Saturday, 3 January 2015

Reading Challenge 2015: The Books

As mentioned in an earlier post, I intend on reading more in 2015 and while looking at my bookshelf noticed these 12 were sat there begging to be read. As you can tell there is certainly a type of book that I gravitate towards! Have you read any of my chosen 12?

Harlan Coben - Long Lost
M.R.Hall - The Redeemed
John Grisham - Sycamore Row
Khaled Hosseini - And the Mountains Echoed

Monique Roffey - The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
Eric Lomax - The Railway Man
Nele Neutaus - Snow White Must Die
Marina Nemat - Prisoner of Tehran

Judith Tebbutt - A Long Walk Home
Terry Hayes - I Am Pilgrim
Patricia Cornwell - Dust
Asne Seierstad - A Hundred and One Days

Currently I am on M.R.Hall's The Redeemed, an author I have read and enjoyed before.

The Egyptian Mummy

New Year, New Challenges


Sorry about that little disappearing act. 2014 was a bit of a crazy year. I moved into a new house, started a new job, said goodbye to all the new mum friends I had made and met some new ones in my new area. Lots of news but one big stay same was that 2014 was the first full year we spent without my husband. His visa is currently under consideration so praying for some good news soon. Anyway... The positives... 2015 is the year I get back into blogging and my god I have missed it! 

I decided against New Year resolutions and instead decided to set myself challenges. 

1 - get back into reading. I love books but after becoming a mum and returning to work have really struggled to finish a book so to conquer that I am setting myself the 12 books of 2015 challenge to finish 12 books that I have bought, put on my shelf and not read.

2 - learn something new. My Arabic is pretty non-descript so I'm thinking this could be a good challenge as I would love to be able to read a children's book in Arabic to the mini one, otherwise I am open to suggestions!

3 - photography. I love photos and my house is full of them as is my phone, iPad, laptop... Etc. this is wrong. They should be in albums and on display. This year I want to photograph more and get a bit more creative.

What do you think of my challenges for this year? What have you got planned?

The Egyptian Mummy

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Back to work

So after 351 days of maternity leave, the time has come to go back to work or in my case start a new job. Two weeks into my 50 day maternity leave in Oman (yep 50 whole days...) I realised that I couldn't return to my then job. The hours combined with the stress I felt while pregnant there made me realise that returning as a new mum so soon after what was quite a traumatic birth just wasn't going to work. I wanted time to be a mother and find out what makes my little girl laugh, smile, cry and stare. I wanted to be there for her first solids and breastfeed as long as I could - for those interested we are still doing a morning and night feed - while taking her to parent and child groups and singing silly songs in the park. I have made some lovely mummy friends and and the Mini Grumpy Egyptian has made some friends of her own, but now the playdates and morning coffee sessions are no more as instead I will be at work.

My new job has me doing something that I think is going to prove really interesting and I am looking forward to having to engage my brain a little more than I have in previous months. Am I nervous however about the new office environment? Not really... instead I am thinking or perhaps hoping is a more suitable word, that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is going to be ok. I know I can't be there forever, but I would have selfishly liked a little more time. She has a fantastic childminder and my dad is going to be looking after her for this first week to help her settle, so I really hope things go to plan.

Working will mean I get that much talked about and highly controversial "me-time". It will mean that we can - if the current government doesn't change any more regulations - get the spouse visa for the Grumpy Egyptian and get him here with us. It will mean I can wear necklaces and earrings again without someone trying to pull them out!

It feels a little sad, I won't lie. Like the end of an era almost. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian has been such a big part of my everyday for what feels like so long now, but I will still be there for dinner and bedtime and be waking her in the morning for a little feed before I dash out. I will miss her and I will worry that she is ok or that she is crying, but this is for our future and I hope this will make me a better mummy.

Wish me luck and see you soon...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Combined weaning

I have had the title of this post in my draft folder since November, but inspired by something I overheard today, decided to finish it. We decided to begin weaning the Mini Grumpy Egyptian when she was five and a half months old as she was showing an interest in food and seemed hungry. It was quite hard working out whether she was interested in food or interested in food in that it was new and she found it interesting rather than wanting to eat it. Her first meal was some puréed sweet potato and boy did she inhale it!

This lovely image is taken from the My Little Lunchbox Blog with thanks. It isn't mine!

We chose to go for a mixture of baby led and traditional weaning so would feed with a spoon, but offer soft foods for her to try and eat by herself. We did this because it was the way the Grumpy Egyptian and I were both weaned and we don't have any trouble eating, just the opposite in fact! I know some mum's think that spoon feeding is the same as force feeding, but I've never spooned food into the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's mouth if she's crying or forced her to eat something she doesn't want. By choosing a selection of age/teeth appropriate finger foods at each meal as well as something warm for dinner or a yoghurt at breakfast, she is trying a whole host of flavours.

We started off with two small meals a day - breakfast and dinner - with breastfeeding as needed and her top up bottle of formula mid-afternoon. We tried some pouches, which she was keen on to start, but very soon got bored of singular/plain flavours and would spit it out. We moved into more advanced flavours and I found curry paste pots for children (found in the baby food aisle) were fantastic. I could remove some of the meat and vegetables that I was making our curry with and in a separate pan mix it with the curry paste, some tomatoes and yoghurt and we have enough to freeze for five meals. I also used pouches to make a quick meal with pasta if we were eating something that was inappropriate (too spicy, etc) for her to have.

Around six and a half months in and we introduced a small lunch as well before increasing portion sizes. I was worried that the mini one would overeat, but we found that she quickly found what was a comfortable amount for her to eat and would refuse anymore when full. Five months on and we are yet to find anything this little girl won't eat! She appears to have her mother's sweet tooth but will happily tuck into trees (broccoli), watermelon, pepper slices and is rather partial to a little cauliflower cheese. I give her lots of finger foods at every meal, but am still spoon feeding her yoghurt/wet foods because I'm not sure she's ready to spoon feed herself. When cooking I add no salt to our food and use the Heinz stock cubes that I get from the baby food aisle so if it's suitable for the mini one then she can have some of what we're eating. She likes Moroccan meatball Tagine, tomato pasta, homemade sweet and normal potato wedges as well as gnawing on a bit of steak when it's around.

She doesn't eat pork for religious reasons, but that hasn't seemed a problem so far. When out and about she likes egg and cress or peanut butter sandwiches. Cheese always makes an appearance at lunchtime and I have a container of rice crackers, breadsticks and mini kids flapjacks that never leave the nappy changing bag.

I do worry she doesn't get enough variety, but reading above makes me realise perhaps she does! A frantic Google search one day led me to Kayla and her gorgeous blog My Lovely Little Lunchbox (I'm so jealous, I won't lie) where she writes about the delicious food she makes her little one so I've managed to get some great tips from there. When did you start giving your little ones their own spoon/cutlery? It is her birthday next month so I am pinning away on Pinterest for a couple of cheap but cheerful birthday food ideas.

The Egyptian Mummy

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Tesco Finest cheese

A couple of months ago I heard about The Orchard at Tesco, a programme that allows you to sign up for certain projects and write about them in return for free money off vouchers for you and your family/friends. The first one that I was invited to participate in was a Tesco Finest meats activity that I didn't blog about, but you may have seen me mention on Twitter or Facebook. The most recent was for Tesco Finest Cheese and given my love of cheese, I just had to sign up for it.

My welcome pack contained lots of money off vouchers so our next task was choosing which cheeses to buy. Luckily our local Tesco in Winchester has a good range to choose from and I decided to buy my two favourite cheeses - feta and buffalo mozzarella - and compare how they are against my usual brand. The first thing that struck me was the detail that had gone into the packaging complete with details about the cheese's origin.
I chose to use the salty feta in a fresh but simple salad complete with cucumber, tomato, red pepper, spinach, lettuce, lemon juice and olive oil dressing, and my favourite thing to put in salads that contain salty cheese.... Dried mint. Try it, it's gorgeous! The feta crumbled beautifully and made what is a very simple salad, utterly delicious. This would be great as a lunch with a couple of falafel or bundled into a wrap with grilled chicken and a drizzle of Greek yoghurt.

The buffalo mozzarella was meant to be used to posh up a tomato and chilli pasta bake, but I ended up eating most of it out the packet! It melted so beautifully in the mouth and had this mellow milky consistency that for people who've only had its rubbery counterpart could prove a bit strange. I enjoyed some of this mozzarella torn up along with finely chopped tomatoes and some oregano that I stirred through some couscous for a great packed lunch friendly treat.

The remaining vouchers were given to my mum who chose the Stilton and apricot log that I understand she inhaled :)

I think for the quality of the cheeses they were fairly priced as you would probably pay more in a posh deli, but it would be nice to see the range increase further.

What do you think of these types of programmes? What cheeses would you have chosen to try?

*Disclaimer: I was given money off vouchers as part of The Orchard at Tesco in order to purchase the items mentioned here, but was not required to write a positive review and all words are my own

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mother's Day gift ideas

This year will mark my first Mother's Day as a mummy and I am really looking forward to spending the day with the Mini Grumpy Egyptian. While March 30 is about so much more than gifts, I think all mum's will admit it is rather nice to open something gorgeous on the day so I searched the internet and picked my top eight gifts for Mother's Day.

1. Handmade two peas in a pod necklace by Muriel & Lily. £125
2. Spineless Classics Pride and Prejudice print. £33.99
3. Chocolate letter with smarties by The LetterRoom. £9.95
4. When life hands mum lemons print by Wink Design. £16.50
5. Six month membership to The Cake Club by The Cake Nest £39.99
6. Tassie bag by White Stuff £65
7. Michael Kors watch at John Lewis £209
8. Mandarin and Tangelo scented candle by The Body Shop £10

Now I don't know about you, but I would be so happy to receive any of those on Mother's Day. How will you be celebrating Mother's Day? Any exciting plans?