Trying out some Heavenly baby snacks!

We received a lovely box of goodies this week from Heavenly Organic Superfoods. Founded by Mum of 4, Shauna McCarney-Blair, the Heavenly baby food range was developed when Shauna discovered a lack of healthy and organic snacks when weaning her first child.

Heavenly snack foods for babies

This struck a chord with me too, as when Harry started needing more and more ‘go to’ snacks I did find my options limited. The range contains no added sugar or salt and is perfect for at home, or on-the-go snacks.

We tried out a lovely selection of items from the range, including:

  • Coconut Squishies – Harry tried the Mango/Apple/Banana/Coconut Milk flavour, and the Strawberry/Apple/Banana/Coconut Milk flavour. The ‘squishies’ come in handy little pouches and contain organic fruit, coconut milk and a dash of lemon juice, and are one of your five a day! Harry LOVED these. I tried them myself and I must say they are delicious. Harry was able to hold the pouch and suck out the contents really easily.

coconut squishies

  • Yummy Wafer Wisps – Spinach, Apple and Kale flavour. These contain organic fruit and veg blended together with ancient grains. These are melt in the mouth and such a healthy snack. Very easy for Harry to hold. They come in little packs of 3 which are great for chucking in the changing bag!
  • Happy Halo Bites – Apple flavour. These little round bites contain organic grains buckwheat and amaranth, blended with natural organic fruits. I had been giving Harry Cheerios in his snack pot, but have since replaced them with these! They are much healthier and taste great. Slightly bigger than Cheerios too, so a bit easier for his little fingers to grab.
  • Crispy Veggie Waffles – Beetroot and Shallot flavour. Dairy free, oven baked and containing over 50% organic vegetables. Harry has been nibbling on a few of these while I make his dinner and they are perfect as a ‘starter’!. They taste quite strong but sure enough he loves them! Great dipped in his favourite – houmous.

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  • Mini Italian Breadsticks. These are really lovely. Authentic little breadsticks – baked in Italy! They have no added sugar or salt and are a lovely chunky shape for Harry to hold. We also dip these in houmous!

Mini Italian Breadsticks Heavenly Tasty

I absolutely love the packaging; it’s practical and looks great. The full range can be found on the Heavenly website, and is stocked in major UK and Ireland retailers like Gordons Chemists, Supervalu, Tesco Ireland, Amazon and Ocado.

Heavely organic superfoods

Thanks for letting us try out your Heavenly products!

Love, Laurel and Harry :)

On your First Birthday

first birthday

Dear Harry,

In three days time you will have your first birthday. What a year it has been! On 17th April, 2015 at 4.14am, you came into this world and gave us the most special gift: parenthood. You made us wait 14 whole days after your due date before we finally met you, and boy was it worth the wait.

You barely cried when you arrived and I got to hold you immediately and stayed that way for a good 45 minutes before you were weighed. 8lbs 9.5oz – a big healthy boy!

Those early days were tough I’ll admit. But also really exciting and filled with pure elation. We were so proud to show you off.

When we got a bit of routine going it all started to get a bit easier. You have mostly been a pretty good sleeper and were ‘sleeping through’ from about 3 months old. Our version of sleeping through then was about 12pm – 5.30am, but it was still pretty good!

That first smile, at about 6 weeks old was amazing. And your first taste of food at 4.5 months old was the start of a whole new chapter!

Those first milestones; sitting up, rolling over, saying ‘mama’ and ‘dadda’ were such a delight to witness. When you hit around ten months, we really saw your personality develop. You are funny, cheeky and loving. You have always been very sharp, very observant and aware of your surroundings. We are noticing how clever you are already, and how you have your likes and dislikes when it comes to food, toys and TV. You LOVE your sister Ella the Bichon Frise and have done from very early on. She is your best friend and makes you laugh. You are crawling and pulling up and cruising around the furniture now. You are getting stronger and steadier by the day and you might even walk soon. It’s o.k if you don’t though, we aren’t in any rush.

You have lost some of your ‘baby’ looks and we are getting a picture of you as a little boy now. Your hair is light and sandy, and your eyes are the same beautiful blue they were at birth. You don’t have a lot of hair – but that’s o.k as it keeps you looking like my little baby for a bit longer!

You love talking to us in your own little language, and pointing and clapping your hands. You love books, and the Twirlywoos are your absolute favourite.

Going back to work and leaving you was so hard, and still is. The only thing that gets me through is seeing you when I get home, and our long weekends together.

On your first birthday, I can’t wait to give you your presents, and spend the day celebrating you being a whole year old. Thank you for the best experience of my life so far. I am so proud to be your mum.

Love, Mummy

 

A Happy Easter with Tesco Northern Ireland

This week we received a special delivery from Tesco Northern Ireland – a selection of delicious local produce to create our very own Northern Irish Easter.

tesco northern ireland

tesco northern ireland

Tesco NI is proud to support local producers and to spread the word about the quality local produce available on our doorstep and in their stores. We were supplied with a selection of items including Northern Irish leg of lamb, locally produced fresh vegetable broth, and a selection of vegetables all grown in Northern Ireland.

We headed off to Ballycastle to our caravan, as we do every Easter, and took the ingredients with us! In the luxury of the caravan we managed to make a delicious meal for the whole family, perfect for Easter Sunday!

lamb roast dinner

We were really impressed with the quality and freshness of the food we received from Tesco Northern Ireland – thank you and Happy Easter!

Love, Laurel

GREEN GIVEAWAY with Holland and Barrett

This month I am hosting my first ever giveaway! With St. Patrick’s Day just a few weeks away, I have teamed up with Holland and Barrett to give away a collection of their products, all with a GREEN theme!

Green Giveaway Holland and Barrett

Since returning to work I have been feeling a bit run down and we have had our fair share of illness in our house. So these items arrived for me at a very appropriate time! I have used everything I received as right now I need as much help as I can get with staying healthy and feeling good. And I also have one of each item to give to one of you! The giveaway contains:

  • Spirulina Powder – I have been adding this to smoothies! Spirulina is a natural algae and is great for boosting the immune system. It does have a slightly strange taste, but it’s not too bad. High in iron, protein, antioxidants and amino acids.
  • Green Tea Extract – These handy tablets are packed with anti oxidants and are perfect if you aren’t keen on actually drinking green tea. I’d rather drink normal tea and take these!
  • Wheat grass powder – This stuff contains just about everything healthy going! Again I have been adding this to smoothies but it can be added to plain water or juice.
  • Sea Kelp tablets – used for weight management but also great for hair and nails!
  • Apple Yoyo Bear – Harry loved this! it’s 100% pressed apple and pear, so great for babies.
  • Nakd Apple Pie Fruit, Nut & Oat Bar – handy and healthy snack I have stashed in the changing bag for emergencies.
  • Aloe Vera Gel – smells gorgeous and will be lovely in summer if any of us gets a little bit sunburnt! This stuff has loads of uses so will be really handy to have.
  • Hemp Oil Body Wash – a really invigorating smell which leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean.
  • Hemp Oil Intensive Hand & Nail Treatment – just want I need right now as my hands have been so dry!

holland and barrett

holland and barrett green giveaway

So needless to say all of the above has helped give me a much needed boost! If you would like to be in with a chance of winning these items simply enter via Twitter.  Tag myself @laurelloves85 and @holland_barrett and use the hashtag #hbpaddy. You can enter as many times as you like!

The giveaway is open until Thursday 17th March 2016 and the winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

Love, Laurel

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

We made this slow cooked Beef Ragu for Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago, after having it a few times in one of our favourite restaurants. I was surprised how easy it was to make and how good it tasted! A lovely alternative to Spaghetti Bolognese.

slow cooked beef ragu recipe

Ingredients

  • 500g beef pieces
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 400g can of passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup red wine

Method

  • Chop all the vegetables as finely as you can. Brown the mince and onions and add to a large casserole dish. Add the veg and cook for a few minutes on the hob. Then add all of the other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Then put in the oven at 180 degrees celsius and cook for 2 hours.
  • Serve with al dente pappardelle pasta, grated parmesan cheese and course ground black pepper.

You could also make this in a slow cooker and just cook for longer. As for the recipe, I based the ingredients on a few recipes I found online I think it’s the type of dish you could adapt to suit your own tastes. You can’t go wrong!

Love, Laurel

Lunch at Solo Belfast

Last Sunday my husband and I were treated to a lovely lunch at Solo Belfast, situated in Wellington Place, city centre. I hadn’t been before and it was great to try out somewhere new while Harry spent some time with his grandparents.

The restaurant and bar had a lovely interior and was warm and comfortable as well as having a slick, modern feel.

solo belfast

To start we shared the Tapas Platter and the Crispy Salt and Chili Squid and both were delicious and great to nibble on before our mains.

starters at solo belfast

For main course I went for the Pollo Loronzo on recommendation from our server. The dish consisted of grilled chicken, salami, mozzarella and creamy mash with a white wine and garlic sauce. It was really tasty and indulgent and the portion size was generous. My husband opted for Pan Seared Sea Bass with spring onion mash, spinach, chorizo and sundried tomato and really enjoyed it. We shared a portion of balsamic roasted vegetables which were a great accompaniment. The service we received from the staff was excellent.

solo belfast review

Even thought we were stuffed we shared a slice of chocolate fudge cake for dessert, along with a coffee each. That just about finished us off!

We had a lovely experience at Solo Belfast – thank you for the delicious meal!

Love, Laurel

The Seven Stages of Maternity Leave

So the time has arrived for me to go to back to work, and it’s so sad! I have ONE day of my eleven month maternity leave left, and I can’t believe this time has arrived. I knew it would, but I think I was in denial!

maternity leave

It has, hands down, been the best time of my life. It’s not that I don’t like work, or that I don’t want to continue with my career; I do. It’s more a sadness that this time is coming to an end.

The past eleven months have been a real journey and learning experience for me.  As Harry has grown, there have been different stages we’ve gone through. Here’s my take on it!

1. The Calm Before the Storm

You’ve finished work; there’s that feeling of excitement and a bit of fear. You happily leave work behind and spend the next few weeks relaxing and waiting in anticipation for a huge, life changing event. I spent this time going for walks, shopping, running errands. I didn’t relax that much! I had Ella for company and it was a really nice time.

2. Shock and Elation – The Newborn Stage

All of a sudden, they’re here. Life as you know it, has changed forever. You’ve given birth and can’t believe your luck. Relief and happiness just takes over. Sleep deprived and running on adrenaline, you try to work out how to be a parent while everyone you know comes to visit! You spend hours staring at your baby, marveling at this beautiful, tiny person.

3. The Hard Bit

The visitors die down, the sleep deprivation starts to get to you, your husband/partner goes back to work. This is when reality sets in. There was a momentary period when I felt a bit like everyone around me was going about their business and I felt I couldn’t do that. I had to get out, find things to do and find a new routine. When I did, things got so much better and I really started to enjoy every minute.

4. Joining the Mum Club

Suddenly everything is exciting and fun. Your baby emerges from the newborn stage and their personality starts to shine through. They smile, laugh, play with toys and love observing the world around them. You go for walks, to baby groups, to baby classes. You make mum friends and everything is a novelty. You try out soft play, going on days out, maybe even going on a short break somewhere nearby. You start to feel a little bit like your old self, but better – you have a baby now! You compare every little detail with your mum friends and chat at length about anything and everything to do with your baby.

5. The Settled Stage

You feel totally immersed in motherhood now. As though nothing else will ever matter again. You toy with the idea of not going back to work. You feel like you have found your true calling in life. Your baby is now eating real food and has gained a little bit of independence. You have settled into a nice routine (always subject to change, but nowadays you can handle that), and you could happily go on like this forever.

6. The Cherish Every Moment Stage

Suddenly you realise your time is starting to run out. You’ve been saying you had ‘ages left’ for a long time and now you’re realising you don’t have that long at all. You start to panic – you meet up with distant relatives and long lost friends and do lots of activities just so you’re sure you have ‘made the most’ of your time. Your baby starts to have their own firsts – first Halloween, first Christmas, for example. Time is starting to pass you by. You realise you ARE going back to work and that you better start preparing yourself!

7. The Dread before The Big Change

The last few weeks arrive and you start to mourn everything. Things start going wrong – your baby gets sick, stops sleeping through the night, becomes a fussy eater. You worry that you won’t be able to get out of the house on time in the mornings, that you have no clothes for work, that your baby won’t be happy without you. You get emotional and sentimental. Then you start to turn it around and accept your fate, and know, deep down that it will be ok, sort of.

And that’s the stage I’m at right now! Wish me luck!

Love, Laurel