31 Oct 2014

Parenting a 3 Year Old

You know you are a parent to a three year old when:
  1. You hum the Topsy and Tim theme tune in your bath. And don't even realise it.
  2. You are oblivious to the latest chart busters, but you know the words to the Postman Pat song. Jess the cat sound effects included. Meow!
  3. All that you ever watch during the day is CBeebies. Or nothing.
  4. You have heard the story of the Billy Goats Gruff at least five times every day since you bought that CD.
  5. You join in animatedly at each telling, pretending to be the troll under the bridge.
  6. The only time you go to the cinema is to watch the latest offering from Disney Pixar.
  7. A night out means another three year old's birthday party. At 6pm.
  8. A day out means a trip to the park.
  9. You empty your coat pockets and an assorted collection of plastic frogs, chocolate wrappers, snot-soaked tissues and dry daisies fall out.
  10. Ditto, your handbag.
  11. You never leave home without a shiny back-pack with a month's worth of food rations packed in. And wipes.
  12. "Now," becomes your life's mantra.
  13. Date night means watching catch-up TV while dining-in on the sofa.
  14. You find yourself beginning to doze-off at 10:30 pm even when child-care is sorted.
  15. Sharing a bed means fighting your corner to claim bed-space that rightfully belongs to you and is being threatened by the habitual midnight/early morning wanderings of your precious offspring.
  16. The only child-free space in the home is the shower. When you are in it. Mostly.
  17. All that once belonged to you is now facing a take-over bid from a myriad of books, crayons and construction bricks.
  18. You can issue instructions and mend broken toys when on the toilet. Simultaneously.
  19. Forget the souffles and the creme brulees, puddings now mean jelly and ice-cream.
  20. And food generally means fish fingers and chips.
  21. You leave the house without an iota of make-up on, glowing in the knowledge that you managed to get a brush to the child's unruly locks.
  22. You realise that your jeans and the rest of your clothing are a very handy substitute to hand washing. Or hand towels, if you are lucky.
  23. You are struck by the futility of doing your hair. For your head is perceived to be the perfect perch when the child is being helped into his shoes.
  24. You find yourself saying things on a loop. Over and over. And over again.
  25. Almost all your writing tends to revolve around the shenanigans of your three year old offspring.

The List
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30 Oct 2014

Changing Seasons

My second offering of Haikus. A tribute to the seasons. And I am in love. 

Gold leaf hazy sunshine
Dancing to gusty winds falls
Crushed under feet.

Glistening icicles
Shards of diamonds by night
Melted nothingness.

Drops of the first rain
Pearls drench a parched earth
Long awaited Life begins.

Lazy midday sun
Slumbering in green meadows 
Shattered reverie.

Buried seed bitter snow
Green shoots struggle, break forth
Silent resilience.

mumturnedmomProse for Thought

29 Oct 2014

Storytime Sounds app by notonthehighstreet.com

We are not huge fans of Halloween in the C-household. There is something about ghosts and ghouls that spooks me out. My little boy is as yet too little to get into the swing of all things halloweeny. That said, we love listening to stories. Well, I tell them and he listens. Although there are times when I have to be a patient listener as J narrates a recent adventure.

Most of our tales tend to revolve around spaceships and aliens. Good old-fashioned fairytales are quite to our taste as well. We have yet to embark on a ghoulish story-telling adventure, more because I get spooked by them even when I am the one telling the story, let alone listening to one.

Our story-telling now comes sprinkled with background sound effects courtesy of the Storytime Sounds app. I came across this iPhone app launched by notonthehighstreet.com, as part of a promotion by Mumsnet.

The app is free to download from the app store and is designed to add an audio dimension to make story time even more fun for families with kids aged 3-7 years.

The app currently features 5 soundboards for different storytelling themes. They have pirates, fairytales, lost world, space and monster.

Image courtesy: NOTHS and Mumsnet
There has been an update to the app with the addition of a sixth soundboard for Halloween. Each soundboard has nine different sounds to choose from. You can play them singly or merge them for an ongoing sound effect.

So whether you are reading from a storybook or spinning your own yarn to regale the children with, you can count on the Storytime Sounds to bring your story to life.

We start by choosing the soundboard that goes best with the story that is about to be narrated. Then J has a go pressing the buttons to produce the sounds. Sometimes quite at random. The effect is a more interactive story-telling session.

You can download the app for free from the i-tunes app store here:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/storytime-sounds/id883691199?mt=8

Disclaimer: I downloaded this free app for the purposes of this review and to be eligible for the £400 Mumsnet prize draw. No other compensation was received for this post.

24 Oct 2014

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties)

Diwali. The Festival of Lights. A time to celebrate with family and friends. And lots of delicious home-cooked food. From besan laddoos to chaklis,  Diwali is not complete without the traditional array of sweet and savoury delights.

I have been busy in the kitchen all this week, rustling up some traditional and some not-so-traditional dishes. Here I present my unconventional take on the  Maharashtrian Naralachi Karanji, a very traditional pasty from the western fringes of India, filled with a sweet coconut filling.

It is my Aai's (Mother's) recipe, modified to suit our changing palate. I have used wholemeal flour to make my sweet coconut pasties, instead of the more traditional Maida (refined flour). And I opted to bake rather than deep fry my Karanjis as a healthier alternative.

To make the sweet coconut pasties, you will need:
For the filling:
2 cups finely shredded fresh coconut
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/2 tspn freshly ground cardamom powder

For the pasty cases:
2 cups wholemeal flour. I used Pilsbury Atta, available in most Asian shops
4 tbspn warm ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup semi-skimmed milk

For the bake:
Flour to dust, as needed
Ghee to grease the baking sheet
Milk to brush

Start by finely shredding the flesh of a fresh coconut in a food processor. (Break it open and separate the flesh from the hard outer shell before putting it in the processor). Cook the coconut with the milk and sugar on a medium-high heat, till the sugar melts and the mixture starts to bubble and splutter. Now reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking with intermittent stirring till the mixture thickens. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the cardamom powder. Allow the mixture to cool down completely before you use it.

Make the pasty dough by mixing the flour with the ghee and milk. If the ghee is solid, warm it for 20-40 seconds in the microwave to make it runny. The dough is kneaded to a firm consistency. Cover it and allow it to rest for at least an hour before using it to make your pasties.

Divide the rested dough into little balls and flatten them in the palms of your hands. Roll out each of these flat discs, dusting with flour to avoid sticking. Go as thin as you possibly can without allowing the dough to crack.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - the dough

Spoon a generous amount of the sweet coconut filling into the centre of the rolled out dough. Bring the edges together, almost like a taco, and stick them firmly together.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - the filling

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - fold and stick
Now, you can either do the filling and sticking with the dough sitting on the rolling platform, or it can  be done with the disc sitting in the palm of your hand. I find the latter method a lot easier and quicker.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - filling it

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) -sticking it

You can crimp the edge to make the pasties look just that little bit nicer.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - crimping it

Place the pasties on a baking sheet greased with a small amount of ghee. Brush the tops with a little milk.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties) - baking it

Bake the pasties in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees (fan-assisted) for about 20-25 minutes, or till the tops have browned.

Allow to cool before tucking into your scrumptious baked sweet coconut pasties.

You don't really have to wait for Diwali to make these delectable delicacies. Any occasion is good enough to make, bake and eat Naralachi Karanji.

Naralachi Karanji (Sweet Coconut Pasties)

Link up your recipe of the week

21 Oct 2014

With a Little Bit of Luck

Are you one of those people who believe in luck? Or are you one of those who believe in making their own luck? Either way, there is no denying that a little bit of luck can go a long way in brightening up our lives.

From the little things to the big and important ones, we all need a sprinkling of good fortune to see us through. Whether it is having an umbrella on hand in a rain shower or landing that all-important contract for your company, luck does play a part in everything.

Some guys seem to have all the luck. But there is a bit of it for everyone, surely, if you just take a closer look. Like the day you thought your luck had ran out because you missed your usual train in the morning. You grudgingly boarded the next one, and ended up meeting the love of your life.    

So whether you are feeling particularly lucky, or you just want to try it out, there is always a game of Bingo at Paddy Power to test your luck.

Here are a few interesting facts about the history of bingo down the ages. You might surprise yourself.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

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