Friday, 27 June 2014

Ugg Foods Gluten Free Muffins - GF Product Review

Back at the end of May, I had the unpleasant experience of a gastroscopy, which is basically a tube fed down my throat and all the way to my intestines, so that a biopsy could be taken, to confirm Coeliac disease. This was not a pleasant experience at all. I can honestly say that I'd rather go through labour again than have another gastroscopy without sedation, despite the fact the whole procedure took less than 10 minutes. (Although to be fair, my second labour only took 25 minutes!!)


Anyway, I digress. Although I haven't had the official biopsy result yet, the doctor saw plenty enough damage to my insides to confirm the Coeliac disease diagnosis and I've been eating gluten free ever since (with a couple of little mishaps, which I'll talk about another time)


The day of the biopsy, I felt pretty sorry for myself. The gastroscopy had been horrible and I felt sore. Then I came home and there on the kitchen counter, was the remains of my husbands birthday cake, in all it's gluten-laden glory!!


I was tempted to postpone the start of my gluten-free life. Especially since it was my birthday the following week and we were going away for a week in our caravan. Starting GF right away would likely mean no fish and chips whilst holidaying at the seaside. Could I handle that yet? But, I've been feeling pretty rubbish and am eager to get better. A quick poll of my Facebook friends revealed they all thought the same: don't delay feeling better! So, I served up the rest of that birthday cake to the husband and kids and sulked a bit.


I've got amazing friends and neighbours. I already know that, but the fact was reinforced when, next time I went out the front door, I found these on my doorstep:

One of my lovely neighbours, who knows an awful lot about nutrition, had left two gluten free ready mixes from Ugg Foods for me. I was so touched. Thanks so much Sheila!!

With all the kerfuffle of birthdays and holidays, I didn't get around to making them right away, but I did this week, and I thought I'd tell you all about them.

I tried the Chia Seed Muffins pack first. I had never heard of Chia Seeds before, but an article on Huffpost revealed that they are full of healthy things like calcium, manganese, phosphorus and healthy omega 3 fats.

The mix was incredibly easy to put together. I whisked together almond milk, eggs and oil and then poured the contents of the packet in. Give it a stir, let it sit for a couple of minutes to thicken, then pour into cupcake cases. Easy.

I found that my cakes needed quite a lot longer in the oven than suggested on the pack, so use your own judgement to decide when they are done. Mine also remained quite flat, not risen, as in the picture on the packet.

Texture wise, they were similar to a poppy seed muffin, due to the chia seeds, but I'd say they were a bit grainier. They felt a little bit greasy on the top, which I have found to be the case quite often with gluten free cakes and biscuits, even shop bought ones.

They tasted great though. I could taste the almond milk, which was good for me, as I love almonds. I wouldn't say they taste quite as good as a great big 'Starbucks style' muffin, but then you don't have to feel guilty about eating them, they are doing you good, full of good nutritious things, and still taste like a treat with your cuppa.

I haven't made the other mix up yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

If you fancy a gluten free, dairy free, paleo friendly, healthy treat, I definitely reccommend giving these a try. A pack in your cupboard, ready for when you need a treat, would definitely help with the 'why has everything I want to eat got gluten in it?" moments!

You can check out Ugg Foods here. There's a ton of information on nutrition on their site, and some yummy looking recipes, which are all gluten and dairy free, paleo and nutritious, so well worth a look.

Before I go, check out my beautiful cake forks. They are from Laguiole and I love them. I love the little bee logo and the beautiful coloured handles. Someday I will treat myself to a full set of this cutlery!!



Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tired Mummy Survival Tips


I'm sitting in my car, in a lay-by, less than half a mile from my house, with my one year old asleep in the back. There's 40 minutes until I have to collect the three year old from nursery, which is about 2 minutes away. I daren't try to go home, because the small one will wake up as I lift her from the car, so I'm taking my 40 minutes peace right here.

This got me thinking about how long I've spent in lay-bys in the last 3 years. Maybe longer, because I sure used to take a nap when I was pregnant and still driving all over the country for my job. It adds up to a lot of time! When I was pregnant with number two, and my then 18 month old had stopped taking any naps other than car naps, it was almost every day!

Those lay-by naps have been an important part of my survival strategy for the last few years. I don't think you've known tired until you've known mum-tired. Pregnancy, new baby, teething baby, pregnancy, non sleeping baby, night terrors, anaemia, I don't think I've had a good nights sleep in over 4 years. Here, just in case it helps you, is how I survive.

Always be ready for the nap.

If, like mine, your kids no longer nap particularly regularly, you need to be prepared to use the unexpected nap when it happens. At home, there's always something to be done as soon as you get that chance, but don't waste it. Do something you can't do with them awake. Even if it's just sit down and drink a cup of tea while it's actually still hot!

Out and about, it's a bit more tricky, but I've learned to be prepared so that I can still take advantage. As soon as I notice that they've both fallen asleep in the car, I pull over in the next layby. Honestly. Then lock all the doors, grab something soft from the back (there are always cushions and blankets in our car, but a coat or soft toy will do), make yourself comfy and take a nap. Or at least close your eyes for a bit.

If we are out and about walking, or in town, and they both fall asleep in the buggy, I head for the nearest cafe or park and sit for a bit. I've got the kindle app on my phone, so I've always got something to read, or I could write a blog post of course! I've usually got a little pouch somewhere in my bag, just makeup bag sized, containing a little hand sewing project. I am always ready to seize the opportunity for a few minutes 'me' time.

Always have coffee.

Ok, not always, but if I'm going out for long enough that I think there might be a chance they will fall asleep, I often pack a coffee. I've got one of these one cup flasks that seals tight, so it can get thrown into my bag without leaking, you drink straight from it and it keeps a cup of coffee perfectly warm enough for a good 4 hours or so.


Get out of the house every day.

There are days when I just can't face the thought of cleaning the high chair, and the floor underneath it, even once, never mind 3-4 times in a day! On those days, while the kids have their breakfast, I make us a packed lunch and a flask of coffee and we head out. Often, I'm not even sure where we are going - just so long as I don't have to clean up afterwards. Last year, we had an annual pass to Woburn Safari Park, which I highly reccommend, if you are nearby. They put the pass in the name of the toddler, and then any adult can get in with them for free. That meant it was a good place for Daddy to take them at the weekend too, to give me a break. If you've got a pass, you don't mind if the animals are all hiding, or it rains, or your toddler has pee'd in her sixth pair of pants that day and is now wearing her younger sisters leggings, which only reach her knees, in the dead of winter, and the little one is wearing nothing but a nappy from the waist down, and lots of blankets, and therefore you have to come home after half an hour. (totally happened)

Now that the weather is getting better, I will start doing this again, because the supreme benefit of a picnic lunch is that you leave the crumbs behind you. Plus, it gives me an excuse to get one of these. How cute??


Surround yourself with good friends.

I have such a fantastic support network of friends. I am fortunate that we are all of the 'we are in it together, let's support each other' mentality and not the 'competitive, super judgemental mom' mentality. If you've got any of those in your circle of friends, ditch them. Immediately. Seriously, this job is hard. You don't need 'friends' that make you feel like you're making a hash of it.

The more the merrier.

For some reason, I find a house full of kids easier to deal with sometimes than just my two. That does not mean there will be more added to our family. No thank you. But invite other kids around and usually, their mums come too, so you can have a natter, and the kids play together and demand less of your attention. In theory, anyway.

Always have music.

Never underestimate the power of music. If my kids are getting kranky in the car, playing the 'In The Night Garden' soundtrack completely calms them down. If you can't bear plinky-plonky lullabies, search for 'Rockabye Baby' on iTunes. They do lullaby versions of all the artists you love, so that at least you can sing along.

If it's not calming, but entertaining they need, a quick game of musical statues or bumps can come from nowhere, if you've got their favourite tunes in a playlist. Of course, they love songs from their favourite films (we must listen to Pharrell's Happy, from Despicable Me, at least 4 times a day) but also britpop and rock anthems, that they can shout along to, or bizarrely, Lola seems to love dance music (which neither Joe or I have ever been particularly in to, so goodness knows where that comes from).


Always have distractions.

If we are out for the day, or going anywhere I might want the girls to be quiet for a bit, I make sure we have distractions with us. This is obvious, you always take a toy, or a colouring book or something, but keep your eyes out for little things to stash away as surprises for these times. A rummage around in the bottom of my changing bag can usually result in some stickers - useful as prizes for the musical statues, or a 'see who can be quiet the longest' competition, but I also have a stash at home of little 'stocking stuffer' type things, that I've picked up on sale, or in a charity shop or something, so that I've got something to reward good behaviour with!!

Always have snacks.

Goes without saying. Kids are hungry constantly. The very second that my kids realise they are hungry, they get incredibly kranky. Healthy snacks, especially tiny ones that take ages to eat, like yoghurt raisins, have saved me from more tantrums than I care to think about.


So that's about it I think. My little saviours. I am sure you've tried most of these already, but even if I've suggested one new thing, or reminded you of something you used to do, I might have saved you from at least one headache!

What are your top survival tips? Got any new ones for me? I'd love to hear them.








Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cartref Campsite, Shrewsbury

Last weekend, despite the fact that it had rained pretty relentlessly all week, we decided to take the caravan to Cartref Campsite, which is just outside Shrewsbury, in Shropshire.

My parents have a caravan on a season pitch just a few miles away, and my brother and his new fiancée decided to come and join us at Cartref, in a tent.

The owners at Cartref were lovely. They called us as we were on our way up on Friday, to find out what time we would be arriving, so that they could be there to help us pitch, if we needed it. They had had a lot of rain over the last week, so the grassy areas of the site were wet and springy underfoot, with the odd muddy patch. Apparently it had been much worse. The owners had a tractor at the ready, to help anyone that was struggling, but our mover coped very well on its own.

The site is very well maintained, with well cut grass and hedges between each pitch, even the tent pitches. There was a field for dog walking, with a play area for children in the middle.

If you haven't got a dog to take away with you, why not take your cat? We would have done just that, if I hadn't just caught movement in the corner of my eye, as I did my last check of the van before heading off.

That's our idiot cat, Purdey, who's obviously decided that the caravan is a good place to go and hide, for a bit of peace and quiet!

But anyway, back to the site. It was basic in terms of amenities - the wash block was clean enough, but was of the 'just a curtain between the shower and your dry clothes, so everything ends up wet' variety. If you use your own loo and shower though, everything else was lovely. You do need to use your car to get anywhere and there was no shop on site, so it's certainly not a 'pitch up and don't leave the site until it's time to go home' kind of site, but it was ideal for what we wanted and we will certainly be back.


GF Recipe: Quick Fennel Flatbreads


A week in to my Gluten Free lifestyle, and I don't think I've managed a fully gluten-free day yet. I've not deliberately eaten any gluten, but I keep making little mistakes. It's becoming apparent already that rather than keep the rest of the household eating normally and store my gluten-free food seperately, I will need to make my kitchen gluten-free. Probably with the exception of a few things for the kids, purely because otherwise our food bill will bankrupt us! It's awful that I need to think like this, because of the extortionate cost of gluten-free food, but that's another rant for another day.

I need to make packed lunches for the girls at least two days a week and there's no getting away from the fact that sandwiches are by far the easiest food for this. Shop bought gluten-free bread is expensive and homemade bread is not normally great for kids lunchbox style sandwiches, so my way around this is to buy a sliced loaf, make the whole thing up into sandwiches in one go, and then freeze them. I can clean up thoroughly afterwards and remove all traces of gluten and the ready source of sandwiches saves me from the possibility of another episode like this. I can take them straight out of the freezer in the morning and they are defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime. (Great tip for those of you that take sandwiches to work and end up eating them by 10 am too!)

I haven't gad a go at gluten free bread, loaf-style yet, but yesterday, while warming some nice homemade veggie soup from the freezer (what a picture of domestic bliss and preparedness I paint. Oh, how I wish it was so all of the time!) I felt like I needed something to dunk in it.

My usual quick google search, followed by a combination of recipes, produced these:

They were really easy to make, and perfect to dunk into houmous, or to eat with the curry we had for tea later. They don't keep very well - they go quite hard and dry, but would probably perk up if sprinkled with water and flashed under the grill, as you would naan breads.

It doesn't matter that they don't keep though, because they took seconds to make. They would be great for the kids to make and are perfect for those 'dammit, ran out of bread' moments.


Quick Fennel Flatbreads



200g self raising flour (I used GF, obviously)

150g natural yoghurt

1 tbsp milk or water

Salt and pepper

I added a tablespoon on fennel seeds, but you could omit these, or swap them for anything you like: poppy or sesame seeds, cumin, herbs, a smidge of paprika - whatever you fancy.



Heat your grill to high and dust a baking sheet with flour

Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl

Add the wet ingredients and stir to form a dough

Divide into four balls. Flatten into round discs and place them on the baking tray, sprinkled with a bit more flour

Grill for 3-5 minutes each side, until golden and puffy

Dunk into soup, or dip of your choice.



Monday, 2 June 2014

Easy Midweek Dinner: Fancy Fish Pie

A few weeks ago, while shopping, I found these bargains in the reduced section of the supermarket:

I had no plans for them at the time, just stashed them in the freezer. This morning, in an effort to be organised for tonight's tea, I decided to turn them into a fish pie. Good old comfort food! (And Gluten Free, of course!)

I did my usual thing, which is google a couple of recipes for the general idea and quantities, and then made it up as I went along. Ingredients wise, I pretty much went with what was in my fridge and freezer.

First off I peeled a white onion into thick slices, and put it in a pan with a couple of bay leaves and the fish (440g skinless & boneless haddock and 325g salmon, but use whatever fish you happen to have, or find in the reduced section!)

I poured over 500ml milk, added salt and pepper and brought the lot to a gentle boil. I simmered gently for a few minutes and then turned the heat off and left it, with the lid on, to cool. You don't need to worry about the fish not being cooked enough. It will be, and anyway, it's going in the oven again later too!

In the meanwhile, I roughly chopped some potatoes (about 800g) and put them on to boil, for the mash topping. I had red skinned potatoes to hand, so used those. I don't usually peel potatoes for mash. Just give them a wash and cut off any dodgy bits.

After the fish has cooled and infused for at least 20 minutes, drain it, so that you collect the liquid in a jug. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Now you can transfer the fish to your casserole dish, breaking it into fairly large pieces and checking for bones. I removed the skin from the salmon at this point too. The haddock was already skinless. Some recipes told me to discard the onion, but I chopped it up and added it to the fish. I also scattered over a couple of handfuls of frozen peas. You could use sweetcorn, or any other frozen veg.

Next, in a clean pan, I stirred together 40g butter and 40g (gluten free) flour. I put the pan on a gentle heat, beating the mix until it formed a smooth paste. Now add the reserved milk from boiling the fish. Add it bit by bit, whisking or stirring to combine it with the flour and butter paste, before adding the next bit. Once all the milk is combined, bring to a gentle boil, constantly stirring, and then take off the heat. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Pour the sauce over the fish and veg mixture. I found a little pack of crayfish tails in the freezer and decided to add those too (hence the fancy fish pie) but you could use prawns, or leave it out all together. A bit of pepper, a scrape of nutmeg if you like it, and give the lot a very gentle stir. You want to mix it all together, but without breaking the fish up too much.

Mash your potatoes however you like to do it. I used a nob of butter, a splash of milk, and half a tub of cream cheese that was lurking in the fridge.

Spoon the mash all over the top of your pie, and scatter with some grated cheese. Previously, I'd have scattered some breadcrumbs over the top, before the cheese, so the top went nice and crispy.

That's it. If, like me, you're getting this done while the kids are eating breakfast, you can put the pie in the fridge, to cook later. Either way, when it's time to eat, preheat the oven to 200c/Gas 6. Take your pie out of the fridge to come up to room temperature, or you risk cracking your casserole dish (learnt that one the hard way - RIP beautiful, heart-shaped LeCreuset casserole) and then cook for 25 minutes, until the top is brown and you can see bubbling bits of fish sauce at the sides.

Yum yum. Add some veg, a nice salad, or some crusty bread (snif!) and tuck in!

The pie was delicious. Polished off without fuss by both of the kids, and even the salmon-hating husband enjoyed it. The crayfish tails gave it a really lovely flavour, and they weren't an expensive addition. I found them in little packs in Aldi.

Servings wise, there was definitely enough for six hungry adults. Possibly more with bread and veg. Less than half served our family of four plentifully, with just the addition of broccoli and peas.




For the filling:

Roughly 800g mixed fish

500ml milk

1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced

2 bay leaves

40g butter

40g flour

150g frozen peas

150g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)


For the topping:

800g potatoes

1 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp milk

100g cream cheese

30g grated cheese


Special Diets:

If you need to be gluten free, like me, just use gluten free flour. If you're on Slimming World or just watching the calories, you can use skimmed milk and omit the butter, milk and cheese from the mash. You could use quark or fat free yoghurt in the mash if you like, to make it creamier.


Let me know if you try it. I'd love to hear what you thought, and see a pic of yours!


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sheridan UK launch and a lovely day in London

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited down to London, to attend the press launch of the forthcoming autumn range from Sheridan UK.

I jumped at the chance to go along to this launch, for a number of reasons. First, my absolute favourite bed linen is from Sheridan. It's years old, but is still every bit as beautiful as the day I bought it. Second, I thought I might learn something about how to get a quality nights sleep, which is obviously very important to everyone, most of all parents! And finally, but by no means least important, I really wanted to spend some time in a posh hotel, being treated with lovely food and wine and generally having a blast. Sheridan certainly didn't disappoint on any of those things!

So I dropped the girls off at nursery and got the train down to London, treating myself to a coffee and a snack on the way! It's a while since I travelled down to London on my own, but I kind of miss the commute in a way. Easy to say when you're not doing it every day I suppose!

My train journey was made all the more pleasant because I met a lovely lady called Celia, and her sister who was visiting from Canada. Celia and I chatted away for the whole journey, very probably annoying the rest of the passengers! Celia and her sister had a fun-packed day ahead of them and Celia, if you're reading this, I hope you really enjoyed Wicked! What a change, to sit and chat to a stranger on a train. Most commuters avoid eye contact at all cost, burying their nose in their newspaper. Maybe it was because Celia and I were both travelling for pleasure, rather than commuting, that we were able to strike up a conversation, but it really think that commuting for work too, would be so much nicer if travellers struck up conversations with each other.

Anyway, enough of that. The launch was at the stunning Cafe Royal Hotel, on Regents Street. What a beautiful location. I was greeted by a doorman at the entrance, followed by porters at both entrance and exit of the lift. Now that's service - not even having to press the lift button yourself!

Once at the Sheridan suite, I was immediately welcomed with a glass of wine and a manicure. Lovely, this is the life! I sat watching the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus below, whilst having my nails painted a lovely pistachio green colour. I even got to take the rest of the bottle home with me!

Just look how excited I look. Anyone would think I've never had a manicure before!

A mooch around the suite revealed numerous bathrooms and bedrooms, all kitted out in the absolutely stunning bed, bath and loungewear ranges from Sheridan. Here are just a few of my favourites:

The kids range is just beautiful. Really lovely quality and not too childish. I would gladly have any item from that range for myself and love it (ok, maybe not the sleep sacks!)
The loungewear just looked sooooo comfortable. It's lounge/sleep wear, but is absolutely nice enough to wear out of the house. If I owned this lovely soft waterfall cardigan, you might see me in it every day!

This was my absolute favourite of the bedding range. It's silk, and feels amazing, but I was also told that silk sheets and more specifically, pillow cases, are really good for your hair. They really help to calm some frizziness, as there's less friction between your hair and the pillow, when you're moving your head in your sleep. Well, who knew?? Certainly not me, but I could do with all the help I can get, to banish the frizz, so silk pillows are definitely on my wish list.

Speaking of wish list, I met a lovely man, Paul, from Quilts of Denmark, who supply the pillows and duvets to Sheridan. Now, I would not have expected to find a conversation about duvets and pillows to be interesting, but actually, there's a lot to learn. I learnt some really interesting things about how your bedding can help your sleep, but you 'll have to wait for another blog post for that. This one's about Sheridan!

After my mooch around, I was invited into the living area of the suite, for nibbles and canapés. Oh my goodness, the food was amazing!

I even bought a little bag of old school sweets home for the girls. Who remembers flying saucers??

A great benefit I hadn't expected from this event was the chance to meet some other bloggers and have a good natter. Some of these ladies were just as new as me in the blogging world, so it was really lovely to chat with them.

If all this decadence has left you wanting more, let me show you some more images of the new ranges for Sheridan in 2014 ..... Because they really are lovely!

I love this range. If you've been reading this blog a while, you'll know about my obsession with anything bird or deer related. This set would be just perfect for our little Lola.
How cool is this swinging bed??
And just in case you thought rope swing beds were just for girls .....
Lastly, these are for my lovely blogging friend, Lucy. She loves a bit of mustard and blue!

While we are talking about Lucy, she has just been short listed for a Loved by Parents blogging award. She us super excited by this, as am I, as her friend, and both she and I would be really grateful if you took a moment to click here and vote for her blog, Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter.

While you're doing the clickies, click on one of the little buttons on the right to follow my blog updates. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter too, my username is @Wannyrow. Then you will be sure not to miss the post about sleep and Quilts of Denmark!

Bye for now x






















Monday, 19 May 2014

What's on your favourite shelf?

You've heard of a selfie ..... Well here's my shelfie:

Victoria Plumb and Tots100 are running a competition via Twitter and Instagram, comparing the UK's shelves, for the chance to win £500 in John Lewis vouchers.

Here's my entry. This is the shelf in my downstairs loo which is just off my kitchen, and stores all my cookery, gardening, home improvement and travel books. This collection of books has been scaled down massively over the last year or so, as I gradually try to de-clutter our home. These shelves used to be filled only with cookery books, plus more elsewhere in the house, but I've been ruthless in my culling! My recent Coeliac diagnosis has helped too, as I've got rid of a lot of baking books, although these will soon be replaced, I am sure, with lots of books on gluten free and paleo cooking.

Nigella Christmas is my go-to book every Christmas. It just wouldn't be Christmas, if there wasn't a jar of Chilli Jam in each of the hampers and a Ham in Coke in the fridge! The pistachio fudge from this book is also out of this world. I have previously blogged about it here.

As you can see, I am also a fan of the lovely Jamie Oliver. I had the huge pleasure of meeting him briefly (but not too briefly to ask for, and get, a kiss!) as I work as a representative of one of his companies - Jamie at Home. The Save with Jamie book on that shelf is a signed copy too, so it gets treated extra carefully!

The top shelf there is full of our caravanning inspiration. We decided when I was first pregnant that we wanted to instill a love of nature and the Great British countryside in our children, which prompted our purchases of a campervan first, followed by our caravan. It's working so far. Our girls love being out in the fresh air, come rain or shine, looking for plants and animals and I honestly think Evie knows the names of more of them than the average adult!

But back to the point of the shelfie .....

As part of this competition, Victoria Plum are running the Great British Home Quiz so that you can find out what your own home style is. I got 'Quirky Cool' 'like Jess or Nick from New Girl'. I'm happy with that result. We try to foster a slightly quirky style in our home, as I think you can tell from our shelves and wallpaper. I love New Girl too. I hope it's back soon and that Jess and Nick are still together!!

Here's what the quiz said about my style:



Well, we in fact have two leather sofa's, one in our lounge and one in our kitchen, one being purple, to match our purple cupboard door in the kitchen. They're not wrong with the bright accessories mixed with vintage style either!

The wallpaper in our kitchen, with our 'vintage' clock
Bright Le Creuset on the windowsill
More Le Creuset and my beloved pink Kitchen Aid mixer
Vintage style spice racks and our wedding bread board
More vintage/retro style and my pastel pink blender


They are wrong about the take-aways though. We very rarely call a take-away and that will become even less once I'm gluten free. On the very rare occasion we do call one, we usually end up thinking we could have made our own that tasted better, was healthier, cost less and probably even took less time to prepare, than waiting for a delivery! I will miss crispy duck pancakes though, that's for sure. Joe doesn't eat duck, so I can't even make it at home. I'll have to try out a gluten free lamb version. I'll let you know when I do!

Why don't you have a go at the quiz and see what it says about your style? You could win £250 in the process! Leave your answer in the comments if you do, I'd love to know!