Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sugar Crafted Gluten Free Lalaloopsy 6th Birthday Cake

Well, it's been a while since I had a moment to blog, but the kids are outside playing and I have a few spare minutes so here goes!
It was Evie's birthday on the 13th July and she asked for a Lalaloopsy cake - I had NO idea what she was talking about and had to google it! We brought her a Lala dolly, so I was able to use that as a guide for scale and shape. It was a challenge and I learnt more things along the way but I got there in the end! As I was so pushed for time, my lovely Mum made the actual cake and base iced it so it was a combined effort - and gluten free!

As you can see, the doll has strange dimensions, a very large head and
spindly legs (plus the button eyes!). Mum made two layers of vanilla sponge and
decorated it with pale pink icing.
I made large sugar paste letters, a number six and a variety of simple
flowers to decorate the cake edges.
Anyway, Evie loved it and that's what counts!
Happy birthday sweetheart xxx

Thanks for looking!
Jill x

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

First published cake project in the docrafts Creativity Magazine!

Phew, it's been a long time since I posted on this blog, but I had the incentive today, as I have had my first ever cake project published in the docrafts Creativity magazine (issue 40)!

I was given the brief of designing a cupcake bouquet using the Little Venice Cake Company products. Since this issue is summery, I chose roses (complete with a rose flavouring), and a pretty pink colour theme - and most importantly for Evie and I, the cupcakes were gluten free and this is made clear in the magazine's editorial, which is fabulous for coeliac awareness. (We did have a few spare at the time of making which were demolished pretty quickly!).

I have been trialing different gluten free cake recipes since I was diagnosed nearly two years ago, and, although I LOVE Phil Vickery's flour mixes (he is a gluten free God in our eyes!),
I made these cakes with Orgran gluten free self raising flour as I find it really easy and
effective to work with.
I have to say a MASSIVE thank you to my Mum, Diana Millis, who on the day of decorating and assembling the cupcakes, was AMAZING and kept me calm and focused when things got a little sticky! She is also the root of my inspiration for cake making, as I grew up surrounded by icing sugar, piping nozzles and her commissioned cakes (I now understand why she used to get a little prickly when we were transporting her works of art around the county!)
The docrafts Creativity magazine is available at all good craft stockists as well as Tesco's and Asda and is well worth a read! Click here for more information.
Thank you for looking!
Jill x

Friday, 17 May 2013

Review of the new Walkers Baked Hoops and Crosses

I was asked by Walker’s via www.tots100 to review their new Baked Hoops and Crosses. I thought I’d give it go because I don’t know about you, but I'm always on the lookout for fun new snacks which are a healthier option for the kid’s lunch boxes. On paper, these crisps seemed to fit the bill.

Hoops and Crosses are made from wholegrains, have no artificial colours or preservatives and each bag has 85 calories. For us, one of the best things was that the crisps are made from wholegrain corn meal instead of wheat, which means my coeliac 5 year old daughter Evie can get stuck in too! (Please note, the packaging does state the ‘May contain: Wheat, Rye, Barley and Gluten’ warning -  many coeliacs are on the fence about the suitability of products which list this, you must decide based on your circumstances and sensitivity).

Beth and Evie finding the surprise in their secret box!

Walker’s sent us an interesting green shoe sized box through the post – I guessed we had a surprise in there along with the crisps! So, last Sunday, I packed a picnic (and the box!), donned our old painting clothes and spent a lovely morning at our Aunties barn, re-furbishing a second-hand play house. By lunchtime, the kid’s were starving, so we set up camp on the back of our lorry and laid out the lunch. I gave the box to the kids (this is the first time they had seen it) and let them loose!

They found a hard-backed book in the top...

Then a gorgeous toy monkey holding a packet of Roast Beef Hoops and Crosses!

After lots of squealing and cuddling of Monkey (who has since been named Jumpy!), they ripped open the packet.

Jumpy and the girls playing noughts and crosses!

Evie: “Mmmmmmmmm, yummy!”

Beth: “Ohh, these are scrummy Mummy!”

The girls initial reaction after trying one was to play a game of noughts and crosses – they only managed one though before the crisps were divided out!

Then we tried the men (hard worked souls that they are!)

“Very nice!”

Yep, I agree, these crisps are very tasty and I have already have orders to buy them next time I shop. I used to love Monster Munch, but as these contain gluten, I can no longer eat them – these taste very similar so a box has been ticked.

Walker’s Baked Hoops and Crosses come in three flavours – all suitable for vegetarians - prawn cocktail, roast beef and salt and vinegar. I have yet to try the other flavours but we can all definitely vouch for the roast beef! I will be using them in the kid’s lunchboxes to add a bit of fun (they may creep into mine too!). The packaging is lovely and bright so you won’t miss them on the shelves either.

Jumpy the monkey has since been made to wear and dress, clean his teeth, have a bath, go on the school run and MOST IMPORTANTLY has become Evie’s dream catcher – bless that Jumpy!

Jill x

N.B This review contains our opinions only.

My first ever guest post on the Stay At Home Mum Loving It Blog!

I am so excited to have my first guest post published on Heather's Stay At Home Mum Loving It Blog! I chose to write about why I started to blog in the first place - it's heart on sleeve stuff but I would love you to take a peek if you have time. Heather's blog is fab so have a browse whilst you are on there!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Throw away the gadgets, all my kids want, is to spend time with Mummy and Daddy...

I don’t know about you, but the kids and I get so frustrated with the daily “In a minute” “In a minutes” which seem to happen all the time. It’s just a fact of life, that as a parent, you can’t always be ready on hand to play, answer questions, help with homework etc instantly. Phone calls, cooking tea, housework, shopping, work, the general daily necessities, all mean that being there for your kids every time they want you can be really tricky.

Last week, we went on a family holiday to Center Parcs – it was heaven.
We spent the whole week together.

We cycled, swam, played tennis, did bowling, snooker....
The kids played together, without fighting (for most of the time!)...
They made a den in the woods using branches, leaves and rocks...
We saw deer and fish, fed squirrels and ducks...
We dug holes on the beach...
We played crazy golf...
In short, it was perfect.
I asked Beth what the best part of the holiday was for her. Her answer? Spending time with Mummy and Daddy and doing things together.
Doesn’t that prove a point?
It has taught me that I need to manage my time a little better. I know it will be tough, juggling balls and all that, but life is too short. Maybe a messy house and happy kids is the way to go, fish fingers instead of fish pie every now and then.

It’s all about getting the right balance.
I hope to find it!
Jill x

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Evie + coeliac + party invite = Challenge!

Evie with her gluten free party box
When Evie was first diagnosed with coeliac disease, I faced the prospect of parties with trepidation. I desperately wanted her to feel like she was the same as everyone else, but this is a tricky scenario – tables filled with the traditional party food (a lot of which is difficult to supply as gluten-free - take party ring biscuits for example, try finding those in the supermarkets!), all the kids sitting round, helping themselves, filling their boots, your child sat in the middle, watching, and maybe feeling a little sad.

The first party I took her to, I so wanted to do that bit for her – I remember how I felt in the same situation 18 months ago – honestly, I felt crap, and I’m the adult. Evie constantly amazes me how she has adapted to her situation though – I think kids are so much better at that than us adults. She seems to remember the sheer pain that gluten caused her and that helps her a lot in the quest to be gluten free.

I scoured the supermarkets and found a few bits in Sainsbury’s which help...

Trufree Chocolate Finger - expensive but nice...

Orgran Mini outback Animals (these are chocolate flavoured animal shaped cookies in their own bag – you could add a little melted chocolate to the top if you like).
I have also learned that making Evie feel special is key - she now takes her own party box filled with gluten free yummy treats. I always chat to the mummy running the party beforehand and find out what food is going to be offered and try to match it as much as possible (also think about the fact that kids get a piece of cake in their party bag, take a substitute for that too).

Parties held in soft play areas are harder – very rarely do they offer gluten free chips/nuggets etc. However, you can buy microwave chips which simply have potatoes and sunflower oil in – ask the staff of they can heat them up when the rest of the food is served. Pre-cook sausages or nuggets just before the party and pack them in their food box in pretty serviettes. Pop in a tub of tomato ketchup too (most are okay but I found one in a restaurant that wasn’t). When Evie went to a McDonald’s party, I sent her with a homemade gluten free burger and she was totally happy!

Whatever you have to do, it is worth the effort – don’t prevent your child from going to a party because of the food issue. Evie had a party on Friday – this is the first time since she was diagnosed in September that I didn’t stay – I am now confident that she understands what gluten is and will stick to her party box food – the fact I knew and trusted the mum also helped – all was fine and she had a great time!
Thank you for reading this post. If you have any other ideas or tips, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!
Jill x

Dog Phobia - conquered?!

When Evie was a toddler, she witnessed one of our friend’s daughters becoming hysterical over meeting a dog in the park. Since then, Evie has had a real fear of our four legged friends. Countless times we have spent ages explaining about which dogs are ‘happy dogs’, ‘waggy’ tails and how safe you are when a dog is on a lead. I don’t want her to wander up to any strange dog and try to pat it as you never know, but I wanted her to be confident meeting them in everyday life.
We went onto introducing her to friend’s dogs we trusted, and were lucky if she stroked their backs (the dog’s that is, not our friends!). It has been a long road with plenty of hysterics along the way, but today, we had a break through! We went on a walk with Nanny and Aunty Rene’s two dogs (small ones) and the result was this.....

She gave one of them a doggy treat from the palm of her hand and actually played with them! Yippee! Let’s hope for fear free walks from now on!

Jill x

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Getting messy with gluten free baking...

I LOVE letting the kid’s get messy in the kitchen! Some of my best memories of childhood are cooking with my Mum, licking the spoon, mixing, experimenting. With a coeliac child, it becomes even more important to teach them the basics and love of baking.

To be fair, the offering in the supermarkets is getting better – you can get your hands on chocolate muffins, biscuits, even pain au chocolate but boy, does it COST. A duo of cupcakes can set you back nearly £3, so you imagine what our weekly shop could add up to! The selection also becomes a bit boring after a while too, so there is no way around it, you HAVE to get stuck in and bake, bake, bake (okay, it makes us eat far too much of what we shouldn’t but at least we don’t get suffer for it!).
For beginners to gluten free baking, you MUST check out Phil Vickery’s cook books – he is amazing – his flour mixes make the most gorgeous cakes and goodies – his guidance was such a help when I was first diagnosed. If you follow the recipes, you can’t go far wrong. Check these out....

Phil Vickery Seriously Good Gluten Free Baking at amazon

Product Details Product Details Product Details

Evie got stuck into chocolate cupcakes the other day. She always asks if each ingredient if gluten free, bless her. This is why it is so important you let coeliac kids have hands on - over time she will get more and more confident and realise that you can eat pretty much whatever you fancy as long as you make it yourself.... doughnuts and stuffed pasta are next on the list!


If you have any favourite gluten free recipes, leave a comment and share them!

Jill x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Being made to feel included...

When I first got diagnosed with coeliac, I found that some everyday things, like being asked out to lunch, became stressful. I was embarrassed to be the difficult one, the one who messes up the menu plan! Let’s face it, unless you are familiar with gluten free cooking, it’s a minefield to overcome. After 18 months of it however, I find it far easier – I am more comfortable about being different, am less bothered by it and find it easier to broach the subject.

Today, the girls and I were asked to lunch at Sonia, Simon, Nico (so cute you could eat him!) and Louis’s house. This time, we were lucky as Sonia is familiar with the gluten free concept (one of Nico’s school friends has coeliac too). She made a feast of roast chicken, home-made savoury rice, cold meats and baked potatoes, delicious! Evie felt one of the crowd as everyone was eating the same. Thank you Sonia for making us feel so welcome!
The girls had made some gluten free cupcakes beforehand which we took for pudding...Beth got creative with sugar-paste and food colouring and made these scrummy delights....

 Hope you get some sleep tonight Sonia!
Jill x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Organisation is the key...

Living with coeliac disease, especially when you have a child who has the condition, means that you have little choice about planning when and where your/their next snack or meal comes from. Gone is the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ approach and in with the strategy.

When it was just me who had been diagnosed, it was less important. I am happy to eat pretty much anything, if there is just a strange fishy curry on offer which is gluten free, I will eat it! I am also able to deal with feeling hungry. For a five year old child, this is not the case. Forward planning is essential, as is taking along a whole host of yummy gluten free snacks to top up little one’s energy levels.

Today, for example, we planned a day out, involving a cold (and snowy!) walk by the sea, followed by a family lunch at the old faithful Wetherspoons. Their menu offers a pretty good range of gluten free options – for an adult. Try taking a child in there! Evie eats a pretty good assortment of foods, but trying to encourage her to eat Pri-Pri Chicken or Spinach Curry is not easy. The old safety net, Jacket Potatoes are also out for the moment (she has never been a fan but I am working on it!). So, Evie, bless her, has a gluten free packed lunch (which I took with us), and amazed me yet again, by not uttering a single complaint or whinge (she would have been well within her rights), as she sat and watched her big sister plough her way through a plate of nuggets and chips. She was only diagnosed in September – I certainly wouldn’t have taken that situation any where near as well at that stage. However, to soften the blow, I had taken in a little something for afters....

Spot the difference!

...a gluten free chocolate muffin to eat with her ice-cream! One happy bunny.