31 December 2015

My 2015 - Part 1 (Jan - Jun)

At the end of the year it is always nice to look back - life progresses so fast and we have experienced so much over the last year I have nearly forgotten most of it!



January 2015: The first week of the year I was in Finland, still enjoying our very snowy Christmas holiday. It was fab! I wrote a bit about our Christmas in Finland, how much fun my daughter had playing in the snow, and started my new linky My Monthly roundup





February 2015: Much of February we spent umming and arring over a house... Until we eventually made an offer and it was accepted after a bit of further negotiating! Otherwise I blogged about our Pink Lady and her lovely cuddles








March 2015: At the beginning of 2015 I joined Plan UK as one of their Ambassadors, and wrote a post about their new campaign to end child marriage. Other than that I wrote a lot about toddler outfits, like new and secondhand clothes. I had the second Mother's Day of  my life and we went for a forest walk nearby. At the end of the month we went on an amazing ski holiday in Lapland, Finland!





April 2015: I finally wrote about our awesome ski holiday - it was wonderful to get back on the slopes after such a long time. Over there we also got to meet and feed reindeer which was a lot of fun. We also enjoyed Easter and our little one had her first Egg Hunt ever - with very good results as her older cousins very generously helped her along. We also stressed a lot about our house purchase - there was stuff going wrong all the time! 





May 2015: We became home owners! For the first time in our lives, we have our own home. I also wrote a bit about my week as a working mum, and about a nearby country house we love visiting








June 2015: We finally got into our new home and started doing some heavy-duty renovations. There were some unfortunate surprises too! My daughter turned two, and I wrote a little letter to her. Over the last two years we have flown a lot so I wrote a few tips on how to make flying with your baby easier. I also went to my first Britmums Live and really enjoyed it. At the end of the month we flied to Finland again for a few weeks of a holiday and stayed there well into July.We visited loads of fantastic places, like the Moomin World, of which I am still yet to write!

How was your year?





30 December 2015

Our little reindeer - our Christmas portrait and Christmas cards 2015

I've taken a Christmas portrait of my girl for two years running, so was pretty keen on continuing this tradition this year too. As toddlers are known for their limited attention span and quick movements, I figured I would resort to plain old bribery to get my photo... A great big gingerbread biscuit type of a bribery. And a few chocolate coins for good measure. Because, after all, it is Christmas.











Not sure if this was a great idea or a bit of a dunce. In most of the pictures her face is covered with a giant gingerbread biscuit. Afterwards I just wanted to say to myself  "Doh, what were you thinking! That she would nicely hold it and let you take the pictures instead of stuffing it in her face at a speed of lightning?".  But there you go, at least I got my shot! My favourite, the one I have shared on Facebook with friends and family is the last one - her looking at the camera and munching away at her reindeer.



christmas toddler portrait with reindeer antlers and eating reindeer biscuit



The previous years the Christmas portrait has also been our Christmas card picture, but this year we had something else in mind... This year we sent some home-made crafted cards to friends and family. It was fabulous fun, although very messy. We shall see what we will come up next year!







And here is the final version of the card - we saved the best one for ourselves!



Did you take Christmas pictures or make Christmas cards yourselves this year?







29 December 2015

Our Christmas 2015 - hosting Christmas in our new home

This Christmas was quite special. It was the first Christmas we shared as a family in our new home. It was the first time we bought our own Christmas tree. And it was the first time we hosted Christmas for the whole extended family. It was lovely, albeit a bit chaotic at times trying to feed 12 mouths and enjoy a proper sit down meal.  Last year we spent our Christmas in Finland, relaxing at my parents forest lodge, so this year the experience was wholly different. 




The fully stuffed stocking started the day. Everything else except the clementine in the toe of her stocking was met with excited squeals. 

The rest of the morning was spent in furious cooking and cleaning sessions. Husband took on the responsibility of cooking, as I am no domestic goddess, and I proceeded with tidying and hosting. On our menu we had Gordon Ramsay's maple and mustard glazed ham and brussel sprouts with pancetta, Heston Blumenthal's slow roasted rib of beef and thyme-honey-glazed carrots, and Jamie Olivers pork-sage-onion-chesnut stuffing with some added cranberries, alongside the usual goose fat roasted potatoes and balsamic vinegar-thyme mixed vegetables.









Just thinking about the dinner makes my mouth still water. It was just perfect, just the way Christmas food should be. 

After the huge dinner we got to the presents... The amount of presents was just silly, and Aili was in seventh heaven with all the lovely new things she got. A new bike, a "dancing" dress, Crayola, a little market stand, toys, clothes, everything a toddler girl could possibly ever need. After unwrapping each present she shouted out "Amazing! Lucky girl!", bless her little heart.








It was a lovely Christmas and while hosting definitely is quite stressful, maybe in a couple of years we could do it again... It was fun!


How was your Christmas?








28 December 2015

How to get rid of Christmas leftovers: Asian-inspired wrap

I do love Christmas food. Turkey, beef, the spices, cranberries, nuts and all... We hosted Christmas this year so we had plenty of leftovers, even after sharing some out, so I have been getting some lovely flavours in my tummy this whole holiday period. But as it can get a bit samey eating the same food for several days in a row I thought I'd share a little recipe for Christmas leftovers we tried today. An Asian-inspired warm salad, which we served in tortillas as a wrap - it was seriously yummy, Christmassy and something new for our turkey-stuffed taste buds.

We used the leftovers of a rib of beef (originally cooked medium rare) but you could also use turkey or gammon. Otherwise the recipe calls for lots of other things that are left over from traditional Christmas dinners, like clementines, pomegranates, cranberries and nuts, and all the extra you need is some fresh herbs and salad. We served this in tortilla wraps, but you could also serve it as a warm salad.




Ingredients:

Salad:
3 large handfuls of a rib of beef, sliced into strips of about a chunky chip size (The rib of beef was originally cooked to medium rare, so when you cook it again it doesn't get too dry! You can also use leftover turkey or gammon for this recipe.)
Handful of mixed nuts
Handful of dried cranberries
2 tsp ground allspice
Half a handful of fresh mint leaves
Half a handful of fresh coriander leaves
Bag of mixed salad (ours had rocket, spinach and radicchio)
2 tbs of runny honey
1 large fresh red chili, de-seeded and chopped

Dressing:
2 clementines, zested and juiced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 pomegranate, halved (get the seeds from one half, and from the other half squeeze the juice out)
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs soy sauce
tiny splash of sesame seed oil
half a thumb of fresh ginger, grated

+ tortillas to serve it in (or you can serve it as a salad too)



Method:

First make the dressing. Fry shallots on a pan, on medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Once they are softened and lightly browned, put them on the side to cool. Then combine the rest of the dressing ingredients in a bowl, and mix with a fork. Mix in the shallots once they are cooled. 

Now the salad: Heat a large pan on a high heat, once hot add a glug of olive oil, toss in the meat with the nuts, cranberries and the allspice. Make sure that's nicely combined and let that fry for around 5 minutes, tossing it every once in a while so nothing sticks. After about 5 minutes, add honey. Keep tossing the mix occasionally. While that is cooking, get a large salad bowl, toss in your salad leaves, with mint and coriander leaves and the chopped chili, mix, put half the dressing in, combine well with your hands.

The beef mix is ready after about 8-10 minutes of cooking, you're looking for a crisp outside to the beef and nuts to be nice and toasted. Put the meat on the salad, drizzle with the rest of the dressing and serve with some warm tortillas. Yum!






Quite simple, gets rid of a few leftovers and is so damn tasty it is amazing!

Do you have any other good Christmas leftover recipes? 






23 December 2015

How to potty train: best tips and products from experts

I would like to share with you the best potty-training tips I received from potty-training experts recently. Our daughter is now 2.5 years old and we are finally entering that important stage - potty-training. We attended a potty-training event where we got loads of expert tips and a few products to help our potty training along. I found this information so useful I though I'd share these top tips with you guys as well, and tell you a bit about our experiences of potty training. Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Huggies UK. 





When to start potty training?

Whenever the child is showing the signs! The signs are showing interest in potties or going to the toilet and recognising when they are wet/soiled and wanting to be changed. They should also be able to follow simple instructions. Age isn't really important, it is more about the aptitude.

That said, it is best to leave potty training to a time when there isn't too much change in your lives. It can be too stressful for the little one otherwise! Our daughter showed the signs for a long time, but as we were moving house, we delayed her potty training a few months as we wanted her to settle in first.

Summer or winter?
It is a bit easier in the summer time as you need less layers, and could go bare naked too. That said, it is important to start potty training as soon as the child shows interest in. You might lose that momentum if you wait for the optimal season.



First steps to potty training

Explain, explain and explain what to do. Take your child to the toilet with you - they are so fascinated about what is going on they won't mind the smell ha ha. Kids love learning by example. We also bought a potty training book and started reading it, and it made a world of a difference to her enthusiasm.

Our book explains how you say good bye to nappies and hello to big girl pants, and she was really excited about this message. We bought her a load of little knickers, which she loved wearing, and most definitely made her realise straight away when she had just peed/pooed herself!

When we go out, she wears Huggies Pull-Ups. They are fab as they let her experience the wetness on her skin, so she recognises the sensation and can start learning about when she needs to go. She often wears the Pull-Ups home as well - we call them her special pants and she loves putting them on and gets excited about the different pictures on them. Using Pull-Ups means potty training is a bit less of a hassle for us and when we are outside, she won't get upset about having an accident and soiling her clothes.

We also received a potty for her - My Carry Potty Ladybug. My daughter got to choose a potty out of three options, a ladybug, a bee and a cow, and she was just beaming with her choice. She loved it and is now insisting on taking it with her everywhere. That's a great tip by the way - let them choose their own potty to get them all excited about potty training and let them have a sense of ownership of the whole process. 

Potty training on the go

Currently we use Huggies Pull-Ups outside, and take her My Carry Potty with us when we go visit family. She loves having her potty with her, and it helps that we are consistent about potty training. She doesn't wear nappies except at night time, and she gets to use her potty even if we are out of the house. It really does help! Having a potty with you, even when you go to the shops is really helpful as well, as you can whip it out whenever you need to and avoid accidents on the go. My Carry Potty also has some serious sealing action on it - I haven't had to test it in action yet, but I am pretty confident it would hold anything in it until you can empty it!




When to night time potty train?

The best time to start night time potty training is when they start to have dry nappies in the morning. Each to their own, you can do night time potty training at the same time as day time potty training or once your child has gotten the hang of it during the day.  It's likely that this will take a while, and it might be better for your own sanity to nail day time before progressing to night time!

Rewarding success

You can reward children with stickers, or use a reward chart, and apparently it really helps. We however decided not to reward her with anything else than praise and encouragement.  One reason is that we think that really is enough, secondly we didn't want to encourage material rewards. But each to their own - some children apparently really appreciate a little reward like a sticker, or perhaps after doing well enough for an extended period of time, something a bit bigger like a colouring book. We got some fab Huggies stickers, and a Crayola colouring pens and a book to use as rewards.





Trouble shooting: What if it is scary?
It is quite normal for kids to get scared of the sensation, the mess and the end result. They might even feel bashful and upset at their bodily movements and try hide during or after pooing.

Our daughter got really upset when we first tried potty training her and we had several stop and starts with her potty training. She got so upset and cried a lot when she did a poo without a nappy on, and after that she refused to even go near a potty. We decided to leave it for a few months to get over the bad feeling, and to try again later.

Lots of encouragement helps, as well as making poo fun and non- threatening (yes, really). The first poo our daughter made on the potty took lots of encouragement, a bit of "magic" by mummy using her fairy wand (don't ask...) and lots of time sitting around the potty. Once she did it, we took it to the toilet and waved it good bye, and flushed it away. Yes. We really did that, just to prove poo isn't scary and she doesn't need to be upset about it. Parental love in action!

How did we get on?

After about a week of consistent effort we got a first poo in the potty! Yay! At first she was a bit scared of the whole process and would hold it in, and then poo when she was sleeping, but after lots of encouragement we got there. Day time wees are a bit more difficult to catch as they come so quick, but we are getting there. We use the Pull-Ups when we go out to avoid little accidents. As she feels the wetness with them, she is also learning about the sensations that lead to peeing. We also take the My Carry Potty with us so she can potty train even if we are out. She is doing really well and is learning so fast - it really did help to wait until she was ready and to be consistent in our efforts.


potty training kit huggies pull ups


Potty training kit giveaway (now ended!)

I got a full potty training kit to take away from the event - and I'll be able to share one with you too! It includes Huggies Pull-Ups, Huggies Style on the Go wipes pack, Huggies Disney stickers, a My Carry Potty, a My Carry Potty book, Crayola colouring pens and a Crayola colouring book. So it really is a complete potty training kit, with everything you need! 

T&C: UK residents only! Can't guarantee the colour/model/exact quantity of the products, the picture is for representative purposes only. You can enter daily with a tweet and the free entry :)

Edit: There are some fabulous tips in the comment box, be sure not to miss them. I can't reply to you all, as there are over 50 of them currently, but I have read every comment and am planning to do a follow-up post referencing them :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


 


18 December 2015

Welcome to my Scandinavian Christmas home


I've been secretly quite pleased with the recent craze over all things Scandinavian. Suddenly lots of the things I find homely and lovely are cool and seem to be everywhere. Coming from Scandinavia (or sort of, Finland to be exact) I appreciate the whole lot, the white on white, the light wood and natural materials home decor trends.
 
And Scandinavian Christmas home decor - don't get me started. It is, unsurprisingly, my favourite. I think you always gravitate towards what you know best when it comes to that darkest and most joyful time of the winter.
 
 
scandinavian finnish christmas home decor table decoration

scandinavian finnish christmas home decor elf decoration
 
 
I don't always agree though with what is presented as Scandinavian Christmas decor. I am firmly in the traditional, homely Christmas camp. For me that is red, white, maybe gold or silver, and lots and lots of twinkling lights. Bright red elves watching your every step, dark brown pine cones and vibrant green Christmas tree branches. White lit-up stars, twinkling lights in glass vases and red table cloth. 
 

scandinavian finnish christmas home decor


For us, our Christmas decorations are very much Scandinavian this year. Little elves on the Christmas tree, and a white-red-silver decor. Candles, twinkling lights, and pine cones. A red table runner, and when it gets to Christmas, I have a red Christmas tea towel to match.  A lit-up paper star and home-made paper snowflakes in the window. Just like home. 



scandinavian finnish christmas tree elf decoration


scandinavian finnish christmas tree decoration angel

gifts under christmas tree brown paper wrapped red ribbon


The big lit-up paper star is so typically Scandinavian. Here you can get them from IKEA for about £10. The paper snowflakes were a favourite winter craft in school and this year I tried it again, after about 20 years, and stuck them on the window using milk (nifty trick!). With the gifts we thought we would go for simple paper, and decorate them with pretty ribbons in our Christmas colours. And that is pretty much it - our Scandinavian Christmas home decor.

And we did have a little reference to British Christmas too -  a little Christmas pudding hat for our Christmas tree! 


christmas tree christmas pudding topper






What style have you decorated this Christmas?





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