Something for the weekend | Leek Bread Pudding

Something I miss more than anything as a vegetarian is a hearty roast dinner. I'm allergic to most nuts so making a meaty substitute of a nut roast isn't an option. I've often rustled up a cauliflower cheese but it's never been quite right. If I'm honest, I miss my weekly fix of crispy roast potatoes and bread sauce. Then a few weeks ago I snuggled into my favourite armchair with a cup of hot chocolate to catch up on the Countryfile goings on (now do you see why my friends call me Nana?) and there it was. The most beautiful recipe I've ever seen. Comforting, hearty and the perfect alternative to any roast. It's so quick and easy to make and the left overs are perfect for the Monday lunch boxes.

This recipe uses mini loaf tins but the quantity was perfect for a large tin, I just cooked it for a little longer. You can find the original recipe here.

25g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 small leeks, finely sliced
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons mustard powder
150ml Double cream
150 whole milk
75g cheese, grated
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives, plus extra to serve
5 slices stale white bread
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180, gas mark 4, and grease eight 5x8cm mini loaf tins

Heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming and then add the leeks. Fry gently for 10 minutes until soft and caramelized. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Whisk together the egg, egg yolks, mustard powder, cream and milk until smooth. Stir in the cooled leeks, cheese and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Using the bottom of one of the loaf tins as a guide, cut out 8 rectangles of bread. Dip them in the egg mixture and then lay in the bottom of each tin. Cut the remaining bread into 1 cm cubes and stir through the egg mixture. Divide the mixture between tins, place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

Serve the bread and butter puddings with a sprinkle of chives.

* Zero waste tip - I bought a small white loaf especially for this recipe and as we usually eat a seeded loaf, I was shocked by the amount of waste there was. I put all the leftovers, including the crusts into my NutriBullet and using the milling blade whizzed them up into breadcrumbs. I used them the next day for veggie burgers. 

I served mine with some organic veg and homemade veggie gravy. Why oh why didn't I make roasters.

Do you have any nut free roast alternative recipes? Let me know down below.
Laurie Rose

Mindfulness for Fibromyalgia

Before I begin, in no way am I an expert when it comes to Mindfulness. I haven't done any formal training neither have I read a great deal about the benefits. But one thing I can tell you, is by adding just ten minutes of mindfulness practice in to your daily routine will change your life. Believe me, it really works.

During my wild teenage years I spent some time on the road, bumbling from town to town in a Skoda hatchback as a charity fundraiser. I met some weirdly wonderful people along the way and the majority of our time was spent on the road spreading the word of which ever charity we were assigned to that week. However our down time was spent having wild house parties and I spent two years either drunk or nursing a hangover. One week we were based in a small town called Easingworld. We we're renting a chocolate box cottage and at first my team for the week seemed, well let's just say, boring! Two were vegans who didn't drink and the other was old enough to be my grandad. Who was I meant to party with? That week ended up opening my mind and allowed me to look deep within myself. I learnt so much about letting go and for the first time ever I was able to empty my mind. I kept it up intermittently but never made it a religious part of my daily routine.

Self care is essential to living with fibromyalgia, knowing my triggers and pacing myself can be difficult as a single parent of a very excitable wild adventuring toddler. I decided to give myself just ten minutes a day. Hedd is now sleeping through the night and will wake up anywhere between 6 or 7am. He's happy playing in his cot for a while so as soon as I open my eyes I have a quick stretch, get myself comfy and allow just ten minutes of calm. I say my daily affirmation out loud a few times and switch off my brain. Some mornings I end up going longer but on those days when I'm busy or we get up late I notice a huge difference in my mood and patience.

The great thing about mindfulness is you can practice it anywhere. At first I thought you had to be sat crosslegged (please excuse the stereotypical picture that accompanies this post) with whale music playing in the background, but once you've got it you can literally practice it anywhere. On the train/bus to work, on your lunch break or even in the car when your little one decides to have a danger nap and there's no way your going to attempt to move a sleeping baby.

There are some great apps out there with guided meditations to get you started and if you're looking for something a bit longer Spotify have easy to follow guided meditations on their 'words' section.

Do you practice mindfulness? Any tips? Let me know below.

Laurie Rose

Five ways to get a better nights sleep | Fibromyalgia

Having Fibromyalgia means I have always struggled with my sleep and for two years straight I had a pretty bad case of insomnia. I tried everything but no matter how hard I tried my mind would race at a million miles an hour. It would force me to watch irrelevant documentaries about space travel or tribes on remote islands in the pacific and the next thing I knew the sun would be billowing through the curtains. Sleep is definitely something I took for granted before becoming a parent. Looking back to those LONG impromptu afternoon naps I wonder if I'll ever sleep the same ever again. My nights are now accompanied by ten toddler toes digging into my ribs and the constant fear that he's going to roll off the bed and sustain a serious head injury. We co sleep most nights but if I can get him to go down alone for a few hours I take full advantage of a king size bed all to myself and sink into my extra comfy mattress. And of course then sleep comes instantaneously, right? Wrong! I have a routine, a little ritual if you like of calming creature comforts to help me slowly drift off. 

Prepare your body
This one isn't always so relaxing but still, if taking a bath with your one year old is the only way to get the cemented porridge out of his hair then believe me you'll be doing it too. After our evening meal I run the bath and add a handful of epsom salts and a couple of drops of lavender. Hedd loves bathtime - but only if Mummy's there too. He always wants a quick feed and we cuddle and slash and I play Mr Frog over and over to Hedd's amusement. (Mr Frog consists of Hedd thrusting his frog sponge into my face and me saying Yabba Dabba Doo - don't ask) Of course, if you don't have children then take your time, enjoy the warm water and soak in all that lovely lavender goodness. WARNING do not use lavender if you're in early stages of pregnancy. 

Switch off and reconnect
Working from home and being online most of the day takes its toll and during the evening (work permitting) I love to rid my body and mind of anything electrical. My office is in my bedroom, which doesn't help but I have a little snuggly area in the corner where I spend my time reading, ilstening to music/radio or knitting. I try not to read in bed. That is the place for sleeping. 

Prepare your space
Turn your bed down, spray some pillow spray, light a candle and pop your favourite pjs on. I have been obsessed with this one by This Works for over a year now and I'm already on my third bottle. That being said it last forever and you only need a couple of spritz and the gentle aroma sends me swiftly off to sleep. I really notice the difference when I don't use it.

Prepare your mind
This is my favourite part of the whole evening. I practice mindfulness a few times a day, once in the morning just before I do yoga, maybe mid afternoon when Hedd is napping and the just before I'm ready to sleep. I sometimes meditate with crystals (a new thing I'm getting in to) or I just take a few moment to let go of all the stresses of the day.

Get comfy
This one is a toughy for me. Fibromyalgia makes sure that you wake up most of the night tossing and turning but having the bed all to myself means I can fill it with pillows which helps support my hips and back. I LOVE this GIANT pillow by Pregnancy Pillows. It's super snuggly and is scented with lavender (can you see a running theme here?) I wish I'd found their website back when I was actually pregnant because I swear it would have made life so much more enjoyable, especially towards the end of my pregnancy. 

What kind of things do you do to get comfy before drifting off? Any little hints and tips? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose 

My Breastfeeding Essentials with Medela

So it's finally official. I've gone boob mad. Today my health visitor told me she'd booked me on to the breastfeeding peer supporters course and I'M FRICKIN' OVER THE MOON. I have been pestering her for months to run a course in our area and finally all that nagging has paid off. Come summer I will 'officially' be able to offer support and guidance to other Mama's; anything from sore cracked nipples, poor latch or how to wean your baba's off the boob. I would love to offer support online too, my online sisterhood have been invaluable during the last (almost) year and I would love to give something back.

Recently I've seen a wave of new Mamas struggling during the early days and if I'm totally honest I had forgotten all about those painful hourly feeds, the cramp in your arm from the weight of their floppy head and of course the cracked bleeding nipples. I have spoken honestly about my struggles in the early days and if you're struggling right now, you can find them here and here.

Casting my mind back got me thinking. I wouldn't have made it this far if it hadn't been for a little helping hand so here are just a few essentials I found invaluable in the early days and still find myself drawn to, even after all this time.

a good nipple cream 
Everyone will tell you to buy Lanolin cream. "Buy as much as you can fit into your hospital bag, you're going to need it!" They cried. So that's what I did. And I slathered it on for eight long weeks until I realised I had an allergy and that's what had been causing me so much difficultly. So I googled lanolin alternatives and stumbled across Earth Mama Angel Baby. They do lotions and potions for every aspect of motherhood and it's the most luxurious nipple butter I've ever used. Safe to use and no need to wash off before feeding it's a little treat for your nips. Another great tip if you can't get hold of this is to use coconut oil. We're obsessed with Kokoso in our house. We use it for absolutely everything.

reusable breast pads and a heat pack
Mamas, you're going to leak. This is inevitable in the early days. There's is simply no controlling it. Baby sleeps a little bit longer than usual, leak. You hear a baby crying on Eastenders, leak. You're feeding your baby on one boob and the other one feels left out, leak. So you need to make sure you invest in some hardwearing reusable breastpads. I got mine from Little Lamb (the same brand I use for Hedd's bedtime nappies) because they're SUPER DUPER absorbent and always stay nice and fluffy.

massage oil
No ladies this is not for your husband/partner to rub your achy back or feet after a long day Mamming, this is indeed for your boobicles too. A new Mum will feed between 8 - 12 times on average a day for the first few months so give them a little treat. Even get your fella involved. If you can squeeze it in that is. I jest, I jest. Giving them a good rub will improve your milk supply and get everything flowing in the right direction. You really don't want to get blocked ducts, blebs or mastitis. They really are as bad as they sound.

dark chocolate & oats
Now for the enjoyable bit. Food glorious food. During the first few months you will want to eat the world during those long hourly night feeds. Did you know you burn roughly 500 calories a day just feeding! So it's important to replace those calories with high energy foods. Oats are a great milk supply booster and you don't just have porridge for breakfast. If you can find the time you could make a batch of lactation cookies. Throw in handfuls of tasty dried fruit or scrum my chocolate chips. Dark chocolate is another one that improves your supply so go on, you know you want to. If i'd been organised and knew what i know now. I would have made batches of cookie dough and frozen in before Baby Belle arrived. I almost bought shares in McVities the amount of HobNobs I consumed!

Thank you Medela for asking me to do this post. I had begun to take the time I have whilst feeding for granted, not appreciating the connection and precious time we have together. This afternoon, before Hedd's nap, I stared into my sons eyes and he smiled sleepily. He fed for a whole twenty minutes. I'm lucky to get three minutes these days.

What were your breastfeeding essentials? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose 

5 easy ways to make your bathroom child friendly

My nerves are shot now Hedd in on the move. I follow him around the house like a lost puppy and he still manages to fall over, bump his head or find every single thing he's not suppose to have. We have spent the last few weeks at my Mum and we're finally getting back into the swing of things here at home. I usually use a bath seat but it's still at my Mums so last night I decided just to have a bath with Hedd. It's so much easier than trying to wrestle Bambi in the bath. And it got me thinking about how I'm going to need to bath proof my life, especially the bathroom.

8 ways to prepare for spring this Imbolc

In celebration of last night Imbolc I've decided to put together a little post to bring in the Spring. Technically it's still freezing outside and with storm Henry on its way most of you must think I'm nuts. But just take a look around - if the wind holds off for a second and your hair isn't blinding you - and notice the changes in nature. The daffodils have bloomed and the snowdrops are sprouting up everywhere. Yesterday the sun shone bright all day and although there's a nip in the air it feels new and crisp. 

I've spent the morning decluttering not only my house but also my mind, so here are my top tips for putting a spring in your step this week.

There is nothing better than a good clear out. It's not only good for your home but also for your mind. As you wade through the mess that you've accumulated over winter you remember and remind yourself to be thankful for what you have. This morning I have somehow managed to find 12 bin bags full of clothes toys and other bits and bobs to the charity shop. Twelve. I don't even have a cupboard in my house where was it all hiding? 

Take time for you
This is probably the most important for me at the moment, taking time out for myself. After having Hedd I felt guilty for wanting time away, I loved him so much that I would miss him even while he slept. Now he's almost 11 months old and the odd afternoon away does me the world of good. I appreciate our bond so much more and the cheesy grin when I return fills my heart to bursting. 

Embrace Nature
Now the sun is shining and the spring flowers are in bloom it's time take a walk, blow away this winter blues and embrace your surrounding. I live in the country so it's easy for me to get out but if you're in the city find a park or head out into the garden. This month we are starting on our allotment and I can't wait to start eating and attempting to live a more sustainable life. I'm lucky to have the outdoor space to do this but why not try planting in pots and getting the kiddies involved. Children love to see things grow and are more likely to eat their greens if they've grown them themselves.

I have always been impulsive and setting off at the drop of a hat was one of my favourite past time. Nowadays it's not as easy to get away but being spontaneous and going with the day seems to be more achievable. Once in a while do something new, experience something different or simply do something out of your comfort zone. This month I'm going to take Hedd swimming. I'm petrified of the water but don't want to pass that onto him, so I'm conquering my fears once and for all. 

This year one of my new years resolutions was to meditate. Every time I research alternative treatment for Fibromyalgia this one forever comes out on top. Recently I have found it difficult to take time out because of the amount of pain I've been in with my kidney stones but once I've got Friday out of the way I want to find half an hour each day to practice mindfulness. I recently downloaded the app Headspace so I'm going to give it a go and see how I get on. I'll keep you posted.

Be more conscious
This is something I try an adopt every single day. I'm growing forever conscious of living a more sustainable life and the next step for me is to lower our carbon footprint. I want to live a more simple life, eating seasonally and as locally as possible this will improve the community in which we live and of course our health.

Let go
Letting go of all that negative energy is so important for moving forward. I like to think of it as an emotional cleanse. Leaving the past in the past and looking forward makes me see things a lot clearer. Are you holding a grudge? Worried about what might happen? 

Next year I'm planning to go travelling. I want to buy a van and take off around Europe. Some may think I'm mad but I can't wait to see the world and not just by going on holiday but actually living it. So it's time to start saving and start planning. 

What are your plans for the future? 

Laurie Rose 

Beetroot Hummus | Baby Friendly

Beetroot has to be my all time favourite food. I will have a couple of portions of a week, either raw in a smoothie or cooked but last month I was trying to find a way to introduce it into Hedd's diet and one afternoon while I was preparing his lunch, I decided to throw some raw beets into the blender and the rest is history. Now Hedd with happily munch on handfuls of softened chunks or in a yummy frittata. Beetroot is full to the brim with antioxidants, it works to aid the heart by reducing blood pressure and can increase the blood flow to the brain.

 1 400g tin of chickpeas
1 peeled raw beetroot (you can add more beetroot depending on taste)
 5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small bulb of garlic (optional)
 4-6 tablespoons of water (depending on how creamy you like it)
The juice of 1/2 juicy lemon
 2 teaspoons of tahini (optional)
 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Pop everything in a blender and voila. 

Do you love hummus? Do you have any recipes I can try? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose

Lush Bûche De Noël Review | World Vegan Month

Last night for the first time this year my heating stayed on all night. I snuggled up into bed and wore my favourite wooly socks and even slept in my dressing gown. I'm so excited that I can now officially start looking forward to Christmas. I was invited to my local Lush store for a preview evening a few weeks ago and it was lovely to find out more about their products and spend an evening in good company.

Cleanser is one of those skincare items every girl needs, especially one who is sleep deprived. It needs to be quick and cure a number of aliments in one go. That's why I tend to prefer a cream cleanser. It removes make-up, hydrates and moisturisers - so theres no need to faff around before bedtime.

I tend to change it up every few weeks depending on what my skin is doing and I'm always on the look out for new, exciting products. We were given a demonstration on how the Bûche de Noël was made - first ones in Europe I believe - and I knew this was going to be a new winter staple.

At first glance it;s hard to believe this is a cream cleanser. To look at it you'd think it was a clay mask or even a scrub but once you combine with water it really comes alive. There's just enough grit to offer a light exfoliation and the ground almonds and cocoa butter makes it luxurious moisturising. It's guaranteed to quench your winter dry skin.

A little goes a long way with this product so it's great value for money. Adding a piece of cleanser to the palm of your hand, mix together with a little water until you make a paste. Massage into your skin in a circular motion, working on any problem areas, then rinse with warm water. I also like to use a hot face cloth afterwards, I find it ensures I've removed every last bit.

The Buche De Noel contains a combination of mandarin/satsumas, dried cranberries (it's like Christmas in a cup) Kaolin, a natural occurring soft clay what helps to buff away dead skin cells and draws out any impurities and a touch of brandy just in case it wasn't Christmassy enough.

Of course this is a limited edition product so head down to your local store and give it a go for yourself, you won't be disappointed.

What are your favourite limited edition Lush products? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose 

Baby-led Weaning | Five ways to survive messy mealtimes

I am by no means a tidy person. My house is most definitely lived in, I would almost say I was a bit of a hoarder I love being surrounded by all the lovely knick knacks I've gathered over the years, but when we first started weaning I became so OCD about mess, especially the mess Hedd was making. I was shocked by the amount of wasted food that ended up smattered across my living room floor. I was instantly put off Baby-led Weaning and decided to start off with purees, I even convinced myself that Hedd preferred it!

Then, one afternoon Hedd swiped a slice of toast off my plate and I decided to just see what happened. He ate the whole slice without struggling. That's where our journey began.

For the next six months, food is meant to be fun. Your baby is using this time to explore new flavours and textures and is learning along the way. They will soon be deciding which foods they like and which ones they don't. Don't be disheartened if they pull a funny face (get the camera ready, there hilarious) and spit out everything you give them at first, just keep trying. They're just learning. 

To begin with, you won't need to worry about buying bowls, plates or cutlery etc you simply lay the food on the highchair tray table. I looked everywhere to find the perfect highchair, then a friend of mine offered me her grandsons old one and I fell in love with it. It's the cheap as chips Antilop highchair from IKEA and I know the majority of my friends rave about it too. Most of the time I use old vests during mealtimes, it can be a bit of a pain getting him undressed every time he eats but it allows me to relax so he can make as much mess as he likes. I have a tiled floor in the dining area so I don't need to worry about bits dropping on the floor but I have known some Mums use a shower curtain to protect their carpet. For those days when we are out or in a hurry I have bibs with sleeves, which Hedd HATES wearing but they're great for protecting his clothes.

At first, I couldn't imagine myself letting my baby eat a stick of cucumber or a bread stick. I constantly worried he would choke and although I kind of know what to do in an emergency situation I didn't want to put myself in that sort of situation. That was until I read the Baby-led Weaning Handbook. It explains everything I need to know about how your baby uses her gag reflex to naturally learn to chew food before she learns to swallow. I highly recommend you give it a read before you start on your weaning journey. 

Let your little one enjoy the mess, make it fun and do not disciple. The most important part of mealtimes is having fun and I encourage the mess now, we laugh and smush things together. Wait until you see you baby handling jelly, it's hilarious. 

Have fun and encourage your baby to enjoy food together. I love that we eat the same meals and enjoy them as a family at the table. Over the last few months my diet has improved because now I'm conscious about the things I put in my body. I have found a love for cooking and enjoy planning our meals. 

Here's Hedd enjoying some homemade green pea hummus and breadsticks. I find he'll pretty much eat anything, apart from cheese. However I managed to disguise it in some rather scrummy savoury muffins last week. Why not give them a go, you can find the recipe here. It's true that babies who are given a choice are less likely to become fussy eaters and they are able to control the amount they eat, which helps regulate calorie intake. I don't know what I was worried about. We're having a blast learning and exploring together.

Did you struggle with the mess? Do you have any tips or tricks on making life easier? Do you have any minimal mess meal ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose