A Week In Dinners – A Blog Link-up

I am joining fellow parenting blogger, Sinéad at Bumbles of Rice in her linky ‘A Week in Dinners’.


Menu-planning is one part of parenting that I really don’t enjoy. In our family, we do it to ensure that we have a balanced diet, eat together as a family and keep to a sensible shopping budget, and I begrudgingly admit that it works! However, I often yearn for the pre-childen days when we would just pop in to Marks and Spencers and grab whatever took our fancy, and we didn’t even eat the same meals as each other – ahhh… good times. Sure, we spent as much on our shopping as we did on our mortgage but it was wonderful! Nowadays, my menu planning centres around special deals in the various supermarkets and I usually get a couple of meals out of some purchases – just call me ‘Superthrift’!

Sinead has run these linkys before, and as well as some great recipes on her own blog it is also great for getting ideas and also having a general nose around other peoples meal times. And to boot, I take great comfort in knowing that not everyone cooks every meal from scratch with pestle and mortar.

So here is my contribution:

Sunday: We had our first traditional family cooked breakfast ever – it was lovely sitting around the table having saussies and bacon and rounds of buttery toast with mugs of tea (my five year old adores tea and rarely gets it so he was in seventh heaven!) We were stuffed to the gills and so didn’t have our roast chicken dinner, prepared cooked and served by my husband, until around 4.30pm, followed by home-made brownies and ice-cream! A great success although my son was less than impressed that we only had two meals and was still trying to explain at bedtime that ‘you are supposed to have THREE meals a day’!

Roast Chicken!

Roast Chicken!

Monday: My daughter was home sick from school on Monday so things were a little topsy-turvey, and I have just this minute realised that Monday’s food was brought to us by the self same host of this linky. I made Sinead’s brocolli soup – absolutely delicious and the first thing my daughter ate all day, and for dinner we had her chorizo and chickpea stew – which always ensures cleared plates. I leave out the spinach from the recipe though, as even the smell of spinach made me heave during my last pregnancy and I haven’t found it in my heart to forgive that leafy vegetable! This is such a handy dish – I always have the ingredients in and it is quick to make. We had it with brown rice but I often serve it with potato too.

Stewing up some Chorizo!

Tuesday: I nearly always make something with the leftover meat from Sunday’s roast during the week, usually by Tuesday, and this week was no different – exciting eh? So I made a chicken curry with noodles (the plan was stir fry but I decided to get crazy and mix it up). I basically just finely chopped onions, carrots and garlic, then fried them in a little olive oil. Next I threw in three spoons of mild curry powder, then added 250ml vegetable stock (as had used my last chicken stock cube in the brocolli soup). Once that was simmering, I added coconut milk, chopped roast chicken and a large handful of frozen green beans, simmered for 15 minutes and served with noodles. Clear plates all around.

Chicken curry with noodles!

Chicken curry with noodles!

Wednesday: Good old spaghetti bolognese – I, like nearly all of us, make the tomato sauce using lots of pureed vegetables, and either tinned tomatoes or passata. I cook it in the oven for at least two hours at 150 degrees, which gives it a nice consistency whilst also making the house smell nice and ‘Italian-y’!

Spag Bol!

Spag Bol!

Thursday: I was listening to a story on the radio of how, by Thursday afternoon, office employees have given their all and are really just on a countdown to home time on Friday. Well it turns out this stay-at-home mum is the same! Thursday’s dinner was one I have heard about from another mother and is well loved in our house, and it also requires very little effort. Sausages with volcano mash! Whilst the sausages are cooking in the oven I made the mash, and steamed some brocolli. Then I made gravy from instant gravy granules – the mother who gave me the idea would use homemade gravy but instant works just as well. Then make the mash into a volcano shape with a hollow in the middle and pour gravy over it. Even the brocolli was eaten with the volcanic excitement!

Yes, it is a volcano!!

Yes, it is a volcano!!

So there you have it, my week in dinners. All hits which is freakily unusual here, and all very normal! Why not follow the link above  to see what other folk get up to?

Have you any family favourites to add?

Thanks for reading



The ‘F’ Word.

If I ever meet whoever is responsible for the scheduling of the current Safefood advert, I will not be responsible for my actions. I hadn’t seen it before but it came on while I was watching television with the children. It is clearly trying to send adults a message not to give out biscuits willy-nilly but all it did was make my daughter say, ‘look Mum,when she got the biscuits she got fat, ugh, I would hate to be fat!’ So the message that particular advert sends my child is that fat is wrong! Nothing about healthy eating, nothing about being fit and strong – just the message that if you eat biscuits you will be fat and that is bad.


I am fully aware that my child will go through phases of worrying about her shape. It will not matter what her shape is, she will worry about it. Do we ban biscuits from the house? Are cake and chocolate to become ‘unmentionables’? Because as we all know, if you are forbidden something you just accept it and move on, right? You don’t make it your sacred mission to eat as many biscuits and cakes as you can, whenever and wherever you get the chance!

Childhood obesity is a problem in Ireland and so there is a massive push by safefood at the moment to encourage healthy eating. I am absolutely all for that. I have written about it previously myself – it is one of our parental duties to encourage healthy eating and explain why everyone needs to eat well. But not because you will get fat, but because if you only snack on sugary food, you will not feel well. Because if you only snack on sugary food, you will not have enough energy to play outside. Because if you only snack on sugary food, you may harm your body, and your teeth. Because sugary snacks don’t give you enough energy to play football, to go swimming, to climb trees, or to scoot to the playground. Sugary food will not help your brain to grow and develop, it will not help you do the ‘maths frenzy’ that you love so much.

Rather than scare-mongering children into thinking that eating sweet food will make them (horror of horrors) fat, I for one am teaching them the positives of healthy food. Fruit and vegetables are good for your body and mind, and eating these will help you to grow strong in both. Cheese and milk are good for our bones and teeth, they will give you a nice bright smile. I focus on encouraging the children to eat the meals I prepare for them rather than rely on snacks to keep them going. However I absolutely refuse to demonise sugar. Biscuits and chocolate every now and again are good too – no they will not help us to grow strong and healthy but they are tasty and enjoyable.They are sweet. They are, in fact, a treat!

Doing lots of this..

Doing lots of this..




...and this..

…and this….

Makes this O.K.

…makes this O.K.

I have never felt the need to tell any of my children that a food type makes them fat and I never intend to either. Stick to correct portions, keep sweets as a treat, let your children have plenty of fresh air and play. Allow them to grow up healthily but not living in fear of the dreaded sugar! If you are struggling with limiting your child’s sugary treat intake, then there are some great tips here from safefood. But please don’t let them see that ad!

I welcome all feedback, please feel free to add your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading


World Breast-Feeding Week

I am away on holidays at the moment but wanted to take part in a linky hosted by The Irish Parenting Bloggers of which I am a proud member!

The title of which is: A picture is worth a thousand words. I loved breast-feeding my guys (once I got the hang of it), and the one piece of advice I offer people starting out is:  let breast-feeding become a part of your lifestyle as opposed to fitting your life around breast-feeding.



So here is a picture of me taking that advice! I celebrated my 40th birthday whilst still nursing my youngest, but we fitted breast-feeding into the  celebrations!


For more stories about WBW check out the links below!


Breast is Best! (if it came with instructions)


You often hear people light-heartedly complaining about how we don’t get an instruction manual with our babies. The fear of bringing your baby home is a very real and tangible thing but, as we settle in to home life, our instincts do kick in and we all get the hang of it…eventually! This is with one exception, in my humble opinion – the wonderful ability we women have to not only sustain life, but to give our babies the best possible nourishment. That’s right! Fantastic, natural, timeless breast-feeding! How can something so natural possibly go wrong?

Long before I was pregnant, or even considering children, I assumed that I would breast-feed any babies I may have. Ready-made milk, fully portable, supply on demand, no bottles, no formula, never mind the unique bonding experience, what’s not to love, right?? When I became pregnant, one of the first things I noticed attending the antenatal clinics was the absolute barrage of posters and leaflets about how breast-feeding was best for your baby. Next I started being asked at the clinics, BEFORE I had had my baby if I would be breast-feeding. What?? How does that affect my ante-natal care? Anyone considering bottle-feeding their baby would be on a serious guilt-trip before even giving birth. As my answer was ‘yes’, I didn’t really think much more about the ‘breast is best’ offensive. Equally, as it was as natural as breathing, nor did I give any thought to ‘how’ I would breast feed..

Three weeks earlier than my due date, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby anyone had ever seen, and it seemed breast-feeding was a doddle – just place her beside the source and she suckles away. Or so I thought. So I rang my husband two days later and said ‘come pick us up, we can go home’. Now all babies lose approximately 5-7 % of their body weight when they are born, but my daughter lost more than she should have because she wasn’t getting any milk. There it was. I was the worst mother ever created! I could not even feed my own child.( Hormones prevented me from hearing the fact that my milk hadn’t come in and she didn’t have a good latch). I was told I would have to ‘top her up’ with formula, and then a not very nice midwife instructed me in the art of breast-feeding by grabbing my baby and grabbing my boob and forcing them both together – really NOT helpful. By the time my husband got to the hospital to pick us up, I was sitting up in bed, bawling my eyes out, bottle-feeding my daughter and we were not able to go home for another 24 hours.

Now I am nothing if not determined, so I kept trying to feed her and there is a ton of support out there; apart from one bad experience, I have found midwives and health nurses to be wonderful. There are also gadgets to ease the pain. So eventually I got the hang of it and after about 6 weeks (after I recovered from mastitis..) it wasn’t even excruciatingly painful anymore! It was the lovely bonding experience I had heard about. I ended up feeding her for seven months which was brilliant in my book. When my son arrived, I had even more difficulty feeding him, but did not even consider giving up as ‘he must have what his big sister had’. The first eight weeks of his life were incredibly tough because of my bull-headedness – I have no idea how many times my husband suggested that we just switch to formula. This was most likely induced by watching me crying silent tears at the serious pain during feeds. This too passed and I fed him for nine months. Even on my third baby, although I really did have all the techniques down pat at that stage, it was still very painful for the first few weeks. However I did feed her for a year, and it was wonderful – she went straight from me to a beaker of milk.

Now before Cuidiú or La Leche League come after me, I am in fact a true believer that breast- feeding is best for your child, although bottle fed babies survive equally well. However, along with the well-documented benefits, there are some potential obstacles that I wish I had known about before I had my first baby :-

  • Getting the latch right is hard – there are some people who ‘get it’ straight away but from my experience the majority of us struggle.
  • The left boob is really awkward to feed with, even when I cracked breast-feeding the left boob always required a bit of management. (Presumably the right is the troublesome one if you are left-handed)
  • It is painful – even if you get it right straight away – when your milk ‘comes in’ it hurts. A lot! Then there are cracked nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis,etc. just all very ouchy in general!
  • You can’t share the load – you are the only one who can feed your child, until you start expressing and belive me that is not a road you want to rush down!
  • You have to wear nursing bras – ugly, ugly, ugly – even the pretty ones .
  • You can’t just throw on any old top to wear – you have to make sure you have easy access to your breasts at all times.
  • Breasts are no longer the epitome of your femininity they are simply, milk machines.
  • It is tiring, not only because you are always on call – just the process of feeding always left me feeling drained.
  • Getting mastitis when you are recovering from labour and coming to terms with a new baby is, in a word, hell.
  • You are hungry all the time – and if, like me, you use that as an excuse to scoff biscuits, scones and cakes then the ‘getting your figure back by breast-feeding’ bonus doesn’t apply.
  • You can’t really go out and party, although in truth I did celebrate my 40th birthday whilst feeding my baby.
  • You feel immensely guilty if you can’t ‘get it’ and switch to formula – bloody ridiculous I know – but in our hormonal, post birth heads we are doing our babies a massive disservice.
  • Trying to feed your baby discreetly in public is stressful, and then when you get it sorted you get ‘looks’ from others who think you have a burning desire to expose yourself in public!!

    Celebrating my 40th!


Breast-feeding is natural but it is not necessarily easy or for everyone. So if you decide to feed your child formula milk, enjoy the fact that you are dodging all the aforementioned cons and if you are planning on breast-feeding then take the above as a caveat but please don’t be put off.

Thanks for reading


I love feedback , please leave any thoughts or comments below.



Picky Eaters aka Every Child Ever!


20130910_112606-1Feeding toddlers and children is always a massive topic for discussion. It is something we all worry about.We want our children to have a healty diet and live in fear of processed food, sugary treats and of course the demon salt!! Following on from one of my reader’s requests, I am writing today to try and give some tips and advice on trying to encourage a healthy and balanced attitude to food in our children. I have written previously about encouraging toddlers to eat but that was focussed on moving from baby to toddler – today’s post is for older children too.

I am taking it as read that we all do our best to plan healthy, family-friendly menus – if you don’t, and are finding yourself struggling daily, then the good news is there are a wealth of resources online for planning family-centered inexpensive menus. ‘Wholesome Ireland’ and’ Tasty Thursdays’ on Parent.ie are just two that spring to mind as a couple of examples. However, taking into account all our healthy planning, and our clever camouflaging of vegetables into delicious sauces, every child without exception goes through phases of ‘ I am NOT eating THAT!!’. I recently made one of our family favourites – a risotto verde (pureed peas and spinach making the ‘verde’); my son pushed it away and refused point blank to eat such a ‘yucky’ meal. He ate it the week before and has eaten it since, but that day it was disgusting to him. Sigh. Since Easter, my baby (2) has been making regular requests for ‘chocli’ (or ‘chocolate’ for the uninitiated) usually before breakfast – the chopped fruit and bread-stick snacks are being handed back as the ‘chocli’ demands escalate.

So what do do? How do we encourage healthy attitudes to food? Well, here are some things I do and have advised distraught parents in the past to do too:

  • Make sure they are hungry at mealtimes: space out meals with at least three and a half hours between each one, and try and ensure they have a good bit of fresh air/physical activity in the meantime.
  • Get them involved: Toddlers can wash vegetables, preschoolers can peel them and older children can chop and mash! The more involved they are, the more inclined they will be to eat the meal they prepared themselves. (You may want to save this for weekends though as it’s not conducive to making a quick meal)
  • Have regular meal times
  • Don’t offer a menu: It is enough pressure on us to have three (sometimes two) meals at the table without making four different meals to please everyone. If food is refused – see below.
  • Don’t force the issue: If the meal is pushed away, encourage a few bites but if you still get ‘no’, that’s fine. However they do have to remain at the table until everyone else is finished their meal, they will forego dessert and will not be eating again until their next meal. (Resist the urge to give them an ice cream an hour later just to ‘keep them going’, I have been guilty of that one in the past..)
  • Raw is good:If they positively HATE cooked vegetables, give them to them raw before the meal. My daughter loves raw carrots and brocolli but will not even consider them cooked. If they see a vegetable they hate on the plate, they can be put off an entire meal that they would otherwise have eaten.
  • Include dessert: it doesn’t have to be massive or high in sugar – just a fruit salad or yoghurt, but the message should be that meal times are a pleasure not a chore.
  • Check portion size: Give children small portions on small plates; they can always have seconds. A heaped plate of food can be very off-putting.
  • Choose snacks wisely: Milk, cheese and yoghurts are full of dairy goodness but are very filling between meals. Offer dairy with meals and keep snacks to fruit and vegetables.
  • Cut down on snacks: If your child is not eating their main meals, don’t give them snacks. If they are eating their meals, make sure their snack is exactly that – small and snack-sized!
  • Keep  fruit in a bowl within easy reach: Allowing children the independence to choose their own snack.
  • Don’t demonise sugar: Biscuits, squash, crisps and ice cream etc are all fine in strict moderation. Offer them once or twice a week – you do not want them to become the ‘holy grail’ of food.
Treats are  good!

Treats are good!

I really hope that something written above helps you to relieve the tension of mealtimes; however, if all else fails, please remember that if your child skips a meal or two, it is not the end of the world – it is just a phase that all children go through. Generally, once they experience how hungry skipping meals can make them, they tend to start appreciating your hard work!!


Thanks for reading,



p.s. I love feedback so please add any thoughts or comments below!


10 Random Things I have learnt as a Mother

Because I had a long career in childcare, everyone (myself included) thought that I’d find having children of my own a doddle. Yes, I know, ridiculous! Of course I was taken down a peg or two hundred when my eldest arrived. That in mind, this week I am linking up with fellow blogger Learna Mamma’s post on 10 random things I have learnt since becoming a mother.


  • Don’t jiggle a recently fed baby over your head whilst gazing up at them laughing. Regurgitated breast milk tastes as disgusting as it sounds.
I don't recommend this after a feed!

I don’t recommend this after a feed!

  • Breast-feeding is A LOT harder then you think! And when you do get ‘a good latch’, you will ask your husband to take photos from all angles in the hope that you can re-create it on the next feed.
  • ALL the tear jerker films that didn’t make you cry before having children will reduce you to an inconsolable wreck nowadays. In fact, tears in general come much more easily.
  • If your child sleeps an extra ten minutes, you will send your husband in to check them as you ‘can’t face the corpse’. Every time!!
  • Your face is your baby’s favourite toy.
  • No matter how uncomfortable you are, or how much you need the loo, if your baby falls asleep on you, nothing on earth could move you!
I could stay like this forever :)

I could stay like this forever 🙂

  • You finally understand what selfless means. Your children take over your independence, freedom and bank balance, whilst giving you ‘lip’, wrinkles, worries and grey hair – but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Sometimes ‘turning a blind eye’ is the best option! Not seeing the fight/punch can be the best way to get it resolved. Trying to ‘sort it’ can often make things ten times worse. However, you would hunt down and hurt anyone who really harms your child. ANYONE!!
  • The sound of your children giggling and playing together lifts your spirits to the highest heights!
Sunshine and happiness makes it all worth while!

Sunshine and happiness makes it all worth while!


These are just a few things I have learnt, and I am in no doubt whatsoever that I have years of learning ahead of me! If you fancy reading what other random things we learn as parents, check out the link below!


Thanks for reading


I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

Learner Mamma


Eat, Play, Love!

2011-07-07 17.42.03

Having just spent the Easter holidays letting the children gorge on chocolate to their hearts’ content, I found myself thinking about the issue of childhood obesity. I recently shared the safe food campaign on encouraging children to play all the old games we used to play. Like everyone else, I remember the joy of all those games; ‘tip the can’ was definitely my favourite although I NEVER played it with my parents – just my friends and siblings. I have been using ‘Red Rover’ and obstacle courses during the children’s parties for the last couple of years and the children love them..and they are not nearly as head wrecking as musical statues! However, although the children (and myself in fairness..) ate their body weight in chocolate over the holidays, I am not overly concerned. Neither am I rushing out every day to ensure that the kids get their 60 minutes exercise a day. I mean, if my children were only outside for 60 minutes a day, we would all have been institutionalised ages ago.


So why am I not concerned? I believe that the biggest contributor to childhood obesity is over-eating as opposed to lack of excercise. So, ‘choctastic’ Easter aside, I don’t tend to rely on snacks to feed the children. They have a normal breakfast of either cereal or toast – then they generally have a home-cooked lunch. I have been known to feed them frozen (oh, the horror!) chicken nuggets and chips or such like every now and then, followed by a small tea of cheese sambos or scrambled eggs on toast. They do have a snack between meals but it is a single rice cake or a single piece of fruit. The children are therefore always starving by the time they come to the table. This is a good thing! They also only get milk with their main meals – otherwise it’s water.. Now that is not to say that my children don’t have biscuits, crisps, ice-cream or squash – of course they do, but only occasionally – but everything should be in moderation.


Luckily for me, I only live a half-hour’s walk from the school so we generally walk, often getting a drenching but no one has suffered from pneumonia so far. I send them all out for a play at some point every day, including my youngest who just turned two. Last summer, my eldest was old enough to play ‘out front’, so now she hardly ever needs to be coerced outside. The balance of that is that if some days they don’t feel like going outside, it’s not the end of the world. I really think the never-ending snacking on cheese, frubes, biscuits, crisps and squash or milk between meals is a major contributor to bad eating habits which can in turn lead to childhood obesity.


I guess what I am trying to say is – don’t rearrange your life to encourage a new ‘Little House on the Prairie’ type existence. Instead, limit the size of their snacks and encourage your children to play outside. Family walks at the weekend are lovely and with the warmer weather coming in, will be something we can all enjoy a little more frequently. Maybe we will play a few games with the children during our holidays but the stress of trying to fit in some extra ‘fun games’ and activities to our already hectic weekdays is unsustainable. Pointing them towards the garden and putting away the biscuits is a lot more manageable in my opinion. Encouraging your children to go out and play does not mean that you have to drag yourselves to every adventure playground and public park in Ireland – just open the back door and boot them out!!


Thanks for reading


I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.




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