Oh I did enjoy The Great British Bake Off this week, and was so pleased that my attempt at a couronne actually worked out well enough for me to write a blog post about it! (unlike my shortbread lighthouse, aka a willy with a nipple on the top, from last week’s attempt at a biscuit show stopper)
Now I’ve never used yeast before (terrible I know!) but was determined to push myself, once again, out of my comfort zone and try something new. (I get bored very easily, love new things!) I liked the look of Paul Hollywood’s couronne a lot, but fancied trying to change a few things and make it my own, double pushing myself into new baking territory!
So here is my…
I used Paul’s recipe to create the dough which goes as follows…
250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g/⅓oz instant yeast
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
105ml/3½fl oz milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and egg and mix to combine, using your hands. Continue to mix until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the dough to clean the inside of the bowl (and your fingers) and keep going until you have a soft dough.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 10-12 minutes. (This was a good workout for my arms!) Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
When the dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size. I put my bowl in the airing cupboard for an hour, but I think it might’ve been too hot as it didn’t rise very well, so I left it in the kitchen for a further 30 mins and that did the trick.
Whilst the dough was rising (or not at first!) I made the filling….
90g/3¼oz unsalted butter, softened
70g/2½oz light muscovado sugar
35g/1¼oz plain flour
65g/2¼oz chopped walnuts
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cooking apples chopped into small chunks
2 plums cut into small cubes
Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until smooth. Add the flour, raisins, walnuts. Mix to combine.
Next heat a saucepan and add the lemon juice, a splash of water, the cinnamon, apples and plums. Cook until the fruit is just beginning to soften. Leave to cool and then add to the mixture and combine well.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Taking care not to knock the air out of it, roll out the dough into a rectangle, approximately 33x25cm/13x10in. (I did not measure mine!) Turn the dough 90 degrees if necessary, so you have a long edge facing you. Spread the apple and plum mixture evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough tightly (like a Swiss roll). Roll it slightly to seal, then cut it in half lengthways (you can leave one end joined to help you twist the dough and form the circular crown).
Twist the two dough lengths together to make a rope, then join the ends of the rope to form a circular ‘crown’. Transfer (carefully!) to the baking tray.
Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 30-45mins, (again I left this in my kitchen to prove) or until the dough springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Bake the couronne for 25-35 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. (It took mine 25 mins) Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
50g/1¾oz apricot jam (if I’d have had plum jam I’d have used that!)
100g/3½oz icing sugar
Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then sieve it and brush it over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing, drizzle over the loaf. Leave to cool before serving.
And there you have it! Tastes pretty good too even though I say so myself!
Thank you, as always for reading and for Helen and Jenny for hosting. If you’d like to join in the link or read lots more yummy recipes then click on the badge below!
Instincts: Any behaviour is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A joey climbs into its mother’s pouch upon being born.
Manual: Manual may mean: Instructions. User guide. Owner’s manual. Instruction manual (gaming) Online help.
This morning I sat down to write a post. A post which I had been meaning to write for sometime, but had never quite plucked up the courage. For this post might just be a little bit controversial. Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I always try to be fair and balanced, but the name of my blog itself implies where my loyalties lie in this particular piece…however I will, as always, try to look at it from every possible angle! And before we get started I’d just like to say that I am not saying don’t ask for advice. I think asking for advice and support is brilliant…I just think you should ask for it from the best possible places.
I wanted to write a post about books. Namely manuals and books all about babies. The kind of books you buy when you are pregnant with your first and then promptly ditch or use as a coaster with your second or third. You may have put your feet up on maternity leave, read these books and thought you had it sorted, that this parenting malarkey was going to be a doddle because you knew what was coming and were going to be in control. That these mums whose babies didn’t sleep through the night, were fussy eaters or had tantrums were bad parents and had done something wrong. The manuals made it all sound so easy, so simple, so straightforward.
Or were you a new parent, overwhelmed and completely sleep deprived searching for answers, seeking much needed help? Were you desperately trying to find some way of making your baby sleep because you were led to believe that a baby that doesn’t sleep is indicative of a bad parent? Were you sat on your bed in the middle of the night scouring these books to find a solution, and then did you try a gazillion different things suggested these books,that didn’t work? Whilst all the time not even looking at your baby to see what it was they actually wanted?
Now, I might have angered a few of you already. Have I made judgements? Assumed things? Or would it surprise you to know that in both of the cases above the person I have been taking about is me? I’m not ashamed to say that with my daughter, twelve years ago, even though my instincts were screaming many things and me (as was she!) I still attempted to follow the rules and listen to advice which told me what she should and ought to be doing. I still read the (often conflicting, one size fits all approach) books and believed that sleeping through the night was something that had to be achieved and then I could become part of an exclusive club. I know we all like sleep, but surely the needs of our babies are more important?
The more I read in the media and on social media the more upset and frustrated I become. I fear that parents are becoming less empowered to trust their instincts. That so called ‘experts’ are making parents believe that they are not doing the things right, and are sucking the natural parenting instincts and confidence out of new parents through feeding off their anxieties. These ‘experts’ are now, thanks to the wonder of social media, more available than ever and can even come into your house and make you believe the only reason your baby is now sleeping is because of them, and what they told you to do. That if you didn’t follow their often very strict advice and guidelines, then you’d be in a mess because you are not an expert. That if you don’t do 100% of what it says in the book that you and your baby are doomed for life. How does a mother then feel when left on their own or when what is said in the books just doesn’t happen…possibly worse than they did before?
Many of the authors of these books are not parents themselves, however, I would also argue that even if they are they would still not be the experts on my children or indeed any children but their own. They might be an expert on mixing formula, or creating a nutritious meal, but not about all of the intricacies of a baby that only a mother knows. Now I’m not saying that these manuals are the reasons for all doubt, for all anxiety and all loss of trust in our instincts, but I am saying they undoubtedly don’t help. So what would help?
I know a lot of mums I have spoken to tell me that when their baby was born they felt they had no instincts. That they didn’t know what to do. That they couldn’t read their baby who cried all of the time. And it got me thinking (yes again, sorry!) about what I could do to help. Is there a market for a book about trusting your instincts? A book that empowers parents to trust theirs? And if there were then what could I write in that book that would help, comfort, and reassure mums? (yes I do appreciate the irony of a mother who has just written a blog post about her avid dislike for baby books wanting to write one, but this book wouldn’t be a manual ok?!) It would be honest and tell of real accounts of life with babies, possibly elaborating on my previous blog posts like the one on sleep and potty training. And instead of pages and pages of instructions on what you must do it could have questions at the end of every chapter to help you read your baby and learn to trust your instincts? Your baby, your instincts, your choice.
Yes parenting is hard, yes at times it is draining, debilitating and more frustrating than anything in the whole world, but it’s still a journey I believe you and your children should undertake together. You’re not always going to get it right, but if you have the confidence to trust your instincts you’re never going to be far off the mark.
So let me know, what do you think would help mums trust their instincts more?
I wrote this post for myself and my blog, but have agreed for it to be shared on What to Expect.
Insomnia: Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired.
Yet my brain screams noise.
Breathing becomes quicker,
Eyes wide open.
Thoughts whirl, never stopping.
Heart beats out of time.
Stare at the ceiling,
Stare at the walls,
Need an escape,
Need rest, peace.
Tears well in my eyes,
Inconsolable, wound up,
Give up, get up.
Alone in the dark.
Brain at war with body,
Eventually shuts down.
Trudge through the day,
Sleep will greet me,
like an old friend.
Bags: A bag (also known regionally as a sack) is a common tool in the form of a non-rigid container. The use of bags predates recorded history, with the earliest bags being no more than lengths of animal skin or woven plant fibers, folded up at the edges and secured in that shape with strings of the same material.
Oh what a brilliant quote, and there couldn’t be a better way to start this review than with this quote as Mia Tui bags are without doubt both classy and fabulous!
I first discovered Mia Tui, through Twitter, last year in November. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the baby changing bag I had (I won’t tell you the name, but it wasn’t cheap) as I could never find anything and it didn’t open wide enough for me to even have a proper look. It drove me nuts that every time I needed something, I had to empty the entire bag out onto the floor (not great when you’ve a young baby with you) and don’t get me started on the amount of times I lost my keys in the depths of it. So, when I saw Mia Tui advertising their bags I instantly wanted one. Their unique and award winning interiors make it impossible to lose anything! There is a place for everything, and their range of stylish bags will suit everyone for every occasion. Baby changing bag, work bag, gym bag…their uses are endless.
I quickly persuaded my husband to purchase the Minnie Amelie in steel blue (gorgeous colour) as my Christmas present. A smaller version of their signature Amelie bag, this bag can be can be used as a changing bag, travel or work bag. Waterproof inside and out with multiple pockets, clips and extra clear bags (great when travelling) meant it was perfect as changing bag for me and I never lost my keys again!
I then visited The Baby Show and met the lovely Charlotte, who is the genius behind Mia Tui, in person. She was lovely and so helpful and there was such an amazing offer on that I ended up going home with two more Mia Tui bags…an Amelie which is now used as our family swimming bag, and a Sofia which is my work bag with enough space for notebooks, my iPad, pens, lunch and so much more!
Now…you’d think I’d be happy with my Mia Tui stash of bags wouldn’t you?! But no…ever since I first discovered them I had had my eye on the Grace. I loved the fact that it had the option of it being a cross-body satchel or a more traditional under the arm handbag. And with my youngest being a toddler I didn’t need to carry quite so much stuff out and about with me on a daily basis so was looking for a smaller bag. So I tweeted Charlotte and asked if she’d like me to review one…the next day the bag arrived and it is amazing!
The sand colour is so stylish and people ask me all of the time where I got my bag from…many of my friends have gone home to purchase their own after seeing mine! The interior is spacious and the layout makes everything so easy to find.
The clear bags are big enough for me to put in a few nappies and a packet of wipes and the bag has plenty of space for spare toddler clothes and snacks. My Mia Tui purse (yes I have one of those too!) fits in perfectly and the small clutch bag that comes with it is perfect for my, erm lady things. I love bags that have zip closures so everything can’t fall out and so this fitted the bill there too. It has the elastic clip for my keys so I can reach in with my toddler-free arm and find them in no time. Quite simply I love it, it really is functional and stylish…and fabulous!
So now wherever I go I take a Mia Tui bag with me…and more often than not, more than one!
This competition is now closed.
Oh today gorgeous readers do I have something exciting for you on my blog…a competition! My first one!
So…are you pregnant? Do you have a baby, two babies, toddlers?! Do you want to go somewhere where there are many amazing products and brands (including BRITAX) all under one roof? If the answer to any of those questions is yes then you will love this competition….
Taking place from the 25th -27th October at Kensington Olympia, The Baby Show is the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event. There will be hundreds of stands, which will feature anything and everything baby and toddler-focused – from quirky new inventions to showcases from all your favourite nursery brands.
There will also be hourly guest speakers including Jo Tantum, feeding and nutrition expert Annabel Karmel, and parenting guru Sir Robert Winston. With giveaways and special offers galore, make sure you don’t miss out!
To celebrate BRITAX’s continued involvement with the Baby Show, I’m really excited to be able to give away a pair of tickets to the next Baby Show in October! BRITAX’s stall will be stocked with all the latest BRITAX and BOB products including DUALFIX, XTENSAFIX, KIDFIX XP SICT and the B-MOTION 4, with experts on hand to explain the latest technology and take you through all the car seats and strollers on offer.
The tickets entitle you and a friend to full access at the Kensington Olympia Baby Show on a day of your choice. Little ones get free entry so they’re more than welcome to come along too!
I went last year with my sister-in-law and we had the most amazing day and came home with lots of wonderful things. It was good to be able to test products out and speak to people in the know about so many different items.
If you’d like to enter then please, use the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck! 🙂 T&Cs apply.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This competition is brought to you as part of the BRITAX Mumbassador programme.
Advice: Advice (noun) or advise (verb) may refer to: Advice (opinion), an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct. Advice column, a regular feature on a website or in a newspaper or magazine. Academic advising, in academics. Legal advice, the giving of a formal and binding opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law
I did something today that made me look very closely at my blog. And when I looked closely at my blog I saw many different things. I saw posts about parenting; trusting our instincts; poetry; reviews; recipes…and the list goes on. When I originally started blogging it was to spread the word about trusting our instincts as parents and how powerful they can be (something I am still very passionate about) and then over time my blog evolved, as all things do, and as I joined in different linkies and made new blogging friends the content changed. I found a new love for writing poetry; I found writing about postnatal depression helped both me and others and I became obsessed with taking the perfect photo for Silent Sunday.
I have been thinking about the content of my blog for a while now and my instincts are telling me that maybe there are too many different types of posts on there. That maybe I have weakened my voice and original intentions through taking on too many other things? I still have many Instinctive Mum tales to tell and blog about, and whilst I have loved linking to poetry, weightloss and cooking blogs, I am wondering if it is time to get the focus back on the original thought behind my blog.
So lovely readers, the more I thought about this the more I thought about you! And I quickly came to the conclusion that the obvious thing seemed to be to ask you what you think! Do you think there is too much variety on my blog? Or do you like all of the different types of posts? What would you like to see more/less of? What topics would you like me to write about? For I blog not just for me, but for you too.
Let me know what you think, after all content is so important…I want to get it just right! 😉
Wish: A wish is a hope or desire for something. Fictionally, wishes can be used as plot devices. In folklore, opportunities for “making a wish” or for wishes to “come true” or “be granted” are themes that are sometimes used.
So if you’ve followed me on Twitter today you’ll know I’ve had a bad day, well afternoon really. And what does a blogger do when they’ve had a bad day…why blog all about it of course!
A few things that have happened recently have got me thinking (yes I do do that every now and again) and have made me realise how fragile my mental state can still be at times. It’s hard once you’ve suffered from depression (well it is for me anyway) to not think it’s always hovering not far away ready to come back and bite you on the ass. I forget sometimes that life with three children is going to be busy, stressful and hard work and that things are not always going to happen how I’d like them too or when I’d like them to. And I need constant reminding that I don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed because I’m depressed again, but simply because it’s life; and good days are often intermingled with bad ones. We all have them. I guess for me maybe the trick is to recognise that this is exactly what they are…just bad days, not a bad life. And sometimes even though those bad days do all appear to happen at once, hence the phrase ‘never rains but it pours,’ the good days are still there too, if not a bit few and far between at times.
Recently I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and a bit anxious again and it has got me worried I’m sinking back into the treacle I spent so much of last year trudging through. But if I look closely there have been so many reasons for me feeling out of sorts, not just PND…there has been a sickness bug in the house, my middle child has started school and routine is all out if the window thanks to a ridiculously long settling in period, my husband has had to work long hours and be away, my mum has been abroad, (this always unnerves me, I like it when she’s here even though she lives two hours away) it was my dad’s (who sadly passed away when I was 22) birthday last week, my 12 year old has been beyond hormonal and challenging, the toddler never ever sleeps (slight exaggeration!) and the weather has turned to pants to name just a few things. I know these things aren’t life threatening stuff. I know these things are not end of the world stuff and I know that these things are just stuff. Stuff that on a good day I can embrace with the fact that my life is never dull. Stuff that we all experience. But it is stuff that at the moment is slowly wearing me down and making me tired and emotional.
We all know parenting is relentless. The challenges and difficulties you face at one stage disappear only for a million other challenges to rear their ugly head. It’s never easy, the goalposts constantly change and a whole load of new crap comes our way. And yes I waffle on about instinctively we’re supposed to know how to deal with all of these challenges, and when I’m well and feeling rational my instincts do guide the way and I marvel at them all the time. But on days like today I’ll be honest, even I doubt them, even I doubt myself…and I hate self doubt. Deep down I know I can’t control my daughter’s hormones, just guide her through them. Deep down I know my toddler’s sleeping issues are not because of something I’ve done and that I have to be patient and know that this is how things are at the moment. Deep down I know I’m not ill again and my instincts are as strong as they ever were. But when I’m having a bad day all of that goes out of the window. I feel trapped. I feel useless. I desperately crave a break and a bit of time out. All it usually takes is half an hour. Time to say…let it all out in a blog post…and then I feel better. But sometimes it takes more than that. It needs a day away from it all and I’m starting to recognise when I need these days the most.
A while ago I wrote a blog post about a letter I had written to myself with wishes and hopes for the future and I thought that maybe it was time to write another one. I’m a firm believer in having things to look forward to, plus I’m a list lover, so writing a letter detailing all of the things I’d love for myself and my family in the near future seemed like a productive way of working through my current not-so-great-mood. It goes as follows…
1. A date night with my husband. Oh this is a big one on my list. We still have not had an evening or a night to ourselves since February. Lack of a babysitter seems to be the main problem. When you’ve got three children it can (shock horror) put some people off babysitting. And with the toddler not sleeping too great I’d probably worry he was being troublesome whilst we were out. But nevertheless my husband and I need some time so I need to make it happen.
2. A mother/daughter evening…or several! These have really worked wonders in the past and made our, at times tested, relationship stronger. Sometimes I forget that she had me all to herself for so long and that living in a step-family situation possibly isn’t always easy on her. It’s good for us to have some time together.
3. A day for me. To just be me and not a mum and all of the things that brings with it. I’d love to go to a spa, or sit in a cafe all day writing, or go for a swim where I can actually swim. You get the idea. I’d just, selfishly, like a ‘day off.’
4. Family walks and Sunday roasts. We got into the habit when I was ill with PND of not venturing out too far. Of just going for lunch and then coming home again with the excuse that the baby needed to nap. I love autumn and the run up to Christmas and have very fond memories of family walks as a child. collecting conkers and jumping in piles of fallen leaves. So I’ve joined the National Trust and would like to go on many a winter walk, coming home to cook a wonderfully warming roast. Thankfully the rest of the family would like to do this too! 😉
5. Self-publish A Monster Ate My Mum. This excites me…a lot! So far I have asked the wonderful Helen Braid to do the artwork for me and the sample pages have brought tears to my eyes they are so perfect. I have no idea how to go about self-publishing, but hopefully I will learn as I go through the process and the poem will be brought to life.
So that’s my list for now. I think it’s only fair to stop at five things for fear of writing down too much and becoming disappointed when they are not all achieved. The things I have written above are all achievable (I hope!) and would benefit more people than just me…so watch this space and hopefully, fingers crossed, I will be writing a blog post at Christmas telling you all about it!
What would be on your wish list for the next few months?
Confused by car seats? Mark Bennett, car seat safety expert from BRITAX explains the new regulation called ‘i-Size’ that all parents should know about
To put simply, i-Size is a new regulation for child car seats that will make it easier for parents to choose and install the right seat, making travelling safer for children.
One of the most significant changes parents need to be aware of, is how long a child should remain in a rearward facing car seat. Under existing laws, parents could switch their baby from their rearward facing Group 0/0+ seat into a forward facing Group 1 seat when they reached 9kg or approximately nine months.
The new i-Size regulation means parents will have to keep their baby rearward facing until they are at least 15 months old and the move will be based on the size and age of the child rather than weight. The new length and age classification will help make it easier for parents to check that their child is ready to be moved to the next stage car seat.
The new regulation is also about the reinforcement of ISOFIX seats use, which are easier to fit correctly and safely than those secured with the car seat belt. Only a third of belted seats are fitted correctly which can have serious implications in the event of a crash*. Side impact collisions are one of the most severe types of collisions on the roads** and for car seats to adhere to the new regulations they must pass the newly introduced side impact safety standards.
Why is this regulation coming into force? Well there are a number of reasons, but in a nutshell, parents are too keen to move their babies forward facing on the premise they believe their child will be happier facing forwards rather than waiting until they have actually outgrown the seat. Parents are also unaware babies are much safer rearward facing in the event of a collision.
Below 13kg a baby’s neck is not yet that strong and keeping your baby rearward facing for as long as possible (up to at least 15 months) will help protect their vulnerable neck in a frontal crash situation.
So much research evidence has built up on this from crash testing that the EU has introduced this new regulation to keep babies rearward facing until 15 months. BRITAX has accompanied and strongly supported the development of i-Size right from the very beginning.
So how does it affect you? As soon as i-Size approved car seats are on the market parents will be able to choose between a seat that abides by the older ECE R44/04 regulation or i-Size. The current ECE R44/04 regulation is not replaced by i-Size, and instead will continue in tandem until 2018. The introduction of i-Size simply means that consumers now have an extra option when buying a car seat for their baby/toddler.
When should you change to forward facing?
Here are some guidelines on switching: Don’t do it just because your baby’s feet are pushed against the car’s back seat. Wait until your baby is closer to, or ideally at, the maximum age (15 months) for her rearward facing seat than the minimum weight (9kg) for the front facing seat.
BUT do move them if their head is protruding over the top of the Group 0/0+ seat. If they outgrow the seat in height but have not reached the minimum weight for a Group 1 seat, you should then invest in a combination Group 0+ & 1 seat. That is simply the safest option.
You can already consider purchasing a combination Group 0+ & 1 seat as your baby’s first car seat from birth. DUALFIX and MAX-FIX from BRITAX will allow your child to travel rearward facing until they reach 18kg
What is the current law when it comes to car seat safety?
The law requires all children to travel in an appropriate child restraint until they reach 135 cm tall or their 12th birthday (UK, NL, DEN) or 150 cm tall or their 12th birthday (GER, AU, CH, IT, CZ) – whichever comes first. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure this is the case.
Under the existing laws, parents could switch their baby from their rearward facing Group 0&0+ seat into a forward facing one when they reach 9kg (around nine months old).
Now the new regulations, called ‘i-Size’, have come into force mid-July 2013, parents that purchase a child car seat approved under i-Size will have to keep their baby in a rearward facing seat until they are 15 months.
There will be no change to the overall law about child seats being compulsory to the age of 12 or 135 cm/150 cm tall.
This post was brought to you as part of the BRITAX Mumbassador programme.
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