Sponsored Video: A2 Milk.

We are a family with ‘previous’ when it comes to milk. When Amelie was 3 – with considerable reluctance and embarrassment at becoming ‘faddy’ parents, we decided to try removing milk from her diet since we had gone beyond misery at her eczema and asthma. She was miserable, we were miserable, it had reached the point where even the inconvenience of an exclusion diet had to be worth a go.

So we took milk away. It was trickier than we thought as powdered milk turns up in fish fingers, most branded breakfast and every cake so our diet changed (for the better) overnight as Max took over and we cooked more from scratch from then on, ate together more and turned meals into an event. it felt like a drag at the time, though in retrospect, now I’ve seen my niece adapt to a coeliac diet, I realise it was child’s play in comparison. And for Amelie, the effect was immediate. Her skin calmed, her breathing improved, she began to sleep through and her fairly challenging set of behaviours started to settle. (In fact, it is tempting to consider a return to milk free now!) If she was exposed to milk after the initial 2 weeks, she would get bright red flashes under her eyes, confirming our opinion that Amelie was intolerant of something in milk and that she was better off without it.

One thing that was more of a problem was pouring milk. She missed her cereal – and breakfast without it is expensive – and hated soya. Goat’s milk was a no go for her (though some can tolerate it) and we ended up buying rice milk for her, and subsequently also for Josie, who had a less dramatic but similar skin reaction to milk. And there we’ve stayed. When I was pregnant with Freddie I used it as milk and cereal would make me hugely sleepy and then a ‘not for under 7′ recommendation came out due to the arsenic levels in it – which has caused me considerable angst over the years.

The girls are growing up now and while they are conditioned to rice milk, it is far from ideal. For one thing it makes them ‘different’ and conditioned to drinking something odd and for a second  it’s expensive. And for a third, well, they can’t easily play this game with friends!

Back in the olden days, I assumed that the girls had a lactose intolerance and only found out later that this would have really only affected their stomach (which was never a problem). The A2 milk in the video has a different protein make up and it is the protein which can cause things like eczema flare ups. So for kids like Amelie and Josie, it may just about be perfect and because it is ‘real milk’ it works fine in baking and meals too. (If I can persuade them to try it!)

You can find out more on the A2 Milk Facebook page.

Tripping up.

I was afraid of her, the woman with the cruel eyes and the taunting expression. She held me close to her with my necklace and I could feel her breath on me as real as I could feel the eyes of the helpless watchers outside. She wanted to hurt me and I knew she would.

“It’s things that matter to you, not people,” she said and pulled the necklace tighter. I felt the chain cut my neck, it sawed into me and I flopped closer to her to relieve the pressure on my skin and save the chain from breaking. But I was clever, cleverer than she thought and while I held her gaze I started to taunt her back, swing gently against the chain, mesmerise her with the pull and motion of the necklace. She still held the leaf but it lengthened, twisted, vibrated and shone and her eyes glazed over. I hypnotised her with it, saved myself with the chain. I saw her slump back into her chair and I released the clasp, leaving my leaf, my Freddie leaf, in her hand.

“You are wrong,” I said, walking backwards. “I know what matters. People. You can keep the leaf. That isn’t him.”

Eyes on her, I edged to the door, slid it open, stepped through. The latch clicked. The police around me clapped.

“Well done. You kept your head. You made the right decision. Well done.”

Safe.

But the noise of the lock had woken her  – perhaps. She opened her eyes, winked, walked to the window and signaled outside.

Someone shouted for me. The police started running.

A helicopter hovered above. As vile as Hollywood henchmen, her thugs were ready to play out the scene.

Max, the girls, Bene all suspended on ropes above me, screaming as their torturers swung them up and down and back and forth. Exactly the same movement I had used to trick her.

And then they let the ropes go. Dropped them all.

I woke before they hit the ground. In the second before I made myself wake up, I knew exactly what I had done. I thought I was so clever. I thought I had saved myself but by escaping, I doomed them all. The only thing that kept them safe was me being in danger. When I let go of my leaf and let him go, I lost them all.

It was not a kind awakening; violent, thudding, horrifying. No more sleep for hours. The kind of waking that disturbs bedfellows, leaves your heart hammering so hard it feels dangerous.

***

I never dream of Freddie but lately he has crept in at the edges of my sleep, the loss of him and the trauma of him. Never the boy.

***

I sat through the first half of a child first aid course today. I forgot to prepare myself for the impact of it, because everyday life is manageable now and I don’t remember how fragile the grip can be. I lasted – with the help of firm and practical support from a friend – but it shocked me to find myself teetering on the edge of broken again. It feels a long time since I’ve struggled with that. A child sized dummy, talk of death and non-breathing children though… it doesn’t take much to be back in a room ,a bed, a striped duvet, the quiet, and the little purple, blue, white hand.The sounds after death and the end of movement.

Really, it doesn’t take much at all.

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Hunting for Colour.

For someone who spends so much time making and creating with craft materials and oggling websites like Attic24, I’m not very confident with colour. Fran’s blanket is pushing me out of my boundaries with random, unthemed colour choices and I keep desperately trying to pull it back to something uniformed and safe. She wants unthemed though, with hexagons to remind her of things we did and know and explored together. It’s hard for me. I’m conservative by nature and unconfident about colour. My living room has proved a real surprise to me because pulling of a red and blue look that was all from my head has amazed me.

I so wish I had done an art course or believed in myself about putting a look together; I don’t like being conventional with how my house looks. I want to be more remarkable. Story of my life really.

This week I saw these:-

Want them all! #qd #peterborough #colour

which reminded me of the ripple cushion from last year and now I’m aching to do something crafty in hot Mediterranean colour again. Am I going to have time for my exotic, high colour house before I get old and staid do you think?

I’ve got my eye on my dining room which has been gentle and muted for years and is due an overhaul. I was going to do the same again but I’m suddenly wondering about something fresher?

Over the weekend I got round to sorting out a chair with a ragged cushion cover, using curtain remnants. I rushed it, but it works great – and it was free.

Cheerfully botched but a remnant covered seat cushion to fix the raggedy old one that's been falling apart for years. #sewing

It has inclined me to get ready to start a new decorating project. But… what shall I do?

Peppa Pig’s Golden Boots.

Last week Bene, Josie and I had a bit of a half term treat thanks to the Peppa Pig team who invited us to go and watch the new Peppa Pig 10 year anniversary episode at our local Showcase Cinema. Obviously Josie accompanied us only to be part of his first ever cinema trip and not because she quite fancied indulging in a bit of escapism.

Although Peppa is the same age as Josie, we didn’t become familiar with her until my sister and nephew and niece introduced us to the series a year or so ago. Bene is OBSESSED with Peppa and I quite often come in to find half the family mesmerised by their ‘favourite’ episodes (even Daddy). Obviously Bene is George but the series in general amuses us quite a lot and it is perfect for tired boys at the end of the day. (Especially tired boys who only need about 9 hours sleep a night and take ages to settle down!)

Bene hadn’t been to the cinema before; he’s been a bit too small to sit patiently in a film the older girls want to see and too small to manage anything long on his own – plus, it is just expensive to have a family trip of 7 people! – so he loved this. The adverts, the seats, the atmosphere – he was so excited that he just bounced, gripping mine and Josie’s hands as tight as tight.

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The Milkshake team did some fun link pieces between the ‘Peppa-sodes’ involving plenty of snorting and singing and we watched some old favourites as well as Peppa’s first 15 minute show, all about her Golden wellies. it was lovely.

And I finally got to see the episode rewarding the amazing Miss Rabbit, a woman so amazingly busy everyone else should feel completely inadequate in comparison. She even had a shop on the moon this time! All the favourites were in the main episode, even the rocket ;)

Bene loved it and it was perfect to have some breaks in the Peppa-iness, even though I think we all know they can watch it back to back for hours. Even the familiar episodes were fun – toddlers like familiar (again, don’t we all know it?!?)

First cinema trip a huge thumbs up from the boy. I bought him the figures on the way home. #softmummy #peppapig #goldenboots

We came out to a special certificate and then I got stung at the shops on the way home for some figurines… I never learn!

Thanks to the Peppa Pig and Showcase team for our tickets.

Cooking up an Irish Feast.

A few years ago one of the girls dreamed about making ‘potato cakes’ in such detail that Max followed their recipe the next day and made them for her. This year I will yet again be kicking my heels while the chief cook and bottle washer of the house partakes of that delight which is men playing cricket around the world, so I might have to do more of the cooking. I thought I would go back to my own Irish roots and come up with something based around that idea. I decided to try and keep as Irish as possible so went for potato, Irish beef and brussel sprouts with some twists of my own to try and make them unique. (I never cook, I never look at recipe sites, so I have no idea if they actually are!)

I have to say I am very pleased with the results.

Irish Themed Meal

Main Ingredients.

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 3 large tbsps 0% Greek Yoghurt
  •  some butter
  • 150g  plain flour
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 egg
  •  spray fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 350g Irish Beef strips
  • brussel sprouts
  • spring onions

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Method for Potato Cakes.

  1. Boil and mash 1 and a 1/2 of the potatoes with a little of the milk. Season with salt.
  2. Grate and strain the other 1 and 1/2 potatoes with added salt until excess liquid removed.
  3. Place both cooked potato mixtures in bowl with flour, egg, remaining milk, spring onion and greek yoghurt. Mix.
  4. Heat pan with spray fat and add some butter. Fry small patties of the potato mixture, turning when brown. Place on baking tray. Add some chopped brussel sprouts to the second half of the mixture for variety.
  5. Place in oven to firm and keep warm at 180c.

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Method for Brussels.

  1. Using the same pan, refresh spray fat and add chopped brussel sprouts.
  2. CAREFULLY add a small amount of water to soften the veg quickly.
  3. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Toss quickly and place in warmed, covered serving bowl in the oven.

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Method for Beef.

  1. Using the same pan to retain flavour, heat, add spray oil and toss beef in when sizzling.
  2. Add lemon, salt, pepper and sage to taste, heat fast while keeping moving and lift out with tongs directly on to warmed plate.

The sage in the beef was a cheerful and totally ‘unculinary’ nod to the Irish Druids, but it worked beautifully. I’m so proud! I think it is entirely possible I might actually cook this again. :D

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Can I also just say how much I like “reuse the pan to retain flavours” as an alternative to “do lots of washing up because this isn’t a TV show with staff to do those bits for you”.

‘I was asked by Betfair to take part in the Cricket World Cup Recipe challenge’.