toddler-proof too. Baking with kids can be a different art form altogether, they eat ingredients and oh batter. So much batter, like the butter sugar mixture ( oh her favourite )! A little too much goes into her little mouth but I can’t help but chuckle as the approving Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm is hilarious and truly honest.

Before I share the recipe, check out our masterpiece 🙂

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1/2 cup butter (115g)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 bananas ( over ripe ones, finely crushed)

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Cream butter and sugar. We used dairy free Stork. With a toddler, everything is simplified. I used a fork and she had lots of messy fun with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add eggs and crushed bananas
  3. Mix well
  4. Add flour, baking soda and salt. I should have sifted them before adding them but it turned out well even without the sifting. Add in the vanilla.
  5. Mix until just combined. Impossible not to over mix with an over-enthusiastic toddler.
  6. Poured into a greased and lined loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 175°C (350F) for 55 minutes.

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The banana flavour comes through very well in this banana bread. Still very impressed with this beaut of a cake, ps. we polished this off  in 2 days. Time to bake another but perhaps we will add in some chopped nuts this time!

Have fun baking.

 

 

 

Pick us to be your Mark Warner family, please?

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I always do this, stumble upon something when it is 6 hours to the deadline! Oh seriously. ‘Why do I do this to myself? but but this is too great of an opportunity to not give it a shot?’ Come on Iris, write.. write for your life! I have just finished gawking at Capture by Lucy’s beautiful travel pictures and am taking up her call to apply to be one of Mark Warner’s family ambassadors. As she would put it, I would regret it if I don’t. Absolutely, so here goes and wish us luck.

Travel, extraordinary travel. It truly is the best. We have been very lucky as a family to be able to escape the pressures of daily life and see so much of the world together with our 2 year old. We have formed precious lasting memories by flying the little one all the way to Malaysia to start, exploring the hot springs in YangMingshan Taiwan, taking in all the sights in downtown Taipei all in a day and recently if you follow our Instagram, we have just been to Madrid, Barcelona and Greece!

Lots and lots of exploring the world with a tot in tow. Instagram must be my favourite social media platform, it was like our travelogue with lots of holiday snaps and videos especially of the little one prancing around everywhere. I have managed to snap about a thousand pictures (no joke) and I cannot wait to get them organised for my little blog.

To be in the running for Mark Warner’s fabulous holiday i.e for us to be brand ambassadors, I am suppose to collate our Top 10 travel must haves! I have written a similar blog post ‘Surviving Long Haul Flights with our Toddler‘ last year and this still stands. Always better to be prepared BUT after our recent travels, I have an alternative Top 10 MUST HAVES.

  1. To be Bold and Adventurous – experience new things!

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We risked it with the toddler and took a cruise boat out when we were in Athens to experience 3 absolutely beautiful islands namely Hydra, Aegina and Poros. It was a very long day from 7am till 7pm and we had about 9 hours to spent hopping on and off the cruise ship. It started off very wobbly as she was exceptionally quiet which is very unlike her and then she was sick! Thankfully, it was just the one off. She must have been seasick, bless! It paid off tremendously as she had a ball dancing around. When she is older, we must show her this postcard worthy picture of Hydra where she was in awe of all the donkeys on this ‘no vehicles’ island.

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2. Relax the rules – try not to be too uptight (speaking for my husband *jokes*)

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When you are on holiday, anything goes. Oh well, within limits of course. When we arrived in Greece the little one was exceptionally taken by all the gorgeous stray cats roaming everywhere! They were absolutely gorgeous although one will never know if they have fleas or carry illnesses. I definitely relaxed the rules and allowed her to touch them as long as she could wash her hands properly. Definitely makes for a more relaxed holiday!

3. Indulge – in good food, fun shopping, relaxing spa sessions, whatever tickles your fancy.

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There is no denying that I love my food especially desserts! When on holiday, INDULGE. Try it all, eat it all. Don’t follow me for diet advice although if you have or had a 2 year old. You will know that they run. These little humans can really run and chasing a toddler around takes its toll. I definitely burnt more than enough calories keeping her safe.

4. Enjoy an ‘adult’ holiday

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As long as you not taking them to a night club, all should be fine. I was initially stressed before we embarked on our trip to Athens as understandably we want to climb up the Acropolis but having read some feedback from Trip Advisor forums, some won’t recommend it as you have to leave your stroller. You know what, just do it! She had lots of exercise and plenty of fun, who cares if I could not feel my arms properly afterwards. She napped when we were still up there and we had to carry her back down. Daddy did most of the heavy lifting. Well worth it! There’s always a way for them to entertain themselves or maybe we are one of the lucky few.

5. ‘Dancing shoes’

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Those of you who follow our family’s journey will know of my tot’s tendency to break into a dance anywhere and anytime! Only 2 but she lives to this mantra ‘Why walk when you can dance?’ Plenty of dancing videos, check out one of my favourites filmed in Madrid on my Instagram HERE. Her lack of inhibitions is fantastic, she had a ball every time she heard music. Boogie boogie throughout your holiday, you will not regret it.

6. Take silly pictures and videos

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These two never fails to crack me up! They think of the most random things to do whilst waiting. Like daddy, like daughter?

7. CAMERA. Video camera. Phone camera. – even better an Insta-husband

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Bless my patient husband for dealing with my .. ‘another picture baby’. Another one here and here and here and here! Whoops. In all honesty though, my pictures of him and our daughter are way better than his. Grrrr.

8. A very LARGE inflatable – in our case, Horsey

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I kid you not, this horsey has been with us to Taiwan, Malaysia, Wales, London, you name it! Proof –>

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9. Lots of soya milk and SNACKS!

Bubba has a dairy allergy so we tend to be very prepared in this department. Lots of soya milk just in case. NEVER ever travel without snacks. I mean it. It makes them happy when they are upset. Pictures above were taken in Madrid, she was getting very grumpy and all it took was a small box of raisins to turn her frown into a smile. She even fed daddy some.

10. Little activities to keep them busy. Stickers and lots of them!

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Thank you for taking time to read and fingers crossed we will be able to embark on another fantastic getaway. Sunny one perhaps?

Pick us pick us! Little one would be thrilled if I am a #MarkWarnerMum and then she can do THIS all over again and our family will be able to form lasting memories in the sun with Mark Warner. Can we just be full time ‘wanderlusters’?

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Remember remember the 5th of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November… Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night. Whatever you call it, it sure is a fun albeit freezing night out for all the family celebrating the failure of Guy Fawkes’ infamous Bonfire Plot. Bonfires will be lit and fireworks will be illuminating the night’s sky with ‘BOOM BOOM BOOM’ as my toddler would put it.

We have been talking loads about fireworks as Diwali just passed and she had quite a few  fireworks themed activities for the past week. Her playgroup organised a lovely firework painting station for them, which she thoroughly enjoyed. We wrapped up warm and went to the annual Rainbows festival of fireworks at Leicester Racecourse. We were not sure whether to go for this or the biggest display at Abbey Park. I think we definitely made the right decision as we knew the toddler might be very tired and it might not go our way when the fireworks went off. Who knows, we might have to make a run for it  and Abbey Park was a much larger venue. Parking was a huge factor in this too. We were there from half 5 right up to the end of the children’s display which started at 7. We were frozen by then. A little someone who was never a fan of gloves kept asking us to ‘fix it’. Its very telling that she was cold 🙂

When we arrived, little one was excited to look around the funfair and we asked her whether she wanted to go on a centipede roller coaster. She profusely said no. However, we took her on a tamer train ride. She had her game face and was oh so serious when her daddy took her in the little train carriage but when she came out .. she was squealing with excitement and told me that she sat on a Choo Choo Train and rang the bell. Little joys in life, it was lovely to see her expressions.

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She especially loved the live music on stage, where she danced for at least half an hour whilst waiting for the children display. I forgot how expensive it can be for things like that. Our entrance was £7.50 each  (£5 for advance tickets), rides usually cost about £2.50 (double that as she is still wee to go unaccompanied), coffee / tea £2 and oh my word, the warm sugary donuts were 4 for £5! Oh well, all in all .. an experience to be had.

She was still excited when they were counting down to the kiddies display but all went a bit wrong when it started. She was not as excited as the last time she saw fireworks and started saying no and she was scared after a few minutes. My husband and I ran helter skelter working our way through the crowds whilst catching bits of it. She would look in amazement for a while and say lets go. We missed the lighting of the bonfire as well as the adults display (no surprises there)

As we were leaving and was in the vicinity of the carpark, she started wailing again as she wanted more fireworks. Oh the looks on our faces.

Till next year kiddo.

Pumpkin picking experience

Yes yes, its yet another pumpkin patch blog post on the internet but it is special for us as its our first experience with the little one in tow. It might have been easier ( *clears throat* photo opportunity ) last year as she was not yet a walking talking toddler .. I could have plopped her anywhere and it would have been picture perfect (jokes). Its nice to set little traditions for the family though and we will have to make a conscious effort to go again.

We went to Cattows Farm, a beautiful piece of Leicestershire countryside but their pumpkin patch was empty. They had a huge demand of Pick Your Own this year but no worries as they had a special plan in place for the kiddies. They just placed pre harvested pumpkins on their land 🙂 Well, who cares! We were there and we were going to make the best of it.

She was thrilled when she saw so many pumpkins but one would assume pumpkins would be the main attraction at a pumpkin farm? It was ALL about the dandelions and the daisies for her. She kept saying ‘Look Mummy ‘ ‘Look Daddy!’ ‘I am picking lots and lots’. It was adorable, bless.

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Pumpkin Picking

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Pumpkin Picking at Cattows Farm

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Dandelion Love

Daddy Daughter Time

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What a lovely experience for us to enjoy as a family, we must remember to go earlier in the month next year. Perhaps there will be actual pumpkins to harvest 🙂 Cattows Farm is a wonderful family friendly place, we had a good wander around the farm shop and made some purchases. Little one was pretty chuffed with her big and ‘little’ pumpkin. Oh yes, I have to mention the cakes in their tea room. Looks super delicious but unfortunately we already had food plans, therefore did not indulge this time around.

Cattows Farm Leicestershire

Cattows Farm Shop

They also had a little children play area which must be fab for the summer!

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… no prize for guessing my height 😉

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Last not but not least, a picture with their resident sheep and goat. Sure hit with bubba, she loved saying hello.

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Baking with the Toddler – Dairy Free Shortbread

I always had this idyllic idea of baking with my child, where it will be so pretty and fun, like something from those adverts you see on telly.

I have been procrastinating for quite a few months as I knew that this would smash that lovely picture that I have painted in my head. I finally DID IT. Baking with my little one for the very first time at 21 months! A really good and fun age to start as she now understands the concept of cooking. At least, I think she does as she watches me in the kitchen and pretends to cook her own food when she is actually eating. Haha.

I set up all the ingredients in advance and before I could even explain or show her which one to mix, she started pouring the wrong ingredient to the huge mixing bowl much to my dismay. She was doing her own thing whilst I tried guiding her to ‘follow the recipe’. “At least she’s loving it”.. I kept repeating this in my head.

Good thing I hid the raspberries till the end as she conveniently forgot that she was still baking and started enjoying them. After munching on quite a few raspberries, she started cooperating again and she was a jolly good helper.

I am so glad that I waited till she was this age so that it wont be too much of a ‘fail’. Good fun, more mess than usual, double the time BUT yes, to more baking days ahead especially since its autumn 🙂

Enjoy our pictures, its chronological … includes the time where she toddled away and enjoyed some baking ingredients i.e the raspberries. Ingredients will be further down the post 🙂

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Looking back at the pictures, her face was a picture of concentration and she carried out her little tasks with focus. Awww bless nothing cuter than little kids attempting to bake. First time trying this dairy free recipe and thankfully it worked! Super easy and she loved pressing the dough into the elephant mould. She kept wanting to turn the mould upside down to look at their faces though.

Ingredients:

290g baking margarine, we used Stork (not the spreadable kind), room temp. diced

120g sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

270g plain flour

110g rice flour

100g raspberries (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Mix the ‘butter’, sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. (Well my toddler wanted to do flour first) Add the flours to the creamed mixture. Fold together. We included some raspberries for fun. Place dough in moulds or prepared tin. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes, preheat oven to 170°C. Bake for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and score and do leave for it to completely cool before removing from mould or cutting the slices.

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We had one happy tot! Definitely makes it all worthwhile when you see her tucking into her little cookie. The elephants were a hit as she was so excited to eat the ears and then the eyes.

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For some other dairy free makes, check out my df banana ice cream and passion fruit cake. Hope you have a happy Sunday with your loved ones.

Ps. theres a huge range of animal moulds on Baked By Me. Great fun when baking with the kiddos.

The Adventures Of An Allergy Mummy

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