Friday, 30 May 2014

The cat, my boy and the missing teddy bear mystery.

Our family (including Clovey)
My chosen reading at the moment is a book called, "New Toddler Taming" that was lent to me by a friend of mine who has two boys. It has been a difficult time with our threenager and he's been pushing mine and Hubbie's patience to the very limit. It has made us both feel so tired and sad and disappointed. It feels like we just have no clue how to deal with this seething mass of shouting, kicking, screaming energy and it's demoralising.

Then I look at him right now lying on his front drawing a picture of Big Ben wearing clothes he chose and put on himself - yes they do match. He comes over to show me he's also drawn a picture, "Of me and Daddy and Mummy and my sister Clovey." Then he draws another small face, "That's my baby brother." Our boy is an only child, so maybe it's more aspirational than factual. He knows that we would love for him to have a sibling so it's reassuring to know that he's keen on the idea of being an older brother.

I often reflect on the early days when he was so new and shiny and it was exciting being exhausted, overwhelmed new parents. When he was so tiny he'd lie between us in the bed and I'd hold my breath so I would be able to hear the snuffles that confirmed he was breathing and alive. Carrying my baby son in a sling and being able to kiss the top of his head while strap hanging on a bus or walking to an appointment for a check up with the doctor. Being so scared of every little thing that might go wrong and realising that this would be the emotion I'd feel the rest of my life.

In order to keep a sense of perspective I try and reflect on the positive things that bring a smile to my face. The things that remind me how proud I am of my boy and how blessed I feel that he is in my life.
  • The other morning me and Hubbie were dancing in the kitchen to the Prodigy, Firestarter. The boy walked in, looked at us for a moment then joined in with the mayhem. That's my boy !
  • He's obsessed with a movie called Firehouse Dog that we've watched so many times I think I spend more time with Bruce Greenwood (the Dad) than with Hubbie.
My little pony
  • On the Bank Holiday it was so wet and miserable outside we stayed indoors mainlining movies. Carry on a Cabby was on and our boy enjoyed watching it with us - I have no explanation for why he was dressed in a pink pony outfit. 
  • We took him to Peppa Pig world last week and there was torrential rain, thunder, lightning in the morning followed by an afternoon of blazing sunshine, no queues and ice cream for the boys. I asked him what the best thing about the day was. After some thought he said, "the eggy bread you made me for breakfast Mummy."
Look no queuing !!
  • This morning he asked if I'd seen his teddy bear Jiggles. We both searched upstairs and couldn't find him. I jokingly asked the cat if he knew anything and he miaowed. I told the boy that clearly Neo was telling us where the bear was and to follow him. I heard a loud squeal as the boy found his bear exactly where the cat was standing - at the bottom of the stairs. I swear those two are pulling tricks on me !
So, as we go into another weekend I am armed with tips and hints from the book and a heart full of hope that this one will be better than the last one was.

I find it's a good life rule to give the last word to Calvin and Hobbes.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My heart is broken. But still, like air, I'll rise.

I have a blog because I love to write. It is my space to share thoughts, ideas, stories and sometimes a little bit of myself. Our house is littered with my many notebooks and our walls are covered with shelves filled to capacity with books. I keep pens to hand everywhere, in pockets, old mugs, on every windowsill and in empty jars and occasionally actual pen pots. I never throw out paper. It is used for drawing, or shopping lists or ideas that have suddenly come to me while I was chopping veg - yes this does happen.

I always loved writing and would find any excuse to write when I was at school and I collected books that I would buy for a few pence at jumble sales or school fayres. My bookshelf at home was small, but filled with precious jewels that spoke to me and only me and took me to places I had never heard of and could only imagine. I read anything and everything and would read books so quickly that the school reading scheme ran out and I was sent to the library to find books to read instead. I read all of them too and for a while my favourite books were a big book with photos of minerals and crystals in it and another called Mathemagic which is now out of print. Yes for a while back there I was interested in science and maths. I know Hubbie is open-mouthed at this last fact so let's just wait for him to get up off the floor shall we ?

The books I read were the usual ones by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, the Heidi stories, and anything that was a series of books appealed the most as it didn't have to end. What the school library of James Wolfe Junior School did not have was any books by black authors - or at least none I knew of. It wasn't until I went to secondary school that I finally read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry which was a darker story than I was used to reading and led me to find I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. From the first time I read a Maya Angelou book I knew I loved her. The writing was fluid and even though I hadn't heard her speak, in my head I could imagine the voice she was reading to me in. When I did hear her voice years later it was richer and far more beautiful that I could ever have known.

When I finished reading her first book I re-read it and then I read the next one and then the next one and so on until there were no more left. I had to know this woman, dammit I had to be her. Vibrant, brave, clever, capable of anything, so very beautiful and she was black and from a poor family. It was the first time I'd seen a woman who was so accomplished and made me think it might be possible for me to do it too. It made me realise it was ok to write about real life and to be honest about myself and that didn't make me a bad person.

I always promised myself I'd see her perform live and I even looked into studying in America at the university where she was a professor so I would meet her. It was a dream I was unable to fulfil and now she has passed away it won't happen. I listen to her voice and see her kindly face and it's like I actually know her. As though she is behind my hand when I write something honest, painful, raw and possibly beautiful.

Her poetry empowered me, her activism inspired me, her writing spoke to me. She gave me my passion for writing and helped me to learn to love the colour of my skin. She even helped me to understand that what is done to us does not define what we become.

The news that Dr Maya Angelou has passed away has broken my heart.

It also reminds me that I write because it is my passion.

Dr Maya Angelou (4th April 1928 - 28th May 2014)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

It's my birthday !!!

My boy made me a special picture
I apologise for not writing a 'proper' post today, but it's my birthday you see. Of course I realise it's completely undignified to make a big deal about it at my age - don't be cheeky, I'm not telling you. Me and Hubbie rarely get time, just the two of us, so today he took the day off. This being real life he had to go into work this evening, but we still got to spend the day doing things we like.

 A lovely surprise delivery today :)
So firstly we packed the boy off to nursery. He loves it when Hubbie is around for the nursery run, dontcha just love being the 'invisible,' less popular parent ? Then we went for a swim together. Usually one of us is keeping the boy occupied in the kiddie pool, but today we swam side by side. I'm a fairly solitary swimmer so it was a moot point, but still nice.

Then - after a bit of social media surfing (obvs) - I put on a nice dress, make-up and even heels (Hubbie nearly fainted with shock) and we went out for a nice lunch. I had a glass of wine and we chatted while the rain pattered on the windows and the staff effortlessly glided around us delivering delicious food. It was blissful :)

For me ? Oh you shouldn't have :) 
It's back to business as usual tomorrow. I'll do the nursery run and it'll be leftovers for lunch.

Just for today though, it's all about me :) 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The trials of life (and homesickness)

Afternoon tea treat
I've been a bit absent lately and it wasn't entirely intentional. We went to visit the in-laws for a few days and I expected we'd be a bit busy. We took our boy to Peppa Pig World on Thursday. He's been a few times before and loves it there. It was torrential and there was thunder and lightning, but once the sun came out he went on all his favourite rides at least twice and some three times.

On Friday we went to Bournemouth for a spa day. It's going to be my birthday on Tuesday this week so this was a bit of a treat and after hitting the gym, the pool and having a steam and jacuzzi we had a nice afternoon tea. Grandma and Grandpa took care of the boy while we were out and by all accounts he was pretty good. I'd left his scooter and some craft bits for him to do with Granny, who loves painting and gardening so they usually do fun things together.

On Saturday it looked a bit cooler and I had a salon treatment booked first thing so I went to get my nails done and when I got back we decided to take the boy to a local Gruffalo trail. It was at a site called Bolderwood and some of the locations in the woods were just stunning.

tree roots
look at me !!

Of course we'd hoped the boy would enjoy it as he is a big fan of the Gruffalo and we are taking him for a Gruffalo birthday picnic in a few weeks so this was a sort of preview to get him used to what to expect. It did involve a fair bit of walking, but he was unbearably whingey about it all the way round the trail. He kept complaining about having to walk and even when hubbie tried to distract him with an impromptu game of Pooh sticks he just moaned.

watching a stream 
looking for the Gruffalo 

In an attempt to cheer him up I gave him a snack to bolster him along. He ate it and carried on grumbling. When we spotted some massive puddles I said he could jump in them because he had his wellies on. He jumped joyfully and then kicked at the puddles so that we all got splashed with mud too - thanks son. Then he whinged a bit more. Then he had yet another meltdown.

walking on cattle grids
playing peek a boo 

By the end of the walk we had all tried to cheer him up whether it was playing hide and seek with him hiding behind trees, or carrying him for bits of the walk or encouraging him by racing to get to the next signpost. We were all a bit fed up of the screeching, kicking, complaining - and by now squelching - threenager in our midst. It was horrible. He clearly hadn't enjoyed it at all and three adults had basically spent the day being yelled at by a monster of a child.

When we got back I looked up train times to come home and told Hubbie I wanted to leave and try to salvage at least some sanity while he spent more time with his parents and the boy could at least have his precious time with Daddy - who is his best friend apparently. Hubbie sat next to me and said we could all come home a day early. I felt terrible, but relieved.

When I sat with the boy at bedtime and told him we were going home he asked why. I explained he wasn't being nice and that it wasn't fun for anyone so we would go home. The reason I do 'Mummy and boy time' with him is so that we can talk about our day and sometimes he opens up to me about what's on his mind. From chatting to him I found out he was missing his teddy bears, his room, our cat - basically he was homesick.

A little while later I heard a plaintive voice asking for me or Daddy to lie with him in his bed. I closed my laptop and went to lie down next to him. He softly said, "I'm going to miss Grandma" and I said, "so is Daddy. He won't get to spend tomorrow with her now." My voice broke a bit and he looked at me, then he turned and put his tiny arm around my neck. He looked like he was going to cry and he started to stroke my cheek. "I'm sorry Mummy." I asked if wanted to go home and he said he did. I stayed with him until he fell asleep then gently took his hand and put it round one of the bears in the bed and went downstairs.

We came home today and I was shattered, emotionally wrung out and felt massively guilty for us leaving early. I've reorganised the downstairs of the house, defrosted the freezer and Hubbie has cut the grass in the front and back gardens. We took the boy swimming then let him play with his favourite toy cars and watch his favourite film and generally just hang out at home. It was like managing a tiny time bomb of screeching, kicking, yelling hysteria.

I can only hope that if he's like this at three and a half he's going to be an angelic teenager.

That's how it works isn't it ?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The day the Steel Band came to town, then left again...

I've been meaning to write about exception reporting for a while now. It came out of a lunch where I felt as though I was completely out of touch with reality and it made me think about why that was. Given some time to consider it I've concluded that it was the grand statements of 'fact' I was listening to that I found so unpalatable.

I blame the exception reporting we are subjected to disguised as 'news' or 'factual reporting.' If you were to believe the media reports you'd have a pretty low opinion of humanity. Using the grossest examples of indecency or violence or corruption to extrapolate that this is what we are as humans just doesn't make sense. It's lazy and it's inaccurate, but when people are scared and fed up and in debt it's what they are willing to believe to make sense of their own discontent. 

To counteract this idiotic approach here is my much-needed reality check:

  • Not all benefits claimants are scroungers. Some are people who work zero hours contracts and don't earn enough to live on. That's a normal living, not a moat or duck house living. 
  • Not everyone who works in a bank is overpaid or wealthy. The vast majority of bank staff do not earn six figure sums or earn massive bonuses. A few do.  
  • Not all immigrants are criminals and ne'er do wells who are just 'over here' to steal jobs, money and housing. 

I wish I could challenge the notion that not everyone in UKIP is a racist or sexist, but I do struggle to find any proof to support that assertion. Here are a few reasons why: 

Yesterday my lovely friend Tim tweeted that UKIP were planning a 'mini carnival' in Croydon to address accusations that they are a racist party. I live in Croydon and Tim used to so I said I'd go along - even though I had some hardcore TV watching planned yesterday afternoon - to see what was going on. UKIP had invited along all the BME candidates standing for them in the local area - because they're not racists - and booked a steel band - still not racists ok? In the end it was a fiasco and I'm glad I chose to stay indoors as by all accounts it all got a bit ugly out there.

I have to take issue with how much attention Farage and his party get considering they have precisely no MPs. Yes, I'll say that again - they have not one MP. And yet Farage has been on Question time more than any actual politician and continues to be invited to the table despite having no real political mandate. Last month there was a lot of comment about whether or not UKIP would stand in the Newark by-election as if that was of any relevance at all. It was a complete waste of time. Instead of asking why the party is so welcoming to candidates who clearly have no internal monologue or external moderator the media is asking why they aren't going into 'real politics.' Then there was the James O'Brien interview on LBC. If you haven't seen it please take the time to watch it now - it's ok I'll wait...

I know. I know. Close your mouth and keep reading.

Farage is invited to participate in TV debates with other party leaders despite the fact that his party has precisely one idea. Now that is exception reporting taken to it's illogical extreme. UKIP are the exception in British politics. They are a party that has no MPs and yet they are invited to participate alongside parties with real policies (however insane or mundane) and are taken seriously when they openly state they have no interest on anything outside the one issue they stand for.

We have received a mountain of electioneering material in the post from all the parties and UKIP sent me a letter. It was actually addressed to me !! Did they not realise that with the middle name Kaur I would probably disagree with their hostile and openly racist policies ?  Oh hang on they don't actually have any policies do they ? Farage spends more time expelling the 'random elements' in his party than he does talking about what they believe in outside the one big idea.

This is why you have to go out and use your vote on May 22nd. Not just because so many people around the world (mostly women) are still denied the right to vote. It is precisely because so many people don't vote that the same old same old keeps happening. If you are someone who doesn't vote and says, 'It makes no difference, what's the point anyway ?' then you are part of the problem. You are the reason the same people keep making the laws and getting away with the self-serving decisions you disagree with. Sitting in your kitchen moaning to your friends that it's all such a waste of time really is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We get the Government we deserve and even if you have no opinion about the local or european elections use this chance to flex your voting muscles. Get in some practice before the general election so that when it comes around you're ready for it. Even if you're not registered to vote for this one, pop down to the polling station and see how it all works. I took my son with me the last time I voted and there was not one other voter there - I like to think that my vote counted for even more.

So even if you vote for a party I don't agree with, it genuinely is more important that you just do it anyway. What matters is that you use your vote and that is is counted.

Now that really would be exceptional.

Get your vote on !

Monday, 19 May 2014

When did I learn that my body wasn't good enough ?

If I keep saying it maybe I'll buy it ?
You may have seen an article by comedian Sarah Millican recently about the criticism of her outfit - and her appearance in general - at the BAFTAs last year. Her point was that she's a comedian for a  living, not a model, and her appearance should be irrelevant. The unkindness directed towards her is a symptom of how we treat women in society and how judgemental the media is. It is something a lot of women can identify with. Well maybe not the full on assault of Twitter, but certainly being criticised by other people for what we're wearing or how we look is not unfamiliar to most women. 

I was thinking the other day about how I hear the voice in my head that criticises what I'm wearing or how I look and no matter what Hubbie says to reassure me it is irrelevant. Not that his opinion is irrelevant, but the fact that he is ok with how I look just isn't good enough for me to accept as a valid opinion. I wondered when I first heard an 'outer voice' that made me feel there was something wrong with me. Our inner voice comes from somewhere and I wanted to know where mine had originated.

I think it was when I was at school and a few of us were going for a horse riding lesson. No I didn't go to a posh school, it was a one off. We were all in the back of the minibus when one of the girls said that they would need to know our weight to decide what horse to put us on. I had no idea what I weighed. I'd never stood on scales and while I knew I wasn't thin I didn't obsess over statistics, just about my 'fat knees.' As each girl in turn said what they weighed I didn't know what I was going to say as I genuinely didn't know. When they got to me I took a guess based on what the others has said, "I don't know, maybe 8 stone ?" Alison snorted in derision and she and Michelle rolled their eyes at each other as she said, "Yeah, like hell."  I felt ashamed and humiliated. We had been friends at some point and she had decided not to be friends with me any more, but this was the first time she'd actually been a bitch to me.

It was also the first time I'd been made to feel bad about my body. From then on I knew that I was not good enough. That I was too big, too heavy, not tall enough, not pretty enough. My clothes weren't fashionable enough and my style was too weird to fit in. I was teased and picked on for having 'nurses shoes' because my Mum didn't let me wear heels. As a result I found that being sarcastic and caustic was the only way to ward off the nastiness of the other girls. I still catch myself sometimes and think, woah that's a bit too far, no need to be that unkind. It was a defence mechanism back then and it seems to have stuck.

So when I hear that women are being trolled or criticised or threatened for not being feminine enough, or pretty enough, or not wearing a designer dress or for speaking up it makes me feel angry and sad and powerless all at once. As if those school bullies are still getting away with it.

This weekend we had some friends and family over for a barbecue and I wore a dress that's flattering and pretty - for a change from my usual jeans and t-shirts. One of our friends - who is gorgeous - complimented me and I thanked her. Then her husband and I had the following exchange:

Him: "You do look nice, very fifties chic.'
I laughed: "Well I am living the life of a 1950s housewife these days."
Him: " Oh really ? You're not working ?"
Me: "I'm parenting and blogging and doing my radio show."
Him: "So you're not doing anything then ?"

I felt humiliated, ashamed, pointless. Again. The compliment of only a minute before snatched away. Probably my own fault for trying to make light of it, but it was still hurtful.

So what did I learn ? You can either be complimented as nice to look at or you can be respected for having a purpose. It would appear it's not possible to be both.

Either that or I should make new friends.

Friday, 16 May 2014


Ok, I know you already know that so maybe it's a bit obvious. Like those people who always post on Facebook the 'Thank Goodness It's Friday" images of drinking, partying or going somewhere exotic. If you are one of those people, just shush ok ?

If - like me - you're a stay at home parent/carer/pet parent/whatever this may be like any other day for you. It makes no odds that tomorrow is not a working day because every day is a working day/ non-working day for some of us. Well for me Saturday is the day I do my radio show in the morning so it's more like a working day than most actually.

However, this week I've got a few things to be happy about - not just the blazing sunshine outside which made the picnic we went to today a fun and fabulous activity instead of a potential disaster as outdoor events can so often be. As it's almost the weekend I thought a photo post might also be fun:

My new cards have arrived in plenty of time for Britmums Live in a few weeks. I've also got a fantastic sponsorship with a local company working with kids that we love, love, love. More details to follow in my Britmums post...

Kathleen Perkins' gorgeous hair

The fab comedy series Episodes was back this week and found this pic of the gorgeous Kathleen Perkins - who responded to a tweet of mine !!!! I'm having my hair cut this week and I SOOO want this style - maybe not so blonde though.

Talking of Episodes - I took part in the Mumsnet web chat with Stephen Mangan on Thursday and he was just so lovely. He was talking about his new movie Postman Pat (he is the voice of Pat) as well as previous projects like Green Wing, Jeeves and Wooster and - of course - Episodes.

He kindly responded to a few of my questions, so of course he's my new best friend :)

My love of social media has resulted in a massive coup this week - I spotted on Twitter that Jesus and Mary Chain are playing live this November and this morning me and Hubbie were both online sweating profusely while clicking refresh to get tickets, they sold out in 5 minutes.

After an adrenaline packed 5 minutes I sent Hubbie a text to say "we got tickets !!!" I am beyond excited.

Now if this post sounds a bit boastful please be assured it is not often I get a week of lots of nice things happening. That's why it's such a big deal and I'm mentioning it. Also, it is lovely and sunny outside and that automatically makes things seem better doesn't it ?

I read this week that 'positive things happen to positive people' - no I'm not getting all philosophical on you it was an interview with Sarah Beeny.

So my mantra (for now at least) is to be positive :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

In the pink and walking in the moonlight

For months I've been walking and training for the Moonwalk. I decided to do it a while back and called my lovely friend Soraya to see if she was up for it and she said only that day she'd been thinking of something to do as a challenge and she agreed straight away. I had a speech all prepared to convince her, but I didn't need it. I've been walking in the rain, the wind and sometimes even the sun to prepare. My knees have been unpredictable and I've been worried on more than one occasion that they'd pack up. Soraya put her back out early on and it was touch and go if she'd be well enough to do it at all.
My streamlined Moonwalk outfit 
Last week I put together my outfit - it's pink and frou-frou, but I'd say it's essentially an athletic look isn't it ?

Then on Saturday night we got ready while Hubbie put the boy to bed. We packed water, protein bars and some fruit in small bags to carry with us on the route and wore fleece jackets convinced it would be warmer while we walked and we wouldn't need them.

Raring to go 
When we arrived at the Moonwalk tent the atmosphere hit us and when they had a minute of silence to think about why we were there I choked as my reason was standing right next to me. My friend was alive and that was why we were doing it. TEARS.

Tattooed ladies
The reason for doing it was simple, but the walk itself was anything but - that was brutal. It was cold, biting wind and long periods of standing around waiting for road crossings and bottle necks to clear. We never really picked up enough momentum to warm up. My legs ached and my head hurt from the cold. As it became light I perked up a bit and we made a big push to get to the finish.

A glass of wine to celebrate
When we finally finished we hugged and sobbed a bit and made our way home. Hubbie and the boy were waiting for us and after a cuppa and something to eat I got into the lovely hot bath Hubbie had run for me and listened to the radio. The boys went out for a swim and to do the shopping. When they got back I heard Hubbie 'shushing' the boy so as not to disturb me. I sent him a text message a while later to ask if they'd had a nice time - I was still like a zombie so moving wasn't an option. They came up to see me. "I'm proud of you Mummy," the little one said as he handed me some red roses.

I was too exhausted to cry again. 

And the best thing of all - we've raised over £1,500 for breast cancer charities :)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Paneer & vegetable curry recipe.

Growing up with Indian parents we often ate vegetarian meals at home and meat wasn't a necessity at the meal table. In fact I barely noticed that meat was only eaten occasionally and cheaper ingredients like seasonal vegetables and pulses made meals go further in our home. In those days we always used to complain that we wanted to eat 'English food' instead of the Punjabi cooking my Mum painstakingly prepared from scratch. Now I appreciate how lucky we were to have such delicious food and a Mum who wanted us to learn how to cook it. We never order Indian takeaway as we find them far too fatty and I prefer to choose what goes into my meal.

In advance of National Vegetarian Week (19th-25th May) I'm sharing a recipe that is really simple to prepare and is really tasty.

spices, paneer and veggies

Paneer - I bought this in Sainsburys ready cut into cubes
Mixed vegetables (I used frozen for ease)
Frylight oil spray
2 small Onions - chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic - chopped finely
a thumb sized piece of Ginger - chopped finely
Tomatoes 4-6 fresh or 1 tin chopped
Spices including; turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and salt 
Fresh coriander

naan, rice and samosas

To serve: 

Naan bread
Ready made rice

Paneer is an indian cheese that cooks a bit like Halloumi, but without the squeak. I found it in a large Sainsburys store near me, but my Mum used to make it at home. She's not a shirker my mother. You don't have to cook it first for this recipe, but I prefer to so that it doesn't break up when added to the vegetables. I cooked it in a non-stick pan using Frylight oil and kept turning it to make sure all the sides were brown. This keeps the inside soft and the outside a bit crunchier depending how long you cook it for. Set aside the paneer once cooked.

paneer cooked in Frylight
The tomato base is made by frying some onions then adding chopped garlic and ginger - if the garlic is fried too soon it burns and tastes bitter - then add the tomatoes and spices. You can experiment with the spices to suit your taste. but generally I find a few tsps of salt - too little and your curry will be too sweet - a couple of turmeric and some garam masala work well, you can adjust by tasting. I don't use exact measures because it is made to suit my taste and I don't like it too hot so I don't use chilli, but you can add that too. Turn the heat down to simmer until the onions have melted away and the tomatoes have all become liquid. Stir a few times to check it's not sticking to the pan.

paneer and mixed vegetable 
Once the tomato mix is ready add the paneer and frozen or fresh vegetables and stir through. Pop a lid on and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. A low simmer for 15-20 mins occasionally stirring so it doesn't stick works well. When you're ready to eat it, stir in some fresh coriander and scatter some leaves on top for decoration. I served this with hot fluffy naan bread and a veggie samosa on the side.

The curry is vegetarian and gluten-free. If you prefer gluten-free side dishes there are lovely cornbread rotis or chickpea flour pakoras you can try instead of samosas, rice or naan bread.

Meat free and ever so delicious 
Storage: You can freeze this curry, so I make lots and freeze half for another meal. Defrost thoroughly before reheating or the paneer tends to fall apart. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week - if you can keep your hands off it that is !

Give it a go, it's really simple to prepare and ever so tasty.

Enjoy :)

This post is my entry to the Betta Living Vegetarian Recipe competition #Bettarecipe

Saturday, 10 May 2014

International Blog Swap Day: Guest post by Twinkle in the eye

As part of International Blog Swap Day I am delighted to host a guest post by fellow blogger Bree Katsamangos. I am blown away that she has found time to take part considering she gave birth so recently and she is also kindly hosting a guest post by me over on her fabulous blog Twinkle in the eye. Pop over and have a look :)

There are few television shows I am committed to. Actually, there is just one. It is the UK series of One Born Every Minute. Come Wednesday evening at 8.30pm I head to the bedroom and set myself up to watch an hour of what my husband calls 'exploding vaginas'. Seeing his children born is enough for him, for me I'm addicted. There is something primal and powerful about women giving birth and without fail I shed a tear as each piece of humanity enters the world full of light and potential.

Having given birth a week ago to this little piece of perfection and still bearing the scars, the aches and pains I think I will watch this week with mixed emotions and possibly a sweaty brow. It was not an easy birth, it took twice as long as my first and the word 'harrowing' keeps coming to mind. The women in my family don't birth well, but we do make gorgeous babies.

Women are tremendous creatures, our bodies are miracle makers, built to give life, to feed and nurture. Our bodies tell a story, each in their own unique way. The challenge and triumph of this birth taught me not to resent my body, but to celebrate it. I am not looking at its new softness as something to be conquered but as something to cherish. It is a reminder, that I and all womanhood possess a unique power, that not only applies to pregnancy and birth, but to all of life and its challenges. If we can do this, we can do anything, our potential is limitless.

How do you conceptualise birth? Is the experience or idea of birth empowering or does it evoke something different in you?

Bree blogs at Twinkle in the Eye. Bree is a compulsive dabbler, she is generally well grounded but is prone to flights of fancy. Bree blogs about motherhood, food, politics and whatever strikes her as amusing. You can read more of Bree's blog here.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

I got to do the bank holiday big shop at Morrisons... and loved it !!

Morrisons new campaign
Under normal circumstances I'm banned from doing the weekly shop as I'm too easily distracted by BOGOFs and 3 for 2s. I go in for a pint of milk and come home with 5 boxes of bear fruit, 4 marked down low fat lasagnes (2 meat and 2 veggie) and a pile of bakery goods that have been reduced. It means we end up over budget and with a fridge, freezer and cupboards crammed full of impulse purchases.

Hubbie is far more disciplined than I am and rarely goes off list so I had intended to take him with me for our Morrisons Bank Holiday shop last week. In the end it was just me and the boy, but I managed to stick to the list - mostly - and we had a great weekday shopping trip in a pretty quiet store. It was with some trepidation I went with the toddler to the new and snazzy Morrisons at Fiveways (Croydon), but I was armed with a list and had been to this store before so I knew the layout well enough to avoid any traps that might lure me into a casual purchase of seasonal food items that we don't need.

The most welcome sign ever :)
It started well with the perfect parking spot in a parent & child space located safely in front of the store with no busy roads to negotiate. I'm stunned how many shops have the family spaces in places that provide hazards that Indiana Jones would struggle to negotiate.

Veg kept fresh by spritzing - fancy that ! 
Once in the store the toddler offered to 'help' by pushing the trolley, as it wasn't too busy I agreed and he loved putting fresh fruit and vegetables into the trolley for me. As ours is an innovation store it has the fabulous cold storage vapour thing that spritzes the vegetables to keep them fresh. My boy calls it 'smoke,' but was delighted when I said he could put his hand into it to feel that it was cold.

I had made a list of the usual items we buy and was stunned to find that Covent Garden soups, Tilda rice and fresh pizzas were half the price we normally pay. The fresh pasta and sauces were such good value I bought a few to freeze and keep - old habits die hard and all that.

Fresh pizzas 
Ready made rice (don't judge me !)

I don't often buy meat, but we had a barbecue planned as it was a long Bank Holiday weekend so I went to see the in-store butcher to ask for some help. I don't eat meat, but Hubbie and the boy do so I wanted to get the right things and the butcher was very helpful. Burgers, chicken and sausages chosen, we went to get the bread rolls. My boy asked the baker where the bagels were and he kindly pointed out the pick and mix section where we chose a range of rolls and bagels. I love a choice so this was great. Of course I had to buy all the ones my son had pawed at !!

Butchers and a deli !

Lots of rolls to choose from

Lovely Teresa helped us 
A quick check of the list revealed I'd managed to completely forget the french mustard that Hubbie had asked for so we went to get some help. The lovely Teresa walked us to the correct aisle and even agreed to a photo for this post.

Every member of staff we met was really helpful and kind to us. When my son set off an alarmed gate at the checkout and I was having a meltdown the incredibly patient lady serving us complimented me on my 'bouncy, pretty hair' and diffused the tension of the situation.

I love her. 

We don't usually shop at Morrisons - well as I said I'm not allowed to do the weekly shop - so this was a rare treat for me. My boy had plenty of room to roam and he even got to have a ride with Peppa and George Pig at the end. He was pretty helpful but I didn't get him any clothes despite his best efforts to convince me he had to have yet more Spiderman shoes. I loaded four massive bags for life filled with food into the car boot and we made our way home.

My boy choosing some clothes
Driving Peppa & George Pig 

Of course the purpose of our trying Morrisons was to see what savings we could make with their new low pricing so here are some simple sums I've done to work out what we spent on meals over the weekend:

Our pizza tea on Saturday night

Saturday Dinner:
Pizza and garlic bread      
£1.75 per serving

Sunday Lunch:
Meat £1.95p  & Veggie £2.30 per serving

Monday Lunch: 
Soup and rolls                    
60p per serving

It is safe to say we spent a lot less than if we'd gone out to eat and substantially less than our usual shop. Not only that, but we tried some new things that we don't usually eat - like grilling cheese on the barbecue as well as the usual burgers, sausages, corn cobs and asparagus. My boy has widened his repertoire of shopping skills and proven he can help and not demand a toy car in return. I've shown I can keep to a list (sort of), but sanity has now returned to the household and Hubbie will be doing the weekly shop again this week.

Long may it last :)

Disclosure: The lovely people at Morrisons sent us some vouchers - via Britmums - to shop and blog honestly about the experience. 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Our cat is famous !!!

We love watching Modern Family. I mean, what's not to love ? Gloria with her hilarious mispronunciations, Cam and his sensitivities about everything and the crazy changing of Lily that resulted in one of most unpleasant child characters in a sitcom since Stewie tried to kill Lois in Family Guy.

Anyway, I was mainlining series 4 last week when I spotted one of our own family in the show. I shouted out to Hubbie to come and see and we both cheered when we spotted him.

Neo sitting with Lily (we don't like her)
Yes Neo is a star in a US sitcom !!

He tried to look all nonchalant and 'whatever' about it, but I could tell he was secretly pleased. Well, that was until I spotted him dressed as a mermaid that is.

Cam holding Neo the 'mercat'
I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when I see 'my cat' on tv. I know, I know stop staring at me like that. Even my boy got excited when we saw Neo's face on a lunchbox during the Mr Men show this morning.
This morning he was on a little Miss lunchbox !!
I will get a life precisely when this stops being so flipping entertaining to me and everyone I know on Facebook :)

This post is part of Mummy Never Sleeps lovely linky  "All the Small Things."