Bake Me Away

It’s always amazes me how quickly children pick up activities that happen in their environment.

Although I can’t exactly say that I’m surprised that my now two year old girl Annabel has picked up the keen interest in baking. Mainly since from the early days of her life she watched me intently bake until I ran out of recipes in my cook books. This of course spiralled into an addiction of purchasing cookbooks to keep my creative mind ticking along with new challenges. As I write this.. it feels like I’m a borderline baking addict! Now I think of it, my record was baking something new every day for a fortnight. That, my friends could be an addiction. An addition to baking, needing a challenge outside of the kids or just an addiction to sugar! Either way, it definitely wasn’t good for the waistlines of myself, my partner, my friends and the neighbours. But I’ve got to say, it’s been a great icebreaker for meeting new friends and building relationships. After all, everyone LOVES cake!

Now looking back on it all its quite clear that the need to bake was necessary as a form of mental escapism from the unthankful challenges of having a new born scream at you… constantly. It would allow me to leave Annabel along to get some much needed sleep to develop. It also got me out and about with the kids, as there was no way I was going to sit in the house with the kids and devour a cake to myself. So out I would go, organising catch ups with my other stay-at-home friends and feed them my baking creations. I think that even while we sat there and demolished the cakes together we’d escape, even for a moment, just to enjoy some form of pure selfish indulgence. Their thanks was thanks enough to get me through the day of wading through nappies, constant outfit changes, cleaning vomit and Annabel screaming to the extent that made me feel helpless.

Now, I’m fully aware that this may make me sound like some kind of selfish ogre parent. But quite the contrary. It made me a better parent. It stopped me from being that helicopter parent that would constantly eagle eye Annabel. Of course I still would drop everything and tend to her needs when necessary. But when you have a child with silent reflux, there really isn’t much you can do than give them the necessary medication, snuggles and then divert their attention away from their pain. For us, baking did just that. Annabel would watch me intently as I ran around the kitchen, every now and again ‘kindly’ telling me she wanted the whisk or spatula I was holding. Fair game to her to. I cottoned on to this and bought double of my kitchen implements so that she could join in Daddy’s creative fun. She’d constanstly giggle at me, as like a ditz I’d drop everything, then turn it into some game of peek-a-boo! We both bonded over the distraction. For both of us, going in to meltdown was not an option..

So, at first it was a coping mechanism for Annabel and myself. But once we sorted her reflux, we both thoroughly enjoyed the baking challenges amongst all the other running around we did together. Then my little boy Lachlan came along and we didn’t bake for distraction, we continued to bake for enjoyment. Luckily Lachlan didn’t have reflux, he just came out as a completely happy little man just excited to be involved in what his Daddy and big sister were doing.

My advice to any parent (and I hate giving/receiving advice) would be to keep your hobbies and ambitions throughout every stage of being a parent. You never know how it will not only fulfil and inspire your life, but also your childs. A fully content parent is a good parent in every respect.

So, now there are three set of baking implements in our kitchen and I couldn’t be happier.

Here are some images of Annabel and I whipping up a storm, complete with the beautiful apron from our sponsor Red Porridge. Not long now until Lachlan will be walking and he can pop on his Red Porridge apron on and help out.

Enjoy,
Sam

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Turning two

Well the time has come for my little girl to enter her ‘terrible twos’!! From what other parents tell me, it’s time to buckle down and just try to endure the ride that’s about to occur… gulp!

Luckily/unluckily Annabel’s already started to show signs of being a little challenging in her behavior. To her everything is “mine” and good on her for laying claim to possessions and even people. But after she lays claim to random things that quite definitely aren’t hers, we have a polite little discussion explaining that “no darling, but that other lovely ladies bracelet is definitely not yours” (but nice try…). I know it’s all a learning curve for their development and understanding but c’mon can it be over quickly?? My main worry is that my little boy Lachlan is going to pick up that her random acts of frustration are the norm. But hey, we all get our way though it.. Don’t we? Haha!! Ok, maybe not all of us.. I may be guilty of having moments when I want things that quite obviously aren’t mine. Nothing wrong with having aspirations. That’s my excuse anyway.

I do have to admit though, there are some amazing upsides to having a two year old – no lounge mr having to helicopter parent when they’re eating and playing, being able to have a somewhat rational conversation with your toddler and hope that some of its taken in, aiding them to understand the world around them (“daddy, what’s thaaaat?”), no more bottle feeding, the possibility of big having to deal with nappies (but then again, I can see the upside of them over potty training…) but mostly being able to create a world of imaginary play! Ok, as I write this I’m learning that I’ve never really grown up past two.. I just got taller..

So as a finale to my time of being a stay at home daddy I decided to ‘go big’ with Annabel’s party and create a kitch come modern theme. Bunting of course was no option. The cake area had to be simple, but help celebrate the last two years of Annabel’s life and the (what I call) tribe of people surrounding her and helping her to be the determined and lovable little girl that she is. So, I came up with the montage of photos of her and ‘the tribe’ assorted in the shape of a 2. Then a little more bunting.. There was food, food and more food. All of course handmade by moi. Plenty of kiddy and adult drinks to help celebrate. The garden was a simple kiddy paradise with a bouncy castle, dress ups and a colouring in table. In all, everything was done ahead of time, so all we had to do was heat and service food and just enjoy the day.

Which leads me to the cake.. Well I’ve got to say that’s my first 9 layer, 3 tiered cake and maybe my last.. It was a chocolate mud cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate fingers and of course chocolate smarties. Chocolate overload? Never!! I’ve got to say, it was monstrous but well worth the effort. It definitely was the icing on the party.

So, here are some of the photos. Now I’ll start planning for Lachlan’s big 1st birthday. Can’t wait!!

Enjoy,
Sam

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Spring Is In The Air

After a busy weekend I’d be quite happy to just laze in the sun all day today. Yes!! We finally have sunshine!! Thank you Mother Nature the weather is glorious.

Although the weather was pretty miserable on Saturday, but not such a bad thing. As i spent most of the day whipping up a Spanish storm for a dinner party that night. What was on the menu you ask? Starters of Gambas Pil Pil, panfried chorizo in cider, potato tortilla, sardine marinated olives, meatballs with onion sauce, prawn croquettas, crema catalina, Santiago tart and white chocolate and saffron icecream. So yes..a lot had to be done before the guests arrived!

Here’s some of the workings. I’ll share the workings in more detail in good time.

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Alas the night was a success after having the crowd roll out of the house at 2am. Sorry neighbours!

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Which then leads us to Sunday.. Ouch.. Lets just say I needed loads of fresh air. So I spent the day in the back garden soaking up the sunshine and tidy up the garden while my partner did the honours of cleaning up the mess in the kitchen while resting on the couch and entertaining the kids. I’m always in my element in the garden!

This was the task ahead. A garden that was neglected due to the everlasting winter.. This is how it scrubbed up.

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I’ve got it in the diary to visit the Columnia Road flower markets in Shoreditch to plump up the garden beds.

As for the kids, well they were little troopers! Lachlan is finding his feel albeit very early on! I’m getting excited about chasing two terrors around the house giggling!

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Happy Monday bloggers!
Sam

My Kids Can Be Cute

Some days can be pretty average…but then come days can be just perfect. Today people was just one of those perfect days where you just want to say “yeah I’m a pretty alright Daddy”

Both kids started the day by just chattering away in their beds. Shock!! Normally they scream down the house wanting to get out of bed and start the day. Hence why Annabel may be in a cot longer than she thinks… But i can’t complain with some would say ‘tough love’ our kids sleep through from 7pm-8am… Result! *touch wood*

Anyway, Annabel then proceeded to annihilate her massive breakfast of yogurt, cereal, grapes, banana, orange and toast. Sorry dogs..nothing for you this morning.

We then quickly got dressed and headed out to a new ‘stay and play’ group which had a bouncy castle, dress ups, colouring, play doh, numerous toys, tents, toddler cars, snacks, coffee and some other token dad looking nervous. *chuckle* It was only a measly few pounds entry too. Score!! Since it was school holidays the place was heaving. But that’s cool with me, as it just teaches Annabel to share and meet other kids of all ages. Anyway we played for an hour or so then headed home for Annabel’s much needed nap. So Lachlan and I played. He had his first proper laugh! Cute! I was very proud and luckily recorded it on my phone.

Once Annabel rose, again just chatting away, we made some yummy and surprisingly healthy cookies. Recipe to follow…in time. So we played, danced, laughed, snuggled and had a great time.

I was a little sad when it came to dinner and bed time… But now I get some relaxing daddy time before I hit the gym. My poor body…

Here some photos from a day where I think I’ve earned my ‘super daddy’ cred..

Enjoy,
Sam

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Djeco Dreams

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Oh my.. Another rainy day and it seems like Annabel is somewhat complacent and a little over her toys and needs a change of scenery. Yes… Ants in her pants..

So it doesn’t take much to twist my arm to get out and about for some fresh air and some SHOPPING! It’s almost turned into a bit of a sport for me. Plus I’m in love with kids toy stores. The range and quality of toys these days is amazing!

I’m a little obsessed by wooden today too. Not a huge fan of the plastic invasion that seems to be occurring. Plus I like a toy that isn’t fully mechanical, colorful and automated. I’d much prefer that Annabel used her imagination with the toys and made sounds herself and mixed and matched random toys to make her own games.

Anyway, I found myself at one of the cutest kitch kids shops very sweetly named Ottie And The Bea. I always find the service impeccable as the owner Julia is attentive, charismatic and has a memory that totally amazes me. She always remembers my kids names and what toys we’ve purchased in the past. Mind you..I’m in the store regularly these days. But you can’t blame me. So I was searching for something to help with Annabel’s hand-eye coordination, speech and memory. Julia came up with a Djeco magnetic animal puzzle. Perfect! Lets just say that Annabel hasn’t stopped playing with it all day today. That makes for a very happy daddy! Time for a coffee and a book.. Oh and some much needed time to spend with my little boy, Lachlan.

So, all up, everybody wins!!

Now back to my book..
Sam

Distraction

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What to do with a teething toddler when it’s freezing and suddenly snowing outside??

Distraction!!

Annabel like any toddler just can’t sit still.. Something she most likely wont grow out of since I haven’t managed to do this myself. For which I blame my granny with her over active adrenal glands. Mind you, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It does mean that a lot gets done around this house. Which my partner doesn’t complain about..

I digress. We’ve found that through some trial and error the best way to keep our daughter from screaming down the walls in pain from her teething in not to drug her up with teething gel, but to focus her attention on something else. Normally she’s my right hand girl in the kitchen, but this morning the distraction came in the form of building blocks. Phew..

But thankfully the suns starting to show its warm face, so outside we go for the next distraction.