RECIPE: Family-friendly Beef Bolognese #MeatMatters #Ad

I know I share a common struggle with many of you… making healthy meals that are quick and easy to prepare and cook… and that the whole family will actually eat!

One of our family favourites is home-made beef Bolognese. Not very imaginative you might say, but I’ve mastered cooking it in under 30 mins when I get in from work; there’s enough for 2 nights dinner, it’s tasty and healthy and everyone eats it… winner winner beef dinner! Continue reading “RECIPE: Family-friendly Beef Bolognese #MeatMatters #Ad”

Benugo, John Lewis, Cardiff: the Christmas menu

I hardly ever make it to any ‘blogger events’ so I was delighted that I could make it to lunch at Benugo’s last week to try out their new Christmas menu…

My office is pretty much next door to John Lewis but I’d not checked out Benugo’s before, luckily the event was sandwiched between two of my meetings…

I arrived to a lovely selection of sandwiches. I say sandwiches but really they were more like wraps, mini baguettes etc. Posh sandwiches!

Continue reading “Benugo, John Lewis, Cardiff: the Christmas menu”

22 tips for weaning your baby 

We started weaning S at 6 months, though he was probably ready a few weeks earlier… he was literally grabbing at our food and putting it in his mouth!

We started with BLW and it’s gone really well, he took to it quicker than W did, hasn’t gagged much and hasn’t rejected much! A few months in and he pretty much eats whatever I’m eating but because he’s so small (9th centile) I do top him up with spoon-fed pouches to fatten him up a bit!

He loves cream cheese on crackerbread, and avocado but his all-time favourite is brocolli – I’m sure he’d munch on a whole one if he got the chance!

Weaning should be enjoyable but it can be stressful so I thought I’d share some tips 🙂

1. If you find that you waste fresh veg and fruit, try frozen fruit and veg and just defrost as you need it… you can get pretty much everything these days e.g. Kiwi fruit, cauliflower!

2. Learn how to read food labels – lots of things are labelled as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ but might have sugar as one of it’s main ingredients. I try to buy things that have 10% or less sugar in them (so that’s 10g in a 100g).

3. Yoghurts in particular can be packed with added sugar (there will always be some natural sugar from the fruit)- I always buy the ‘little yeos’ that have no added sugar. 

4. Don’t have carpet on your dining room floor.

5. If you’re unlucky enough to have carpet in your dining room, buy a shower curtain to put underneath the high chair (and a wide area around it ;)) 

6. The Ikea antilop high chair is the best-value thing you’ll ever buy at only about £15 and it’s sooo easy to clean! Why spend any more!?

7. Spend that money you saved on the high hair… on a hand-held vacuum! We have the Dyson DC34 which I bought when it was an offer and it’s FAB! Probably the most essential weaning product!!

8. If you have a hand-held vacuum make sure you empty it out very regularly… there is nothing nice about the smell of fish stuck in a dyson for a few days!

Baby weaning tips
9. That reminds me… always clean up as soon as you can after eating… weetabix and porridge turn to cement if not wiped away within 5 minutes!

10. While I’m on cleaning, stock up on wet wipes. If you thought you got through a lot when newborn was pooing all the time, try doubling the amount you’ll get through

11. One of the principles of BLW is that they eat what you eat. Don’t veer too far from this as you don’t want to eat their left overs if it’s something you hate!

12. Don’t spend hours slaving in the kitchen cooking… chances are they won’t appreciate it and would just as happily eat something as nutritious that took minutes to rustle up!

13. Basically be prepared to spend longer cooking and cleaning up, than the time your little one spends eating your delicious food!

14. On that note – some days more food will end up on the floor than in their mouths, try not to get stressed or worried about it!

15. Once you’re on the weaning journey, you have another weapon in your armoury if baby is grouchy – try giving them a snack, any snack!

16. You’re supposed to offer baby water with every meal. A lot of BLWers rave about the doidy cup but I just find most water gets split this way! We love the Tommee tippee beakers* – both of ours love the free-flow and the ‘360’ – basically just try a few different types and let baby tell you which they prefer! 
17. Don’t forget to take food with you when you’re out and about – Ella’s kitchen/Aldi pouches come in handy, if you’re gonna take finger food make sure it’s not messy (think organix crisps not blueberries!)

18. Each to their own but I always think it’s polite to pick up food mess from the floor in cafes etc. (Or at least make an effort to!)

19. A handy product for out-and-about (and home) is the Bibetta placemat* – portable and washable, with a pocket to catch food – very useful!

Bibetta place mat
20. When you’re out-and-about a lot of places have high chairs more suited to toddlers than babies – get around this by wedging baby in with blankets, coats etc!!

21. Again, that Bibetta placemat comes in handy for those types of high chairs that don’t have a tray attached – you can just hook it on the table – hygienic as well as handy.

22. And finally, be prepared to become a poo inspector (please don’t say it’s just me!!?) you will see (and smell!) a wide variety of textures and colours – it’s fascinating!!! 

That’s all I can think of for now, do you have any tips you can share? Pop them in the comments below!

*means I was sent these products to try out and share with 

Cheesy pasta bake with bacon, broccoli and cauliflower – feeding a family for £2 per head

Can you feed your family for a day for £2 per head? It costs £2 to feed and educate a child in Zambia per day. Voucherbox are donating £50 to Zamcog to feed children in a school in Zambia, for every blog post published as part of their £2 challenge (before end of Feb 2017)

It got me thinking about how much we spend and how much some of our meals cost. Here’s a family favourite that comes in under budget…. cheesy pasta bake with bacon, broccoli and cauliflower!

Continue reading “Cheesy pasta bake with bacon, broccoli and cauliflower – feeding a family for £2 per head”

REVIEW: Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender 

I’m a huge fan of Tommee Tippee – we use their bottles, perfect prep machine and steriliser, so I was VERY excited when they sent me a steamer blender to try out – and perfect timing as we’re about a month in to our weaning journey.

Tommee tippee steamer blender
It looks cute, compact and fits into a modern kitchen! The instructions are easy to follow, it’s VERY easy to use. Continue reading “REVIEW: Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender “

A girly weekend in Amport, Hampshire 

I love weekends away with the girls. I love how they’ve evolved from budget, drunken, youth hostelling to slightly more sedate and relaxing affairs as we’ve gotten older!

Anyway, on this occasion we rented a beautiful house (more on that in a separate post) in a quaint (think thatched roofs!) village called Amport, close to Andover, in Hampshire.

vintage teddy bear on a vintage chair
vintage teddy bear on a vintage chair

Pit stop at McArthur Glen Designer Shopping Outlet, Swindon

On the way there the Cardiff contingent stopped in McArthur Glen designer outlet in Swindon, and I was very impressed… We have one nearby at Bridgend but this one seemed a bit more upmarket… And warmer as it’s indoors! We had lovely lunch and juice at Wagamamas and then hit the shops where I bought my first ever leather jacket (biker) from Ted Baker for a bargain £130 (reduced from £345) and a top to go with it! (£35). I spend a lot more money shopping when I’m with these two ladies 😜

Once we finally found our home for the weekend, Friday night we stayed in with pizza, prosecco and rugby in front of the wood burner.

Breakfast at Thyme and Tides, Stockbridge

Saturday morning we all had a full English breakfast at Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge, about 15 mins away. Stockbridge was a very cute little place, one street of shops aimed at the well-heeled locals. Thyme and tides is a very cool deli/coffee shop, and we all really enjoyed their brekkie which tasted like it was all sourced locally. Most of us washed it down with delicious freshly squeezed orange juice… Saturday morning bliss!

Wish I’d gotten a photo for you but was too ravenous 😉

Afternoon shopping in Winchester 

From Stockbridge we drove on to Winchester (another 15 mins or so) and spent a lovely (albeit cold) few hours wandering around the shops. It’s a cute, compact cathedral city and seems quite affluent eg high street shops are Mint Velvet and The White Company.

Dinner at the Black Swan, Amport

Saturday night we’d booked a table for dinner at one of two pubs in Amport, the Black Swan.

Early impressions were good, and we all enjoyed our starters (baked Camembert/ beetroot smoked trout/ kedgeree with a Scotch egg) but the main course for a bizarre turn…

When you see chicken kiev with carbonara and wilted spinach on a menu you ignore your instinct that it’s an insane idea, and assume that it’s a gastronomic feast that you wish you’d thought of yourself as it could have made you famous. Unfortunately it was the former, and four of us had fallen for the poor-tasting trap. The other two who’d ordered cod were slightly happier with their meal (which also included the infamous side of spaghetti carbonara)

Still, we ploughed on for desserts and again four of us plumped for the apple and blackberry crumble… How can you get this wrong, right? Wrong! It was best described as ‘warm jam with crumbled biscuit on top’… They obviously hadn’t baked it together, and you had to dig through a deep layer of the ‘crumble’ to get to the fruit. Very bizarre. 

Still, the food gave us plenty of lolz and memories! 

Black Swan, where the games were better than the   food!
Black Swan, where the games were better than the food!

Sunday lunch at the Red Lion, Clanville

Luckily, Sunday dinner more than made up for our Saturday night dinner. We descended on the nearby Red Lion in Clanville. The dining room was beautiful and airy, it felt like a mix between a cool gastro-pub and nice restaurant. Our waitress was fantastic… And the food was awesome! The six of us all skipped starters and went for the Roast Beef dinner, and every element was faultless! I’ve stolen a picture off my mate for you…. 

roast beef at the red lion, clanville
roast beef at the red lion, clanville


A couple of the girls followed it with delicious-looking sticky toffee pudding, I opted for the white chocolate mousse which was to die for! 

And that was our weekend, mixed in with lots of chilling at our amazing house! Happy days, happy memories 😍

REVIEW: Jamie’s Italian, Cardiff

On a cold Monday night in February it was a delight to go to Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff City centre to catch up with friends and celebrate a birthday….

In terms of location, it couldn’t be much handier, bang smack in the centre of Cardiff and attached to the St David’s 2 shopping/food complex.

As it was dark, I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of the interior to share with you, but it’s big, airy, modern yet full of Italian-style details eg rustic crockery. It was busy and bustling, but felt relaxing and intimate at the same time…

So what did we eat? The three of us of all chose the same starter… Crab and avocado bruschetta (£6.70) which looked amazing and tasted even better! We agreed it was like a flavour explosion with yoghurt, chilli and fennel all complimenting the crab and avocado…. Really delicious and a perfect starter!


crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
Then it was time for the main course, I chose the ‘famous prawn linguine’ (£13.50) and again this was delicious, great egg pasta (made daily on the premises) and lovely flavours of prawn, garlic, chilli, tomato, saffron, fennel and lemony rocket… None of which overpowered each other, it was actually very soothing (comfort food!) Yum!


prawn linguine at jamies
prawn linguine at jamies
My friends had the classic tagliatelle bolognese (£10.95) and something I’d not heard of before but an Italian favourite ‘Turkey milanese’ (£13.50) which is basically breadcrumbed Turkey with an egg on top! All the mains were enjoyed and devoured… I should have got a photo of the empty plates! 

Only negative we could really think of is that the Turkey would have been even better with some potatoes on the side, same reason I plumped for the pasta instead of a Seabass special they had on the board… Can’t eat meat/fish without carbs ;)! They do have fries and garlic bread on the sides menu but I’m surprised they don’t do some kind of crushed potatoes or something?


tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian

Now for the dessert course. At this stage one friend ducked out and had a hot chocolate – she told me tell it you was lovely! But the two pregnant ladies carried on 😉 I had the Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake (£5.45) and it was so good! It was a decent portion but felt nice and light (guessing that’s due to the mascarpone) and it was so good I even ate most of the blackcurrants which I don’t normally like!


lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
  I also had a lovely mint tea to wash it down with. My friend ordered the apple and blackberry pavlova (£5.45) and loved it, I wish I’d tried it as I’d been close to ordering it myself… I’ll have to have it next time… Looks amazing too!
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies

So great location and interior, great food and now I have to mention our waiter Nedim. He’s been working there for 5 years which I thought was a good sign and reflects his passion for the food and brand. He told me how he’d lived in Italy for 6 years before moving to Wales and so that explains why he had a good knowledge on Italian food (I never knew fennel was good for digestion!). He was friendly, efficient and knowledgable, thanks for a lovely evening Nedim!
Thank you Jamie’s for a lovely night… Smiles all round and hopefully see you again soon!  

Small print: I was invited to review Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff, and was given vouchers towards the cost of the meal but we paid for the rest ourselves, and opinions are my own! 


Exploring Cardiff: Street food Cardiff

I’ve been living in Cardiff for about 14 years and I think the coolest thing that’s happened to it during that time is happening now…. Street food Cardiff!

Friday night I headed down there with my sister and some of her friends and I LOVED it – they’ve basically taken over a warehouse on Dumballs road (random road, mix of industrial estates and apartments!) and filled it with pop-up food stands, bars etc…


It’s on every Friday and Saturday night between now and the end of the year. We got there for 6pm when it opens, and there was already a large queue…. as soon as we got in we walked around to choose what food we’d have. I think the food changes every night – this was the menu the night we went…


I finally got to try pulled pork from Hangfire Smokehouse which I’d heard such good things about. Only £5 for a big bap of pulled pork and slaw and it was delicious.

image image

The queue for Hangfire Smokehouse was huge and so Burger and Lobster (who are opening soon in Cardiff) were giving away samples of their lobster roll to people in the queue – that was also delicious and a nice starter for me!

I thought I’d be able to sample a few more food stands but the pulled pork had stuffed me up like a pig so the only other thing I was able to eat was a crème brulee from the brulee bar – my sister and I shared a ‘sticky pud’ and ‘blue moon pie’ – both were great but we agreed that ‘sticky pud’ was the winner!

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The place was heaving and I loved the mix of people in there – from babies to oldies with lots in between! The décor was pretty cool – lots of random things like cars on their side, tuk tuks, fairy lights oh and they were projecting movies onto the wall.

image image image image

I hope to go back again over the next few weeks and try out some different food. I don’t think I’ve done the place justice with this post but I urge you to check it out – I honestly think it’s the coolest thing happening in Cardiff!

image image

Oh and go early, when we left about 8.30pm the queue was huge and I think they were working on a 1 in, 1 out policy.

Weaning – a month on – 3 meals a day, proteins and poos!

So you’ll know from our first update that we were taking things relatively slowly, I was happy to just try one meal a day for a while – we were also loosely following the #5stepweaningplan and working up to the final 2 steps of meat/alternative and then 3 meals a day.

But a week ago today, I took baby W to get weighed for the first time in about 6 weeks. At 6 and a half months, he weighed 16lb 3oz – all good but he had slipped every so slightly under the 25th percentile for the first time.

Nothing to worry about, but the health visitor suggested ramping up to 3 meals a day, and giving him some protein (meat/fish/egg) to make sure he didn’t slip down the growth chart any further. She was really happy with our initial approach to baby-led weaning but just wanted him to start actually consuming a bit more of the food instead of just nibbling on it 🙂

So, for a week now we’ve been having 3 meals a day – still very much finger-food led, but I have been spoon-feeding him a bit, when spoon-feeding him I try to guide the spoon towards his mouth and let him guide it in so that he still feels like he’s in control 🙂

Baby-led weaning egg mess!
Baby-led weaning egg mess!


So here’s some of the foods he’s had:

Finger foods

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Banana
  • Cucumber (he loves this – so easy to eat!)
  • Rice cakes – his favourite food so far, I started with plain ones and also tried Organix apple ones – he loves both!
  • Potato waffles
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Plain omelette (SO much less messy than the hard-boiled egg!)
  • Pasta – plain, and with some tomato sauce on it
  • Avocado – he finds this too slippery to eat so I might just mash it up next time and pop it on a spoon… or on a rice cake?

On a spoon

  • Flakes of cod mixed with sweet potato mash, and normal mash
  • Yoghurt – I bought Rachel’s diary yoghurt as a) no added sugar b) they’re made in my hometown (Aberystwyth)
  • Baby porridge – the only thing he hasn’t really liked so far! We tried it with some puree that Cow&Gate sent us and he definitely preferred it with the puree!
  • A jar of lamb/sweet potato puree – due to our baby-led approach, I wasn’t going to bother with purees but seeing as we were sent some, I thought we might as well try it – we tried the meaty one to up his protein intake – and he quite liked it!
  • Weetabix – this is our usual breakfast
We like these Rachel's yoghurts - no added sugar!
We like these Rachel’s yoghurts – no added sugar!

Our learnings so far

  • Now we’re pretty much past the gagging phase, we’re enjoying it! He puts most of the food in his mouth and I can tell by his weekly poo that he’s definitely swallowing more and more – it’s starting to get more solid – gross!!!!
  • I think both find finger food more fun – it’s so cute watching him grab something and hold it in his fist while he munches on it – I gave him yoghurt the other day but he still had omelette in his fist which he would NOT let go!
  • His favourite thing so far has been Rachel’s banana yoghurt – he was kicking his legs in excitement for this one!
  • Our daily routine is out the window as having 3 meals a day probably takes about 2 hours of day in total (prep/eating/cleaning up)
  • It’s nice to give him undivided attention for that time – obviously he needs to be supervised while he’s eating so it means proper quality time where I can’t do any chores and I make a point of not checking my phone!
Baby-led weaning: I am NOT letting go of the egg!
Baby-led weaning: I am NOT letting go of the egg!

Next steps

  • I need to get better at eating with him – although when I do, I’ve finished mine in 2 mins while he obviously takes ages so I’m not sure if it really matters! (well practised from when he was younger and I had to snaffle my food down!)
  • Meat! I want to give him meat but it seems so grown-up! Not quite sure if he’s ready for it – might practice with some more textures first??
  • Water – I’ve kinda given up giving him the doidy cup with every meal, but every now and then I give him some water using it and ‘directing’ it into his mouth
  • I’ll take him to get weighed next Thursday – hopefully he’s back on the curve 🙂

If you have any questions about baby-led weaning, I recently reviewed the ‘baby-led weaning: step by step’ book and will be interviewing the author next week – so leave a question here by Dec 1st if we can help at all!

Joined up to #BinkyLinky

Binky Linky



REVIEW: Baby-led weaning, Step by Step by Julie Clarke

Before we started weaning, I bought a few books to help us through it as I found all the information online a bit overwhelming! We wanted to try baby-led weaning so we bought a book by Gill Rapley as a lot of peers named her as a guru. In case this route didn’t work, we’d need to try purees so I bought a book by Annabel Karmel who is known as the queen of weaning through puree recipes!

Our books about weaning
Our books about weaning

While buying these, Amazon also recommended ‘Baby-led weaning, step-by-step’ by Julie Clarke, and this ended up being the most useful book of the lot!

I found Rapley’s book very theoretical – one big, long advert on why you should do baby-led weaning (the most useful bit being lots of quotes from parents who had gone through it). But I’d already decided we wanted to do weaning the baby-led way, so I wanted something more practical on what foods to try and when etc.

This is where Julie Clarke’s baby-led weaning book excels – it’s very practical – full of advice and tips including:

  • which highchair to buy
  • which yoghurts to buy that aren’t packed in sugar
  • what mix of food types you should try and give your baby
  • an example menu schedule
  • ideas on which first foods to try
  • how and when to drop milk feeds

The other big selling point for me is that there’s a real-life case study running all the way through the book – you get to follow baby Rosie’s weaning journey – it’s always useful to hear real-life stories e.g. how they initially missed a few meals due to nap times etc (something we’re trying to work our way around!)

The chapters are split by the age of the baby, but obviously not all babies are the same and they might not follow these months religiously! Like with everything, I tend to read and then do things my own way – so for example, the book recommends starting straight away on 3 meals a day, but we wanted to start with 1 meal a day initially (check out our first weaning update) – so I’d recommend you use this book as a guide to suit you, not a rule book! We’re also doing a bit of spoon-feeding (or guiding the spoon in the right direction) and initially tried a bit of baby-specific food like baby rice – the book recommends against this but isn’t judgemental about it – again, do what suits you!

That’s all I can really say about the book without giving away all the tips! The only thing I would have liked a bit more info on is gagging – it does mention it, but it would be good to know a bit more about what to expect when it happens, I’m not sure exactly what I was after but it was definitely the thing I was most nervous about when starting our weaning journey!

So overall I highly recommend the book, it’s already been really useful and I’m sure it will be over the next few months! It’s very easy-to-follow and understand, and very practical – to buy it, support your local bookstore or click on the Amazon link in the image…

Q&A with the author, Julie Clarke

Co-incidentally, I’ve ended up chatting to the author on Twitter and I will be interviewing her for the blog about all-things-baby-led-weaning! So if you have a question for Julie, please leave it in the comments section below by Dec 1st (2014!) and I’ll give you a mention when the interview goes live early December!