Cosy Pom-Pom Scarf – Knitting Pattern to fit Toddlers

Getting my hygge-inducive knit on now that the temperature has nicely dropped and it’s appropriate to think about all things Cosy. It’s fun to do on the commute/in down-time.

Adelyn lost her only scarf on our recent trip to beautiful Edinburgh. I wandered into some gorgeous boutique for kid’s clothes and picked up an adorably chunky knitted scarf and promptly dropped it in disgust at the £35 PRICE TAG – ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!??

Then realised that I could whip together a scarf with my own two hands. This is a simple-ish pattern I devised, the subtle “points” at each end lend a little something extra in detail to what is otherwise a pure knitting pattern. Add two pom-poms and you’ll have a delightful little homemade scarf to adorn upon a little one in as little time as a weekend.

If you need any help whatsoever with the graduations to increase/decrease your stitches to get the (what are essentially) triangle shapes at either end of scarf, I use the lovely videos from Purl Soho to show me!

You’ll need:

  • 4mm knitting needles
  • 6 or 8-ply DK wool (one normal sized ball for the scarf and another colour for the poms!)
  1. Cast on 3 stitches
  2. K all
  3. Sl1, K f&b, K1
  4. Sl1, K f&b, K2
  5. Sl1, K1, M1R, k to the last 2 stitches then M1L, K1
  6. Sl1, K all

Repeat step 5 and 6 till you have 21 stitches.

  1. Sl1, K all – for all of your rows until you have the desired length

Then when you’re ready to finish off the scarf and do your decreasing…

  1. Sl1, K1, SSK, K to last 4 stitches, K2tog, K2
  2. Sl1, K all

Repeat 1 and 2 still you have 5 stitches left and finish off with…

  1. Sl1, SSK, K2Tog, K1
  2. K and bind off

Make your Pom-Poms and then attach to each end ^.^

 

Autumnal Apple & Sultana Muffins

Every Autumn, one of the houses on our block walk with Coco puts a bucket outside of their front drive with an invitation to help oneself to bags of their windfall Bramley Apples – what a lovely way to share with neighbours. And by lovely I mean lovely for my family, courtesy of the kindness of these neighbours because we get crumbles and baked goods out of their apples for free ^.^

Even after I made an 8 portions Apple Crumble (!!) I still had 3 apples leftover, and since Adelyn keeps very seriously saying “MUFFIN” at me, I figured I’d whip together some Apple & Sultana muffins (inspired by the BBC’s) as an Autumnal variation on our usual Banana muffins!

Enjoy the warm, homey smells of freshly baked cinnamon, appley goodness.

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml milk
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated (I used Bramley). Give a little squeeze so it’s not TOO juicy
  • 100g sultanas

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C Fan) and line a 12-muffin tin with muffin cases.

In a big bowl, combine the dry ingredients; the self-raising flour, baking powder, cinnamon, wholemeal flour and sugar – give it a good mix together.

In a jug (or another bowl), beat the milk, eggs and oil together. Add this to the dry ingredients bowl and mix well.

Stir in the grated apple and sultanas and give it one last good stir.

Carefully spoon the mix into your prepared muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until golden on top.

Family Friendly Outings: Sticks’n’Sushi – Greenwich

Flipping heck it’s been a while since I posted anything, let alone an edition of the Family Friendly Outings…I promise we have been taking the little Madam out!

Adelyn recently learned how to say “sushi” so we figured we’d take her out to have her first taste and treat ourselves at the same time. Combined with a trot through Greenwich Park and a good old play in the playground – it was a lovely (albeit grey/windy) Sunday afternoon out.

Ambience: Big square (some communal) style tables with comfy, cushioned and wide-backed supportive chairs for the grown-ups in a corner area at the front of the restaurant – window-side views to keep little ones occupied and shouting “BUS!” every so often. People with young families were seated in this section, and it was nice and chilled. No worrying about where to put your pram or your child dropping food on the floor – because other kiddos were doing the same! (Further back in the restaurant is the “grown-up” area nearer to the kitchen, with the harder, more style-inclined chairs).

Facilities: Ladies & Gents loos down the stairs, very nicely appointed. Easily accessible and clean/spacious changing facilities located on the main restaurant floor. Standard wooden high-chair supplied. Children’s activities included in the menu and a tub of crayon-pens to keep little fingers occupied before the sticks n’ sushi-eating begins. 


Table was a little suspiciously sticky but nothing a good anti-bac wipe-down couldn’t handle – bonus of being a parent, you’ll never be caught without tissues/wet-wipes of some description.

Food: Bit of something for everyone here really, a nice variety of meat on sticks and a great variety of both traditional (salmon and avocado) and non-traditional (salmon and cream cheese?!) sushi on offer. Impressed by the Children’s menu at about £7.50. We went for the Chicken meatball skewer and salmon maki rolls (also came with choice of small drink and a little chocolate fish). 

 

Less impressed by the Hotate Kataifi (scallops served in a little crispy kataifi bowl), which at £10.80, we were expecting significantly bigger potions of scallop instead of what seemed like one scallop cut up into 6 pieces. Didn’t bother photographing it but in hindsight, wish I had to share the dismay!

Enjoyed the Table for 2 sushi platter, which consisted of Nigiri: Salmon, tuna, shrimp, salmon New York (i.e. with a bit of minced garlic on top) inari and sea bass,  Maki: Pink Alaska, spicy tuna and gypsy roll.



Overall: Nice for a family treat and the restaurant was suitably child-friendly, though truth be told, Adelyn was way more interested in popping the edamame beans than actually eating anything. Oh well, we’ll just have to try her on more sushi some other time 🙂

 

Spinach Puffs Recipe

OK so when you give this to your little ones to eat, you’d better have the hoover ready. My husband seemed to delight in sharing a video with me of the mess she had made as I commuted home, and then realised that he was the only one around to handle the clean up. He was later seen wafting our beloved child in the garden, shortly followed by her high chair in a bid to de-flake.

After getting lots of inspiration from the thoughtfully compiled set of Ella’s Kitchen recipe books – it suddenly dawned on me whilst going through The Big Baking Book aka The Yellow One of the series – that combining puff pastry and yummy fillings would solve the two issues I’ve been having with sending Adelyn off to the childminder’s with her packed lunch; 1) homemade and 2) easy-to-feed-herself portioned food.

I get mildly anxious about ensuring Adelyn gets enough iron in her diet so this recipe has been somewhat of a Godsend given her reluctance to eat bolognese (like seriously, how can anyone fail to enjoy spaghetti bolognese??) The Big Baking Book helpfully reassures me that “spinach is rich in iron and calcium, making it perfect for superhero-style bones and brains.”

And look at these crispy beauts! Note: I made a change to the original recipe and made my puffs smaller.

Ingredients:

150g spinach

125g ricotta cheese

50g Parmesan, grated

Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

250g ready-made puff pastry (I use ready rolled)

1 egg, beaten for glazing

Sesame seeds (I only had black at home!)

  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line your baking sheet with parchment.
  • In a sizeable saucepan (must have a lid too), pop your spinach in and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and heat the spinach gently for 5 minutes till wilted. Tip the spinach into a sieve or colander and press out the juice as you don’t want soggy filling! Then roughly chop.
  • Drain off any liquid from the tub of ricotta and place in a large bowl along with the Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix together. Then add the chopped spinach and mix till evenly combined.
  • Assuming you’ve bought the ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry as I do, roll it out and leave on the parchment. Cut in half widthways and lengthways and then quarter those rectangles too so you have 16 rectangles.
  • Divide the filling amongst 8 of the rectangles and you’ll have something that looks like this:

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  • Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg. Cover with the remaining 8 rectangles and press the edges down with a fork or finger.
  • Carefully place your puffs on to the prepared baking sheet. Cut a little cross in the top of the pastry and then glaze with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 20-25minutes until wonderfully puffed up and golden!
  • Delicious served warm (but can be eaten cold). Store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.

 

Banana Muffins Recipe (no sugar!)

Adelyn loves bananas. One of her words is “Na-Na”, complete with frantic arm waving and searching the room for her beloved yellow fruit. Sometimes I overdo it on the banana-buying and end up with some that are just begging to be muffined – and though Adelyn is now over a year old, I’m still hesitant to give her foods with added sugar in them.

With this recipe, the sultanas and bananas should give enough of a sweet hit, plus bonus points for the extra goodness you’ll get into your little one.

IMG_3529

125g self-raising flour

1/2tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

75g sultanas

50g unsalted butter, melted

2tsp vanilla essence

1 medium egg, beaten

1tbsp milk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Optional: 1tbsp honey or agave syrup (only if little one is over a year old, honey is NOT recommended below this age)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan oven) and lightly greased a muffin tin (when it comes to baking for baby, I don’t bother with cases)
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas in a bowl. Then add the melted butter, vanilla essence, egg and milk – mix well. Add a little more milk if the mix seems too thick.
  • Add the honey/agave if using.
  • Fold in the mashed bananas and mix.
  • Spoon the mix evenly into the 12 muffin holes and bake for 20-25mins, till golden on top and a skewer comes out cleanly.

 

Review; Wyld Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan

I was about to write this as a “Family Friendly” edition because hey – there was a little baby there with her mum but in truth, I cannot attest to the baby-friendliness of Dandelyan as Adelyn was left at home having Daddy Time on account of this being an Afternoon Tea WITH COCKTAILS.

Mother and I have been to most of the Afternoon Teas around London, it’s our decadent treat to ourselves. I wanted to find something suitably cheeky to treat my darling Mum and found Dandelyan.

Based on Southbank on the ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel, with a view of the River Thames – Dandelyan is an award-winning bar, offering it’s Wyld Afternoon Tea (Thurs-Sun).

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The Bar – well stocked, well staffed, well tasty

Afternoon Tea traditionalists, look away! They don’t offer scones here, but what they lack in clotted cream carb-loading, they make up for in their thoughtfully created botanical-inspired Cocktails, four of them to be precise, served as part of the Wyld Afternoon Tea.

You have three courses, with a Cocktail to start and then another after each course, plus your choice from the tea menu – all for £55.

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Lime, Basil, Cacao Liquer, Orange Bitters & Prosecco – with a lemon marshmallow, topped with pistachios

The finger sandwiches at the start weren’t your usual fare either. Our faves? The Bacon Jam Pinwheels and the Elderflower Compressed Cucumber Sandwiches.

Admittedly disappointed that they don’t offer refills though (yes I asked) as we’d happily have enjoyed a bit more.

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The Savoury Course

We very much enjoyed the Sweet course too, which consisted of a slice of Battenberg Cake, and a range of petit-four sized treats.

It was around this time that my favourite cocktail came out – very refreshing and classy.

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Planter Cocktail (I think) – Pineapple Gin, Sloe Oolong, Citrus & Peychaud’s Bitters

Thankfully I am well past the age where Malibu, Vodka and Coke was the epitome of a cheeky cocktail.

All 4 cocktails were wonderfully crisp and complimented the courses quite well, I expected no less.

We left quite merry, being Asian-ladies of petite stature, yet the cocktails were perfectly sized to match the occasion (i.e. a classy afternoon out) and we very much enjoyed the quality and variety of the food.

The Tea Menu itself consists of a modest choice of 6 tea leaves, but c’mon – we were definitely there for the Cocktails, not the tea. However – if you are attending as a teetotal individual, they also offer the Boozeless Wyld Tea.

Highly recommended as an alternative to the usual Afternoon Tea scene; I look forward to going again in future.

Being a Working Mum with Ill Babies

This past week has sucked, big time.

And yes, for the record I refer to our pug Coco as my baby. And my actual baby is still being called my baby even though she’s technically a toddler but I’m in denial.

Not only has Adelyn been ill, but Coco also had emergency surgery on Monday morning (tip: do NOT let your husband let your dog eat leftover corn on the cob as a treat – it will get stuck in their stomach and will get messy and painful).

So both girls have been in serious need of TLC.

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Coco’s nicely on the mend and is already back to being excited for meal times and gentle walks around the block. She’s been sitting next to Adelyn at every opportunity, almost protective-like.

With Adelyn – it’s “just” a cold virus but never in the past (almost) 15 months have I been so scared for our little one. A week on from the first symptoms and she’s had a temperature rising to 40.1C and dropping to 34.6C, hours of screaming in some sort of unknown agony, dwindling to non-existent appetite and refusing to drink anything but from the boob, many calls to 111 and an early morning trip to the Urgent Care Unit.

And I was dealing with that whilst working (from home).

So why am I writing this post? I guess I just wanted to reassure other working parents out there that it is shit and scary and stressful – y’know, safety in numbers, you’re not alone, sisterly solidarity whoo!

I’ve spent the past week feeling guilty for neglecting my team, and then guilty for neglecting my girls because I was worrying about neglecting my team, ad infinitum.

I spent nights and early mornings comforting Adelyn and fretting about tasks to get done for work for the next day.

Balancing my responsibilities at work and at home has been really tough. I’ve cried more than I have in a while out of sheer frustration – it’s been terrifying to see Adelyn’s little body lose weight and keep on top of emails (and in our company, there are an inordinate amount of emails that come in).

But it’s in these tough times that you gain perspective, and it makes you so grateful for all the things you usually take for granted.

I’ve missed her smile, her laughter, her voice, her naughty curiosity about everything. Do  you have any idea how much harder it is to change the nappy of a child that is thrashing around in extreme anger at the world for giving her nasty germs?? (Actually it’s not that different from a child that wants to roll away to explore, and will loudly indicate that she will not tolerate having a clean bottom if it means she has to stay still for 20 seconds)

These are the things I’m grateful for:

  • that my company allow me to work from home
  • that I’ve been able to offer comfort to my baby (for us, it’s breastfeeding)
  • that Adelyn and Coco have a doting father who will cuddle and feed and nurture them given any chance
  • that I live doors down from my Mum and her partner – giving me a break from cabin fever and feeding us – I have tremendous respect for single parents out there holding down a job with a sick little one – this past week would’ve been near impossible without them
  • that my dad came to cook a nutritious meal for us all after hearing that the girls were poorly
  • that I have some truly lovely friends out there checking in on us, giving advice and sending love
  • the NHS – like, seriously. From pregnancy, to birth, to providing support and care for our ill bubba – they’re amazing.
  • the discovery of the Miffy cartoon (on the Tiny Pop channel) – we’ve finally relaxed our NO TV thing when Adelyn stopped screaming, pointed and said “buh-buh” (that’s “bunny” to you and I) – the first time we’d heard her voice in days.

So here we are, it’s Easter Sunday and we think (hope) our little Miss A is finally recovering.

I would be so interested to hear tips on coping from fellow parents/care-givers – comment away 🙂

Fully deserve all the Easter chocolates in the world after this week.

Happy Easter y’all!

Kx