Friday, 13 June 2014

Citizen Science!

After a group of triplet mums I am friends with, had an on-line session of sharing all our triplet baby bumps and reminiscing about pregnancies and gestation when our children were born, I got very, very interested in whether a mother's age could affect the length of a triplet pregnancy. So with the kind information from a whopping 86 triplet mums, the hubster and I produced these graphs.

What seems to have been gathered is that, for some unknown reason, you are less likely to have an extremely premature birth if you older. It would be interesting to find out whether this is because a) perhaps the older women have had children previously and therefore their bodies have experience carrying children in the past and can carry children for longer. Or b) younger woman give more nutrients to the children quicker so the children grow bigger and faster and are therefore born earlier. On the assumption that the main reason for triplets not being born at full term is because they grow too big.

(of course it could just be down to quality of life or other health factors)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Here a poo, there a poo, everywhere a poo, poo!

One of my 'darling, butter-wouldn't melt- triplets has learnt the art of taking ones nappy off. The incidents which have emerged, while comical, have been irritating smelly and ridiculously messy. There are no pictures to this particular blog post....I wouldn't be that cruel.

We woke up one morning to Ayla - nappyless (is this a word, I think it's a word). We shrugged it off, her bed was dry - decided we had a wonder child who is already dry through the night and went about our day as normal.

We woke up and everyone had their nappies on, we knew it must be a fluke.

Ayla is nappyless again, I walk into the boys playing catch with her rather full nappy. That night we put Ayla to bed in a backwards sleepsuit so she can't undo the buttons and take her nappy off - ha foiled!

Ayla still has her nappy on in a morning.

Ayla has managed to undo her vest (d'oh!) and taken her nappy off...we put her to bed that night in another vest and duct tape her nappy closed.

The duct-tape didn't work. We scour the internet for ideas and finally put her to bed in a backwards nappy AND a backwards sleepsuit.

This solves the problem, then


I walk in to a nappy-less Ayla, who has had a wee on her bed (yeah, turns out shes no nappy free wonder-kid) her nappy is lying on the floor. I check the nappy and there are no signs of poo so take her down and re-dress her, then go back for the boys. Later that morning when I go to change her bedding I am hit by the same poopy stench in the room, despite it being devoid of children. This is when I discover the poop, the poop pellets that have been THROWN around the room. They are on Gaius' cot bars, in Gaius' cot, and the floor leading up to his cot. Apparently my little monkey thinks she is a real monkey and has started throwing her own poop at her brothers!


Zarek and Ayla have their nappies off, I actually walk into Ayla with her hand in her nappy pulling out some poop! Poop is once again on the floor from where she has been throwing it at Gaius. I wonder if perhaps he has eaten some and that that is perhaps why he is hiding from me in his cot and acting like he has been naughty... I vomit a little.

So far the only hypothetical solution I can find is to duct tape Ayla's hands together but according to the Hubster this could be classed as child-abuse.
Leaving your child's hands free so they can gain access to and then eat their own poop - probably not classed as child abuse....go figure.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Great Pea Project!

With my new found enthusiasm for cost cutting in our money diet, I've decided to take it a step further. I've started to try to grow chilli, herbs and peppers from the seeds of the vegetables I have purchased. So far they have only been in the soil for a matter of days but I'm hopeful I can nurture some extra savings for what is the cost of a bag of soil and the opportunity to reuse some old buckets and plastic containers.

Today I was clearing out the fridge with the dismay that a few leftover ingredients (a handful of sugar snap peas, three baby corn sticks and a sliver of orange pepper) which I had intended to use in a chinese chicken soup tomorrow had truly only become compost bin worthy.
I put them in a pile with my vegetable peelings ready to take out when a thought occurred to me...can you grow peas from leftover peas?
I popped a couple of sugar snap pods and found a few large peas and a few buds. All in much better condition than the dried out pods, so I turned to google for advice.

But google was useless. It kept telling me how to grow peas, but didn't mention anything about what I should plant in order to do this. Can I use the peas as I suspected, or can they only be grown from seeds?
I was going to just bung them in a pot and see what happened but then thought perhaps someone on my facebook feed might know the answer.

After some advice from a friend about potentially needing dried rather than fresh peas, and from my Uncle about where on the internet to search for answers I came across daughterofthesoil who goes into fabulous detail about how YES you do use peas to grow pea plants. and lucky for me, June is a good sowing season. So I'm going to give it a try! I'm drying my peas out, both already shelled and to be shelled right before planting on Wednesday when I get some more compost.

The one I'm holding is the most rubbery and dried out and therefore the most promising

Friday, 6 June 2014

Peach and Chickpea Curry

Today I made the peach and chickpea curry from agirlcalledjack. It's one of the recipes that made me buy the book, I was really dying to see what it would taste like and I was pleasantly surprised.

What started off as some pretty basic ingredients turned into something quite delicious!

Next time though I would use a smaller chilli or just a third of a chilli as the meal was warm and spicy but just under what I can stand as a hot curry (I'm a wuss so not a lot of heat). The kids however were swigging water and dragging at their tongues with their hands (which was, of course, hilarious). I hadn't considered the fact that at just 22 months they eat half their meal with cutlery and the other half with their I'm sure we got a few sore eyes from the chilli too (which again was pretty funny).
I really, really enjoyed the curry. I am not a curry person but the sweet and melting peaches (I know, who knew peaches would work in a curry!) and the gentle heat of the chilli really worked for me, I actually had seconds!
An even bigger plus for me was that for the first time ever my served up version of a dish actually looked like the version in the glossy photos of the book.
The hubster was less impressed, with words such as "where's the meat" passing his lips. But I am determined I will convert him to our money diet ways!

  So that all important recipe!

Peach and Chickpea Curry

  • 250g tinned chickpeas (drained weight)
  • 1 onion (I didn't use this as G-man and I have an onion intolerance)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • splash of oil
  • a shake of ground cumin
  • 400g tin of peaches in juice
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
Drain and wash chickpeas. Pop them in a pan of clean water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion and garlic and finely chop the chilli.
Put oil in another saucepan and add the onion garlic and chilli then the cumin and cook gently on a low heat. Allow the food to sweat, not brown. 
Take the chickpeas off the heat, drain and rinse them.
Drain the peaches, saving the juice. Chop the peaches into small chunks and add to the onion mix along with the peach juice. 
Pour the chopped tomatoes over the peaches and onion, add the coriander, crumble over the stock cube, mix and cook on a low heat for around 30 minutes. 
If the sauce gets too thick add a cup of water to it ( I didn't have this issue). 
Add the chickpeas back to the curry and allow to warm through before serving.

So if you are thinking of buying the book but not sure if you will like the food, try this dish and if you like it, go out and buy it! So far, I have been really impressed.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Money diet part....3 maybe?

There is nothing more inspiring about cooking than getting your hands on a new cookery book!
I've finally managed to grab 'A Girl Called Jack' in a book sale and I cannot wait to get started. It's written by Jack from and contains 100 delicious budget recipes discovered back when she and her two year old son were poverty stricken and in very real danger of becoming homeless and starving.

She claims she managed to do weekly shops on a £10 budget, because she had to and to be quite frank it's inspiring. The recipes are refreshing and require just a few basic ingredients from a local supermarket value range.

I have often wanted to reduce our food shopping amount (current spend is around £250 a month), in fact I blogged about our money diet to help us get a mortgage last year. And while it worked for a bit; once we had moved, got busy working every hour of the day and looking after the kids, not to mention when we had a new baby - we fell back onto bad habits.
If Quinn is particularly fussy one day, the kids are ill or we are tired, we whack in a ready meal or order take out. We both hate doing this but not enough apparently to correct the behaviour. I can start off with the best of intentions ordering lots of lovely ingredients to make fab homecooked dishes, but half the ingredients end up sat on shelves, in our freezer or the bin!!!
It's wasteful and it annoys both of us. whilst it's true that sometimes it cannot be helped that the bus was late, its teatime and nothing is cooked, or that Quinn fed all afternoon and I didn't get the chance to peel a carrot yet alone rustle up a meal for five we allow it to happen far more than we should.
We are once again making an effort to change, however, *I think perhaps some of the changes in the past have failed long-term simply because we try and change everything all at once rather than changing things one by one and making sure they are sustainable first.

I challenged the hubster to us living off just £30 a week** for food this morning,

Then I realised, this is probably not the wisest way to begin to change (* see above!) - So...babysteps;

We now get our food shopping delivered twice a week (it's actually cheaper?!?) as this stops us buying too much in one go, it allows us to have fresher produce and only commit to six meal plans over three days so it's easier to follow. The downside is I have to spend £25 a week twice minimum to get the shopping delivered for free £50 a week is still £200 a month) - but with nappies costing around £10 on offer for two packs not to mention the wipes, loo roll, bleach, wash powder etc. we require it's not a herculean task to spend that much.

My new "scheme" is to try have 1 day a week which costs pennies to feed us - not pounds, so enter Jack!

Now I did intend to try a different dish each week but I've gotten so excited over the recipes I'm trying FOUR this week. So far I have been pleasantly surprised that by adding the ingredients for four meals, my food shop came to just £33.40. This includes £10 spent on nappies and £4 spent on fresh herb pots to plant in the garden (we've yet to get some in this house) and the staples like enough milk to drown the kids with, bread and any staples I had run out of, so if this is successful it's not a bad £20 spent on food for the five of us. The best part turns out that the few items I've had to buy for a recipe have then been re-used in another recipe I've chosen so hopefully less waste!

Here are the recipes I am trying - I'll blog about each one once I've done them.

Creamy Salmon Pasta with a Chilli Lemon Kick
Courgette Tomato and Brie Gratin
peach and chickpea curry
Soda Bread

(I'm also doing a bacon, fennel and potato bake too but that's not from Jack)

**(not nappies - gee, nappies cost around £10 a week as it is since Quinn is such a terrific pooping machine) don't get me started on re-usables, we tried the idea but with four kids aged 1 or below, we are already up to our eyes in poop without now giving the washing machine extra duties.