Saturday 24 August 2013

Baking with children: Monkey Muffins

Baking, Book, Jane Bull, Monkey Muffins, muffins, banana, baking, children
This Summer I've been volunteering at my local library, helping out with the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge. One of the perks of helping out in the children's section of the library is I get to see loads & loads of lovely books for young readers. Ever on the look-out for things to occupy my daughter through the Summer holidays, I gravitated towards the non-fiction section and in particular the cookery books. I love an activity where you can eat the end results! I spotted The Baking Book by Jane Bull and thought we'd give it a whirl.
Baking, Book, Jane Bull, Monkey Muffins, muffins, banana, baking, moneky bread
It's packed with yummy recipes and great illustrations. My three year old daughter just loved flicking through the book again and again looking at the bright photos and lovely food. We decided on making Monkey Bread, but we chose to make the muffin versions rather that the loaf. Apart from making chocolate rice crispie cakes, this was our first attempt at 'proper' baking...we put on aprons and everything! Thanks to 'I can cook' on Ceebies, my daughter is taking more interest in how food is prepared and likes to get stuck in. Once we'd sung a loud rendition of the 'wash your hands' song...altogether now "roll up your sleeves, give your hands a wash, with slippy dippy soap, splish slapsh splosh"...we started on the Monkey Muffins.
We measured flour and butter and made it into crumbly breadcrumbs

Then we added sugar and sultanas and gave it a good mix...

Then we cracked some eggs, which require lots and lots of concentration..

Now the fun bit, whisking the eggs...

After adding the eggs and some honey to the dry ingredients, we got to mush some bananas up..

Everything had a last big stir...

Then we got our muffin cases and spooned the sweet-smelling mixture out...

Baking, Book, Jane Bull, Monkey Muffins, muffins, banana, baking, children, cake mix
The muffins went in the oven for 15 minutes. Once they were cool enough we scoffed one each. They were delicious, a resounding success! They last for about a week in an airtight container...except ours were eaten before the week was up!
Baking, Book, Monkey Muffins, muffins, banana, baking, children, coooked

Saturday 10 August 2013

Decision Maker

I tend to think of myself as the type of person who finds decision making quite hard. I could just have easily taken a photo of me holding a sign saying ‘born worrier’. I remember one of my favourite teachers at school writing on my report “Nicola is too hard on herself”. This negative image of myself has got stuck in my psyche and to be honest, I don’t like it.

Since becoming a Mum, I've become responsible for this little person and I have to step up and try and be a positive role model for her. When I look back over my daughters short life, I’ve actually had to make lots of decisions, in fact I make decisions every single day:

…deciding to grab her hand in a dangerous situation

…deciding which activities we’re going to do each day to keep her happy and stimulated

…deciding when to discipline and set boundaries and deciding when to let things go

….deciding to work from home so that I could spend these precious early years with her despite the fact it leaves us a bit skint

…deciding on a pre-school and in not so distant future, the school she will attend

...deciding to start writing for the UK Handmade Magazine again to keep my grey matter ticking over!

...deciding recently to do voluntary work at my local library helping out with the Summer Reading Challenge because I think it's a great incentive to keep children reading during the Summer holidays, plus the children I have met have been amazing, creative and engaging

…deciding to put the Jo Frost book in a charity bag because her ‘advice’ was stressing me and my daughter out

…deciding last year to relocate from the city to a coastal town so that our daughter could grow up in a more rural location and be closer to her Grandmother and Great-Grandmother

…deciding to insist on a second opinion when our daughter’s hemangioma birthmark was infected and ulcerated which lead to us travelling Great Ormond Street Hospital for specialist treatment. Even though the consultant at our local hospital swore blind that her birthmark was not infected, we knew we were right, we knew we had to get more help. Quite frankly, getting in touch with the Birthmark Support Group to obtain further information was possibly the best decision I’ve made as a Mum. We discovered at Great Ormond Street that the infection was so bad she would almost certainly have contracted blood poisoning if we hadn’t insisted on different treatment.

So, when I think about, I am a good decision maker and I’m learning to trust myself and have confidence in myself. Amongst many other amazing things, motherhood has given me the confidence to believe in my decisions.

As Mums and maybe as women in general we can be too hard on ourselves, focus on the negative and think about what we’re getting ‘wrong’. I don’t profess to be a psychology expert, but falling into the habit of negative thought patterns must be very common. It’s a side of my personality that I really dislike and I’m making a big effort to push those thought patterns out of my mind. Just writing this blog post for Story of Mum has helped me to look at myself and my parenting in a more positive light.

When I first became a mum, a friend of mine recommended a book to me, it’s called ‘The Mummy Coach’ by Lorraine Thomas. I like to dip into it now and again, when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I love the positive style of the book. It’s not about being perfect and it’s not about moulding children into strict routines, it’s about becoming a happier mum and letting your children absorb that positivity.

As Lorraine Thomas writes:

“It is important that you appreciate your strengths. Your child learns from you. If you are constantly putting yourself down, they are more likely to feel negative about themselves. If you get into the habit of acknowledging the things that you do well, they are more likely to do the same for themselves”

Making a conscious effort to focus on what I’m getting right and to keep the negativity at bay is probably the best decision I’ll ever make.

story of mum exhibition

Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves

I’m so glad I discovered the ‘Story of Mum’ website via Twitter. Pippa has welcomed me into the #somum fold and I was really pleased to be asked to take part in this touring exhibition. As mothers, it's not often that we feel seen, heard and valued. Yet our everyday stories matter, and sharing them can inspire others. Please take a few moments to read Pippa’s piece on ‘Invisible Mothers’.

Since becoming a Mum I have come into contact with some amazing women. From my hard working community midwife who watched over me, my baby and countless other women in her 30 year career, my wonderful ante-natal friends who have been there for me in the early ‘shell shocked’ weeks of motherhood through to the present day, the Sister and female consultant at Great Ormond Street who believed in us when we said our daughter needed more help, my online ‘crafty’ friends who have supported my creative side and made me laugh my socks off. My daughter is also being bought up by a team of matriarchs in the form of my Mum, my Mother-in-law and my 93 year old Grandmother. She sadly doesn’t have any Granddads, so women play a vital role in her life and long may it continue!

Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves is a touring programme of exhibitions and events in galleries and online that aims to put mothers in the spotlight.

The exhibition celebrates motherhood, explores the impact of mothering on our identities, and encourages mums worldwide to share their stories in words, photos, collage and film.

Parallel to the real life events, a virtual exhibition is travelling round the world, stopping for mini exhibitions on blogs - like this one!

Find out more at

BritMums - Leading the Conversation

BritMums - Leading the Conversation


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