Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Zoe - 21 Month Update

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Well, this started as an 18 month update, but once again life just got in the way. I suppose it is actually a good introduction to this update, as life with a toddler is pretty intense!

Zoe is now 21 months old, and is a force to be reckoned with. She is developing her own tastes and preferences and learning how to verbalize them - often! Although just to keep us on our toes these tastes can change at a moments notice, depending on her mood or the wind direction that day.

I haven't actually had Zoe weighed in about 10 months, so I have no clue, I can only assume she weighs about 200lbs based on the sheer amount of food she consumes - there is no filling this child. She will wake up in the morning and immediately ask for a banana, its almost her first word upon opening her eyes. From there it is a near constant request for food interspersed with the odd bit of playing or napping. Thankfully the food she asks for is mostly healthy things like apples, raisins, yoghurt, rice cakes etc... She is an absolute fruit fiend and will walk over hot coals for some melon (I imagine, we don't actually have any hot coals)

Aside from the food, she is also a big fan of Duplo - moistly just tipping it out of the box and sprinkling it around the living room. She is getting the hang of building things but she mostly loves waiting for you to tidy it up, then tipping it back out again. She loved colouring too, colouring books, paper, the walls; she isn't picky.

Zoe is now a very confident walker/runner and prefers to do so completely independently. Hand holding is not cool, reigns are for suckers. She will only get into the buggy in exchange for biscuits and you can forget about slings (sobs).

Sleeping, thankfully Zoe is part sloth so is still a bloody amazing sleeper. I know, you probably hate me right now if you are a parent of a non-sleeping child but I can assure you there is no magic potion or method here, she just came this way. She moved into her big girl bed about 3 weeks ago and I was concerned she would become a nightmare to get to bed, but she loves it even more than her cot! She goes to bed at 7pm now, and wakes around 6am. She rarely wakes in the night, and if she does its just for a quick cuddle.

She is still having 1-2 naps a day, although it is more often just the one nap in the morning. This can be anywhere from 1-2 hours, she is less likely to sleep when out and about now though, so I have to factor this in to plans.

Her vocabulary is growing daily, and she is a little parrot who will repeat every damn word you say, so we have to be very careful not to let any naughty words slip out. We spend a lot of time spelling things out these days. Over the past week or so she has started stringing words together into little sentences and she loves to sing along to music. I was worried for a while that her speech was a little bit behind her friends of a similar age, but she is definitely catching up now. She is very curious and you can tell she is listening and taking everything in.

All in all, I couldn't be any prouder of my little firecracker. She surprises me every day and is an absolute hoot to hang out with and while I miss those baby days of watching what I like on TV and drinking coffee with other Mums while our immobile babies stay right where you left them... I am loving this stage as I am starting to get a glimpse of the person she is becoming.

Friday, 5 August 2016

5 Years - A Mexican lunch to remember.

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As mentioned in my last post, life sort of got away with me for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones was the anniversary of my Mum's death. This year; 5 years, hit me hard and I wanted nothing more than to bury myself in the sand completely and in an online sense that is what I did. I focused on myself and my family and chose to be kind to myself and step back. Although I firmly believe this was the best thing to do for myself, I did have some posts half written and blog commitments I flaked on, which is not cool (sorry guys).

So, I am getting myself back to normality but sharing some recent restaurants I visited and reviewed. The first of which was Chiquitos in the Metro Centre. Chiquitos is actually a big favourite of mine. It may not historically be the fanciest or most authentic Mexican restaurant in the world but I actually love that about it. It is somewhere I visited a lot as a kid and was always our first choice when visiting the Metro Centre. There has been a huge regeneration of the food offerings in the Metro Centre this year, with the yellow food zone tripling in size and some big food names setting up shop. Chiquitos has moved to this new food hub, and opened a beautiful new restaurant.

While it is shiny and new, with great decor, it had kept the things that made Chiquitos great; quality food and fantastic service. We visited on a Saturday with my sister and Zoe and while it was busy, the layout of the restaurant meant you never felt on top of anyone else, and the staff ensured we had everything we needed, our waiter; Nico, was attentive and friendly, making the effort to speak to Zoe and even played some peekaboo with the menus. It is the little things like this that really make a difference for me when eating out. Eating out with a toddler can be a stressful experience but we felt completely comfortable and relaxed at Chiquitos.

I don't know if its the fact that I don't have a decent full length mirror at home, but I can never resist a sneaky loo-selfie.

Anyone who visited the old chiquitos will know what I am talking about when I mention toilets. The previous restaurant was a little lacking (to put it politely) in decent facilities. I can happily report that the new facilities are top notch; including the baby change.

Now down to business; the food. There is a new, slightly smaller (which isn't a bad thing) menu on offer, focusing on the things they do really well. I opted for the street style pulled pork burrito which came with tortilla chips and dips. My sister went for the Spiced Coconut Chicken which came with Mexican spiced rice, tortilla puffs and whipped feta & honey. The burrito is my absolute favourite, and while I order it a lot, I struggle to look past it on a menu as I know how good it is. The spiced chicken dish was a new addition to the menu, and didn't disappoint. It was filling and flavourful and the tortilla puff were a really interesting accompaniment that I'd never come across before.

Zoe ordered the tortilla pizza from the children's menu. The children's meal is £4.95 which includes main, side, dessert and a drink. We found this to be incredible good value. The tortilla pizza was HUGE and the vegetable side was well cooked (I often find in restaurants that if I order veggies they are microwaved or mushy, these were neither) we opted for the fruit shoot hydro and fruit and ice cream for dessert. The portions were extremely generous.

We also ordered some non alcoholic cocktails as a treat, we visited the restaurant the day after the anniversary of my Mum's death, so felt it was apt to give her a little toast. They were actually really nice and packed with fresh flavours. I often feel disappointed with virgin cocktails (as what is the point, am I right?) but my mock-jito (see what they did there?) and my sister's Virgin Colada were so damn good, you really didn't miss the booze.

All in all, we felt that the new restaurant was modern and in keeping with the new food hub, while keeping all of the charm we loved about the old. We will definitely be visiting again.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Meal Planning "Monday" - 3rd August.

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With all of the changes to our routine recently, meal planning has fallen by the wayside a little. With only really cooking for myself 4 days a week I have fallen a little out of love with cooking. By the time I get Zoe to sleep it is normally after 7pm and cooking something extravagant is the last thing on my mind. I end up relying on frozen pizza or pasta and pesto, or lately take-away. It is less than ideal and I am not happy. I want to fall in love with cooking again, I want to look forward to meals and focus a little on my health. It is not so much about my waistline, more how I feel. I am sluggish and bloated all the time, and eating out of boredom and for the sake of it.

I am totally over this, and want to change. I know I probably say this a lot but I am not going to go into diet mode anymore, I am not following any plan, I am setting myself small goals to hopefully change the way I operate for good. Deprivation or strict rules do not work for me long term, I need to focus on what I love about food, and love myself a little more.

So, my goals for this week;

1. Drink more water (2 litres a day)

2. Drink less caffeine - I do love a good coffee, but I am spending too much money and feel like I could cut down on this and have them as a treat rather than a daily habit.

3. Cook 1 new recipe - start small and plan one new dish that excites me.

4. Scale back on snacks - I am not anti-snack, but I need to make healthier choices and not eat out of boredom or loneliness in the evenings.

5. Do more - Sitting watching Gilmore Girls is fun, sure, but I need to get up and move, keep up with housework, do yoga, anything, just move!

So there we go 5 weekly goals, hopefully I can form some new healthier habits, I'll update next meal plan to see how it goes.

Without further ado, onto the meal plan. This is a bit of a weird week as Paul and Zoe are off, while I am at work, so meals will be factoring them in this week.

Monday
Breakfast: Skinny Latte and banana
Lunch: Chicken and Veg soup with brown bread
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake with added roasted veg for me.
Snacks: Rice cakes and hummus, plums.

Tuesday
Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Chicken and Veg soup with brown bread
Dinner: King Prawn pesto spaghetti
Snacks: Apple and yoghurt

Wednesday
Breakfast: Boiled egg and toast
Lunch: Baked sweet potato with hummus and salad.
Dinner: Salmon egg fried rice
Snacks: Rice cakes and hummus, apple

Thursday
Breakfast: porridge with banana and honey
Lunch: Baked sweet potato with hummus and salad.
Dinner: Weeknight roast chicken with mash potato and vegetables.
Snacks: Snack a jacks, plums

Friday
Breakfast: cereal and coffee
Lunch: Toasties with dippy veg sticks.
Dinner: Lasagne or spag bol.

What's on the menu for you this week?

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