Tomato Sauce

This is an easy, tasty recipe for Tomato sauce and is great on Pizza or pasta or even toast!

Ingredients

tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

2 x onion

2 x tins of chopped or plum tomatoes

handful of fresh baby tomatoes

handful fresh basil

handful of fresh oregano

salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

Chop the garlic and onion and fry gently in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft and slightly brown. I like to add the herbs at this point and give it a really good stir. I think this gives more flavour than adding later. Also I chop them quite a lot so the flavour can really get into the whole sauce, but you can leave them chunkier if you like. Next pour in the tin tomatoes, stir and simmer for a good 25 mins. Once the mixture has turned from liquid and tomatoes to a  nice thick consistency, it’s ready! Cool and store in individual portions or get cracking and spread it on your pizza base!

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Can be fridged for a week or frozen for a month.

Jessica x

Week Five & Six

Real Nappies

So for the last two weeks I’ve been trialling cloth nappies. Thanks to the wonderful Jen at Exeter Babies for providing me with the free trial kit and all her great advice and help. If you are in the Devon area and you want to have a go this is the perfect way to get started as we are really lucky to have The Devon Real Nappy Project. This post is a real account of how my last two weeks have gone in trialling the cloth!

“POO, not in the nappy, it’s definitely not contained. Oh god, okay don’t panic NO DON”T ROLL OVER. . . . oh right. I’ll run the bath”

“What is that? is that a puddle of wee on my floor, Penny let me see… Oh right the wee’s just falling out the nappy like an ammonia filled niagra falls…brilliant.I’ll get the mop. Oh and now you’ve rolled around in it. I’ll run the bath and get the mop.”

“oh my god that nappy definitely just leaked all over the playgroup floor. How can I remedy this without anyone noticing. Totally mortified.”

These are real moments that have happened over the last two weeks, trying out the different types of cloth nappies is not for the faint hearted and you have to be prepared for some messy moments. The good news is that it didn’t take long for me to figure out which types were good and which types were definitely not for us. In total we tried Tot’s bots, bum genius, lollipop/pop “n” gro brands in different styles.

The world of real nappies can be very daunting and I’m definitely not an expert so if you want to read up on the different types have a read of the nappy section on The Devon Real Nappy Project.

Personally we didn’t get on with the all in ones at all. I don’t know if it was Penny’s shape or if I couldn’t get the fit right but these were terrible for leaking, regardless of which make I was using.

The pocket nappies were much more successful, it was still a bit of trial and error to get the sizing right but with a bit of perseverance, I’m really pleased with the pocket system and touch wood we’ve been leak free for a while now.

As Penny is already heading for her first birthday, I didn’t want to outlay a lot of money on a brand new set of cloth nappies, as effectively we have already lost the first year of savings by using disposables. I was really lucky and managed to win an ebay auction for a full set of the size 1 and size 2 pop “n” gro pocket nappies. In total I got 33 nappies with the same number of inserts and boosters, plus the nappy bucket for a total of £32. I also bought a pack of 3 wet bags and 5 bamboo inserts for nighttime at a total cost of £26.60 (with my super 20% discount from the real nappy project see link at the top)

To put that in perspective I would normally spend approx £35 per month on disposables (and that was with the deals!) and I have spent a total of £58.60 on nappies that will last the rest of Penny’s nappy time. PLUS I can use them again if we have another baby.

As the nappies are made with a micro fleece, they dry in super quick time which is really handy as we don’t have a tumble dryer. I bought one of those fold up standalone airers and I just peg everything up and leave it in the sunshine and huzzah, dry fresh nappies. Currently I do two nappy washes a week and I chuck in all the muslins, nappies and cloth wipes together to make it up to a full load.

I did try using fleece liners on top of the nappies to make it easier to deal with poo, but this seemed to make Penny hot and cause nappy rash so I’m currently trying other materials for liners – I’ll update this post if I find anything else that works! See Week Four for more on baby bums!

If you want to have a go but still feel a bit nervous, why not try going to a local Nappuccino where you can get lots of free advice, a trial kit and a good natter with some other Mummy’s all served up with a hot beverage and a biscuit.

The only regret I have is not switching sooner! The statistics for landfill and chemicals and costs are completely frightening and I wish I hadn’t contributed anything to these statistics. BUT I’m making up for it now 🙂

Have a great weekend

Jessica x

Coconut Ice Lollies

Ingredients

One tin coconut milk

Handful of strawberries/raspberries/blueberries

Set of four reusable lolly moulds

Method

Pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug or batter bowl. Chop your fruit into small pieces . Mix into the milk and pour into the lolly moulds. Make sure you leave a good inch of the space at the top to put the lolly top on, otherwise it’ll leak everywhere and you won’t be able to get the lollies out! Once the tops are on, place upright in the freezer. They should be done after a couple of hours. If you can’t get the lollies to pop out straight away, give them 5 minutes and they’ll come out easily.

I like this recipe because it’s really nice to have something creamy and cold for the summer months that isn’t traditional sugar laden ice cream! Great for kids too as it feels like a really nice treat, but in fact you’re feeding them nutritious fruit and coconut milk. Commence evil Mum laugh! It’s also much cheaper than shop bought lollies, repeat evil laugh!

You can try any fruit you like too, berries are great because they spread evenly in the milk – just make sure whatever you use is chopped small so it doesn’t jam in the mould.

Watch out for brain freeze!

Jessica x

Week Four

Coconut Bums

Babies Bottoms are indeed as squishy and beautiful and soft as those sickly nappy adverts would have you believe. UNTIL the horror of nappy rash strikes. Red, sore, bumpy, poor little babies! If we as grown ups had such a rash we wouldn’t sit down unless we had a very big fluffy cushion to sit on and we would constantly bemoan our plight.

Luckily my plucky little ten month old hasn’t suffered too badly so far. Now teething is causing some proper sore bumness. Anyway I’ve been desperately trying to find solutions for Penny that are more earth friendly than the traditional thick chemical filled pastes of old. I feel that they are very expensive and the ingredients list is as long as my arm and unpronounceable to boot.  After a bit of research I was delighted that the answer landed in my inbox via the Moral Fibres blog post on the 21 uses of coconut oil.  One use is for nappy rash!

I had coconut oil in my kitchen cupboard so I tested it straight away. I found you only need a really tiny bit as it kind of “melts” onto the skin. It healed a pretty nasty bout of nappy rash in double quick time and I can use it as a barrier cream as well. I would call this a win for Penny and the environment! Now I just carry some round in a small pot in the changing bag. Ive also found it’s really good for dry skin too and it’s healed my “washing up” hands beautifully.

 

Still on the topic of baby bums, I’ve also switched to cloth wipes instead of disposables. I was sure that the chemicals in the disposable wipes were not helping with nappy rash as I found they were drying out my hands too! I decided to buy a starter kit from cheeky wipes as it came with the fresh and mucky box, which is a great help and makes very sure that there is no confusion on the “what needs to be washed” front.

Cloth wipes have been a brilliant switch. As they can just go in with the normal wash, it doesn’t cost me any more in washing and they dry really quickly. But if I’m in a rush I can just use them straight away as you dampen them anyway before loading up the box. I find they are actually much better for cleaning up baby bums than the disposables so it’s another win all round. Plus the cost benefit will be even greater if our family grows as they will last quite a few years. Once the baby years are behind us I can use them for general flannel use too.

I’ve been so pleased with this change that I’m now trying out cloth nappies. I’ll post about this once we’ve figured it out and let you know how we get on. I’m still trying to figure out the different types!

Have a great weekend

Jessica x

Easy Root Veggie Soup

Ingredients

500g root veg (carrots, parsnips, swede etc)

half bulb garlic

500ml veg stock

salt + pepper for seasoning

tbsp olive oil

Method

Wash veg thoroughly and top and tail (alternatively wash and peel veg if you prefer.) Chop into large but similar sized chunks. Toss lightly in a baking tin with the olive oil and seasoning. Cut the top off the garlic so you can just see the cloves on the top and wrap in tin foil. Place this in the middle of the veg. Roast for approx 35 mins on 180 degrees – this time will depend on whether you have electric/fan/gas oven and how large your vegetable chunks are. If you can’t easily stick a fork in the veg, keep going until you can.

Once the veg is done, remove from the oven and unwrap the garlic from the foil. Carefully squeeze the garlic out of the bulb – this will come out in a lovely mush. If it’s not at all mushy you might need to pop it back in the oven for an extra 10 mins.

Now whizz whizz whizz with a hand blender or food processor, whilst combining the 500ml of veg stock gradually. If you prefer a thicker soup add less stock and if you like it thinner add more!

There you have it, easy peasy root veg soup. I like to add some nice mature cheese and eat with a nice big wedge of bread and butter.

Top tip for weaning – if you want to make up small quantities to lessen wastage, freeze the veg once roasted and cooled. When you want a quick meal for your baby take out a small portion of frozen veg, add boiling water and a small bit of low salt veg stock or just pepper and whizz it up. You don’t have to wait ages for soup to defrost or play the microwave game this way, handy for busy mummies who still want to serve cheap nutritious food.

Happy souping!

Jessica x

Week Three – Make do

Making Do

After last week’s shenanigans I’ve been making up for lost time and have undertaken lots of new projects this week. My favourite is this towel hoodie I’ve made for Penny for the summer season.

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I got the pattern (baja hoodie) off www.gotopatterns.com and bought a beach towel in a charity shop for the grand sum of £1. I’ve been trying to get a towel hoodie on ebay for ages but any that look half decent seem to cost £15 upwards. When my own huge bath towel cost less than half of that, I felt it was time to get the sewing machine out!

I haven’t followed a proper pattern in a really long time. I’m not a great one for making things from scratch. I really enjoy altering and up cycling so this was kind of new for me. The pattern was thankfully easy to follow, (although I did make a couple of mistakes) but overall I’m really pleased with how it turned out. If you decide to do something similar my only piece of advice would be to make sure you double stitch any seams as terry towelling is a bit of a demon to keep together once you cut it!

My whole week has revolved around various make do projects, which is lovely! I made some pretty nifty bathroom baskets out of a pair of old jeans and fabric ends which were otherwise going to the scrap. I followed this tutorial and they turned out great. The possibilities for extending this idea are endless I think! I’m going to search for a pair of wide legged jeans so I can make bigger ones next time.

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I was really stuck on wednesday for extra drying space after doing a massive amount of laundry. I find it hard to juggle all of Penny’s stuff with our own washing. I find all the little things like muslin clothes and the washable bamboo wipes take up the bulk of drying space. So I came up with some new dryers for these things and best of all it was really really cheap to do.

Take one coat hanger. (It needs to be one with the little hooks for clothes ribbons.) Tie string/ribbon/t shirt yarn from one side to the other, taking care to double knot it to prevent laundry all over the floor. Add some pegs and Voila! Personally I used t shirt yarn as that’s what I had lying about and it works beautifully!

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As well as these projects I’ve also been working on a millennium falcon star wars cake for Russell’s birthday, a tunic dress for Penny and a scandi print cushion cover – all of which I’ll have to post another time as they are still in progress.

I wish you all a lovely weekend and hope you may have found some inspiration for your own make do and mend projects

Happy Friday

Jessica x

 

Week Two

 

Kitchen Garden

This week I’m talking about growing your own herbs. I’m a total novice so knowing where to start with a kitchen garden was quite daunting.   

 

 

What a week! Russell and myself have been suffering with various food poisonings/tummy bugs so it’s been a bit chaotic here. I hope all your weeks were much calmer! Penny has so far managed to escape unscathed and lets hope that continues. Anyway, to business and this post is about my experiment with growing herbs.

We are a household that likes to cook. Russell likes to experiment with curry flavours and I’m especially fond of Italian, which means that we get through a wide variety of herbs. Fresh supermarket herbs are expensive, shockingly so in my opinion. I’ve been biding my time for a while though, as I thought starting a kitchen garden with a newborn was probably a little optimistic. But now we are achieving “sleeping through” so I took the plunge in March and got some little starter kits from Wilko’s.

They were only 75p each and came with the pot, soil and the seeds and some basic instructions. I started with basil, coriander and rocket. Whilst the little basil pot has flourished beautifully, the rocket and coriander didn’t fare so well. Both failed to thrive after a good start and to be honest I’m not really sure what went wrong. I think I may have planted too many seeds in one go.

I could have got disheartened and given up but in fact it spurred me on. I loved seeing the little shoots coming up and knowing that it was due to my (totally haphazard) care. So over the last two months I’ve gradually added to my kitchen garden. I now have:

basil, lavender, oregano, rosemary, sage, curry leaf and mint

You don’t need much in the way of tools either, I just have a little watering pot for herbs that cost 80p and the herbs themselves aren’t that expensive. I think the most I’ve paid was £2.99 for the curry leaf plant. I’m also looking into ways to kitchen compost so I won’t have to buy that either, although I may have to wait till we move to embark on that journey.

I’m really enjoying using the herbs in my everyday cooking, it’s very satisfying to pick them fresh and put them straight into the pan. Oregano and basil have been brilliant in making big batches of tomato pasta sauce, which I freeze in small portions and take out as necessary. The curry leaf was really great in a lentil dhal I made for a dinner party last week. The only one I haven’t really used is the lavender, but I’m working on finding a drying technique so I can make my own pot pourri.

I use the word garden a little liberally I think. What I actually mean is kitchen windowsill. The word garden always brings big country rose bushes and hydrangeas to mind. But still, it’s my garden even if it’s small. I’m very proud of how much it’s growing and now I’ve got a bit of confidence I’ve started growing some flowers.

I currently have a trough of sunflowers growing on the lounge windowsill and a newly installed hanging basket outside my front door. All of the info on each plant promised they were easy to look after, which I’m definitely hoping is true! I’ll post a picture of the basket once the flowers are in bloom.

Sunflowers

I’d always put off growing my own, because I live in a first floor flat, having always thought I would be better off waiting till we moved into a house. I’m so glad I’ve finally got started though, as it”s been so successful that I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I’ve realised you don’t need much space and actually starting with just one or two plants worked best for me as I could focus on getting those right before adding more.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own kitchen garden I hope this has inspired you to get growing. Start with your favourite herb and see where it takes you!

There’s a lot more I want to grow but I’m running out of windowsill so I’ll have to find some more space.

I hope you found this post useful, as always comments are welcome and please feel free to share any hints and tips you might have!

Happy Friday

Jessica x