Its’s not the first time I’ve raved about HelloFresh delivery boxes, (you can read all about the time I discovered them here.) As a busy, working mum of 3, they’re an absolute lifesaver as they take the stress out of deciding what to cook and having to go buy the ingredients. I’ve just restarted my deliveries after a year break as I’ve found I was cooking the same things week after week.

I’ve only been ordering 3 meals a week so that still leaves a few days, to think up healthy meal ideas. So rather than trawl through my cook books ( that super busy mum thing again) I’ve used their new  Flavour Generator to help find some recipes. I can do all this while I’m on the site choosing my meals for the next delivery so my whole weeks meals are dun and dusted in one sitting.

It’s a great tool for helping you decide what to cook and try out some new recipes, this week I was in the mood for something Italian. You can you can choose between Italian, British, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian on the Flavour Generator drop down menu. Once you’ve decided on that, there’s more choices on the next drop down for flavour; tangy, herby, sweet or spicy. Then its spin and het presto! My Italian, herby mood brought up this recipe for Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese, it’s  a flavour full, tomato based vegetable bake with a breadcrumb top and tomato salad on the side. The pine nuts addition give it a really nice texture and best of all, you get to use up all the courgettes which are in abundance right now and  do some sneaky veggie hiding for reluctant vegetable eating kids.

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Ingredients

  • half Red Onion
  •  2 Garlic Cloves
  •  1 Courgette
  •  0.5 punnet(s) Cherry Tomatoes
  •  1 ball(s)   Mozzarella
  • Tomato Passata
  •  0.75 tsp  Dried Oregano
  • 1 bunch Basil (20g)
  • 25 grams  Pine Nuts
  • 3 tbsp    Hard Italian Cheese
  • 20 grams  Panko Breadcrumbs
  •  1 Foccacia (I subbed for ciabatta)

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. Peel and finely chop the red onion and the garlic. Slice the courgette lengthways into ½cm strips. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half.
  2. Next cut three-quarters of your mozzarella into slices, as thin as you can (keep a quarter for your salad). Press kitchen paper or a clean tea towel onto each slice to soak up as much excess moisture as possible.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan and fry your red onion and garlic on medium-low heat for around 5 mins, or until soft. Tip: You can start step 5 at the same time to save some time.
  4. Add in the tomato passata with a pinch of salt, the oregano and a few grinds of black pepper. Bubble the mixture for 5 mins, then remove from the heat to cool down.
  5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Once hot, fry your courgette strips in batches. Cook them for 1 minute on each side and then keep to the side. Do not overcrowd the pan as this will stew the courgette rather than brown it.
  6. Put enough (about a third) of your passata in an ovenproof dish to thinly cover the bottom. Top this with a layer of your courgette (you should use roughly half your courgette here as you’re going to repeat this step!). Next, layer on a couple of slices of mozzarella, followed by some torn basil and half of the pine nuts.
  7. Spread on another layer of passata, followed by your remaining courgette, a couple more slices of mozzarella and bit more basil (save some of each for your salad) and the rest of your pine nuts. Finally add one more layer of passata and top your parmigiana with the hard cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake in your oven for 15 mins.
  8. Tear up a small handful of basil leaves and the remaining mozzarella. Toss these and your cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve your parmigiana with your salad and foccacia on the side.
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It won’t be long now till the schools and pre schools kick out. For us that means no alarm clock and trying to get out and about doing something new and exciting for which I’m always up for some new ideas and inspiration. In the past I’ve  drawn up a summer holiday plan so the boys and I know what we’re doing and so we don’t get the end of the summer holidays feeling like we haven’t made the best use out of the freedom of the summer holidays.

These days, it’s much more ad hoc. The older 2 like to sort themselves out and with only left to worry about, we can do things at a little more of a relaxed pace. Saying that, I still need some ideas so the Frugi bucket and spade list is ideal. Not all are suitable for my adventurous 3-year-old, but we’ll certainly be giving the majority of them a go, in fact we’ve already started!

A week’s holidaying in sunny Sardinia saw us hitting the beach every day. Sand castle’s, sand sculptures and sea paddling were the order of the day. Along with an attempt at sand angels which anything but angelic.


And back in slightly cooler England, it was out for a morning bug hunting and puddle jumping;

bugs found = 2 – I’m pretty rubbish at getting too close to anything inspect like so we admired from a distance)

puddles conquered = 5 – note to self, waterproof trousers are a must, beige and absolute no no.

Next on our list is to get out on the water, warm weather and calm seas are the must have’s for that little adventure and I’d really like to tackle my fear of camping with a night under the stars, I just know that this little chap will be so up for a tent shaped adventure, especially if we can hook up with his cousins who also happen to have an amazing tent.

If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for things to do this summer then see if anything on the Frugi Bucket and Spade list floats for boat;

what's on your bucket and spade list this summer?

 

ticking off our toddler approved summer bucket and spade list with the help of Frugi

Disclaimer,

This is a collaborative post with Frugi 

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Sleep, babies, toddlers, blah, blah, blah. They have got to be one of the most talked about subjects on every parent’s lips at some point in their kid’s lives and I totally put my hands up, I have quite an unconventional approach to sleep. 3 babies in and I ripped up the rule book and stopped fretting about what everyone else did with my last baby and followed my son’s lead.

We co slept for 2 years as that was the only way he settled and even now he wanders into my bed most nights or mornings.  He’s a happy, sociable child and I’ve never had the sleep deprivation that I experienced with my older kids. So why am I reviewing a sleep aid device, if I don’t think my son has a sleep problem you’re probably thinking?

Well, as much as I have no problem with early morning or night-time snuggles. As a work from home mum, who’s most productive part of the day tends to be the evening. I could REALLY do with cutting down our bed time routine. In the past I can spend over an hour settling, reading and sitting with my boy waiting for him to nod off for the night. He’s such a busy little thing at the best of times and seems to pull every last snippet of energy out the bag just before he heads off to dream land.

Which is why I’m testing the Sleep Tight All Night, I was curious to see if it helped cut down bed times.


Looking light a normal teddy, it’s a cuddleable sleep aid which helps teach your child when to sleep and when to get up by using different coloured lights and sounds to differentiate day and night. There’s a selection of  soothing white noise and nature noises for night and cute phrases for day.

We started off by keeping the Sleep Tight All Night  bear downstairs in daytime mode for few days while my son got use to it, then we moved onto to introducing it to our bedtime routine. Each night, after the usual round of stories, I remind my boy to get his sleep teddy, he pull’s out the unit which sits under a velcro’s patch of material at the bottom, set the timer, then go through which noise he wanted.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

After a few days or so, he’d always opt for the heart beat sound but only after he’d been through every other one. I really started to notice a difference to how quickly he settled after a week. There’s was much less resistance and tossing and turning as he went through the same routine ending with selecting his noise, putting the monitor back in the teddy and telling me the light is red so time for bed. Then laying down quietly, drifting off in half the time he’d done previously.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

I’ve not seen any change to keeping him in his bed all night yet, but if I’m honest, I’ve not really enforced this as I don’t have a problem which him coming in to sleep with me as he drifts straight back off. So I can’t comment on how effective it is in that respect, that said, I will be trying it out when he’s a little older and able to understand that he needs to stay in his bed and go back to sleep.

In a nutshell, the Sleep Tight All Night teddy has cut down bed time by helping my toddler settle and wind down to relax off to sleep. It’s given my son some independence and control over his bed time routine and is now a permanent feature on his pillow, I’m hoping it helps maintain some normality when going on holiday too!

Disclaimer

We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, the Sleep Tight All Night is available to buy  from Golden Bear Toys 

 

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I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

 

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One of the biggest leap of faith I have to take while raising teenagers is having the courage to trust them when using the internet. While I can keep an eye on where they go when out and about and for how long (the advantage of living in a village) when it comes to letting them loose online, it’s one place I’m all to aware that they’re one step ahead of me.
Gone are the days where we had rules about only being online when I’m in the same room and choosing / vetting any websites they go on. These days, it’s a fine line between giving them the privacy that all teenagers crave while reminding them of the rules of keeping away from the deep dark web.
As a mum (or dad ) so many scenarios haunt you; from cyber bullying, violence, using and learning bad language and pornography. You here the stats all the time, one study by Kaspersky, the global cyber security company, of 5040 children age 10-15 found that over 2/3’s  had heard bad language, a 1/3 had witnessed violence online and 1/4 seen pornography. Not happy reading for any parent is it?

So that’s my wake up call, I need to up my game and find that balance as those are pretty scary statistics and I’m pretty sure my boys would know how to find anything I’d find worrying! So what am I going to do about it?
First things first, I’m going to have THE CHAT (again) I’m pencilling in a nice, tea time slot or maybe a car journey, yeah, a car journey would be better. Side ways conversations always work well with boys, minimum eye contact and all that. And then, once said chat has been executed and received, I’m going to look at ways to make sure I’m back holding the protective reins once again.
All be it a little slacker, and maybe sneakier than before.
Disclaimer
This is a collaborative post with Kaspersky and a reminder to check your parental controls! 
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