Over the next few weeks i'm going to be shamelessly promoting my new knitting classes all over Bristol as i am so excited about them & am really looking forward to starting them.......however i guess i'd better tell people about them if i want some actual people to teach! Some of the classes are filling up quickly after a bit of shameless self promotion on twitter, but there are still places to fill.
Throughout June i will be running a 'Refer a Friend' discount scheme. If you sign up for a course & recommend me to friends who might be interested in coming along to one too, if they mention you when they book you both get £10 off the course price! This offer includes all of the courses and personal tuition sessions booked in June.
As i mentioned previously the classes are being run at Tenderfoot
in Brislington, it's a great place full of beautiful things! They run a number of different workshops there & even hold children's craft parties in their beautiful, sunny craft room. I can't wait to sit around their big table underneath the bunting & knit the hours away with you all! It really is the perfect venue for my classes! I'll be there next Saturday at the Making Things Club armed with my knitting & some homemade cake! If you are curious about the classes or want to get a feel for crafting at Tenderfoot then it would be lovely to see you there!
I have been meaning to post this recipe for about a month but i kept forgetting to do it. However i was out with my lovely friend Jo
last night & she gave me a gentle reminder to post the recipe as she had beetroot waiting for it's moment of brownie glory! I also thought that now would be the perfect time to post this as it makes a great guilt free cake to take with you to any jubilee parties that you may be attending this weekend.
I am not a vegan, i am however a vegetarian who doesn't consume any cows milk due to my PCOS friendly diet
. However i have found that some vegan recipes are actually nicer than their non-vegan alternatives, and this is my greatest recipe yet i think! Chocolate & beetroot goes amazingly well together & i'm pretty sure you can get away with considering one of these brownies as one of your 5 a day!
Anyway i hope you enjoy these!
Vegan Beetroot Brownies
125g Plain flour
80g dark coco powder (or 100g melted bitter chocolate)
80g Golden caster sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
75g chopped nuts of your choice (i use brazils/walnuts/hazelnuts/pecans)
80ml Hazelnut milk (or soya/almond milk will do, i just love the nutella flavour hazelnut milk gives)
80ml sunflower oil
1 very ripe banana, mashed.1 tbsp vanilla extract
45g grated fresh beetroot.
25g bitter chocolate chips or chunks
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4 & line a 28x18cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, coco powder, sugar, baking powder and nuts.
- In a separate bowl or jug mix together the hazelnut milk, oil, mashed banana and the vanilla extract.
- Gradually add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture.
- Now add the grated beetroot and stir until just combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Pour the mixture into the lined tray & top with chocolate chunks.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.
- Eat them all!!
After buying our house earlier this year & the renovations going waaaaayyyyyy over budget a holiday seems out of the question this year. Of course i feel a little sad that we won't be getting away from it all for a week or two as a family, but after weekends at home like this last one it doesn't seem so bad at all! Bristol is a pretty great place to live all year round, but when the sun comes out it really brings the place to life! It really is my favourite place so we've been holidaying at home. The sun was shining, we all felt relaxed and happy (90% of the time) and we spent lazy days outside letting the sun warm our pale vitamin D deprived skin. It was blissful!
Our weekend started on Friday after Ken finished for when we indulged in some lovely Farrows Chips & Pea fritters in the garden. We then sat & relaxed while our next door neighbour's 12 year old twins hopped over to play in our garden. The girls absolutely love Henry & our dog George and will come over at every opportunity. They are very sweet & both Henry & George love having the extra friends to play with! They were teaching Henry how to kick a football around & it was so cute to watch! I love seeing henry playing with older children as it really reminds me how grown up he is now as we works so hard to keep up with them. Henry & George also spent a good 25 minutes running through all of my washing that was hanging out to dry.....apparently it's a great game!
Once the sun started to cool a little we decided a walk was needed to burn off some of the naughtiness of our chippy dinner! We are so lucky that we are surrounded by several lovely parks & open spaces so we are never short of places to go despite living near the city centre. We headed off to Northern Slopes which is a nature reserve that connects several open meadows in Knowle...........only problem is that our chip filled bellies did not enjoy all of the up hill walking! Despite a brief encounter with some stinging nettles it was the perfect start to the weekend!
Our Saturday involved breakfast sat outside in the early morning sun in Carluccios in Cabots Circus & playing in the fountains together. It was great as it was really quiet at that time & it really felt like we were on holiday! We were so relaxed! We don't treat ourselves much anymore so using a BOGOF voucher for breakfast out together was lovely! Ken kept saying how it felt like we should be popping to the shops for beer & melon & going back to a villa......so that's what we did! We headed home to our little garden for another afternoon of playing outside together. We really love having our own little piece of outdoor space after living in a flat for 3 years, and i'm really enjoying making the space our own too. That makes me sad right? Enjoying gardening......i must be turning 30 soon or something! hahaha!
We then went over to my sister's place to have a BBQ with friends, this was lovely, but unfortunately had to be cut short when Henry became fractious thanks to a mixture of being too warm & cutting a tooth. I was really in the mood to drink a few glasses of wine & relax however after 1 glass i admitted defeat & took my grumpy little boy home to bed. This didn't matter too much though as we had BBQ number 2 on Sunday with my family who drove over from Warminster for the afternoon.
I have to admit that i was a bit grumpy on Sunday morning as i was stuck in the kitchen preparing all of the food & drink, but as soon as everybody arrived i was so glad that we made the effort! The pimms was flowing, the food was delicious & there were water fights in the sunshine. What more could you want from a Sunday afternoon?! Everybody left just before 8pm & as soon as the door was closed Henry fell fast asleep leaving us to relax before our little holiday weekend had to end. We have 9 days off together next week so fingers crossed we get to do more of the same then.........however this is the UK so it will probably rain. Oh well at least i get lots of work & knitting done when it rains! hahaha! I hope you all had lovely weekends in the sun too!
Today has been heavenly! Feeling the sun warming our skin & being able to spend the day outside has been such a welcome change after months of rain & gloomy skies!
George our collie is the happiest of us all to see the return of the dry weather, as rain to him means shorter walks & less time in the garden. Today he has spent his time sunbathing in the garden & really enjoyed the long walk we all went on.
It's felt amazing to wear spring/summer clothes after months of wearing winter clothes even though it was supposed to be spring! I hope it lasts for a while so i get to wear sandals instead of wells on my dog walks! After a much needed dose of vitamin D i think we're all in a fantastic mood! I hope it's had a similar effect on all of you too!
Right i'm off to buy some garden furniture!
Henry is now 15 months old! I look at him and i cannot believe how big & clever he is now. I am amazed at how quickly toddlers develop, Henry seems to learn something new every day! I remember when Henry was a small baby eagerly awaiting his next milestone whether it was his first smile or rolling over for the first time, each small development was a big deal to be captured on film for us to cherish. Now however it feels like he's developing so quickly that we don't get to savour each new skill as much as we would like. So i thought I'd take the time to record everything new or special that Henry has done recently. This will probably bore you all silly, but i'm having a proud Mama moment so please indulge me!
Henry & his food:
One of the biggest changes that we have noticed over the last month or so is just how well Henry eats now. He actively shares our mealtimes as an equal member of the family now and it's so much fun! He tucks into nearly everything that is put in front of him (he's still not convinced about eggs) and confidently feeds himself. As both me and his Dad really enjoy our food it is great to be able to share this with Henry now, and he makes us so proud. We recently went out for Japanese food as a family & Henry sat quietly eating vegetable tempura, sweetcorn fritters & Vegetables in a plum sauce, followed by mango sorbet.......he ate the lot! The staff in the restaurant commented on how good he was at eating & How well behaved he had been. We left beaming with pride! His favourite foods lately are: Fruit (of all varieties) Pasta with a cheese & tomato sauce, Pesto flatbread & ICE CREAM!
It really is great to see him really enjoy food and let us know what he likes & dislikes. I feel so happy that we stuck with Baby Led Weaning despite all of the unconvinced comments from well meaning family members! Henry occasionally goes off his food, but we soon discovered that this coincides with cutting a new tooth which is understandable as nobody likes to eat with a toothache. Ouch! He now has 11 teeth with 3 more looking like they will have cut through the gum soon. Hopefully after that he'll get a break from bloody teething!
Play is probably where we have seen the biggest change in Henry lately though. If he is bored of whatever we are doing he will now take himself off to his toys & books and entertain himself. I honestly don't think that i have seen anything cuter than Henry reading books to himself! It's adorable! He loves Rod campbell books such as 'Oh Dear!' & 'Dear Zoo' that have flaps to lift up. He especially loves it when we read them together though as he finds my attempts at animal impressions hilarious!
He also instigates games with us now, and loves to place chase (especially with his daddy who gives the best tickles). He also loves a new game where we roll a car or ball to each other under our armchair. He can play this game for hours never seeming to tire of it. It's lovely to know that he doesn't need me to entertain him 24/7 anymore and that he enjoys playing with his toys now. However the best part about him becoming more interested in play is that we have a new way to interact as a family. I really think adults should play games more, it's great fun!!
I love thinking of new ways to entertain & stimulate Henry. Today for example we made rice crispy cakes together. Henry loves to stir whatever i am cooking and i thought this would be a fun & safe way for him to have a real go at cooking. He loved having everything on the small table at his height & stirred away happily for about 25 minutes. However he soon discovered the best part of making cakes & started to eat the mixture! We spooned the mixture into cases together & henry shook sprinkles on the cakes (and all over the kitchen too!). It was a really fun activity & we now have the added bonus of eating Henry's creations together!
Henry on the move!
Henry is so active now, that to be honest i'm knackered from trying to keep up with him! He has been walking since just before his 1st Birthday, but now he practically runs everywhere & never wants to sit still! This is great as he really gets to explore now, but this Mama would like a little bit of time where we can enjoy sitting still sometimes if i'm honest! It's hard to go out for coffee with friends now as Henry does not enjoy having to sit still or not having free range of wherever we are. Trying to get him to sit still (especially on days when he's a bit grumpy thanks to teething) usually result in him loudly protesting & expressing his displeasure!
However i'm quickly learning that you have to go with the flow with toddlers and for now i'll have to plan outings in terms of 'space for Henry to play as well as tea & cake for mama' which thankfully isn't too hard in Bristol, which is a really child friendly city.
Talking to Henry:
Henry has so many new words and noises lately. He now says clearly and confidently: Mum, Dad, No, Gone, Go, Hey, Hiya,
and yeah. He has also started to string 'Mum and Dad' together as a little sentence which is pretty cool! He also makes lots of noises which are very entertaining, for example when you catch him doing something he shouldn't and say "Henry, No!" he runs away with his arms in the air shouting 'Lalalalalalala' as if to say 'it wasn't me look I'm busy singing across the other side of the room!' It's really hard not to laugh even though i'm supposed to be telling him off.
He seems to understand so much of what we say to him now and really tries to answer us or copy what we have said, so i don't think it will be long before he's adding lots of new words to his vocabulary to enable him to get what he wants quicker! hahaha! However i think it's time for us to start watching what we discuss or say in from of him.
He is also so affectionate now, dishing out hugs and kisses whenever he can. There is nothing nicer than having your child run up to you just to have a quick cuddle & a kiss! Don'y worry though these kisses are not reserved just for me, Henry now blows kisses to nearly everybody he sees! The old ladies in the supermarket are normally beaming once Henry has loudly blown them a big kiss! He can be such a charmer!
I love spending time with Henry now as he's such a character & really funny! He really has a strong personality now and is growing up to be a delightful little boy (i know i'm biased!). Don't get me wrong bringing up a toddler can be knackering & trying at times, but more often than not he's a pleasure! Here's to the next 15 months! :)
Me & My Granny on my 1st Birthday. She had just traveled to Germany from England on a coach so looks a bit tired!
I've been thinking a lot lately about my maternal grandmother who sadly passed away the day after i first went out for a drink with Ken. I am always telling him that i wish he could have met her as she was honestly the most amazing women you could ever hope to meet! She is really a massive influence on who i aspire to be both as woman and a mother so i wanted to tell you all about her.
Her full maiden name was Freda Beatrice Ethel Ireland (i don't think she was ever particularly fond of her name, but i love it! I would be honored to pass on any of her names to any future daughters that i may have.) She built spitfires in WWII and married my grandfather after a courtship consisting only of love letters through the war when he was overseas fighting. To me this is the most romantic thing i think i could ever imagine! Although My Granny was sadly widowed very young they still managed to have 9 children! Yes that's right my granny had A LOT of children! She always joked that God had played a joke on her because she hadn't wanted children and that My granddad only had to hang his trousers on the bed post and she was pregnant again! It wasn't easy for her though, as not only did she lose my granddad with a family to raise she also knew the pain of losing a child. One of her babies was stillborn after dying during childbirth and her second eldest son (my Uncle Edward) died suddenly from a heart attack in 1991. Yet she handled everything with utter grace and strength, which is more than i think i would be able to. She was one of the most loving people i have ever met, but she was also the strongest! She never wanted anybody's pity and worked hard to make the best of every situation.
She was also incredibly talented, because she was the best knitter in the whole world!!! I have never met anybody who could whip up beautiful hand knitted garments over a couple of days to a professional finish, very often without a pattern! She could knit like lightening & was fondly known as granny knitting. We never had shop bought jumpers or cardigans for school, instead wore Freda originals knitted in beautiful red lace patterns. We each had beautifully hand knitted baby shawls & the family christening gown was knitted by her fair hand! She literally knitted our family history! My my tells stories of wearing something hand knitted to school in the 70s when big collared cardigans & big long scarves were all the fashion & having people begging for my Gran to knit them the same thing........and she did! Nothing was ever too much trouble for her when it came to her children and grandchildren! Don't get me wrong she was no pushover & you didn't want to get on the wrong side of her, because she wouldn't think twice about putting you in your place if you were pushing your luck, but that was all part of her charm! She was loving, but she still had fire in her belly! :)
As one of 12 grandchildren you'd think that she would struggle to spend to time with all of us, but this was never the case! She would have most of us over at her house for most of the school holidays, and we loved it! We's play together in the garden building 'Dens' together, but she would also teach us to bake cakes (another of her talents that never required scales or recipes.....she always just 'knew' the right amount needed!) and for me most importantly, she spent hours teaching us all to knit! I have been knitting since she first taught me when i was 4 years old. Under her watchful gaze & using some blue plastic knitting needles with pineapples on the end I knitted a yellow and orange mohair striped scarf.....yes that's right, yellow and orange mohair.....you totally wish you had one right?! ;) Now we didn't all carry on knitting, but i did and it is a big part of who i am now. Right up until she died i would be going to her for knitting advice when i was stuck on a pattern or was unsure how to do a complicated stitch, and even now whenever i am doing something new on a knitted project i feel wish she was around to talk it through with. She believed that homemade was best & I hope to offer my family the same things that she did. Food and clothes handmade with love especially for them!
After she died i wasn't left jewellery like many of my cousins were, but i received something which to me is invaluable; i am now the owner of all of her well used knitting needles and her fast knitting book collection! I use her needles when i knit all of the time, and i love to think that many of the things that i have knitted Henry were knitted on the same needles that she knitted things for her children & grandchildren on. It fills me with sadness that she never got to cuddle Henry because i know that she would have been totally head over heals in love with his cheeky face, but i also like to think that she would be so proud that he often sports hand knitted clothes that without her patience and guidance i would never have been able to create.
I feel so lucky that i was given this skill that has been passed down through generations of my family as i really think this has become something rare in recent time. Knitting is truly a pleasure and is so satisfying. I have so many people ask me to teach them to knit, especially friends who are either expecting babies or who have small children because they want to be able to create something unique and handmade especially for their little one. Because of this i am starting to run some knitting classes in June, they will be affordable, practical, but most importantly the classes will be small with the opportunity to have my undivided attention to guide you as you learn to knit or improve your skills (apart from when we have a cup of tea & a slice of the homemade cake i bring!). I will give you more details later, but the reason that i mention it here is because when i told my mum about my plans she said "Oh your Gran would be so proud!" and that's all i could ask for!
I really hope she is proud and that i manage to pass on all of the wonderful things that she taught me so that other people have the same joy that she always did, and i do now from creating something beautiful and special from nothing! The women in my family knit through good times and bad times which means no matter what you are going through something beautiful can still be made at the time!
Yes i am still here and I have lots to tell you all about some exciting new projects and the developments with our house, but before i do i thought i had better explain why i have been absent from here for quite some time. I haven't abandoned this blog and my Homemade Mama ventures, In fact i have sat down to write things so many times, but i just didn't know what to say at the time.
Things have been quite tough over the last few months for me health wise, much of which i think is a direct result of not taking care of myself properly while renovating the house. After we moved in early March i began to feel very low and started to suffer with anxiety attacks and violent mood swings (which although were worse on those close to me!). I didn't really want to see anybody and felt that nobody would really want to see me either. I was depressed one moment, agitated the next. My skin was terrible due to a nasty outbreak of acne, I had developed a beautiful collection of hairs on my chin and i was exhausted to the point that walking up the stairs was an effort some days. I cried everyday, which just isn't like me! Despite the fact that I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) after my third miscarriage in 2010 i had never really thought much about it to be honest. I have always had fairly normal periods, if a longer than a normal cycle and i'm not overweight so i didn't really think that i had any symptoms. However after a lot of research after a chat to my doctor it would seem that depression, anxiety, mood swings and fatigue, along with my delightful acne & facial hairs are all symptoms! Isn't PCOS a dream?!?!
The reason i went to see a doctor was that i had the misfortune to have my 4th Miscarriage in March. This is not an easy subject to write about, especially so soon after the event so i will keep it brief, but i will say that it seems pretty certain that my PCOS has played a part in my miscarriage as my hormone levels are seriously out of whack (a medical term obviously!). Now although this was a horrible thing to go through AGAIN, it has had some positive effect in that it has made me make some steps to control my PCOS symptoms & they appear to really be working! I don't want to make this an essay on PCOS as i'm sure it will bore you silly, but if you want to know more about it please do get in touch! I have been reading every book and article i can find on the matter & as a result of this information have made some dramatic changes to my diet that involve cutting out most refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and milk. I am also exercising again (which is amazing!) and taking a rather large selection of vitamins known to help.
For the first time in months i am feeling much more like myself, i'm no longer crying all the time like a crazed hormonal beast which can only be a good thing! I'm still not 100% as my anxiety levels and fatigue still need to normalise, but they are nowhere near as bad as they have been! I'm starting to get better and it feels fantastic! I have really found taking charge and being proactive about my own health really empowering & have seen some really positive effects. Plus we have really revamped what we eat as a family. We have always been pretty healthy in that we are vegetarians who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with low fat sources of protein, but we got a bit stuck in a food rut after Henry was born due to lack of time. However i have really been enjoying cooking new things for us all, especially as i know that this new diet reduces my Mister's cholesterol levels as well as my insulin resistance! This weeks favourites have had a mexican theme & have been yummy! We've needed a bit of chilli in our lives as we're certainly not getting any heat in the weather here. ;)
My biggest challenge now as a total sugar junkie is to seriously cut down on my chocolate/cake/cookie consumption.......wish me luck! I don't have many vices, but by god i love cake!!
Also although i know it may seem a little morbid or depressing, but i thought i would let you all know about another book while i was on the subject of my current reading. I first read this book on the recommendation of my OB-GYN at Southmead after my third miscarriage, and i truly believe that if it wasn't for the practical advice and facts in this book i wouldn't have been able to carry Henry to term! It is a must for all women who want to know what they can do to help themselves after a miscarriage & want answers as to what may have been the cause. It can give you a feeling of control and ward off the utter helplessness you can feel after such a horrible event. Anyway it's called 'Miscarriage: What every woman needs to know' (2001) by Professor Lesley Regan. I really wish that somebody had put this book in my hands years ago after my first miscarriage, so i am letting you all know in case you know somebody who might benefit from reading it.
So there you have it: i have been away being a bit of a hormonal mess (Thank you endocrine system & Insulin......you've been just swell to me) but i'm getting back to normal and trying really hard to show my body that it's just not acceptable to be so disobedient & act so strangely without my express conscious permission! ;) I now have my much needed energy and creative mojo back and i have been putting it to good use! I will post again tomorrow to ask you all for your opinions on a new creative project