Our Favourite Five – March 2016

I know, I know, March has been over for nearly a week already. Where does the time go? Here are just some of the things Family Savage have been loving in March 2016!

1 Holidays

March for us was largely focussed on Easter and going down to Plymouth to stay in the same apartment we stayed in at Christmas. Our plan was to spend some time as a family in our childhood home town and to also celebrate Oscar’s birthday (a week early). And did we ever. You’re never sure if staying in a place that was brilliant before, will be so good a second time. But this time, at least, it was just as awesome.

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The beautiful view from our apartment in the Royal William Yard, Plymouth


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On the top of South Hessary Tor, Dartmoor


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Jellyfish at The National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth


I even had a night on the town with my good buddy Helen!

I even had a night on the town with my good buddy Helen!

We watched the boats in the marina, we went walking up on the Dartmoor, we had take-out Wagamamas (twice!), we visited the Aquarium, we celebrated Oscar’s birthday and we saw all the people we love. It was only a short break but it was wonderful. And leaving was just as hard as it was at Christmas!

2 Cybex

I’ve known that Oscar was growing out of his Maxi Cosi Axiss car seat for a while now, but I was so desperate to keep him in the harness style seat for as long as possible, that I kind of ignored it. I was convinced he’d just undo a plain old seat belt. Anyway we recently realised we were having to force Oscar’s shoulders under the headrest to get him in and that the buckle between his legs was starting to strain. I had to capitulate. He needed a bigger seat.

So after extensive research, both online and talking to other parents we decided to go with the Solution M-Fix by the German company Cybex. We just felt it looked more like a seat than some of the more open style ones. More comfortable and more protective.

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The Solution M-Fix by Cybex. His big boy car seat

When it arrived I was so impressed – it was really lovely. But I couldn’t get over how big it looked. It should last him until he’s 12 (apparently), and the first time he travelled in it I could see how much more space he had. But it also made me realise how big he is getting. And how much he’s not my little baby any more 🙁

Too grown up for his own good in his Cybex car seat

Too grown up for his own good in his Cybex car seat

I have to say though he’s loving the space the seat affords him. And he’s never once tried to undo the seat belt! Although he has worked out that he can lean forward in it and pull the belt loose. What can I say, its a work in progress!

3 Just Being Me T-shirt

Last year a lady I met through Instagram, Chrissy, collaborated with the illustrator Cheryl Rawlings to produce two t-shirts to raise money for The National Autistic Society. The charity is one close to my heart obviously, but also to Chrissy’s as her daughter Esme is also autistic. I desperately tried to get hold of one of the tees for Oscar last year, but they sold out in record time and despite them having more printed I just wasn’t able to get one.

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Anyway this year Chrissy decided to reproduce the t-shirts under her new company Raspberries and Raindrops. Proceeds now go towards her daughters private ABA therapy. I was thrilled I could finally get one for Oscar. I’m not a big fan of ‘Autismwear’. I don’t agree our children need branding. But I love the sentiment of this one. Because it’s all Oscar ever is; just being him! You can find this t-shirt at Raspberries and Raindrops

Oscar just being him in his gorgeous Raspberries and Raindrops tshirt

Oscar just being his gorgeous self in his Raspberries and Raindrops tshirt

4 Royal William Bakery

We discovered the Royal William Bakery when we stayed at the Royal William Yard at Christmas and were so excited to go back again when we returned this Easter. It’s such a wonderful place. The food is superb and generous (croissants as big as yer ‘ed anyone?) and the staff relaxed, knowledgeable and friendly. I love their ethos of ‘talking’ and building relationships. The seating is all benches and the service, well you have to get in that kitchen and talk to the chefs. And there are no ‘bills’, you have to talk to the staff when you’re ready to pay and tell them what you had. I know this might make some people uncomfortable, but I think it’s awesome.

Seating in the Royal William Bakery is designed to start a conversation.

Seating in the Royal William Bakery is designed to start a conversation.

When we visited over Easter the guys in the kitchen were really helpful in selecting the right loaf of bread for Oscar’s party, keeping it to one side fresh out of the oven. And I can seriously tell you it was some of the most delicious bread I have ever tasted and not a scrap was left by the end of the day. We love the Royal William Bakery and wish we lived closer (even if our waistbands are grateful that we don’t)! If you’re anywhere near Plymouth, I urge you to pop down to visit them. Especially for breakfast!

Royal William Bakery sourdough. Picture from Royal William Bakery

Royal William Bakery sourdough. Picture from Royal William Bakery

5 Joules Knitted Poncho

At the very end of February, I had a day on my own shopping in Guildford. As I am want to do in these situations I sidled along to Joules, just to have a little look you understand, nothing more. While I was doing just that, I happened to brush up against a poncho. Grey, cable knit, chunky as you like and oh so soft. It’s definitely not something I would normally look at. For one I am highly sensitive to wool and most commercial knitted garments make me want to scratch my skin off within minutes. And really it’s just not my usual style (whatever that is!). Any who I looked at it, thought how lovely it was and moved on. Then, I went back. I decided as I was on my own and with time on my hands, I’d try it, just to ‘see’.

Joules Tessa Poncho. I have to say I thought it looked better on me than on their model ;)

Joules Tessa Poncho. I have to say I thought it looked better on me than on their model 😉

Well I was slightly bowled over by how much I loved it. Although it did have a small wool content, I tried it on with only a vest underneath and it didn’t make me itch once. I was in love. Only trouble was the price. I knew I needed other stuff that day so I sadly put it back on the hanger and carried on. Problem was I couldn’t stop thinking about it and a few days later decided if I used my freelancing money and a discount code Joules cleverly sent me, I could just about afford it. So I ordered it online. And I’ve worn it pretty much every day since! It was the best purchase I’ve made in ages. I wear it everywhere and with anything. I really do think it was worth every penny. A friend of mine recently was able to get a navy version in the sale (clever girl), but on closer inspection, neither are available on the website now. They may still be available in the shops though 🙂

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So excited when it first arrived!


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My lovely poncho – it really does go with anything

What have you been up to this month? Anything you’ve fallen head over heels with? I’d love to hear all about it!

 

I was not paid to endorse any of these brands. I paid for all my favourites myself. I just like sharing the things I love.

The 70’s catered my child’s party!

I’ve never thrown Oscar a party at home. Mostly because our house is just too small to comfortably accommodate many people and so Oscar’s previous birthday parties have been hosted, and catered, by other venues. This year we decided to have a family party for him at our favourite holiday apartment in Plymouth. And as we were hosting it also meant I could go to town on the catering. I don’t know what it is, but I love making (and eating) party food. It must have something to do with all the happy party memories from my childhood. And thanks to the advent of Pinterest, I got plenty of inspiration to add to my own memories.

I decided, as his party was being held on Easter Sunday, to go with a loose Easter theme. Think bunnies and eggs and you get the picture. I really enjoyed preparing the food and wanted to say a huge thank you to Ben for keeping the boy occupied while I did. It meant I could whack on a party play list, sing out and get creating. What I didn’t realise until I started making it, was how inspired by the 70’s my party food would be! But do you know, everyone loved it, whether it was nostalgic love or not. I was extremely proud of how the food turned out so have decided to devote a whole post to my favourite bits!

Cheese and Pineapple

My first creation was less ‘made’ and more ‘put together’, the perennial party favourite Cheese and Pineapple. Now I’ll let you in on a secret, I don’t actually like Cheese and Pineapple. I mean I like the ingredients separately, but I just don’t get them together (and before you ask, no I don’t like Hawaiian Pizza either)! Many years ago, we were going to a ‘Bad Taste’ fancy dress party and in keeping with the theme I made one of these to take along. You know, as a joke. Only everyone went nuts for it! So I’ve made one for every party I’ve had since and it’s always been devoured!

There’s no real recipe as such, only I would recommend using Mild Cheddar (Mature is too crumbly and wont stay on the stick) and tinned Pineapple chunks in juice. For the true Fanny Craddock vibe, I always use a grapefruit covered in foil to hold the sticks. It wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t 🙂

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Who doesn’t love cheese and pineapple (well me, but I’m a minority!)

Devilled Eggs

Staying firmly with the 70’s vibe, I chose Devilled Eggs, as they fitted the theme and are delicious. I did think about dying the eggs pretty pastel colours as my friend Shannon over at Shannonagains suggested, but I decided to go au naturel in the end, using the same recipe as I did for my Halloween Spider eggs. I boiled 5 eggs for 8 minutes, then plunged them into cold water. Once peeled, I then cut them in half and removed the yellows to a bowl, which I mixed with a couple of tbsps of light Mayonnaise, a tsp of mustard powder and salt and pepper to taste. I then spooned the mixture back into the whites (if I’d been really fancy I could have piped them, but I don’t actually own a piping bag or nozzle!) and placed them on a plate covered in round lettuce.

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Devilishly delicious Devilled Eggs

Sandwiches

One of the challenges when catering for both children and adults is finding food that’s accessible for all. Sandwiches are usually a safe bet and although I thought about making some interesting fillings, I knew in my heart this would be a good place to provide something a more familiar for those who were a little anxious in their tastes (fussy eaters sound so negative!) Anyway I chose plain ham and plain cheese and kept them on theme by investing in some bunny cookie cutters. How cute are they? And I love the contrast between the white and brown bread. I’d apologise for the ‘cress as grass garnish’, but I’m not going to – I love it!

These sandwiches were all made with standard bread as Oscar isn’t the biggest sandwich fan. I made him his own Gluten Free peanut butter bunny sandwiches, which went uneaten! Sigh!

FYI, I didn’t make these Hot Cross Buns, who do you think I am, Mary Berry!

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Bunny Sandwiches. I will not apologise for the cress as grass garnish!

Mozzarella Onion Pull Apart Bread

This was a variation on a recipe I found on Pinterest. It sounded decadent and yet simple to do. And I was right. The original recipe called for Monterey Jack cheese, but I decided to use mozzarella instead. To be honest, while mozzarella provided the requisite meltyness (what? that’s a word right?) I personally thought it could have done with a bit more flavour, so would maybe consider using something like Havarti or Emmental next time.

  • 1 400g unsliced Bloomer
  • 1 large mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 200g butter, melted
  • A bunch of finely sliced spring onions
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180c, Gas Mark 5. Cut the bread length ways and width ways without cutting through the bottom crust. Place on a large sheet of foil. Insert cheese between cuts. Combine melted butter, onion, poppy seeds and seasoning. Drizzle over bread. Wrap the foil up and over bread until covered. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 180c for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve whole and let everyone help themselves!

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Mozzarella Onion Pull Apart Bread. So good to share

Dip Bunny

This really was my piece de resistance. Another Pinterest recipe I found and fell in love with. It was actually incredibly easy (and my version was even easier than the original – and better looking if you ask me 😉 ). The bread came from The Royal William Bakery, next door to the apartment. It was so fresh out of the oven, I had to leave it for a couple for hours just to cool down! And boy did it smell good. Obviously you don’t need to use such amazing bread (although of course if you can, do!). The original recipe also gave instructions to make the dip, but I was doing so much else I chose to buy one. I have no problem with that. If you have time and inclination to make the dip then more power to you.

  • 1 medium Sourdough Loaf (I got a whole grain one, but white would work as well)
  • 2 part baked baguettes
  • Raisins
  • Cocktail sticks
  • 2 pots of your favourite dip
  • Your favourite dipping vegetables. I used, pepper, carrot and celery

Bake the part baked baguettes as per the instructions and let cool. Place the sourdough on the tray you want to present it on. Carve a hollow out of the sourdough at a slight angle, keeping the bread you remove for the bunny’s face. Place the ‘face’ above the body of the sourdough and make three small indents in it for the eyes and nose. Press a raisin into each hollow. Use cocktail sticks pushed in either side of the ‘face’ as whiskers. Cut one of the baguettes in half and use each half as an ear, securing to the head with a cocktail stick. Use a round of the other baguette as a tail, placed at the base of the sour dough. Cut up the vegetables and surround the bunny (I also used left over round lettuce as grass!) and when ready to serve tip the dip into the bunny’s body.

He went down a blooming treat! We had friends over after the party too and no a scrap of him was left. That’s what I like, no waste and no washing up!

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My beautiful Dip Bunny. I was so proud of him!

Cake

And of course no birthday party would be complete without cake. I didn’t make this myself, but it couldn’t not be included here. Oscar’s Grandma really stepped up to the plate, making him a delicious, gluten free rainbow cake. A rainbow, you know, like a spectrum 😉 . It was beautiful! Thank you so much to Catherine for making such an amazing cake. And then making a second chocolate one, just in case! They were both divine!

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Grandma’s superb Rainbow Cake

We all had a wonderful day. Oscar played with his cousins brilliantly (involving collaborative art, roaring competitions and chasing each other round the apartment) and the adults got to relax and catch up. Oh and drink prosecco. Seriously it was what every children’s party should be. With a side order of 70’s style bunny themed party food. What’s not to love?

Happy Birthday Oscar!

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Happy Birthday Oscar!