First birthday party food

I have never hosted a birthday party before and that meant really not having any idea what I was doing. We had 8 children come to Erin’s 1st birthday party and adults made total numbers up to about 20.  I had absolutely no clue how much food to buy, what to buy or what to do with it!

My mum and I went to the supermarket a couple of days before the party to buy everything we needed. I had a list of a couple of things I wanted but really, we walked around guessing for some of the food. I figured the children were kind of easy to cater for, mostly, but it was the parents I was stuck with.

Here’s how the food ended up:

party food

As you can see, I made  A LOT of food! Once it was all laid out I knew that there was too much but by then it was too late.

A couple of Erin’s friends have food intolerances so I had to take that into account. I made sure there was a really good mix of options for everyone, both children and adults, and that there really was something for everyone.

Most of the children who came were Erin’s age and still in weaning stages but eating finger food. I didn’t want all of the food to be high in sugar or ‘naughty’ foods so I made sure there were healthy options too.

I thought fruit and veg platters with dips were a really good idea. The fruit platter got demolished but surprisingly, the veg platter barely got touched. I thought loads of people would have eaten this. We took most of this home with us!

Sandwiches and crisps are always a massive hit so I made sure there was loads! Again, intolerances had to be considered so I had to make sure there was a good selection of dairy free options. I went with cheese, Dairylea, egg with and without mayo, jam and tuna with both white and brown bread. The crisps were really a random selection because I bought what I would call ‘posh’ crisps for the adults as well as normal party favourites.

We also had the usual sweet options as well! I made up so many individual jelly pots and I think only 2 got eaten. Since when does jelly not get eaten at a party?!

If you’re wondering about how much all of this cost, well the food was about £40 but this didn’t include drinks or a birthday cake. This quite easily fed the 20 odd people that attended and we took quite a bit home with us. However, I would still do the same next year just to be safe. Children who are 2 obviously eat more than children who are 1!

I would love to say that I made a lot of this myself but I didn’t, I was lazy. Do you cook and bake for parties or buy in like I did?

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Meal Plan Monday with Katykicker

Welcome to Meal Plan Monday, our weekly feature where we talk all things Meal Plan. This week I’m handing over to Katy from Katykicker!

Meal plan Monday

I’m a busy working mother of one. I am self employed (yay!) and my husband works 12 hour shifts. This means that we have an unusual routine at times. We have three different types of day. One where my husband is on nights, one where he is on days and one he is not working at all. To try and combat some of the issues that come along with having disorganised days I like to meal plan.

What I love about meal planning

Meal planning is super convenient for me. It takes about 5-10 minutes to sit down and write out our dinners for the week. I can take in to account my husband’s shift pattern and how much time I am going to have on any given day. On the days when my husband is at work from 6am – 6pm I like to use the slow cooker. If my husband is home for the day I like to cook more time intensive meals as I’ve got someone to help with our daughter Daisy.

Meal planning saves us time. It means I can prep some meals in advance, and freeze them. This cuts down on washing up and time spent prepping vegetables etc. Meal planning also saves us money as it keeps us away from the takeaways – which is where we used to waste a lot of money. To top it off meal planning keeps us healthier. I am able to spend a little time researching healthier options for our favourite meals. We buy lean cuts of meat, cram our dinners with lots of vegetables and I make sauces by scratch to save on added salt and sugar.

Our daughter is on a dairy and soya free diet. Meals that are suitable for her can be rather expensive and while I don’t mind the odd baby food jar I love to cook from scratch. I am able to adapt our dinners to suit our daughter too saving money and time once again. For example I will make a cottage pie using dairy free spread in the mash and then we have our own individual cheeses for the top – Daisy’s cheese is made from coconut!

Katykicker

My top tips for meal planning

– Make a list of any fridge items that need using up before you write your meal plan. This cuts down on wastage and saves money.
– Keep your freezer well stocked to save energy and avoid buying takeaways.
– Batch cook when you have the time/effort/money. This allows you to have a meal on hand if guests stop by unexpectedly.
– Keep a good stock of kitchen staples. For me this includes frozen meat, vegetables, herbs & spices, flour and pulses.
-Try new recipes. It can be a little boring if you just eat the same meals over and over again.

I love the convenience of meal planning. I can sit down once a week, when I have time, and plan the entire weeks meals. It means I don’t have to worry about finding something at the last minute each day and when I start the day I know what needs to be done. I save a lot of money for my family and we eat better too.

where to follow!

These tips from Katy are great! I love how she meal plans to make more time for her and her family, as well as saving money at the same time. 
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Erin’s farm themed 1st birthday party

I don’t really remember having birthday parties as a child. I do, however, remember my sister’s party at McDonald’s with the big pirate ship that I was insanely jealous about. Well, until I hit my head on that pirate ship anyway. Erin was always going to be having a birthday party, whether she’d remember it or not.

As this was her 1st birthday, I wanted to do something that was fun for everyone. We have been going to a class called Music in Motion now and Erin loves it. The woman who runs that was an obvious choice plus, we could choose a theme. Having the party farm themed was a really easy choice for me. It was unisex, there would be no pink and it was also cute! Win for everyone!

The first thing I did before anything was to get some tableware sorted out. Party Bags and Supplies do a fantastic Farm Friends theme and they have loads of different items available. We were able to get pretty much everything we needed for under £30 and it is all fantastic quality as well.

farm themed

Let me just say that when you only have one child, and you have never done a birthday party before, you really have no idea what you’re doing. It’s all guess work. Food was a bit of an issue if I’m honest. I had a few guests with intolerances and allergies. I had about 20 people in total to cater for. I had no idea what to buy and how much. Turns out I did too much but more about this in another post.

I think the farm themed table cloths and the farm themed party hats were my favourites of everything we got. I wasn’t expecting 1 year olds to keep the hats on but some of them did for quite a while!

Only 2 people invited couldn’t make the party but we had a good turn out and most of Erin’s friends came! The room was actually quite full and it was MANIC! My sister, who has no children, was not a fan. She was a trooper though and took loads of photos for us.

The first hour of Erin’s party was spent with Donna singing farm related songs, playing with musical instruments and a big parachute thing. The children all really seemed to love it, apart from Erin who did cry a couple of times. She was being a grumpy little sod though! The last hour of the party was spent scoffing the crazy amounts of food I’d made. A good amount made it back into my kitchen. We ate it for dinner last night and it still hasn’t all gone. I’ll still do the same next year!

Erin’s friends spoiled her with some wonderful presents (thanks parents!!) and she genuinely loves all of them. She went from one to another last night and couldn’t decide what to play with. She then got to play with some in the bath. I didn’t even know light up, fountain spurting bath toys were a thing but Erin LOVES them!

I was quite exhausted after the party, as was Erin, but it was so worth it. She was so happy for the last half of the party and afterwards for the rest of the day. She got to spend some time with her amazing friends and just have fun.

I reclined Erin’s seat straight after taking this picture!.

I am so thankful for everyone who came for making Erin’s party such a special time for her. Erin may not remember this day but I will. 

We received some products for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own. 

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Storytime Saturday: King Baby

Storytime Saturday a weekly blog feature showcasing any new books we’ve been reading with Erin, reviewing picture books and talking about our monthly library haul! Basically, Storytime Saturday is all about books! This week we’re talking about King Baby by Kate Beaton (Walker Books)

All hail King Baby! King Baby is gracious – bestowing smiles on his public, allowing tickles and hugs, and posing for photo after adorable photo. But this teeny tiny royal ruler also has many demands, and when his faithful subjects can’t quite keep up, King Baby must take matters into his own hands.

king baby

King Baby is described as the perfect gift for any family expecting a new baby. Now, before anyone gets any silly ideas I am not having another baby. However, this book is pretty funny and I think I would have quite liked it before we had Erin.

King Baby helps to prepare you for what having a baby is really about and what to expect. Babies are extremely demanding. This baby cries, demands ‘the thing’ but also the ‘other thing’ because ‘the thing’ is not right. The poor parents look exhausted. I love that it’s real! I would easily give this to a friend as a gift if they were expecting.

This is a really bright and colourful book and lovely to read. The illustrations stand out so much but they’re lovely and simple at the same time.

king baby

King Baby is quite strange looking if I’m honest. I think he looks like an evil genius. I guess that’s the point of the book. Babies rule the house, no matter what! I know that all too well as whatever Erin says goes… well, if she could actually talk! I actually hate to think about what she’ll be like when that happens.

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Being able to admit that something is wrong

When I think about it, I think I knew something was wrong months ago. It was only earlier on this evening, after a row about something stupid and me crying pretty hysterically, did I admit to my husband that I think I’ve got postnatal depression (PND). I don’t think it though. Really, I’ve known for months but haven’t wanted to really admit it to myself or anyone else. It’s not just one thing that has got me here either, it’s really quite a lot of different things.

pnd

I sort of feel like a bit of a broken record here but I do feel like this is largely down to Erin’s difficult birth. Actually, when I think about it this could quite easily be PTSD as well. I’ve never gotten over what happened. I have had a particularly shit year in terms of health. I finally have an appointment to see a specialist next month about my c-section scars but I still don’t feel like anything is being taken seriously.

My relationship with John has certainly changed since having Erin. We used to be a really cuddly couple. We’re not anymore. John is lucky if I even cuddle him in bed. Unfortunately, because of how I feel about Erin’s birth I cannot stand being touched. I don’t want this bit taken the wrong way though. I love my husband very much and I’m still very much attracted by him. I just don’t want him to touch me anymore. We’ve also just sort of lost who we are as a couple. We’re parents now and I feel as though that is who we are together; Mum and Dad.

In just over a year, I have had a whole of 3 days away from Erin. I love her so much but I think everyone needs some time for themselves and I just don’t get that, ever. When my sister, her boyfriend or my mum come to visit they are fantastic. They pretty much play with Erin from the minute they wake up until Erin goes to bed. However, I can’t help but feel like we could have had more support from other family members. It’s something I won’t go into on here but we don’t really talk to a lot of John’s family. So unlike a lot of families, we don’t have anyone we can ever leave Erin with. She doesn’t get to go to someone one day a week or a morning here and there. This also means that John and I have never been out together alone since Erin was born.

I guess a big part of how I feel now is that I am now Mum, and that is it. I don’t feel like me anymore. Well, the pre-Erin me anyway. The before me was so full of life and bubbly. The now me is a miserable bitch who whinges and whines (no, I’m not Whinge, Whinge, Wine but do check out her blog) about anything and everything. It doesn’t matter what John does, it’s wrong most of the time. I’m never happy. I’m always down. It’s like the life has been sucked out of me.

I don’t want to do anything and I don’t want to go anywhere a lot of the time. I loved going to baby groups in the beginning. Now, I want to stay at home in my PJs. I love seeing my friends though and they do make me feel better for a while. They don’t know about how I really feel though but it’s nice to be able to talk to them about Erin and just forget about things for a couple of hours.

I think John was really surprised when I mentioned PND to him this evening. He said he hadn’t realised. I tried to make sure he didn’t. I guess he really did notice the not touching thing though!! Now that I have told him that this is how I feel and why, I feel like I can actually admit it. Although my doctor is crap and I haven’t really seen any I like in the past year, I will go and see them to talk about PND. Unfortunately, I feel like I’ll get fobbed off. We’ll soon see.

I’d really love to read some more posts about PND. Let me know if you have any experience with this or have written about it! 

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New Year, New You: Films that will beat the January blues!

Last year I think I spent far too much time being serious and probably a bit gloomy. I know that a lot of that was due to Erin’s birth and the complications that went with it. However, this year I am determined to let go of that feeling and the saying New Year, New You is what I want to stick to.

new year

In order to do this, I want to lighten up a bit more and watch more fun films. My guilty pleasure really is musicals. I have quite a nice collection but I recently realised that there are quite a few I haven’t seen. If you feel like trying something different and following the New Year, New You statement, why not head to Amazon to see what you can find.

These are what I plan to watch over the next couple of months!

Bodyguard

The Bodyguard stars Houston as a pop-music diva (now there’s a stretch) and Kevin Costner as the stern bodyguard who is assigned to protect her after the singer receives some nasty death threats. Pop star and bodyguard don’t hit it off at first, but they wear down each others’ defenses, and before long Houston is baring her tonsils with a rousing rendition of the Dolly Parton chestnut “I Will Always Love You.”

A Star is Born

A remake of the 1937 classic, this time as a musical about a Hollywood couple going through bad times. Would-be singer Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland) finds herself taken under the wing of fading star Norman Maine (James Mason) when she saves him from making a drunken fool of himself on stage. Changing her name to Vicki Lester, Esther becomes a star, and is soon married to Norman. However, as Vicki’s star rises, so Norman’s falls. Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin songs include ‘The Man That Got Away’.

Annie Get Your Gun

Long unavailable due to legal complications with the estate of Irving Berlin, this classic MGM musical stars Betty Hutton as backwoods sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Plucked out of obscurity by Buffalo Bill (Louis Calhern), the rough-edged Annie is groomed for a leading role in Bill’s world famous Wild West show. However, Annie has a rival in the form of rifleman Frank Butler (Howard Keel), a man she soon falls in love with. Features the songs ‘Anything You Can Do’ and ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’.

Calamity Jane

Doris Day stars in this lighthearted musical about the famous female sharpshooter, who would rather hit targets than chase men – until she falls for ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok (Howard Keel), who would rather shoot Indians than chase after a tomboy like Calamity Jane.

Gypsy

The Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim musical follows the career of Gypsy Rose Lee from a young woman to 1930s burlesque headliner. Louise (Natalie Wood) is the young girl who is forced into the limelight by her theatrical mother Rose (Rosalind Russell) and becomes the celebrated stripper Gypsy. Karl Malden won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Herbie, a man who falls in love with Rose – and later regrets it.

new year

I can’t wait to kick off the New Year with one of these. Do you have any recommendations for which I should start with?

be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter account for a competition to win these dvds!

Disclaimer: We will receive these DVDs for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own. 

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Switching to cow’s milk

Something I remember reading a lot when I was pregnant and whenever I look at anything for Erin now, is about 1 year olds drinking cow’s milk. Erin had formula from being a week old or so I had been thinking about the change for quite some time.

cow's milk

I think we started giving Erin cow’s milk months ago but only with breakfast. I got so sick of giving Erin expensive ‘baby’ cereals that didn’t last very long so I switched her over to things like Weetabix and Shreddies. She has always had warmed cow’s milk with these and has never shown any signs of being against having it. In fact, I think she prefers breakfast with this milk compared to when she had it with formula milk.

As Erin’s first birthday approached I decided to begin the switch from formula. I completely switched one formula bottle to cow’s milk at 11 months and a couple of days after her birthday I switched from formula completely. As Erin hadn’t shown any signs of dislike I figured I might be best to change in one go, quickly! I have seen posts from others about mixing both milks for a while or slowly changing but I couldn’t be bothered, if I’m honest.

Luckily, Erin made the switch no problem at all. However, I think maybe it happened too easily. Now I have the problem that she’s probably getting too much cow’s milk. She loves it and will quite happily have 3 8oz bottles a day still. I know she’s supposed to be having about 20oz a day, including with breakfast etc. The problem is, Erin still likes milk before her naps (2 a day) and before bed at night so I have no idea what to do!

How did you make the move to cow’s milk? Any advice is appreciated. 

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A family trip to Banham Zoo

Last Saturday lunchtime my sister sent a message asking if we were free that night or Sunday. Her and her boyfriend hired a car for the weekend and wondered if they could come and stay. Of course, the answer was yes. I said I’d find us something to do on Sunday and we decided on Banham Zoo. John and I don’t drive so getting places like this is normally impossible for us.

Banham Zoo is about an hour away from where we live so the drive there wasn’t too bad at all. Erin isn’t really used to being in a car seat but she did amazingly well and even had a little nap before we got there. We visited on a pretty dreary Sunday so when we arrived the zoo was pretty quiet. Tickets aren’t overly expensive at £15.95 (includes donation) for adults under 3s are free. (Prices correct until March 31st 2017) The zoo opens at 9:30 every day except Christmas Day but closing times vary depending on the season.

Banham Zoo

Now, looking at the map, Banham Zoo isn’t the biggest in the world but that’s a good thing in my eyes. Erin is only 1 so she doesn’t have the concentration for somewhere like London Zoo yet. As you can see from the picture above, we started having fun as soon as we got to the zoo. These picture props are all over the zoo!

For a smaller zoo, there is a surprisingly good selection of animals to see. Each section we visited was really interesting and most of the animals were out! I thought a lot of them would hide away because it was miserable but I guess they didn’t care. Each of the enclosures looked to be really well thought out and plenty big enough for the animals which is so important.

We managed to get to see one talk during our visit and that was about the giraffes, John’s favourite animals. Erin was AMAZED by them. We got her out of the pushchair so she could see better and she kept trying to get closer to them.

Our absolute favourite part of the zoo was the Farm Barn. This area had sheep, donkeys, rats, rabbits, goats, llamas and pigs. There is a strange gate system to get into the area and this meant goats escaping everywhere. There are warnings but we were not quick enough. Trying to herd them back together was hilarious but my sister got butted a few times in the process. Here, you could buy food for the goats and llamas which is what made them all a bit crazy.

We also learned that Erin could apparently talk to goats. Every time they made their little noises, she would do it straight back. Clever girl!

I won’t go into detail about every animal but here are some extra pictures.

In the middle of our visit we went to the Parrot Pavilion cafe for lunch. It was actually the only place open for food. There are a few outdoor stalls but I guess they’re only open during the main season. The menu is pretty much what you’d expect from a place like this. Most of the food is already cooked and served as you ask for it.

Children can choose from 5 cold items or a hot meal (fish fingers, sausage, veg bites, jacket potato or pasta) with a drink and dessert for £5.95.

Adult meals vary but there are options like fish finger sandwiches, chicken curry, beef lasagne, beef chilli and pasta (roughly £5-£7 a meal) or sandwiches are also available. Now, you’ll notice something missing here. There are no vegetarian or vegan options apart from a jacket potato or a portion of chips. There is a gluten free menu but nothing on there is vegan. You also have to wait 15 minutes for anything from this menu to be cooked. This obviously means that you cannot eat at the same time as the rest of the group.

The food, honestly, was terrible. We paid about £20 for a chicken curry, chips and beans and a children’s fish fingers. My sister had a fish finger sandwich, her boyfriend a curry and a drink for about the same price. My sister could not even eat her food. The chips were so greasy and the fish fingers were black inside. Having worked in a similar kind of place (soft play) I know that you don’t have to use the absolute cheapest of ingredients to make money, especially when you get as much footfall as you do in a zoo. Erin, who normally loves fish finger and chips wouldn’t eat hers either and she’s not that fussy.

If we were to have another visit here, there is not a chance that I would eat here again.

We were at the zoo for about 4 and a half hours so the entrance fee was well worth the visit. We all had an amazing day and even Erin stayed awake the whole time. I’m sure we had more fun that she did!

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Meal Plan Monday

Welcome to Meal Plan Monday, our weekly feature where we talk all things Meal Plan. As today is the very first post I’m going to kick things off.

Meal plan Monday

I used to plan for me and John when we were saving for our wedding but I kind of got out of the habit. Now, pretty much all of our meal planning revolves around Erin. I’m the kind of person that will happily eat the same 5 meals over and over again. I’m a really fussy eater and I don’t want this for Erin.

She started weaning at 4 months but I had no idea what I was doing. Meal planning seemed like the way forward. I needed to make sure that her diet was varied and fun but including everything she needed.

I have a whiteboard I use to plan out each week’s food. There obviously wasn’t very much on it to start with. Now though, Erin needs 3 meals a day planning plus snacks. I try to make sure that she doesn’t eat the same meal 2 days in a row. I always try to make sure she tries at least 1 new thing every week. You can see our meal plans each week on Instagram

 meal plan
So far, meal planning for Erin works out really well. I can always have something prepared in advance. John can feed her easily when I’m at work without it being the same as lunch or the day before. It also helps save money as we batch cook quite often.

 I know that the way I do things now will change eventually as Erin starts to eat at the same time as us. I’m going to find that hard with me being so fussy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on meal planning. Maybe it’s something you’ve never got to grips with. Guest posts are always welcome so if you’d like to take part, please email me at linzeeloulabelle@gmail.com

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Erin’s one year update!

It was Erin’s birthday a week ago and I realised that I haven’t done an update about her for quite some time now. She’s one so I feel like there’s a lot she can do now that she couldn’t before.

one

one year update

movement

Over the past month or so Erin has decided that she can move around in loads of different ways. I honestly thought that Erin would skip crawling. She doesn’t crawl properly but she does this strange kind of zombie crawl, with one leg underneath her. She has also taken her first steps recently and does a couple every day on her own. She can also walk the whole length of the house by holding on to furniture. Just this past week or so, Erin has tried to run a few times. It hasn’t ended well.

Speech

Erin said Mama and Dada quite some months ago now. She hasn’t really picked up anything else though. She can say hi though now when she feels like it! I talk and sing to her so much so I hope she picks up a few little bits soon.

Food

Erin started weaning at four months old so she’s been at this eating thing for quite some time now. We started off with purees but now we do a good mixture of shop bought, homemade and finger foods. Erin really has to be in the mood for certain things though. If she wants to eat from a spoon, there is no way she will eat finger food.

personality

Erin is really showing her personality now. She is such a cheeky little girl and she does have both John and I wrapped around her little finger. She shows cheeky grins when she does something or wants something in particular. She has the cutest giggle in the world and gives the biggest smile when she sees me in the morning.

sleep

Unfortunately, Erin is sort of not sleeping again. She gets ill at some point and then is unable to sleep through for months. We’ve made her bedtime later now, 8pm, but she still wakes up at 4 or 5am. It’s like she hates her cot. A lot of times she’s stood up in there acting like it’s a prison. If she gets in our bed with us she sleeps all night and even sleeps later. I don’t know if she’d be better off in a toddler bed or not soon but I still feel like she’s too young for it. I don’t know what to do about this!

Did you have any similarities when your little one turned one?

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