Sunday, 18 November 2018

Cherry bakewell flapjacks

Cherry bakewell vegan flapjacks

For a long time now (on and off through most of my adult life) I've been trying to find and develop the perfect flapjack recipe. When I say perfect, I mean perfect for my taste - I want to taste the golden syrup (my god I love that stuff), I want them to be sticky, but have a chewiness to them, and slightly edges. There's been many bad batches, many failures, but I finally think I've found the perfect balance and the perfect recipe. It also just so happens to be vegan - very adaptable :) Let's get started!

Flapjacks before icing

Ingredients


For the base flapjack, you'll need:

400g Porridge oats
200g Flora dairy free (this can be any spread/butter you like)
200g Light muscavado sugar (or do 100g of this, and 100g soft brown sugar)
200g Golden syrup

To make the bakewell flapjacks, you'll also need:

200g (one pot) of Glace Cherries, roughly chopped
75g Flaked almonds
1/2 mug icing sugar
Splash of water
(to make them more bakewell like, add a couple spoons of ground almonds)

Flapjack close up

Method

(Preheat your oven to 200c or 180c fan)
1. Weigh your oats out and put them in a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan, add the sugar, golden syrup and Flora dairy free and melt it together on a low heat, stirring regularly.
3. Roughly chop the cherries and add to the oats.
4. Line a square 20cm baking tin with greaseproof paper/baking paper
5. Once melted, add to the porridge oats and add the almonds, stir well until all mixed together.
6. Add the mixture to the baking tin and pat down firmly with a spatula
7. Pop in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the edges are changing colour, then take out and allow to cool in the tin before removing onto a cooling tray or chopping board.
8. (optional) Once completely cooled, mix up your icing sugar with a touch of water until you get the right consistency, and drizzle over the flapjacks (I used a piping bag for this, but you could just dip a spoon and drizzle). Leave ideally overnight for the icing to set.
9. Eat them all, nom nom nom!

If you make them please let me know, I'd love to know what you think of them :)


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Monday, 12 November 2018

10 tips for breastfeeding mums

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods

If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, or if you've just started on your journey and are looking for some tips, you've come to the right place. A little bit about me and my journey - our journey started 4 years ago with my first child. Despite all our attempts, breastfeeding didn't happen to us - there were no support groups where I lived, I didn't know about Facebook support groups etc. I pumped every 2 hrs for 6 weeks until I couldn't pump so much as a drop.

Then 2 years later, I fell pregnant with my 2nd child. This time I was determined to make it happen. Thankfully, the day he was born, he latched and we successfully fed. For the first couple/few weeks we combination fed (I'd say he was 95% breastfed, with 1-2 formula top ups a day), since then we dropped the top ups and at 15 months we're still going strong. I've learned a lot on this journey, both first hand, and from reading the wonderful messages and advice in the support groups I'm in. So without further ado, here are my tips for breastfeeding mums.

1. Possibly the most important tip, your breastmilk IS enough for your baby. As long as they are having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, then you're making enough milk for them. 

2. If they're feeding around the clock, and you feel like they're not getting enough - they're cluster feeding and upping your supply. Think of it like they're putting their orders in for milk for the next day or so - breastfeeding is about supply and demand - so when they're on the breast constantly, they're putting their orders in, it's not necessarily about quenching that thirst.

3. Positioning can have a massive impact on the comfort of breastfeeding - if they're slightly too high up on your arm, it could cause a shallow latch, which is painful. Another indication of a shallow latch is having lipstick shaped nipples after a feed. Always try to get face to face support for help with positioning, either from a breastfeeding/peer-to-peer support worker, or a lactation consultant. 

4. Try not to pump during the first 6 weeks if you can as it could give you an oversupply (remember the supply and demand thing?). If you need to pump for relief (or if you have blocked ducts/mastitis etc), then try to just pump enough for relief.

5. Join the Facebook support groups Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies and UK parenting and breastfeeding support - there's an amazing wealth of knowledge in there - personally, they've saved our journey more than once.

6. Keep hydrated! Get a pack of bottled water, keep it next to the sofa, and get a good Netflix series - you're going to become very well acquainted with the sofa over the next couple months, so make sure the essentials are close by. Not being well enough hydrated *can* have an effect on your supply, so keeping hydrated is important.

7. Get yourself some Lansinoh nipple cream, and apply it pretty generously to your nipples after each feed - it'll really help take the edge off any discomfort and dryness/cracking.

8. Don't bother with breastfeeding cookies, or drinks, or any other things that are trying to sell you food/drink to up your supply. Things like oats to up your supply has recently been debunked. The only proven way to help up your supply (after the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding), is removal of milk (that means pumping/expressing). 

9. Feed on demand, your baby will let you know when they're hungry, which will probably be most of the time at the beginning :) However, in those early days, try not to let your baby go more than 5 hrs without a feed, their blood sugars can drop low if they go too long without a feed. If they're having trouble staying awake for feeds (we had a nightmare with this!), try stripping them down to the nappy before a feed, change their nappy, stroke their arms/feet/cheeks etc to rouse them as they dose off on the breast. As they get older it won't be so much of an issue as they'll naturally be more alert.

10. You've got this, you CAN do this. And you know what? In a few weeks you'll be really glad you stuck with it, not just for your baby and all the benefits that come with breastfeeding, but because after those first few tough weeks, it gets much easier. 

If you've reached this point, and you're considering introducing formula, obviously that's completely your decision to make and should be free of judgement from anyone - you know what's best for your baby. Just ask yourself a couple questions - why do you want to introduce it? If it's because you don't think they're getting enough milk from you - as long as they have lots of wet and dirty nappies then they're getting enough milk. If it's because you're not pumping as much, well pumping isn't an indication of supply - some breasts don't respond well to pumping. And lastly, if you're thinking of introducing formula to help them sleep better at night, please read this first.


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Monday, 8 October 2018

I now have a 4 year old

Squidge looking adorable on a lump of wood in the woods

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Squidge is now 4 years old. Where have the last 4 years gone? It’s funny, I’ve been fine at him turning different ages, not emotional, just excited for him, but this time I’ve found it quite tough. The difference in his development from age 3-4 has been incredible, and much more noticeable compared to previous years. He’s transformed from a toddler who no one other than me and a couple of others can understand, to a smart, funny, silly, loving little boy.

He still wants lots of mummy cuddles, and tells me he loves me 100 times a day (I never tire hearing that), but I can now see that he’s relying less on us as he’s able to do more for himself. I think what has made it more emotional is knowing we’re not having any more children, we decided to stop at two for lots of reasons – we’d need to buy a bigger house, new cars, I’d be 40 by then which brings its own risks, and we want to be grateful for what we have – two wonderful healthy smart little boys. But emotionally, I’m not done. I would love to have another, but it’s not on the cards.

Me tickling Squidge on my lap in the woods

Anyway, back to Squidge. This last year we’ve seen him become a lovely thoughtful big brother (ok, it’s not all rainbows and lollipops, he can get very angry with his little brother and too rough, but for the most part he’s great with him), his speech has come on leaps and bounds, he’s learning a second language (Welsh) and doing very well with it, he’s started gymnastics classes, he’s progressed so much with swimming classes that he now doesn’t need anyone to go in the pool with him! You just never know when these last times are going to happen do you?

He’s always been a pretty good sleeper, with the exception of the odd night terror (usually around 10:45pm) – he still gets those, but they only happen maybe once a month, whereas they used to be a couple times a week. He typically wakes up happy, the only exception to that is when we have to wake him up really early in the week for School and he’s still very tired. We physically can’t get him to bed any earlier than we do in the week, we’re not home until about 6pm (sometimes later), and the kids bedtime is 7:30 (they often don’t finish eating until 7:20).

Squidge running towards the camera

He loves playing with his toy cars, especially now that he's had an influx of new ones for his birthday (thanks to all his friends), he's getting into Lego too. One thing I'm having trouble convincing him to do is crafts - he used to love it when he was younger - getting card out and doing some painting or sticking, but he's just not interested any more. He prefers to play on the Xbox (car driving games) or iPad (Sago mini games) although to be fair he's spending less time on them now too - doesn't go on them every day etc.

He's just growing up so incredibly fast I can't keep up. Anyway, hubby is snoring behind me, I'd better go and do the washing up/express/make lunch for tomorrow :) 

Did you find it emotional when your little ones turned 4? Any tips on coping with stopping having babies when you want more?
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