Friday, 29 April 2016

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As a child of the 90s I love a good Friends quote, and I always remember Monica saying she wanted to be the Mom that made the best chocolate chip cookies, and spends the episode trying to perfect Phoebe's Grandmother's recipe.

I do love a good bit of recipe development, but I also love the idea that when Zoe is older she'll remember certain foods and associate them with me. The way I do about my Mum's Banana Bread, or my Auntie Hilary's caramel shortbread and hedgehog. Food is such a memory trigger and I love the whole idea of having a family recipe book and memories tied up in food.

So with that in mind, I decided to try my hand at cookies. I have made cookies before, lots of times in fact, but I can say with some certainty that these are one of my best efforts. The perfect combination of crisp with a slight chewiness. The browned butter adds a hint of nuttiness and depth, while the rich dark chocolate cuts through the sweetness. This recipe made 14 cookies, but obviously you can make them bigger/smaller and make more/less - although bear that in mind when cooking as smaller cookies won't take as long to cook.

Ingredients
130g Unsalted Butter
60g Caster Sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 medium egg
180g Plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
80g chocolate chips (or chopped chunks)

1. Start by browning the butter in a saucepan, it is best to use a pan with a light coloured interior, rather than a non stick dark one; so you can see when the colour change occurs. For a full and frankly awesome guide to browning butter check out Joy the Baker's awesome post, I couldn't possibly write a better guide.

2. Allow the butter to cool (you don't want it to be hot and cook the egg)

3. Preheat the oven to 160C

4. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and combined. (I use a Kitchenaid mixer with a paddle attachment, but by hand is fine)

4. Add the egg and once again mix until combined.

5. Combine the flour, bicarb and salt together and then add to the wet butter/sugar egg mixture in 3 stages, mixing in-between to ensure its fully combined.

6. Lastly add the chocolate chips. I had a bag of dark chocolate chips laying about, but you could also roughly chop a bar into chunks. Combine thoroughly so the chocolate is studded through the cookie dough. You don't want someone getting a chocolate chip-less cookie!

7. Roll the dough into equal sized balls and pop on a greased oven tray (be sure to space them apart as they do spread a little) and bake for 10-15 minutes. You want them to be golden and crisp, but they will still be a little soft when straight from the oven. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool.

8. You can also freeze the raw cookie dough in balls to bake when the mood strikes, freeze them on a tray, then transfer them into a zip lock bag to prevent them sticking together, then you can just grab a couple of cookie-dough balls and bake them whenever you fancy!

If you don't fancy faffing about browning the butter you don't have to, you can just use regular butter, but the extra effort does pay off in flavour. This recipe is a great base recipe, you can play with flavour combination and added extra from nuts, raisins, marshmallows, cocoa powder... The possibilities are endless!

Zoe was a fan, although she's yet to meet a biscuit she doesn't like. Saying that if I was to make them again for her I might try slightly smaller ones as she made a bit of a mess and struggled to finish a whole one. Me and Paul were also big fans and polished off the majority embarrassingly quickly. The plan had been to take some to work the next day, but with only 3 left it felt a bit mean to not take enough for everyone. Whoops.

Do you have a classic family recipe that reminds you of someone? I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Ordinary Moments - Sunshine and Weeds

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This is my first foray into the Ordinary Moments linky, I just love the idea that the simple things in life are the sweetest; it's such a lovely concept. Often you have these big expectations of days out or holidays, which cost a fortune but never quite live up to it. Then, you can have a totally unexpected ordinary moment that turns into the best day ever. We had one of these last Thursday so I thought I would share it with you...

I had been out to Cabana the night before and had a few caipirinhas, and while it wasn't a full blown hangover, I was feeling a little tired and lacking in drive to go anywhere. We did take an early morning stroll to Greggs for sausage sandwiches and coffee, it was already looking to be a lovely day even at 8am and we sat outside the cafe and watched the world go by for a while.

By the time we got home the sun well and truly had his hat on and we decided to stay outside in the garden. Now, in reality my garden is a little paved yard with some border beds, all full of weeds and wild flowers (for the bees). We don't spent much time in it and short of keeping it all trimmed back, I am in no way green fingered. That being said, I dragged out a big patchwork quilt to lay over the paving, Zoe's play tent, her tricycle and some newly acquired pavement chalk from Tiger, and set about having a fun day in our little oasis of weeds.

We spent the morning drawing colourful pictures on the path, cycling back and forth and just basking in the rare moment of warmth and sunshine. It was surprisingly lovely and teamed with background music provided by Lauren Laverne on 6Music and culminating in a picnic of all of our favourite things; pitta, hummus, cucumber and fig rolls. Just the perfect day.

As I type this it is actually snowing outside, in April, but I am hoping for many more lovely sunny days in the not to distant future. If anyone has any tips on jazzing up our little garden I'd gladly hear them; it is small and we don't want to spend a fortune, but I'd love it to be somewhere we can spend time in the summer.

Linked up to Ordinary Moments over at MummdyDaddyMe. Katie welcomed the most beautiful baby boy into the world this week, so hop on over to check out everyone else's Ordinary Moments, and some lovely new baby snaps.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday - 25th April

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Well that weekend just disappeared! Because of a couple of heavy nights out I am really in need of another weekend to recover!! It's been so long since I have been out on the town and been able to guilt-free enjoy a couple of glasses *cough* bottles *cough* of wine as Zoe was sleeping at Auntie Jenny's house, so we didn't have to worry about being home early to relieve the babysitter or be sober enough to deal with any middle of the night toddler emergencies. It's actually the first time we've done this is 17 months so it did feel really good, although not so much the next day when Zoe came home at 9:30am and we were hungover beyond belief! Luckily she brought a McDonald's breakfast home with her; shes good like that.

I also went over to a friends house on Sunday evening for a quiet girly night in, 90s music and cards against humanity for a few hours... Which turned into a lot longer as we completely lost track of time and I ended up staying out until 2am!! Whoops. Needless to say it wasn't my smartest move, and a lot of coffee was needed to get moving on Monday morning. I definitely won't be doing that again in a hurry, at least not on a school night.

So, with all that in mind, the meal plan is a little late;

Monday Steak pie with boiled potatoes and broccoli. The pie is a supermarket one, far too tired to be cooking properly.

Tuesday Lasagne with garlic bread and salad - I have a rare day off as I am working Friday this week, Zoe will be at nursery so I will be catching up on house jobs that didn't get done at the weekend, and cooking a lovely lasagne.

Wednesday Salmon egg fried rice, always a winner and we've not had it for a while.

Thursday Chilli beef enchiladas - my intention is to make my own tortillas for this, but its entirely dependent on Zoe napping, but Zoe went wild for enchiladas last week so want to try them again. Might get some extra beans or something to add and bulk it out.

Friday Curry night! I'm going to attempt the yummy thai green curry again, but with much less curry paste as it was pretty spicy last time. Will serve with naan and rice.

It is a bit of an odd week, with my working pattern being a bit backwards. Although, it is all going to change in about 3 weeks as I have decided to increase my hours at work, so it will be a bit of an adjustment for sure! I might need to be a little more savvy with the meal prep, and get more inventive with bringing lunch from home etc... Lots of change, but exciting change, so its all good.

As always, check out what everyone else is eating this week over on the Meal Planning Monday Linky.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Mama's Night Out - Cabana Brasilian Barbecue - Newcastle

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Last night I hung up my Mummy hat for the evening and headed out into town for the opening of Cabana Brasilain Barbeque in Newcastle. while it is a chain restaurant (with 9 other restaurants around the country), I hadn't heard of it and have never actually eaten in a Brasilian restaurant before, so I went with a completely open mind. Considering how little I get out these days they could have served me gruel and I'd have enjoyed it as there wasn't a toddler hanging off my leg!

That being said I was blown away, the restaurant itself is on Newgate Street, right next to The Gate, which to be honest is an area of Newcastle I tend to avoid (unless I am wandering past en-route to Nudo), but I was shocked at how much it has changed since the old Co-op closed down, and there is a bunch of new restaurants/bars and a swanky new Premier Inn!

We got there nice and early so managed to grab a comfy booth near the entrance, The interior of the restaurant was spot on, it had that industrial feel that restaurants tend to love these days, but the vibrant colours and textures really gave it that lively south american feel, the DJ was also pumping out some amazing tunes (I am sure I heard a crazy remix of the Macarena at one point)which had me mum-dancing in my seat (much to the embarrassment of my lovely friend Katie, who came with me).

Shortly after getting settled and downing my glass of sparkly we were greeted by the lovely Michael and his tray of classic Caipirinhas, which were quite possibly my perfect cocktail, sharp and bursting with lime. We also tried the Raspberry and Mango variety, but both were a little sweet for me, although Katie much preferred the raspberry. They were pretty potent though!

We also got a little selection of appetisers, a bowl of spicy mixed nuts, some salt fish-cake type things and some cheesy doughballs. The salt-fish was a little bland if I am honest (perhaps in comparison to the nuts) but the doughballs were incredible! We were all being really polite and one sat in the basket, no one wanting to take the last one, but I just couldn't resist and unapologetically nabbed it. No regrets.

By this point Nyomi from Nomipolony joined our table, and had regaled us with her hilarious smear test anecdote, so we were definitely feeling the party spirit. The lovely Michael (seriously Cabana, give this guy a pay rise) kept us well stocked with a selection of cocktails and some delicious brasilian lager. We sadly missed out on the prawns and haloumi which we spotted doing the rounds, but we made up for it by eating a lot of chicken! The BBQ and Maguertta varieties were my favourite. There was also some incredible cassava fries with malagueta mayonnaise which we managed to snag an entire plate of - thanks again Michael.

I may have had a couple more of the classic Caipirinhas, as well as some wine. I momentarily forgot that I had a full day of solo parenting the next day and threw caution to the wind. The atmosphere was electric, and there were even some traditional samba dancers tearing up the dance floor!

I had a little wander about, checking out the toilets (a crucial part of any review), which were lovely although, as cute as the tiny mirrors were, I do love a full length mirror in a bar, the fear of having your skirt tucked into your pants is always real. I also spotted a nice stack of highchairs, which was good to see.

I did ask to see the children's menu too, which I was actually really impressed with. While expensive at £6.95 (I consider it expensive for a toddler, I am sure its standard for older kids) it was hot on healthy eating, and boasts ingredients which are low in salt, and only using naturally occurring sugars; which was great to read. For the price you get a cucumber and sweet potato hummus starter, a choice of mains from chicken breast and burgers to a mild coconut curry or baked sweet potato. You also get a choice of side (corn, fries or rice), and a choice of dessert (fro yo or apple slices with a honey dip). All in all for a kids menu it sounds delicious and a bit different. I am keen to go back with Zoe to give it a try.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by Cabana, while it does have aspects which aren't dissimilar to places like Nanados and Las Iguanos, it has a slightly funkier vibe and a broader menu selection. There was actually a copy of their cookbook on the tables which I tempted to buy now, having sampled the wares.

I think with places like this, the success is really in the staff and atmosphere which Cabana has nailed. Even though Michael was our favourite, all of the other staff were also super friendly and more than happy to go out of their way to help.

We will certainly be heading back once the new restaurant business dies down. I'd love to hear if you've visited Cabana, either in Newcastle or elsewhere...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Children's Clothes & why I stormed out of Primark.

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I'm sure I've mentioned on many occasions now that things are a little tight around here, with the extortionate cost of childcare and my new part-time status, we are cutting back on a lot of luxuries. So when I noticed that a few of Zoe's t-shirts were looking a bit worn/short I decided to head to primark to pick up some cheap ones for her to wear to nursery. She often comes back from nursery covered in paint/mud/food etc... So I don't want to put her in her nice clothes.

Anyway, so I nipped into Primark in Newcastle (which I not somewhere I usually shop to be honest, but its cheap) after work and headed straight for childrenswear. Annoyingly in some sort of 'genius' marketing ploy Primark force you to walk around the entire shop floor twice to actually reach the second floor. (If you are reading this Primark, it doesn't make me buy more, it makes me want to shop with you less)

So when I finally reached the second floor, I found myself in the boys section among a sea of batman/spiderman/minion t-shirts and super cool dinosaur hoodies. There are two full tables of Tshirts in bold and bright colours, with eyecatching slogans and designs. I head for the girls section hoping to see something similar, and find one table of t-shirts nicely folded in varying shades of neon pink and purple, mostly emblazoned with slogans like 'Little Princess' and 'True Love'. I find myself thinking, how come the boys get cool superheroes and tshirts about adventure and being awesome and girls get slogans about looking cute, or covered in princesses. Don't get me know there were a couple with cute illustrations of ice creams and a few simple stripes, but most had added glitter or 'bling'.

Now I know some girls love the whole princess thing, and I am sure in a year or so Zoe will be asking for the latest disney princess costume, which I have no issue with. However, what I do have an issue with is there being no alternative. Why can't a girl go on an adventure or be a hero, or even like dinosaurs or football?

Oh and don't even get me started on shorts, why on earth would you want your nappy wearing toddler in a pair of tight denim hotpants is beyond me, a bulging nappy out the side is not a good look for anyone. Boys get knee length board shorts, and girls get hot pants. Baffling.

What I would love to see is a range of clothing for toddlers which could be worn by either boys or girls, why do we need to restrict things at such a young age. I hate hearing people tell boys they can't play with dolls or girls that they shouldn't play with cars. So why should clothes be any different, if a girl wants to wear a spiderman t shirt, or a boy wants a Unicorn t shirt, why stop them? Is it really that big a deal?

With my designer hat on I decided to have a go at creating something along these lines, and yes it is harder than I thought, but this is what I came up with...

I'd just like to say I have zero experience in designing kids clothes, so these aren't great, but you get my point

I have to admit that there has been a rise in the number of high street brands making more gender-balanced clothing, with Next and M&S both making girls clothes with dinosaurs and more bold/primary colours; which is great. I wouldn't say I was necessarily looking for complete gender neutrality, I'd just like to see a lot less stereotyping of girls and boys gender roles. Here are a few of my top picks out there right now;

T-shirt, Shorts, and Dress from Boden.

All from Gap, I love the fit and style of their girls clothes.

Dino T-shirts from Next, 2-pack T-shirts from H&M, and Cool T-shirt set from M&S.

So, what do you think? Am I over-reacting and need to just chill out a bit? Or do you agree that the gender stereotyping of kids clothes is ridiculous?

I'd love to hear others views on this.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday - 18th April

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Running a bit late with the meal plan this week, I cannot believe how quickly that weekend went! I am on the back foot a little and haven't done my food shop yet, and probably won't until Tuesday or Wednesday, which is actually quite a nice feeling as the possibilities are endless! We have very little left in the freezer, so need to stock up on meat for sure.

Monday Leftover Roast Chicken - I am struggling a little with what to have, as its just the grown ups eating, so it'll either be pasta, risotto or something along those lines.

Tuesday Tuna Pasta Bake, simple and easy, with leftover for lunches the next day.

Wednesday I am out at a restaurant opening, which I am pretty excited about. There will no doubt be leftover pasta, or we have fish fingers/beans in the cupboard for Paul/Zoe.

Thursday Chicken Enchiladas - Zoe loved the beef chilli ones so much last week I thought I'd do them again.

Friday I am actually at work all day, so it could be another leftover day, or maybe a Prawn Pasta Pesto type night, something quick and tasty.

Nothing too ground breaking there, but it still feels good to write it down. The number of times I google myself on my phone to check my meal plan through the week is hilarious. I find these posts so useful, even if they are a bit dull for the majority.

As always, check out the linky here to see what everyone else is planning this week.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sunday Moment - 17th April

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1. What a rainy week it's been! I don't mind the odd April shower but I could definitely do without the torrential downpours and hail stones. Thankfully we do still manage to get out in the sling when it rains. One of the most asked questions I get about babywearing is what I do in the rain. I used to be able to zip Zoe up inside my big coat, but now she is a bit bigger, I tend to put raincoats on us both (with hoods up) and use an umbrella. It works really well for us, so I've never seen the need to splurge on a babywearing coat.

2. Thursday was Sling Meet day in Newcastle at Jungle Jack in Eldon Square. It had been a while since we made it to a sling meet with me being at work, and also with Zoe being more active its tough to keep an eye on her and help people at the same time. Thankfully this week Paul had the day off work, so he came with us to keep Zoe entertained so I could help lots of lovely Mums learn how to babywear. There was an 11 day old baby there who was just so squishy and tiny, its hard to believe Zoe was ever that small.

3. Speaking of how big Zoe is getting, look at my little miss independent! I picked her up a little early from Nursery on Monday so we swung by the park on the way home. She insisted on carrying her own bag and wanted to walk on her own. I had visions of her going off to school! *sob*

4. I picked us all up some treats from Pet Lamb Patisserie on Thursday. Me and Zoe are big fans of their Youtube channel, and I can also confirm she is a HUGE fan of their vanilla cupcakes. Seconds after this photo was taken she shoved her face right into the frosting.

5. I got some baking done yesterday, I fancied trying to make some cookies. I always remember a Friends quote where Monica wants to be the Mom who makes the best chocolate chip cookies; I share this goal. These were Brown Butter Choc Chip Cookies, and they were really good. Look out for the recipe soon.

6. We have been pretty good at sticking to the meal plan recently, and went for chilli beef enchiladas on Friday. I was worried Zoe might find them a bit spicy, but she wolfed down the lot, and some of mine! So will be making these again.

How was your week? Get up to anything exciting?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Chocolate Chip & Banana Doughnuts

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I am a sucker for miniature food, give me a sharing platter, or tasting menu over a big portion of something any day of the week. I mean why would you want a huge steak or burger, if you could have tiny versions of lots of things off the menu? Maybe it's down to my own indecision and fear of ordering the wrong thing.

Anyway, mini doughnuts, whats not to love?

Ok, Ok, So technically these are not doughnuts. I mean, they aren't deep fried dough, but they are still mighty tasty and a heck of a lot easier than kneading and rising and deep frying. I bought this doughnut cake pan years ago, used it once and its been gathering dust in the back of my cupboard ever since. I came across it the other day when I was looking for my yorkshire pudding tin and decided to make some cute baked doughnuts or 'cake doughnuts'.

I had Zoe in mind when I was coming up with a flavour combination, as she is all about bananas at the moment. I thought about going for banana and blueberry (which I may try next time), but I though't I'd throw some leftover easter chocolate in there, as we had some to hand. The recipe is fairly similar to my Mum's banana bread, just slightly wetter with less banana.

Ingredients
240g Plain Flour
115g Caster Sugar
115g melted Butter
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 large eggs
1 over ripe bananas
50ml Milk
Handful of chocolate chunks/chips (plus extra for decoration)
I use coconut oil for greasing the tin, but butter or olive oil is fine.

Preheat the oven to 160C, and grease your doughnut pan (if you don't have a doughnut pan, you can make mini muffins instead)

Mash the banana into the eggs with a fork, you still want a couple of lumps, so I find a fork perfect for this.

Add the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder and mix together into a thick batter.

Add the chocolate chips and the glug of milk, and mix until the chips are fully incorporated

Spoon the mixture into the tin, ensure you don't overfill, they do rise, so aim for just below the top of the doughnut shaped hole.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until starting to golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool.

Melt your chocolate in a small bowl, and dip the smooth side of the doughnuts into the melted chocolate. I also melted some white chocolate and did some drizzling and sprinkled some shavings, just to make them a bit different. You can go pretty wild with the toppings, using anything from sprinkles, to nuts and dried fruit. Raid the cupboards and go crazy!

They were a big hit with Zoe, although I'm going to be honest, I did make a couple without chocolate on the top for her, as the mess that kid makes with chocolate is just insane! I'm tempted to try a yoghurt topping too, maybe next time I'll go for blueberry and banana and reduce the sugar content a little, so many possibilities.

Are there any flavour combinations you think would work? These are such a perfect size and without the chocolate would be great for out and about snacks

Casa Costello
Super Busy MUm

Monday, 11 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday - 11th April

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Last week went reasonably well, we stuck to it most nights, except Wednesday, we didn't fancy spaghetti and meatballs so its rolled over to this week. I went running twice last week, which felt good, although, I still have the issue of picking and over indulging in the evening. I am honestly tempted to start going to bed at 7pm with Zoe just to avoid the kitchen.

Yesterday we had a roast dinner, so we are utilising leftovers for Monday night tea, we have most of the ingredients in for this weeks meals, although we'll need to grab fresh bread, milk, fruit and veg. I have really been craving mexican food recently (you'll be aware of this if you follow me on twitter) so I fancy some sort of mexican feast on Friday, I plan to search recipes through the week before I decide, so any recommendations are welcome.

Monday - Leftover Roast Chicken Risotto

Tuesday - Tuna twice baked jackets with salad.

Wednesday - Lasagne - we are at a funeral on Wednesday afternoon, so this may get bumped if we eat out.

Thursday - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Friday - I fancy mexican, so enchiladas or chilli, maybe some nachos.

I'm starting to wonder if I should add breakfast and lunch to my meal plans. This week I plan to stick to porridge or toast for breakfast at work, and lunches will be leftovers, soup or sandwiches from home.

What is everyone eating this week? As always you can check out everyone else's plans at the Meal Planning Monday Linky.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sunday Moment - 10th April

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1. On Monday I did something I haven't done for about 9 months and went out for a run. I was dreading it, it had rained all day and I had nearly text and cancelled about 20 times, but, I DID IT! And you know what? I enjoyed it! Me and my Sister have decided to try and go out twice a week.

2. I have also been attempting to be a bit better with food, although I am not being very successful. I can be an absolute angel all day, porridge for breakfast, salad or soup for lunch, fruit snacks, and then I get home and it all goes to pot! By the time Zoe is in bed I am ravenous, so I eat HUGE portions of dinner, snack on chocolate, pick, snack, glass of wine... Ugh. I need to stop, but my willpower is still in hibernation. Sigh.

3. I made doughnuts! Paul had the day off on Thursday which meant I could do some baking without toddler interruptions. They turned out really well, keep an eye on the blog next week for the recipe.

4. I finally got myself on snapchat! (@nellyscupcakes if you want to add me, although I feel old and lost on there if I am honest.) and tried one of these face swap thingy-ma-jigs that all the kids are doing. Frankly I am traumatised! Seriously it is like something from a horror film! LOL

5. We went to the beach last Sunday as a family, we grabbed a Flat White from the Ouseburn Coffee Company and wandered around Tynemouth Market, and then headed for the beach for ice cream and a run about. Zoe loved it, although she ate a little too much sand for my liking. The sling came in very handy when her legs got tired walking on the sand. (The sling is a Kokadi Ahoi in a size 4, I am rocking a reinforced ruck back carry, tied knotless)

6. We have been making a real effort to do more things as a family. When on maternity leave me and Zoe would go out and about a lot through the week, and we used weekends to chill out with Daddy. However, now I am back at work we get less chance to go out and do things, so we have pledged to go out each weekend and do something as a family. Even just a walk on the beach, or a trip to our local park. If anyone local has any suggestions for *affordable* activities for us, feel free to share!

How was your week?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

6 of my Favourite Instagram Babes.

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I am a HUGE fan of instagram, and would say I probably use it more than any other social network. I love the simple interface, the visual nature, and most of all; all of the awesome people I have met and got to know through it. When I was pregnant and in the early days of motherhood I found it so useful to connect with other mums and get advice when I was to sleep deprived to see straight, I found my tribe and honestly I am not sure I could have got through early motherhood and especially night feeds without them.

I couldn't possibly name every single person here, so I am going to share 5 of my favourite accounts at the moment, the ones I look out for each day and think you guys will enjoy too (if you don't already follow them that is...)

XXX

A photo posted by Roswen ⛅️ (@roswensian) on

Ros is one of my oldest and bestest Instagram/blog/everything friends. We 'met' back in 2012 during series 2 of The Great British Bake Off. We bonded over a joint love of cake; is there anything better to bond over really? She had her lovely little boy 6-8 months before me, and I remember messaging her the day I found out I was pregnant, she was a lifeline before I told anyone. She is also a KICK ASS food photographer and shares amazing photos of her family meals, which always inspire me to try new things with Zoe.

If you love good food, stripes and gin ... Ros is your girl.

XXX

A photo posted by chloe • 23 • australia (@chloeandbeans) on

I have been following Chloe since the birth of her triplets, it was actually a completely random 'suggested' follow from Instagram (they clearly know I love squishy newborn pics). Chloe is a 23 year old mum of 6 kids (under the age of 4!) in Australia. I think I started following out of pure curiosity, how on earth can you have 6 kids under 4!? However, over the past 9 months I have fallen a little in love with her little brood, and me and Zoe love watching their youtube channel.

If you love gorgeous babies, stylish toddlers and getting a glimpse at a really lovely big family... Chloe is your girl.

XXX

A photo posted by Becky (@mrsbebeblog) on

Becky (BeBe) is one of my all time favourite insta-babes. I have had the privilege of meeting her in real life and can confirm she is as fierce in person as she is in selfies. Speaking of which, Becky is the absolute queen of selfies, this girl seriously knows her angles and can find the light like no other! I love that she is plus size and proud, and she is my style icon.

If you love fierce fashion, self-confidence and Grease 2... BeBe is your girl!

I'd love to hear your favourite instagram accounts too, lets share the love...

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Family Fun @ Alnwick Gardens - Easter 2016

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Alnwick Gardens is one of my favourite places in the North East, sadly without a car it isn't possible to go that often, but when we do it is extra special. One of the perks of Paul's job is access to free tickets to Alnwick Gardens, so when we knew we had family visiting on Easter weekend we booked tickets for Bank Holiday Monday.

I was obsessively checking the weather the week before, and even up until Sunday night it was telling me it would pour with rain all day long. I packed waterproofs and wellies and hoped for the best. Thankfully the weather gods were on our side and it was actually really nice! Still a bit chilly, but no rain!

For the Easter Holidays Alnwick Gardens had a Lindt Bunny hunt (there are a few events happening all over the country, check them out here) which was really fun! There was a series of questions which took you around the whole garden, and at the end you handed in your answers for a gold bunny. Although, I went to claim our prize, not realising that if we all went we each got a bunny, so we ended up with a tiny bunny between 5 adults and a toddler. Whoops.

Zoe loved the fountains in the Serpent Garden, thankfully this fully enclosed one was the favourite, so she didn't get wet! There were quite a few soggy children about though, so definitely pack a change of clothes if you're planning a visit!

Zoe loved walking about in the gardens, as there is lots of little places to hide and interesting things to touch and explore. Although with all the hills and distances between each area her little legs did get tired. Luckily there were 5 adults to carry her, and I had stashed the Connecta Carrier in a bag.

Alongside the Easter Bunny hunt there was the Garden of Fairy Tales activity going on, which we also took part in. It was actually a lot harder than we thought it would be! Zoe had fallen asleep and we were dashing about trying to find clues! It was really fun and once again had us exploring the whole garden. At the end of the hunt we went to the Crafting Cottage to collect our prize (a wristband) and there was lots of crafty things for kids to make and do. Zoe was a little young to partake, so we opted to head to the cafe for a coffee and loo break instead.

Although, I do have one minor grumble. Zoe decided to hugely fill her nappy so we trotted off to the toilets for a change. There was only one baby change within the gardens and the queue was 3 people deep, on a not very busy day! I would have thought such a big kid-friendly place would at least have a fold down table in the ladies too? By the time we finally got into the baby change, got sorted and out again my coffee had gone cold. *plays tiny violin*

So yes, more baby change please!

All in all we had a fantastic day, I clocked over 15,000 steps on my fitbit and we all slept soundly.

We will definitely be heading back over the summer, we really want to check out the Castle next time too.

BabyfooteLoveNorthEast

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