My Dairy Free Journey

When my son was 2 months old he was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. He is breastfed and the dairy in my diet had been passing on to him through my milk which was making him sick.

From this point I have cut out all dairy products and it has made such a difference. If I have ever consumed any dairy by mistake I can definitely tell as the day after my little boy will be sick so I am ever so careful now with what I eat.

I haven’t actually found it too challenging and I don’t actually miss things too much – except for the odd bit of milk chocolate!

There are so many alternative products out there that actually make the transition quite easy. I buy plain soya yoghurt which I really enjoy, the flavoured ones are good too but high in sugars so I tend to avoid those.

My main milk alternative is soya milk but I also buy, oat and almond and recently discovered hazelnut milk which makes an excellent hot chocolate!

I haven’t really tried many cheese alternatives, but I don’t miss cheese too much and actually quite like a homemade pizza without it! The soft cheese alternatives are quite nice – I did use some to make a pasta sauce mixed with vegan pesto. It is also a great sandwich filler.

Home made pizzas (mine without cheese and my daughter’s with cheese)

The dairy free spreads are versatile too, I use it on toast and also for all of my baking.

At home I have found it really easy to adapt and now my son is on solids too it is easier that we are following the same diet. He too enjoys the soya yogurt, soft cheese alternative and various milks in his cereals etc.

I find going out can be more tricky and find myself choosing the vegan options as I know it is safe then. I quite enjoy vegan food and I don’t consume a large amount of meat anyway. I have found a few cafes that make soya milk hot chocolates – so I can still get my chocolate fix when I need it!

Luxury Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

I am also quite happy to be dairy free as I know it is better for the planet. Whilst I wouldn’t take the steps to become fully vegan I am aware of the impact of eating more plant based foods and eating better for the planet. I have been cooking more plant based vegan meals recently and I have really enjoyed them. Examples of some meals I have cooked are vegan moussaka which was made with red lentils and mushrooms, shepherdless pie which was a mixture of green lentils, carrots, peas and sweetcorn and vegan chilli using soya mince.

My daughter’s birthday cake was also a vegan cake, it was an eggless sponge and I used dairy free spread and dark chocolate to make the frosting.

A Cake to Celebrate

My daughter has just turned 3. I like to make a special cake to celebrate birthdays so I asked her what she would like. She was very specific – a mango cake (I had never made a mango cake before so don’t know where that idea came from). It had to be decorated with marshmallows and chocolate.

Think I was quite lucky this year really as I didn’t have to make anything too challenging!

I found a recipe online for a mango cake which used blended mango as an ingredient inside the cake. The cake was very moist however the flavour from the mango was very subtle.

I topped the cake with chocolate buttercream which was made with dairy free spread and I used dark chocolate to give it a lovely chocolatey flavour. I used a mixture of icing sugar and royal icing sugar which gave the buttercream a firmer set.

To decorate, I used white marshmallows around the outside of the cake and used pink marshmallows to create a number 3. Then I made a few flowers out of the marshmallows just to add a little more decoration.

Starting the Day with Yummy Breakfasts

Breakfast is a very important meal and I see it as a great chance to kick start the day with healthy nutritious food.

Both my children enjoy fruit, my daughter loves all fruit which is very good and my son has only been on solids for a month but seems to be enjoying food.

We nearly always have some sort of fruit at breakfast, whether it’s incorporated in the main meal or a piece of fruit afterwards.

We mostly eat porridge, soya yoghurt or wheat biscuits. Sometimes we have cereals such as hoops, cornflakes, fruit and fibre etc. I like to have variety as the same everyday can get boring!

I always have frozen berries stored in the freezer so often I defrost some in the microwave and add yoghurt for a quick tasty breakfast. I normally top this with granola for myself. I also use the berries in porridge when cooking it on the stove.

Smooth porridge with pear puree and strawberry slices

Recently I have started dressing up my breakfasts a little. It makes it more appealing for my daughter and is a fun way to start the day.

Smooth porridge with peach puree and kiwi slices

A particular favourite is chocolate porridge with banana on top. We are always stocked up with plenty of different fruits and cereals to add variety to our breakfasts.

Chocolate porridge topped with banana slices

After the main meal I normally have toast which I share with my son although his toast mostly ends up on the floor! My daughter will usually have a piece of fruit after her cereal unless we have exciting bread products such as crumpets or cinnamon and raisin bagels!

I do enjoy breakfast, it’s a lovely start to the day all sitting round the table together and enjoying a nutritious meal.

A very healthy looking fridge!

Today my daughter and I made fruit salad to have after our dinner. The leftovers will be eaten tomorrow with yoghurt on for breakfast.

Thoughts on Moving House

In a few short weeks we will be moving house again! Our last move was in December 2018, so we have been in our current property for nearly 2 years.

I am actually looking forward to packing – I am treating it as a cleansing activity – to remove unwanted clutter from our lives and be able to start afresh, somewhere new without unnecessary stuff!

I know moving house is quite an upheavil and trying to pack up the house whilst caring for two small children may prove to be challenging!

I am trying to tackle little bits at a time. I have bags at the ready to either throw things out or bag up to donate to a charity shop or possibly sell.

I am really hoping that a new start will give me the chance to really live the lifestyle that I want that will make my family thrive. Sometimes it takes something drastic like a house move to really enable us to start a fresh and start working hard to achieve our goals.

We will be downsizing properties so it makes it all the more essential that we only keep hold of what we truly need. This is going to be challenging but I know that having less is more and we will all feel better for not hanging on to things that we do not need.

I am really excited about the move and feel that it is a new chapter in my life. A new county to explore that is full of natural beauty, new experiences for myself and my family to enjoy and time to reflect and focus on what truly makes me happy.

I plan to start making cleaning schedules again, make meal plans, do more baking and also start planning more activities for my daughter to give more structure to the day. I am hoping there will be lots of exciting things to come which in turn will provide lots of inspiration for blog posts!

Beginning my Minimalism Journey

Recently, my husband and I decided that we want to take on a more minimalistic approach to how we live.

I had started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ we had in drawers, cupboards, shelves etcetera. We started to realise that less is more and need a serious cull on the things that we own in the house.

I have slowly began to sort through things – but with an impending move, this gives us a great opportunity to go through everything as we will need to pack all of our belongings.

I definitely want to have a place for everything and no longer have a drawer (or drawers) filled with random things that nobody knew where else to put!

Some aspects are easier than others, such as scaling back on how many side plates we have or getting rid of clothes that are tired or no longer worn. Other things are more difficult such as, do I need that recipe book?, Will I miss it if I get rid of it!? I have scaled back massively on my recipe books and they are currently stored away to be sold or given away. I have probably scaled back by at least 50% which I am quite impressed with. I had so many books that I barely touched, they were all the taking up space. I evaluated which ones I really used and realised that there are so many that I hardly touched. I am sure somebody else will be able to get enjoyment out of them. I do rather like recipe books but realise that I do use a lot of online recipes as they are so readily available for us to find!

A smaller collection of recipe books
I don’t have a before and after image but this shelf was full of books before I scaled back

I am not sure how to tackle minimalism in the toy department! We seem to have so many toys and with a 3rd birthday coming up soon I’m not sure what we are going to do about all the toys! My daughter claims she plays with all of them!! My son doesn’t really have many toys at the moment but as he gets older and Christmas comes along that will change! I think good storage will be key to tackling the toys!

I hope that as we begin to pack our belongings that we are able to really think about what we need to be filling out new home with. This is just the beginning of my journey and I hope to really find happiness from reducing the ‘stuff’ around me that is unnecessary.

Getting Back to Blogging

So, nearly 2 years and 1 baby later, I have decided to get back into blogging.

I have missed blogging and feel that now is the time to get back into writing about different things in my life that I enjoy and future aims and goals.

A lot has changed since I started blogging back in 2016. We have moved house twice and are about to move again! We currently own and I did a lot of decorating in this property, just like I did in our first house, which I shared a few blog posts about. We are going to be renting for a little while and are moving to Sussex due to my husband’s new job, so about to start a new life in the South of England.

We have plans to be more minimalist and definitely to be more eco friendly and reduce waste. I am slowly taking steps towards this – my 6 month old son is in reusable nappies and I also use reusable wipes. I am slowly starting to make other changes to what household products we use. I will definitely be doing some blog posts about this.

My daughter is nearly 3 and my son nearly 7 months. I am still full time Mum and homemaker and I very much enjoy cooking and keeping the house looking clean and tidy. I love making healthy, tasty meals for my two children and enjoy seeing plates full of fruit, veg and nutritious foods. I still have a really keen interest in gardening but unfortunately haven’t done a lot of gardening where we currently live. My plan is to get an allotment when we move so I can really turn my fruit and veg growing dreams into reality.

I am hoping that the move will be like a fresh start and I can really make a change to how we live and family life for the better.

And I really hope to keep on with this blog and have lots of new ideas and experiences to write about.

Thanks for reading,

Katie (still happily married, housewife and Mum of 2)

Under The Sea Themed Birthday Party

My daughter recently turned one and we had an ‘under the sea’ birthday party for her. This party was lots of fun and I am going to share with you how we decorated the house and what food we served.

I wanted to make this party visually appealing so that there was lots to look at and to make the theme come to life.

We had lots of decorations hanging from the ceiling including shiny coils with fish characters on and we also hung string across the rooms and draped with pieces of crepe paper to create seaweed, coral and sea.

We also decorated the lamp shade to make it look like a large jellyfish hanging from the ceiling!

I made some salt dough fish characters and painted them, these were used to decorate windows.

For the table, I bought a set of mermaid tableware which included tablecloths, napkins, cups, plates, bowls, party hats and party blowers. It also came with bunting which we hung up in the rooms.

I made some shaker bottles for the children to play with. These had water that was coloured blue in them with glitter and seashells.

I made up simple party bags for the children. Each child had two small tubes of bubbles and a party blower. The under ones got a fish soft toy and the older children got two packets of under the sea themed stickers. Each guest also took home some birthday cake.

For the food, everything we made fitted to the theme. We had fish shaped pizza, sea creature shaped potato, sweet potato and butternut squash chips and a coral reef vegetable tray.

The pizza dough was all homemade and covered with a variety of colourful toppings. The recipe for this pizza was from one of my old recipe books that is based on Bible stories.

For the chips, we bought some metal cutters in the shape of a seahorse, shell and starfish. Once the vegetables were cut they were then coated in a little oil and baked. These were cut the night before and left in water.

I found the coral reef idea online but made it up using different vegetables to those I had seen to create my own version of a vegetable coral reef.

For dessert we had blue jelly with fruit shaped fish in, a turtle watermelon with fruit salad and banana dolphins. We also had fish shaped biscuits.

The birthday cake was a turtle on the sand. This was a madeira cake decorated with buttercream and fondant icing.

I hope you have enjoyed looking through the photos of the party food and decorations and hope that I have provided you with some inspiration to throw your own ‘under the sea’ party!

A Year of Activities for Baby/Toddler – Jar Idea

My daughter is rapidly approaching her 1st birthday and is at the age where she needs a variety of activities and things to do to keep her occupied and help her to learn new things.

I decided to come up with quite a few different themes for us to do focussed activities. Each theme will last 2 weeks, except for Christmas which will last the whole month of December.

My idea is to put the different themes into a jar and pull out a new theme every 2 weeks. The exception to this being Christmas and Easter – which I will do in the lead up to these. I have enough themes for this to last for a year.

The plan is to go to the library and borrow books relating to the theme and have those to read for the 2 weeks. I will also plan focussed activities such as making play dough and using shaped cutters that match the theme. Singing songs and watching videos that link in. We could also have visits out that relate to the theme. I am hoping to do painting and other crafts as well. I will also have toys out for playing with that match to the theme.

This way my daughter is learning about new things and is constantly being stimulated by the variety of activities. It will also help me to be more creative with activity planning and to come up with new ideas.

I am hoping to start this next month.

I am really enjoying using jars as a way to be more proactive and motivated to do new things.

A New Recipe A Week – Jar Idea

Amongst my collection of books I have a large amount of recipe books. I really love recipe books and could easily keep adding to my collection. I could spend hours just flicking through the recipes looking at all the lovely pictures which inspire me to cook.

I am always keen to try new recipes but often don’t get round to choosing a recipe before we do our food shop so I don’t normally have the right ingredients available.

I have decided to choose 52 recipes from my books and write them down on a piece of paper. I will cut these out and put them into a jar. Each week before our food shop I will choose a recipe at random out of the jar and that will be the new meal we will try that week.

This way we are getting to try something new each week and also build up our collection of ingredients as we buy what is required for each recipe.

I am hoping this is a good way of finally getting round to cooking and eating all of those tasty looking meals!

This will not be my only recipe jar. I also intend to do the same with desserts and also cakes and biscuits. I hope to blog about those soon and also more jar ideas that aren’t food related.

What has Been Cooking in the Kitchen this Week?

I wanted to share with you some of my home cooking over the last week.

I made two different cakes – an orange syrup cake. I actually used satsumas instead of oranges. The recipe required the oranges (or in my case satsumas) to be coarsely chopped, boiled, drained and then blended in a food processor. This was then added to the cake mixture. I thought this was a very good way to get the citrus flavour throughout the cake. On the top was a sugar syrup flavoured with satsuma rind. The cake also had semolina in it which gave it a lovely texture. Definitely a recipe I would repeat.

The other cake I made was a Lemon Yoghurt cake. This was a very light cake made up with whipped egg whites to give the light texture. It also had a lot of yoghurt in which gave it a lovely flavour. I made this cake in a bundt tin – unfortunately it didn’t come out of the tin too well but I managed to patch it up! I had enough mixture left to make small cupcakes as well.

For our Monday night dinner I made turkey meatballs. These contained leeks, courgette, turkey mince, oregano, paprika, black pepper and tomato puree. I mixed these ingredients together and then rolled into balls and baked in the oven. I then made up a simple tomato sauce and added in the meatballs.

The turkey meatballs were light and soft and had a great flavour.

For lunch time I made a roasted squash soup. The roasted squash was blended with leeks, stock, herbs and a little chilli powder. A simple home made soup.

The squash roasted really well. When baked, I scooped out the seeds and then scooped the flesh from the skin and chopped into chunks.

Another successful meal I made was a Parsnip Quiche. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this as it was all eaten up rather quickly! The filling consisted of caremilised leeks with a little brown sugar and then topped with sliced parsnips and an egg and milk mixture with cheddar cheese. For a final touch I added sliced goats cheese on the top and then baked. This was all encased in a homemade shortcrust pastry.

I enjoy trying new recipes and making my own recipes up and I get pleasure from seeing loved ones enjoying the food I have prepared for them.