Millionaire’s shortbread is something of staple in my baking repertoire, second only to brownies, perhaps cookies, in the list of simple treats I’ll bake when called on to bring something sweet to a special occasion. Like brownies, I’ve got a favourite recipe (ok three, on rotation) but I’m not averse to a little tinkering here and there. These lovely little morsels were my contribution to a baby shower this weekend just gone, and although it’s hard to beat the classic, I may have to throw a handful of salty peanuts into every batch of millionaire’s shortbread I make from now on, they’re so damn delicious. Continue reading
A couple of weeks after Nino turned one, I’d weaned him fully onto cow’s milk. For someone who wasn’t sure how easy it would be – before getting pregnant I’d always assumed there was some sort of ratio between boob size, quantity and quality of milk produced (there isn’t) – I’m super proud to have breastfed my baby for over a year. It’s a controversial topic, and some mums choose to feed on demand for a whole lot longer whilst others are on bottles of formula from the get go, but for me it’s been a wonderful experience. Crazy, beautiful, physical and emotional, tough at times but a brilliant journey that’s reconnected me with my body, our baby and afforded me hours of quiet contemplation in an otherwise hectic year. Continue reading
When Nino came out of hospital for the first time, we paid a lot of visits to the supermarket. During those early weeks, he wasn’t supposed to come into close contact with anyone other than immediate family due to the risk of infection before the big op, but walking outside or round the shops was allowed. I can remember spending a lot of time shopping for and preparing elaborate family meals with our baby boy in his sling, slumbering away or inquisitively watching my every move, still at that stage where he was far too small to grab at things or get in the way of my master chef-ly endeavours. Continue reading
This time last year we were still in hospital. Forty eight hours after he was born, Nino had an emergency balloon septostomy in the paediatric intensive care unit of the Royal Brompton Hospital, a precursor to the open heart surgery he would undergo nine weeks later. I can remember sitting waiting for him to wake from the anaesthetic as if it was yesterday: the flutter and fall of his tiny chest, the sleepy beeps of a dozen life support machines, the artificial light illuminating our twenty four hour world and the sweet nurse suggesting, gently, for the eleventh time that I try to get some sleep myself. Continue reading
This week Nino started his settling in sessions at nursery. Having seen him through countless hospital visits, scans and over ten hours of open heart surgery, you’d think I could handle leaving him a cosy room surrounded by toys and a loving team of staff for a few hours. Not so much. It’s been a week of tears, and not all of them Nino’s. Separation anxiety, it seems, isn’t just for babies. Continue reading
Last year we celebrated Luke’s birthday with a bottomless brunch, the tables filled with food, nearly 30 friends and endless bellinis. Being heavily pregnant, I replaced my alcohol calories with a lot of toast, two platefuls of miniature desserts and likely at least one more croissant than is socially acceptable, soaking up the atmosphere and pondering what we’d be doing for the next birthday as a newfound family of three. Fast forward one year and Luke spent a much more low key couple of hours in the local pub while I stayed at home sticky with Calpol as I snuggled a feverish baby to sleep. When he arrived home at the rock and roll hour of six thirty, Luke promptly fell fast asleep on Nino’s activity mat whilst tidying up his toys (true story), but not before he’d hoovered up a large slice of this peanut butter and jam mini cake. Life as we know it has changed unrecognisably, but wherever there’s a birthday, there will always be cake. Continue reading
There’s a time and a place for boiling pans, sugar thermometers and endless beating with a wooden spoon. Forty eight hours before Christmas Day when you’re frantically trying to finish making and wrapping edible gifts for all your family and friends probably isn’t it. Throw a (not so) tiny ten month old explorer on the brink of walking into the equation and this 3-ingredient fudge was the elf to my slightly frantic Santa. Some might call it ‘cheat’s’ fudge – you simply mix together melted chocolate, condensed milk and cookies – but when something tastes this delicious, who’s going to begrudge the odd shortcut? Continue reading
Judging by all the gingerbread, peppermint, cranberry and brandy recipes that have been landing my inbox of late, this simple ice cream isn’t exactly on trend for this time of year. With no refined sugar, no dairy and an absence of alcohol, it’s possibly more suited to the New Year, New You party which rolls around with guilt-incuding speed just as you’re polishing off that Christmas selection box you found down the back of the sofa. But I’m posting it today because, despite its short ingredient list and surprising vegan credentials, this chocolate banana ‘nice cream’ tastes luxurious enough to serve alongside any more indulgent dessert as you celebrate the season. Continue reading
When Nino was just seven weeks old, two weeks before his open heart surgery, we hired a professional photographer to capture a morning in the life of our little family of three. Those newborn days disappear so quickly that it felt like a precious and important milestone to mark, and, with the operation (hopefully) far behind us, I can now admit I was also scared that those happy moments could be some of our last. This world we live in works in weird and wonderful ways, and two thirds of a year later here we are, happy as can be. A little sleepless, perhaps, but I’d rather be kept awake at night by a bouncing ten month old with a lust for life than intangible fears for its future.
When the same photographer got in touch to say she was keen to capture the preparations of a few families in the run up to Christmas, we jumped at the chance. She describes her photos as ‘imperfect, real, crazy, messy, funny, impossible, bonkers’ and ‘one of the best future gifts you could give to your children’ and I couldn’t agree more. A baby’s first Christmas is an incredibly magical time, and although it will stay etched in my memory forever, I’m so happy Nino will now have something special to look back on too. Continue reading
It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the little loaf household of late. About ten days ago Nino started saying ‘mama’ in a very deliberate way, calling me back if I disappeared round a corner or snuggling in and saying it rather than the indiscriminate sound making we’ve been hearing a little longer. My heart is fit to burst and it’s literally the sweetest word I’ve ever heard, but at the same time this cognitive leap seems to have brought with it possibly the hardest behaviour we’ve seen to date. Our usually sunny little man has been grumbling and fussing, clinging round my ankles, waking multiple times each night and resisting sleep with a renewed and infuriating fervour for someone clearly so in need of it. Until you become a mum it’s impossible to understand how you could love one little person so deeply and completely, yet at times want to pop them in a padded room, pour yourself a stiff drink and sleep, uninterrupted, for a week.
Today our little sleep resister turns ten months old. I know this fussy phase will pass (until the next one, that is . . .) but am also wary of wishing a single day away. With less than two months of maternity leave left I’m trying to live in the moment and soak up each precious morsel of my baby, so in the spirit of celebration (and because my sleep deprived brain might forget if I don’t write it down), here’s what we’ve been particularly loving about you this month, sweet boy. Continue reading