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You Are One.

Today you are one. A year has gone by
Since you entered the world with a beautiful cry.
It’s been the best year and that’s down to you.
My sweet Arthur Daniel, I love you, I do.

No longer a newborn but a lovely little boy
Watching you grow, learn and flourish has given me such joy
For every new stage is a pleasure for me
And our love for each other is easy to see.

Happy Birthday Arthur Daniel, my one year old son,
Enjoy your special day, full of love, laughter and fun.


New Flavours from Piccolo

Arthur's a big fan of the Mediterranean-inspired Piccolo pouches so I was delighted to receive this lovely package from them yesterday morning, featuring two of their new stage two baby food pouches, along with a couple of old favourites. Not only had Piccolo been kind enough to send over a few pouches for Arthur to try but they'd also created a suitcase full of little treats including playing cards, crayons, a playlist CD and herb seeds - how lovely is that?

The Three Grain Vegetable Risotto went down a treat with Arthur and I've got to admit that I thought it was delicious too (I like to try these things so I know what he's eating!) Arthur's past Stage 2 in terms of weaning but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy a pouch every now and then, as something to keep him going or as an addition to his meal. But if you've got a younger baby, around seven months old and are puree feeding, the Stage 2 Piccolo pouches are well worth trying. They'll help to introduce new flavours and textures to your baby, whilst giving you the peace of mind that they're packed full of goodness. Other new flavours from their Stage 2 range include:

- Spring Vegetables and Chicken
- Sweet Potato and Beef Ragu
- Sweet Tomato and Ricotta Spaghetti

Along with launching their Stage 2 weaning pouches, Piccolo has also recently announced that their products are now available to buy in Asda. So if that's where you do your weekly shopping, I definitely recommend popping some in your basket for your baba. They're sure to love them!

Read more about Piccolo's Tasty Baby Food here.

This post contains PR Items. All opinions are my own.

Things I've Learnt in a Year of Motherhood

Arthur's One on Friday - a whole year old. A lot has changed in this magical year and I wanted to share a few things I've learnt a long the way...

I can survive on just a few hours sleep.
My stretch marks don't bother me.
Losing the baby weight hasn't been a priority.
I have the most caring, loving and supportive family.
My boobs are magical - they've fed my baby for a whole year.
Though breastfeeding is very hard at times.
Being a single mummy doesn't make me feel sad or lonely.
The little things that used to scare me aren't as frightening any more (apart from spiders).
But motherhood brings new fears, worries and challenges on a daily basis.
Everything becomes less embarrassing when you've gone through child birth.
Motherhood makes you strong.
My bestest friends are still the best.
Motherhood brings new mama friends and even new best friends.
Baby sick, dribble and snot are daily accessories.
Nursery rhymes are always in your head.
Baby shopping is way more exciting than clothes shopping.
I have a whole new appreciation for my parents and how they raised me and my brother.
Arthur's happiness and safety comes above all.
You will sacrifice anything and everything for your baby.
Hearing Arthur say mama, mummy or mum is the best thing in the world.
Joy can be found in the smallest of moments with your baby.
Seeing your baby smile, sit up, crawl and clap for the first time is everything.
Baby kisses can be very wet and sloppy.
As can baby nappies...sorry.
You never get tired of people cooing over your baby and saying they're beautiful.
Or saying they look 'just like their mummy' (that gets you bonus points).
Putting your baby down to sleep requires serious ninja skills.
And even when they're sound asleep, you'll still want to check them a billion times 'just in case.'
Baby poo is a regular topic of discussion.
Watching your baby have their injections is the worst, despite knowing how important they are.
Just as you become comfortable with something, everything changes.
Babies like to keep you on your toes.
You're tired 99% of the time.
But they're worth it.
Time for yourself is important though, even if it's only a few minutes each day.
Seeing your baby take interest in their toys and books is magical.
Babies can sleep through loud noises like dogs barking but if you dare cough, whisper or even think a little too loudly they'll wake up.
'Sleep when your newborn baby sleeps' is the most stupid piece of advice ever.
Your baby can have all the toys in the world but they'll still prefer your iPad or the TV remote.
Babies are super clever. They watch your every move and learn so quickly.
Celebrate milestones - your baby's and your own as a mother.
Trust your instincts as a mummy - you know your baby better than anyone.
Being a mummy isn't always easy but it's more amazing than I ever could ever imagine.
Cherish your cuddles. You'll never look back on your life and think 'I should have done more cleaning' or regret spending time cuddling your baby. (Best piece of advice from my own mum).
There's no shame in asking for help and advice.
Time triples in speed when you're a mummy.
Make lots of memories, take lots of photos, remember what's important. Start a scrapbook.
My love for my son grows stronger each day.
I can't remember what life was without Arthur.
There's no other love like it.

Arthur will forever be my biggest achievement, my greatest adventure, the love of my life.


Finding the Perfect Gifts for Kids with Wicked Uncle

Buying gifts for kids when you have no idea what interests them can be a tricky task. There's all different things to consider, like if the toy is suitable for their age group and whether it will drive their mummy crazy (oh c'mon no one really enjoys hearing their baby's musical toys a million times a day!) But that's where Wicked Uncle comes in. Wicked Uncle is an online toy store that specialises in helping you find the perfect gifts for kids. It's particularly useful for those who either don't have kids themselves or are just generally clueless when it comes to buying presents (we all know someone like that right?)

For a bit of fun, Wicked Uncle has come up with a challenge that requires an adult with no kids to use their website to buy a present for a child they know. I put forward Arthur's Uncle Danny (my younger brother) to see how he got on. He's not always been the best at actually choosing gifts (preferring someone else to do it for him), though I was very impressed with my birthday present this year, so maybe he's turned a corner! Anyway...I sent over the link to the Wicked Uncle site and kept my fingers crossed that he'd pick the gift I had in mind.

What's so great about the Wicked Uncle website is that it makes searching for a gift so easy. You can choose to shop by gender, age, interest or even just look at what's popular. With Arthur's 1st Birthday in just a couple of weeks, Uncle Danny rightly chose the 'Age 1' category and thankfully picked the toy I had my eye on for Arthur - the Walkalong Wooden Puppy*! Arthur loves our dogs so I knew he'd love his own little toy dog to pull around.

Even though Arthur's not walking yet, he's had so much fun pulling the dog as he crawls around the living room. He also loves holding onto the dog and rolling it up and down. For the last few weeks, I've got the feeling that Arthur is ready for his 'next stage' toys so this is really perfect and will keep him going until he gets all of his birthday toys (I'm so excited!) The Walkalong Wooden Puppy is very well made and for me, is extra-lovely because it's made from wood. There's just something so charming about wooden toys in a world full of plastic isn't there?

If that wasn't enough, Uncle Danny also chose another toy for Arthur from the Wicked Uncle website, perfect for one of Arthur's favourite times of the day - bath time. He picked the Tomy Rescue Boat*, which looked great! Again, Arthur's been getting a little bored of his bath time squirters that he's had since he was tiny so it was brilliant to have a more interesting toy for him to play with. This Tomy Boat is sound activated, which makes it all the more exciting for little ones. You squeeze the squeaky remote control once to get the motor going on the rescue boat and again to get the water shooting out of the cannon. Arthur's so interested in how the boat works (he turns it over to have a look) and laughs when the water gets him - or even better, squirts at me! 

I'm really impressed with Uncle Danny's choices and love that Wicked Uncle makes finding the perfect gifts for kids so easy. They have a fantastic selection of toys for all ages, so with Christmas just a 9 weeks away (uh-oh) now's the perfect time to see what they've got to offer!
*These toys were purchased with a voucher provided by Wicked Uncle for the purpose of this post.
Thank you Wicked Uncle - we loved working with you!

Arthur Daniel - Why Your Name is Special

Baby names are something that have always interested me, even before I was pregnant with Arthur. For years, I was obsessed with the name Edie and was certain that if I had a little girl, that's what I'd call her. Edie Rose. It's funny though as when I found out I was pregnant, I didn't even consider the name Edie for a girl! I had two names I liked, Olivia and Devon.

Now, I know what you're thinking - but you didn't have a girl and no, no I didn't! But strangely, before I found out I was having a son I really couldn't pick a boy's name. Then once I found out it was a little boy in there, it was like something clicked in my head - he was Arthur. My Arthur. I didn't tell anyone I was set on the name at first, as I wanted to be 100% sure but when I was, I told my mum and knew how much choosing that name meant to her.

You see, Arthur isn't the first Arthur in our family. My mum's dad (my grandad - or Gonga as I chose to call him) was called Arthur too. Well actually he was called Thomas Arthur but it seems back in the day people often went by their second names instead. It was the same with my dad's dad, funny isn't it? My mum loved her dad very much and even though I only got to spend the first few years of my life with him (and therefore unfortunately don't remember a lot of our time together) I have always felt a real connection to him. I think it's because my mum has so many lovely memories of him and stories to share. I feel like I knew him well. She also says that my brother is a lot like him and I can see the likeness when I look at pictures too.

My Gonga once appeared to me in a dream. I think it was a couple of years ago. In the dream I didn't realise it was him, nor could I place the man he was with but I was speaking to him and he was telling me he was proud of me and that he hoped I had a happy life. It was only in the morning that I realised it was my Grandad in my dream and when I told my mum she wondered if the man he was with could have been his twin brother John. It made me feel quite emotional and actually what he said means even more to me a couple of years on, now I'm living a much happier life.

Because my Grandad Arthur was so important to my mum and our family, I wanted to honour him in some way by naming my little boy after him. Arthur is apparently derived from the Celtic name 'Artos' which means 'Bear.' It is also a name associated with being noble and courageous. It's a good name and the perfect choice for my little love.

My Arthur's second name is Daniel and yes, that's another family name as my brother is called Daniel. It's a name I've always loved - in fact my parents said that when my mum was pregnant with my brother I was set on the name Daniel and when my dad suggested another name, I said I was going to call him Daniel anyway...or so the story goes! But I also chose it as Arthur's middle name as my brother was really there for me when I was pregnant (and not exactly having the easiest time). I wanted Arthur to be named after another good man. Arthur absolutely adores his Uncle Danny so I think he'll love the fact he shares his second name with him once he's old enough to understand.

A special name for a special little boy. I feel like it's a name that'll suit him no matter his age and I look forward to sharing the story behind his name with him in years to come.

Most names have a meaning to them and I love reading about other people's baby name choices, so feel free to share your link if you've written a similar post or tell me how you picked your baby name/s below.


H&F Vintage Tearooms, Chesterfield Review

Going out for Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite things to do with my family and earlier this year we found a gem of a place in Chesterfield - the H&F Vintage Tearooms. For me, a good Afternoon Tea isn't just about the cake (though the Vintage Tearooms in Chesterfield has plenty of that) but the experience as a whole.

One of the things I love most about the H&F Vintage Tearooms is that it has so much character and charm. You feel like you're really getting an authentic vintage afternoon tea experience. I love everything about the place from it's gorgeous decor, down to the team's uniforms and the way they address you as 'mam' and 'sir.' It's all in the detail and it's all so lovely.

You feel really welcome at the Vintage Tearooms and I personally feel the team go the extra mile to make sure everything is to your liking. We recently went for mine and my mum's birthday and had the most wonderful time. The service was quick, the waiter serving us was so friendly and polite and the Afternoon Tea itself? Well that was simply delicious!

As a mummy, it's really important to me that I visit child-friendly places and I've always felt really comfortable taking Arthur here. There are highchairs available for use and the waiters and waitresses always make a fuss of him. Once when we visited, Arthur spent the whole time staring at one of the waiters who was sorting out the cutlery - he was fascinated! The lovely waiter spoke to him and kept him entertained, which was so kind and made all the difference to my visit.

Of course, you're probably wondering what the Afternoon Tea is actually like...well between us, my family have had quite a few Afternoon Teas around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and this has to be one of our favourites!

For £11.95 you get a pot of tea or coffee for one, a selection of sandwiches (they're happy to cater for vegetarians and even put it on a separate stand), a choice of scone with jam and cream, a choice of cake and a serving of fresh fruit. There's usually plenty of scones to choose from (I love the cherry scones best) and a vast selection of cakes. I had the chocolate fudge cake last time I visited and it was delicious. The strawberry milkshake cake that my mum picked also looked so good. I believe the cakes change from day-to-day but with so many flavours to choose from, you're bound to find at least one you like.

If you're not a fan of Afternoon Tea (what's wrong with you?!...I kid...well kind of) there's plenty of other things on offer on the Vintage Tearooms menu; from basics like teacakes and toast, to homemade classics like pates, seasonal tarts and ploughman's lunches.

I'm not so adventurous when it comes to my tea - English Breakfast Tea will do me just fine but if you're after something a little different, there are a number of different loose teas on offer, which can be paired with a nice big slice of cake.

Whether you're going out for a special occasion or simply fancy treating yourself to an Afternoon Tea, the H&F Vintage Tearooms in Chesterfield is a must-visit place. It's somewhere the whole family can enjoy themselves (just look how eager Arthur was for his share of the Afternoon Tea in this picture) and the vintage charm of the place is sure to put a smile on your face.

I dare say we'll be visiting again for Arthur's 1st Birthday - definitely a good excuse for more of that delicious cake!


Chewy Chocolate Button Cookies Recipe

Chewy cookies are probably one of my favourite ever treats - especially with a cup of tea, so I thought I'd share a little recipe that I have adapted here on my blog. I originally used this Millies Cookie Recipe but after making a couple of batches, I decided to change things up a little, so the cookies were more to my taste. Rather than being Millies-style cookies, these are Chewy Chocolate Button Cookies. They taste absolutely delicious (if I may say so myself) and even have my family's approval (they are quite the critics when it comes to my baking - trust me!)

Ingredients (makes around 19-20 cookies):
125g of unsalted butter
100g light brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp of vanilla extract*
225g of self raising flour
1/2 tsp of salt
56g of Giant Chocolate Buttons

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C
2. Cream the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl
3. Lightly beat the egg and add into the mix along with 1tsp of vanilla extract*
4. Add the flour and salt, combining them with the mixture
5. Break up the chocolate buttons into smaller pieces and mix them in
6. Roll into walnut size balls and place on trays lined with baking paper (no need to grease it)
7. Bake for 7-9 minutes until the edges are lightly golden
8. Remove from the oven and leave to harden for a few minutes
9. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool
10. Enjoy them with a big mug of tea!

*I just thought I'd add that you don't necessarily need the vanilla extract. I made a batch of these cookies today and didn't have any in the cupboard. Personally, I don't think it's made a lot of difference - they still taste SO good.

The reason I decided to use chocolate buttons for my chewy cookies, rather than chocolate chips is that my dad and brother are quite fussy when it comes to chocolate (that's the polite way of saying they're chocolate snobs). Originally I used a cheap packet of chocolate chips from the supermarket in the cookies and they didn't think the taste was quite right, so I swapped them for giant chocolate buttons and even I've got to admit that they taste much better now. I tend to use around 2oz, which is just shy of a full pack but you can use as many as you like - it's all a matter of personal taste.

The first time I made these cookies I was so worried about taking them out of the oven after such a short time and was adamant that they'd just fall apart but if you leave them to harden for a few minutes, you'll be able to transfer them all to your wire rack in one piece. I also recommend spreading them out on your baking trays so they don't merge together. I tend to do mine on two large baking trays, baking one batch at a time.

If you're a fan of Millies-style cookies, I reckon you'll like these. The recipe has certainly been created in that style, resulting in likely baked cookies that taste amazing whether warm or cooled. They also keep for a few days, if you can resist eating them...they don't last that long at our house.

So there we have my Chewy Chocolate Button Cookies recipe! If you have a go at baking them yourself, I'd love to know what you think of them.


Tasty Baby Food from Piccolo

When you think of puréed food, you probably think of younger babies enjoying their first tastes but did you know that fruit and veg pouches can actually make healthy, tasty snacks for older babies too? Piccolo has recently launched a wonderful range of mediterranean inspired fruit and vegetable purées, ideal for first tastes and beyond.

The Piccolo purées* are beautifully packaged in colourful, illustrated pouches, which immediately drew me in and with a wide range of flavours (listed below), I was sure I'd find some that Arthur loved!

Piccolo Flavours:
Apple and Apricot with a pinch of Cinnamon
Squash, Red Pepper and Chickpea with a hint of Rosemary
Banana, Blueberry and Apple with a hint of Vanilla
Cherry and Yoghurt with Wholegrain Oats
Peach and Apple with a hint of Basil
Spring Greens with a hint of Mint

New Piccolo Flavours:
Mango, Pear and Kale with a dash of Yoghurt
Raspberry and Apple with Soaked Oats
Sweet Potato, Beetroot, Apple and Pear
Banana, Strawberry and Peach with a hint of Mint

Over the last couple of months, Arthur's been working his way through these and surprisingly he loves them! I say surprisingly because just like his mummy he usually likes things one minute and then goes off them the next but not with Piccolo - these pouches he really loves! 

If you've caught up on my recent weaning posts, you'll know Arthur's past the purée stage of weaning (I did a combination of purée and BLW) but he enjoys a Piccolo pouch as a tasty snack or sometimes even a pudding! Like many of the other Piccolo-loving babies on Instagram, Arthur takes his straight from the pouch - no spoon necessary. The baby food pouches are great for throwing in your bag when you're going out and are particularly useful when you're on holiday, as I found out on our recent trip to Devon. It gave me peace of mind (and no mum guilt) knowing that Arthur was eating organic baby food with 100% natural ingredients.

Arthur seems to like all of the flavours - even Spring Greens, which he'll happily drink straight from the pouch or enjoy as a pasta sauce. The new, rather more adventurous flavours, containing ingredients like Kale and Beetroot also went down a treat. I feel like Arthur's already way better than me when it comes to trying new foods and I'm 26! I'd say his least favourite flavour is probably the Apple and Apricot pouch, though I'm wondering if it's something to do with the pinch of cinnamon. Cinnamon's an acquired taste right? He seems particularly taken with the Cherry Yoghurt and Banana, Blueberry and Apple pouches, so they are at the top of my list to buy now we've run out.

All in all I'm very impressed with the My Little Piccolo pouches and think they're up there as the best purées Arthur's tried (yep they've even beaten that very well known brand!) I love watching him savour his Piccolo pouches, knowing that they're packed full of good, honest and natural food. And if that wasn't enough, My Little Piccolo has also formed a partnership with the NCT; donating 10% of all profits to help fund food education. So we've got cute packaging, great tasting, healthy snacks and good morals - what more could you want?

The Piccolo pouches are stocked in Waitrose (currently on three-for-two**) and online at Ocado and Amazon. Head on over to the Piccolo website to find out more about their stockists, story and the tasty ingredients that go into their wonderful weaning products. 

Has your little one tried Piccolo yet?
*I was sent the above products for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own
**Information correct as of date of publish