Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Itti Bitti Ultimate Wipes: Review

I brought some of these on a whim from my local cloth nappy shop - I needed some more wipes as we get through a lot in the house, but didn't want to wait to order more Cheeky Wipes.

I'd not really heard much about them so didn't know what to expect, but I made them up with essential oils and water in the same box as the Cheeky Wipes then transferred to a wet bag for a day out. They were great and have a lovely soft feel to them. The large size means you only need to use one per nappy change. Great addition to our supply!

Update!

I went to buy a few more of these wipes and the wetbags I like so much and was informed that Itti Bitti are pulling out of the UK! If you're planning to pick up anything made by them - now is the time to do it!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Tots Bots Easyfit V3 Update

I reviewed these nappies earlier HERE and at that point I was really happy with them. Since then though they've become unusable due to leaks!

I seriously tried everything - strip washes, adjusting the fit but regardless of what I did these nappies would leak after only being on for around 30 minutes. They became so unreliable in fact that I had to use the few other brand/ type nappies we had mixed with eco disposables as I just couldn't put up with guaranteed leaks every time I left the house.

Thankfully I've now solved the problem by using bamboo boosters. These Little Lamb ones are excellent and have really saved these nappies!

So I'm not really sure if I am happy with these nappies. We brought 20 of them, and that's a big investment. The 'bonus' of these nappies is that they dry so quickly, which at the time was a 'must' for us as we didn't own a dryer. As far as I can see though, this quick drying time comes at a cost of having less absorbancy. This was fine during the first couple of months when my baby was small and would wet less, but am really disappointed that at the first sign of any 'real' wetness they just can't cope. I've heard this problem doesn't exist with the V2's as they have a bamboo inner rather than the v3's 'minky'.

I understand that in some cases nappies will need boosting. I'm not sure a nappy should need one to be usable at all though. I'm glad I've found a solution and can use the few hundred £'s worth of these that we have, but not pleased that I had to spend another £40 on boosters to make that happen!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Look Inside my Fliofax Flex A5

As I mentioned before, I really did love my Flex Slim so much (and I had a good discount code to use!) I've invested in a Flex A5. The two Flex that I own are both first edition, most of the new ones seem to be leather and those that aren't didn't tempt me enough!

The cover is the same as the Flex Slim, and as I said before I think they feel lovely for a synthetic cover - I only wish they'd do a personal sized slimline in the same!

Inside I have a thin notebook, a 2013 diary (week across two pages), a jot pad, a 2012 year planner and a 2013 year planner. I'm using this to plan my wedding so you might notice all the flyers and business cards I've got tucked in there!

What I like about the A5 above the slim is that you really can fit more inserts in there without it feeling too bulky or not closing correctly. Inside my slim I have a slim notebook, year diary and jot pad. I also have a contacts book for it, but feel like it doesn't really fit - it also feels like it doesn't close correctly if I put any cards in the pockets. I've not had that with the A5 model at all and it's stuffed full of all sorts of flyers & cards!

As I've said about the Flex before - I don't feel like it replaces my main organiser but it's a great addition, especially for projects like this where I want all the information together in one place. I would have loved to have owned one of these whilst I was at Uni!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

It's been years since I've made these, so I decided it was about time I put that right!

Ingredients

For the Dough...

4 cups plain flour

2 cups soya milk

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp fast action yeast

1 tsp salt

To Make Up

2 Tablespoons Pure Margarine - melted

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

2 TSP Cinnamon

Icing Sugar to glaze

When it comes to making dough, I always use my bread machine on the dough setting.It mixes and allows your dough to rise - why would I ever do it by hand? If you're using a bread machine then you'll need to follow the instructions for your particular model. In mine I add wet ingredients first, then dry on top and yeast last.

Once dough is ready flour a board and lightly knead for a few minutes. Separate your dough into twelve bits. To make up roll one of your pieces into a long sausage shape, brush with melted margarine and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon mixture then roll up. Repeat until you've got 12. Then glaze them all with the rest of the melted margarine and sprinkle more of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.

Place on a baking tray in a warm place and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

Once they are cooked and thoroughly cooled make up the icing and drizzle over the rolls. Let the icing set, the enjoy!

Sesame Seed Nooch Crackers

125g Plain Flour (or 1 cup)

125g Wholemeal Flour (or 1 cup)

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Crushed Garlic (or you could use garlic paste)

1/4 TSP Salt

2 1/2 TSP Baking Powder

25g Nutritional Yeast Flakes

500ML Soya Milk (or 2 cups)

2 or 3 TBSPs Oil

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Then add garlic, oil and soya milk and mix into a ball of dough.

Divide dough into two and roll out between baking paper so that it's quite thin.

Place each bit onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with sesame seeds, place a sheet of baking paper on top a lightly push the seeds into the dough so that once cooked they stick.

Score the dough with a sharp knife into squares and bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.

Once cooled break into bits and enjoy!

Zine Appreciation

If haven't gathered by now: I love zines. Just wanted to share with you my current favorites - Elderflower Tea, Ellipsis, Buy Her Candy and Here In My Head.

If you'd like to read them you can get hold of them HERE and HERE

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lush Caca Rouge Henna: Review

I've used henna before, but around eight years ago (possibly longer). I THINK I used Caca Noir back then, but in any case don't remember much about it. So on a recent trip to Lush to stock up (I LOVE many of their products) I decided to try it out.

Before I talk about it, or show you pictures I should tell you a bit about my hair. It's B A D. I've put it through much abuse over the past 10 years including dreadlocks I've picked out, bleaching, perming and dying it all black to cover up the mistakes! I haven't even had it cut for several years as I've been growing out the bits I had to shave off when ridding myself of dreadlocks! I've been growing out my last dye job (black) for a couple of months so had an inch or two of my natural hair colour at the roots which is quite light brown. I've also been trying to look after it a little more recently and have been using deep conditioning products - hence why I wanted to go with a more natural option to colour it!

So the henna comes in a block as it's mixed with cococa butter and various other lovelies to be kind to your hair. I have hair that is not very thick and a few inches just past my shoulders and I only needed to use half the bar. To prepare I managed to cut off half the bar, then cut that down into small chunks. Then as per lush advise I added a little boiling water and let sit for a few minutes to soften a little, then placed my Pyrex bowl over a pan of water to create a Bain marie effect.

I mixed it all up into a thick paste and was really careful when adding more boiling water as I didn't want to make it too runny! I put it all on my head which was a more messy process than using a chemical dye, but not as bad as I'd been lead to believe! I wrapped it all up well in cling film and left on my hair for 6 hours. I know the instructions say 1 hour, but if you have darker hair I really don't think you'd see any effect if it wasn't left on for a good amount of time. Rinsing off wasn't too bad - I think I shampooed it about three times to make sure it was all out, although I possibly could have gotten away with twice.

So there are the results! You can see that on my natural hair the colour looks more impressive and is a lovely muted and natural red tint. Over the dyed hair it isn't immediately noticeable, however in sunlight it has a lovely red tint. The best part is that it all blends in well and there is no noticeable line where I'm growing out the dye. I plan to keep using this as my hair grows and stay away from those chemicals that cause my hair to shriek in terror.

Cheeky Wipes

I know I've talked briefly about these before, but we've recently brought even more so thought it was time to talk about how we use these.

Even before my daughter was born we brought a full kit and as we are using cloth nappies anyway we've been delighted with them, even when out and about I tend to carry these using the wet bags as they are miles better than any disposable wipes we have tried. For nappies we have 50 terry wipes.

We recently also purchased the Hands & Face Kit with microfibre wipes as once we started weaning we realised just what a messy business it is! We have 50 of the aqua microfibre wipes.

We have separate containers for the different types of wipes. One fresh and one mucky box for the hands and face wipes and one fresh for the wipes we use with nappies. We put the dirty nappy wipes in the bucket for cloth nappies once they are used. This system works really well for us.

The microfibre wipes are just excellent for cleaning mucky faces and hands after meals, and unlike disposable wipes in most cases just one gets the job done.

Baby Pasta

For 6+ Months (If using traditional weaning methods this would be more like 7+ Months)

Ingredients

25g Baby Pasta (I use THIS one)

Tin of chopped tomatoes (made sure there is no added salt/ sugar)

1 Carrot

1 Small Sweet Potato

1 Sweet Red Pepper

Sprinkle of fresh Basil

1/4 Onion Chopped

Sprinkle of melty vegan cheese

Drizzle of Olive Oil

I used my BabyCook to make this, but is just as easy cooked without. First off I cooked my pasta, follow the instructions on the packet. If using a BabyCook you'll need the rice cooker attachment, use water level 3 to cook for 15 minutes and add 100ml of water into the rice cooker with your pasta.

Into a pan of boiling water add chopped carrot and sweet potato - part cook for 5 minutes and drain.

Whilst the pasta is cooking you'll need to make your sauce. Heat a little olive oil in the bottom of a deep sided pan and fry the onion and pepper. Then add the tomatoes, carrot and potato. Simmer for around 5 - 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and add the basil. Pulse until smooth.

Drain the pasta, add the sauce and sprinkle with vegan cheese. Any sauce that isn't used with the meal can be cooled quickly and frozen in portions but must be used within a month.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Baby Shepardess Pie

6 + Months

To celebrate my daughter turning 6 months and her food options opening up I wanted to make her something special. I already knew she liked mash potatoes, so settled on making this.

I made a big batch and froze the rest in portions. They'll need to be used within a month.

If you normally read my blog, you'll know that I love my Babycook. I'd recently brought the rice cooker and seasoning ball in preparation. I gave them their first go making this recipe.

Ingredients

For the mash -

1 baking Potato (I like Vivaldi)

1 chopped Leek

Around 100ml Alpro 1+ Soya Milk

1 TSP vegan margarine

1 TSP Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Sprinkle of fresh parsley

1/2 TSP Thyme (I placed this inside the seasoning ball so the herbs wouldn't be left in final meal)

For the lentil base -

50g Red Split Lentils

1 peeled and chopped parsnip

1 peeled and chopped swede

2 peeled and chopped carrots

1 vegetable baby stock cube (at time of writing I believe these to be suitable)

First off I cooked the lentils. In the Babycook I did this by using 50g lentils to 100ml water inside the rice cooker, and water level 3 to cook (this steams the lentils for around 15-18 minutes). Once cooked I set aside.

I then placed all the chopped vegetables for the base inside the steamer basket and cooked using water level 3 (again this steams the vegetables for around 15 minutes). Once cooked I used the excess cooking liquid to make up stock with a stock cube and added to the blender the stock, lentils and cooked veggies. Set aside.

To make the mashed potato I placed the potato, leak and seasoning ball containing Thyme and cooked on water level 3 (this steams for 15 minutes).

Once cooked, dispose of the excess cooking water and tip veggies into blender bowl. Add Alpro, marg, parsley and yeast flakes and blend. Add as much/ little soya milk as you need to get the correct consistency.

Assemble in freezer storage pots with a layer of the lentil base on the bottom and mash on top. Cool quickly and freeze. I managed to get 8 portions by using this recipe.

I've seen some bad reviews for the rice cooker and seasoning ball online, however I was really pleased with them. I think the rice cooker will work especially well as it allows me to cook things unattended!