To All My Followers…

I can’t begin to tell you just how much it means to me that you guys have clicked that follow me button and, if you aren’t on WordPress, entered your email to get my updates.  Blogging can be a lonely process and, just starting out, it takes so much of your time for very little feedback. I have a little party inside when I get that ‘xxx has started following you email’, so I really hope you’ll pop over to Blogger and follow me there instead.

I don’t yet know if this blog will take off but what I do know is I’m on maternity leave and I can’t go paying £85 a year to change a font for something that may end up being nothing… So over to Blogger I go. All the WordPress content on this blog is already there, it just needs you guys.

http://www.livinglifenottingham.blogspot.com

I’ll continue to add content to this site for a couple of days…

thanks x

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American Style Pancakes

I love Sundays. I realise this isn’t a statement that makes me unique, but I do. And this is why.

My son is a Daddy’s boy. Through and through, probably because they are the same mental age, but it means I’m generally not involved in games concerning cars, superheros, fire trucks… I just don’t have the imagination for it and the child knows it.  I’m about finding fun, my husband creates it.  But even the car I made from a box, Daddy got the credit for (and the a-hole took it!)

However, Sunday morning is our time – one of the first things out of his mouth is ‘Can we make pancakes, mummy’.  I love it.  Every week, my baby boy and I make delicious pancakes for the family – he cracks the egg, pours in the milk, gives a little stir before he gets bored.  Super easy, super fluffy, super quick and even better, child friendly, both in the making and the eating.  They are resolutely family friendly too – no baddies in the salt and sugar world in these babies means they are the perfect Baby Led Weaning food.

But like the three bears, we all have our own ways to guzzle these:

  • The baby – plain with a side of banana IMG_8505_1
  • IMG_8504The Child – SMOTHERED with Nutella (It’s the weekend after all)
  • The Man – sandwiched with pancake crack (also known as Pancake Syrup from Tate and Lyle) and bananas, sometimes topped with a few blueberries
  • Me – Stacked with maple syrup and fresh fruit (main picture) with a Nutella pancake chaser because I just can’t resist.

One mix of this bad boy makes enough for a greedy Sunday breakfast for me and The Man, three for The Child, one for The Baby and one or two for the dog (not surprisingly, he has his plain).  There are around 20 pancakes about 7cm in diameter using a pancake pan but if using a frying pan you can choose your own size – but any bigger than 10cm or so won’t cook inside before the outside is done.

When The Baby has a bigger appetite, I’ll simply make double and keep the rest in the fridge until needed (a blast in the microwave will bring them back to life) or freeze until you have visitors, or more likely, need a snack-like bribe for the kids.

Finally, if you eat these every week, do invest in a pancake pan – they somehow make better pancakes and satisfy my need for uniformity in an otherwise crazy life.  Mine is from Amazon, here, but you can also get one with smiley faces here!  I’ve got a Christmas one too…. Sad.

American Style Pancakes (makes 20-24 small pancakes).

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  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 300ml milk (semi-skimmed works best but if making for a baby, try to use whole if you are concerned)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp flavourless oil (we use sunflower)
  1. Simply place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until the consistency of double cream and no lumps remain.IMG_8480
  2. Brush a non-stick pan with a the oil – there only needs be a super light coating.  Best to use a frying pan or, even better, a pancake pan like in the pictures.
  3. Heat on a medium heat until hot then pour a tbsp of batter into each pancake hole or into the pan until all holes or full, or you’ve no more room in your pan without them touching each other.
  4. Fry over a medium heat until little bubbles show on the uncooked surface then turn and cook on the other side.  If you are unsure, lift the edge of a pancake to see if they are a light golden brown and ready to turn.PicMonkey Collage
  5. Cook on the other side, checking after a couple of minutes to see if they are done.
  6. Slide onto a serving plate and keep warm until the rest are cooked.
  7. Repeat until all batter is used.
  8. Serve topped with your favourite sweet topping

There’s no need to serve them sweet – with no sugar in the batter a topping of cream cheese and ham might be nice?  Give it a try and let me know.

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Are These The Perfect Shoes For Mums?

IMG_8513It’s summer (or at least the sun is shining) and I have the sort of legs that sandles and flip flops automatically take any shape out of, so any hope of looking good in the glare of the sun flies out of the open window.

My resolution?  Wedges.  Every mum needs a good pair of wedges to trek about in without looking like a big ole tree trunk (unless you’re Elle McPhearson of course).  Comfy and practical whilst giving you an air of ‘I actually made an effort without trying too hard’, they’re perfect for the weekend, especially, if like me, your husband will run around playing football in the park whilst you watch with a latte.  (Note that the picture I have of me in my mind here isn’t at all reflective of the reality – but hey ho, you’ve gotta try).

However, they need to be price perfect – we live in England and that dusty dirty park will soon turn muddy and if you decide to join in, which invariably you will have to do, they will get scuffed beyond believe.

I’m no fashion blogger (chance would be a fine thing), but here is my best buy, after much searching of the high street for the perfect pair, New Looks Black Strappy Cork Wedges, £19.99.

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Super comfy, they seem hard wearing and go with most things.  Today I’ll be wearing mine with my skinny jeans rolled up to show some pale ankle and my new NY print white too, which by the end of the day will be covered in chocolate ice-cream.  I’ll be upping the glam with my new Gucci sunglasses – a birthday present from the Man.

Right, off to the park we go (don’t worry, the flats are in my bag for when I do my best ‘Mr. Tumble’ impersonation!).

Go forth and purchase, my friends.

Running Like a Girl – A Short Review

As we prepare for our move to Nottingham, I’ve become determined to get fit.  Yes, I’ll be honest, there is an element of vanity here, to get my pre-babies figure back, but also to keep up with the three year old (they actually expect you to join in at Rugby Tots!), and his brother when he’s running rings around me too, but also to make sure I’m still here when they’re older (a little morbid for a Friday, sorry about that).

However, for now my running shoes are in storage (crying shame) and we’re living at the top of a massive hill, so alas, it has to wait.  So to inspire and motivate myself for now, I’ve done a few things:

  • Agreed to a Marathon.  Ok, not a full marathon.  No, no not a half.  OK, a mini-marathon, a fun run of 1.5miles with my eight year old cousin who is sure to kick my behind.  But its a start.
  • I’ve publically (well, twitter, same thing) signed up to a beginners park run starting on 4th July
  • Read Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Hemingsley, currently 1p on Amazon, which brings me to the point of this post – a short review.

(N.B. This isn’t a sponsored review, I bought the book one evening whilst looking for inspiration and motivation).

Running Like a Girl isn’t a book for those looking for a running guide; nor is it one for someone who wants to understand the physiological ins and outs of running.  It’s a book for those looking to relate to someone who starts off thinking ‘Can’t Run, Won’t Run’ (ie, me) and actually ends up achieving something (not me right now, but watch this space!).

It’s a book of two halves; the first, a memoir of her running journey, what she learnt and how she became a marathon runner.  I loved her honesty; the stories of running off to the loo in a pub to avoid pooping her pants; the story of running a marathon in tears; not sugar coating the relationship she has with her dad (don’t worry reader, no Westlife soundtracked X-Factor style back story here); stories of the pitfalls of trainer shopping and the highs of stopping your boobs swinging free.

She follows her story with some cold hard facts about running. Expect the clearing of some common misconceptions of running (wrinkly face and sagging boobs anyone?) and discussion of some common injuries.   Lists of stuff wannabe runners need and how to treat yourself when injury strokes. This part of the book did it for me and surpassed the first part in my opinion.  It’s pretty clear the author wants to get you running, even going so far as to guilt you into it; the chapter entitled The Women in Whose Tracks We Run is about female runners, banned from road races until the 60s and 70s, who forced officials in the US and Britain to include women, simply by turning up and running.  Fascinating stuff I never knew.  There’s definitely some material for Sheryl Sandberg in there!

Did she inspire me to run a marathon? God no.  But then it’d take a hell of a lot to get me running a marathon, and I’m not entirely sure that’s the purpose of the book anyway.  It became increasingly clear to me that the purpose of Running Like a Girl was to convince other women to just go.  Just get up off your arse and run.  Good advice.

The first thing I’ll unpack when we move?  My running shoes.

Gorgeously Good Granola

Breakfast, for me, is the best meal of the day – the first morsel of food to pass my lips is one to behold. My husband and I make a point to have breakfast with the boys together everyday, the only time we’re all guaranteed to be home, so can be one of the most sociable meals, too. It’s when your house comes alive from the stillness of the night; when you feed your friends bacon sandwiches after feeding them wine the night before; when you bribe your kids with pancakes for breakfast should they go to sleep quickly the night before; when the smell of coffee awakens the senses, the sight freshly squeezed orange awakens the eyes, and the crunch of granola awakens the taste buds.

Erm, hang on. Granola? Dry, bland, rabbit food, I hear you cry? How about Delicious? No? Well, read on.

My husband swears by this granola, eaten like other cereals at breakfast with milk, will see him through to lunchtime without reaching for the biscuit tin. He swears this is how he lost weight and it WILL become part of our healthier lifestyle when we move. For me, with a dollop of yoghurt and some fresh fruit, it’s the perfect start to a summer morning. For my friends, by the handful to stop afternoon munchies. For the kids? Not so much right now (for our kids at least), but we have to have something for us, right?

This granola works wonders for a gorgeous breakfast with no artificial colours, flavours or annoying adverts and, best of all, you can completely customise it. Pecans, sure! Dried Blueberries, why not!? Chocolate drops? Well, everyone deserves a little (a lot?) of what they fancy.

So, give it a go, tell me if you like it or not and what combination of ingredients you used.

So, to the flavour combinations. The basic recipe will stay the same, but the nuts, seeds and dried fruits can be tailored to your taste. My favourite combination is in the recipe below, but chop and change to suit yourself and your loved ones. It does cost a little to buy everything you need the first time you make this, but you get so much from the ingredients, it does work out so much cheaper than buying ready made granola, not to mention tastier and healthier.

I’ve no idea where this recipe came from. I’ve been using it for years and adapted it to my taste. Thank you to whoever inspired this recipe (and sorry I cant acknowledge you!)

Gorgeously Good Granola

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  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml maple syrup
  • 300g rolled oats (invest in the rolled oats – a little more expensive but make all the difference).
  • 140g seeds (I use 50g sunflower, 50g pumpkin and 40g sesame, or a bag of mixed seeds is cheaper and just as nice).
  • 100g nuts (I like use a mixture of flaked almonds, whole macademias and chopped pecans, but I generally go for whatever is in the house at the time)
  • 100g dried fruits (for me, a combinations of raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries).
  • 50g dessicated coconut

1. Pre-heat your oven to 140 degrees celcius

2. In a large bowl, measure out the vegetable oil, honey, vanilla and maple syrup

Quick Tip – measure out the oil first, then the honey will slip right off the spoon and into the bowl. It’s a little bit sexy when it does that!.

3. Add the oats, seeds and nuts and mix until combined. Spread onto two baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, until going slightly golden.

4. Remove from the oven and mix in the dried fruits and coconut (note, if you are using chocolate, add once the granola has been taken from the oven and is cool). Return to the over for a final 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and place in an airtight container.

Quick Tip – when you remove from the oven, place the baked granola into a different tray to cool. This will stop it sticking as the melting sugar won’t bond with the hot tray. If you don’t do this, don’t worry – you can scrape it off the tray with out detriment to the granola).

Breakfast – the best meal of the day – Enjoy!