Monday, November 22, 2010


I haven't posted lately about how Sophia's communication is developing. It seems like every day she learns a new word, either to understand or to say for herself. The current favourites are "uh-oh" and "ooos".

'Ooos' are quite obviously shoes, and since mummy often counts them as we put them on "one shoe" and "two shoes", Sophia can frequently be heard saying "ooo ooos" (two shoes). [It's always really hard to represent sounds accurately, given that there will be variations in the regional dialects of those reading this post, but you can read 'ooo ooos' as pretty much the same as 'two shoes' but without the 't' or 'sh' sounds]

But my favourite is "uh-oh". We've always been parents who down play little tumbles by saying "whoops-a-daisy" or "uh-oh!", so that Sophia can learn for herself that she's fine, she can pick herself up and carry on. Obviously we're there to offer assistance if she needs it, but we want her to learn that she doesn't need to be picked up and soothed for every tiny little thing.

"Uh-oh" tends to be used when something has been accidentally dropped, and Sophia's picked up this meaning with glee. Two case examples...

The other day I was cooking in the kitchen and Sophia was sat in the corridor with a basket of toys (right outside the kitchen, so I could keep an eye on her, but outside the babygate to keep her safe). Sophia had been playing for a while when she decided a fun game would be to drop her toys over the gate, and as each one went over she gleefully called out "uh-oh!".

Yesterday I observed Sophia at the point where she's got bored of her dinner and decided it was time to show us that. She said "uh-oh" and then (after she said it) she threw her cup on the floor.

Other Sophia words:
Mummy (but still mostly mum-mum or ma!)
Doe-dee (Sophie! Her name for herself)
Oh! or Oooh! (to be used as an exclamation, when pointing at something, just for fun...)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Debbie Thoughts

I was driving along the A406 to a friend's house the other day (and that visit totally deserves its own post) and passed under a couple of bridges and got thinking about graffiti. Yes, so I think about odd things when I'm driving.

But anyway, most of the bridges seem to have graffiti on them, and it's usually written so that you can read it from below. Ok, so some of it is just pictures, but I'm talking about the written graffiti. And I suddenly thought, hey, not only has someone been foolish to hang off a bridge to write that (cos these things are way up high above the road), they've also obviously been practising writing upside down! I'm sure if I were graffiting a bridge, what I wrote certainly wouldn't turn out half as neat and tidy cos I'd be hopeless at getting it all even!

(More posts about Sophia coming soon for those of you who don't think a post is worth reading unles it has a cute baby story in it)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Thanks to Auntie Bekki we finally have proof to show y'all that Sophia's walking

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good morning

This morning Sophia woke up at 5.30am. But she slept through until then, so I think it's an improvement.

So far this morning I have

rummaged around for things to put in shoeboxes

counted some of the pennies from our penny jar into money bags

changed at least two nappies (I've lost count)

chased Sophia up and down our halfway about six million times

jumped on daddy (actually Sophia did that, I just watched)

and probably some other stuff too

All before 8am. No wonder if feels like time to go to bed again. But instead I think I better find some breakfast for us (Sophia's had some milk, so she's fine!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Risotto

This recipe is from Allrecipes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
225g risotto rice
500g pumpkin or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm pieces
2 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
pinch of saffron
850ml vegetable stock, hot
150g frozen sweetcorn
125g mozzarella cheese, diced
50g pumpkin seeds

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a moderate heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook gently for 4–5 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, pumpkin or butternut squash and sage leaves and cook for 2 minutes longer. Stir the saffron into the hot stock, then pour about a quarter of the stock into the pan and stir well until it has almost all been absorbed, stirring frequently.

Continue adding the stock, only a ladleful at a time, making sure each is almost completely absorbed before adding the next, and stirring frequently to produce a creamy texture.
With the last addition of stock add the sweetcorn and stir well. Once all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender (this will take about 20 minutes), stir in the mozzarella cheese.

Season to taste, then cover the pan and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the risotto with the pumpkin seeds and serve at once.

How I actually made it, and a few comments:

I did this with pumpkin, you can use other seasonal squashes or courgette (zucchini). You can also add things like carrots - Danielle, who originally cooked it for me did this in hers.

I added cumin too,and I put mixed herbs instead of just sage, cos I didn't have any sage, but the ingredients on the mixed herbs said sage first, so I figured that was the largest ingredient of that anyway! Also I didn't have saffron but put a shake of paprika instead.

I didn't have just corn frozen, so I put in frozen mixed veg (corn, carrots, peas and green beans which are already cut into cute little cubes). That made it look really pretty actually. And I threw in some chick peas, cos I'd been cooking some from dry in my crock pot.

I ended up needing a lot more liquid than the recipe said. I think if I'd cut the pumpkin up smaller it might have cooked better quicker and needed less liquid. I started off with vegetable stock, but for the extra I just added hot water, cos the flavour gets very concentrated, and I figured more stock would be too much flavour.

I didn't have any mozzarella, so I just used grated cheddar cheese. Another time I might use a combination of the two. I'm not sure how much I added, I just went by taste, and it was yummy!

Final few changes (you may wonder if i can actually cook a recipe the way it's written!)

I put in a bit more onion and garlic than the recipe said. I didn't put pumpkin seeds on the top.
And I didn't use risotto rice - rather just long-grain rice!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My thinkings

Well so much for the whole posting every day in November plan - I didn't commit to it out loud cos I wasn't sure I'd manage it, and it's probably just as well!

Random bits and pieces....

This morning I found Sophia cradling one of my shoes, and saying "baby". I knew she had a weird thing for shoes!

Today Sophia had her 13 month injections. There were two, and poor baby is too clever. She watched the nurse intently after the first one, as she was getting the next one ready, and poor baby kept whimpering and trying to get off my lap cos she knew what was coming. Miss Sophia milked it all morning, requesting milk and more breadsticks or rusks, or cheese, or whatever she could see that mummy was putting into the supermarket trolley (we went shopping afterwards cos we needed some stuff and cos mummy needed some retail therapy!). And Mummy had mummy-guilt and gave in to her every need. At least up until lunch, after which she had a good long sleep.

This afternoon I've been making Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Risotto. I'll share the recipe and a link, but I'll do it in a separate post cos I made so many changes to the original recipe! My friend Danielle brought some over for lunch earlier in the week and it was delicious so I got the recipe and gave it a go myself. Sophia loved it too, so I think that's what she'll be having for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

She's a secret cappuccino drinker*

* Well, the froth anyway! She loves to share with Nana anytime she gets the chance

Monday, November 08, 2010

Apple and Ginger Jam

My mum went to stay with her mum recently and brought home a lot of apples from her tree, and she gave some of them to me. I've used some of them for apple sauce for Sophia's breakfast (she has porridge with fruit in for breakfast) and I decided to make Apple and Ginger jam with some of them. Here's the recipe.

2 1/2 lb Apples (weight after peeling and coring)
1/2 pint water
1 - 2 teaspoons ground ginger
2lb sugar

Peel the apples and core the apples and cut them up into small pieces. (I went for sort of cubes)

Tie the cores and peel up in a muslin bag (Now I actually didn't do this, but instead added a dash of liquid pectin I'd bought at Sainsburys)

Simmer the fruit (and muslin bag or additional pectin) with the water and ginger until a very smooth pulp. (I actually still had a few lumps of apple left, but I think that just adds character to the jam!)

Remove the muslin bag (if you used it)

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved

Boil steadily until set.*

Pour into sterilised jars** and put on the lids. Leave to cool

*To test if the jam is set I have some saucers in the fridge, when the jam is beginning to thicken up and look more jammy I dollop a blob of the jam onto a saucer and put it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile either turn down the jam or remove it from the heat. Use a finger to push the jam on the saucer, if the jam has a skin which wrinkles when you push it, then the jam is set. You can also use a jam thermometer to see when the jam has reached the correct temperature

** I wash my jars and lids in hot soapy water and then put the jars on a baking tray with sides (so a tin I guess, rather than a tray, the sides hold the jars in!) I put them in the oven on a low heat for at least 15 minutes. (140C/275F/Gas mark 1). Some people suggest doing it with the jars upside down, but I do them right side up cos that's what my mummy does.

Friday, November 05, 2010


This evening we had a few fireworks which Menard let off in his Mum's back garden. They were rockets, so very loud, and made me jump every time. We also had some sparklers to play with. Sophia was totally unfazed by the fireworks, she didn't even flinch. Instead she was too busy watching her auntie Yvonne holding a sparkler. And her response to those? Well to point and say "Oooh", of course!

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Sophia's definitely started talking. She says "ma-ma", which she's been doing for a while, but finally she's started saying "daddy". Yep, not just "dada" but "daddy".

Of course, we may have a few identification issues. I just saw her saying "daddy" and pointing to the television at (both!) Grissom and Warrick (on CSI)!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Frugality meets Hospitality

Themes that I seem to have been hearing and reading about a lot lately are frugality and hospitality. I've been feeling challenged to try to find a way to combine two two together into our everyday life.

I want to be frugal, I want to carefully steward the money that Menard earns, which at the of the day comes from God. I am actually one of those strange people who finds shopping exciting. I love the mathematical exercise of comparing prices, not only within store (to find the best price per unit) but also recently comparing different stores. I discovered the site MySupermarket at the weekend, and I've already used it to compare nappy prices and work out which of the stores in our area would have the best deal. A few minutes online saved me having to visit all the stores to find the figures and work out which was best, before having to then return to make my purchase. I love the way that the site allows you to compare individual items, or the whole trolley.

I also love having guests over. Menard and I really desire for this house to be a welcoming place, a home where we can serve others by inviting them into our lives. Cooking in my crockpot, among other ways, allows me to be hospitable, but also frugal.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dead (wo)man walking

I feel rough. I can't smell or taste. I feel like I can't breathe. My head is full of gunk. I want to go back to bed. Thank God for in laws - we'll be going to visit them this morning so they can take care of Sophia and I can flop on the sofa and die quietly.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Crock-potting across the universe

I've been using my crock pot a lot recently. There are a number of reasons for this, firstly I actually find it to be a lot easier to get organised about dinner in the morning than later in the day when Sophia's getting tired and cranky. On some days when we've had guests over for lunch this has actually meant I've had things in the crock pot by 7am! (well if I'm up with the baby anyway!)

Secondly, I love love love coming home to a house smelling deliciously yummy. Actually, we live in shared flats and you can generally smell whatever I'm cooking out in the shared hallway. I hope other people don't mind too much!

Thirdly, you can buy some of the cheaper cuts of meat and still produce something that tastes fantastic- I've done a couple of pork casseroles with shoulder joints and other nameless parts - just labelled 'stewing pork', bought at a fraction of the cost of other fancier cuts.

Fourthly, using the crockpot has been a great way to ensure that I don't have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing the meal when we have guests over. It's all ready when we are. All I might do is quickly prepare some rice or mashed potato and boom, it's done.

Finally, it's just so easy. Ok so of course there are some complicated recipes out there, but mostly what I've done has been really simple and yet tasted amazing.

Today I'mmaking a variation of this recipe. I'm using four chivken legs rather than a whole chicken, and I changed the spices to what I had on hand. Finally, I put in a pinch or two of salt, not 4 teaspoons like the recipe suggested. It tells you not to add any liquid because the chicken will just cook in its own juices, and I'm glad I didn't because it really had produced loads. It smells delicious, so I'll let you know how it tastes.