Little Dish Family Cookbook: Review

Little Dish Family Cookbook ReviewBaking with Little Dish

Many of you that have found your way here probably already know Little Dish as producers of healthy pre packed Children’s meals made with 100% natural ingredients. Well the Founder Hillary Graves, has produced this Fantastic little cookbook with a wide selection of healthy recipes to cook together as a family!

I have had the Little Dish Family Cookbook for a good ten months now. Actually, I was super Lucky and won it in a competition last year, excited was an understatement! I am always on the look out for healthy new recipie’s that I can cook for the family and I knew that Little dish had released this. However, as I like to try and remain thrifty I tend to get my recipie’s of the internet, therefore I refrained from buying it. Winning it was a real Bonus!

Whats inside?

Little Dish - whats inside?I adore this book, its not just about cooking healthy wholesome meals for the whole family. The book actually actively encourages you to get your children involved in the cooking and preperation. Therefore, is especially great for encouraging fussy eaters to try new things.

The book is laid out really well, It has clean crisp design with splashes of colour, accompanied with beautiful, mouth watering photos. To add a little bit of fun, each recipe has a cute little character. He or she advises what your little one can do to help. A fun little bonus with this book is the sticker chart and stickers. Finlay really loved choosing his stickers. Its a great way for your child to see what and how many new skills they are learning, very innovative!

The Book is nicely split into the following sections:

  • Breakfast
  • Smoothies
  • Lunch & Supper
  • Savoury Snacks
  • Puddings & Desserts

The book also has very clear contents and Index pages. I cant stand not being able to find what I want in a cook book.

Lets Get Cooking!

As an afternoon activity, I always turn to the back of the book to either Savoury Snacks or Puddings and Desserts. I had my friends little girl also, therefore what better way to spend an hour or so baking with the tiddlers. Together we selected the Delicious ‘Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies‘!

Little Dish Baking

These cookies were really simple to make. They only required a few ingredients, Rolled Oats, Flour, Butter, Egg, Light Brown Sugar, Raising agents and chocolate Chips. The little ones could really join in with this recipe, due to all the mixing and stirring (it was messy!!). As the book suggest they really loved rolling out the mixture into balls and squashing them with forks. A huge bonus is they only take 10 minutes to cook. So we were soon sampling the fruits of our labour and these cookies always get a huge thumbs up from us!

Little Dish Chocolate Chip Otameal Cookies

This book gets the thumbs up from us and is most definately one of my Favourite toddler orientated cookbooks!

Finally, at time of writing this post this book is available on Amazon for £7.00 – Bargain!


Living with Anxiety – A Constant Battle!


The beginning…..

Anxiety is something that has been with me for as long as I can remember. Even as a small child I would worry about anything and everything. My main anxieties came from social interactions, I was painfully shy to the point of sometimes being mute. However for me this was normal and I don’t believe any alarm bells ever rang, with me or anyone. It wasn’t like it suddenly happened, it just was, as it always had been. I was quiet little Heidi, and anxiety was just part of me.

Growing with Anxiety

As a teenager, my shyness and anxiety became very intertwined. I had only a few friends and I found it near impossible to make new ones. My fear of social situations and interaction had a huge impact on my everyday life. I began to withdraw, and declined any invitation that may lead me to any kind of unplanned interaction with people. However on the outside, no one would ever know. I hid it well, smiled, laughed, disclosing my fears to no one. The more I worried though, the more I would worry about. Accidents,death, danger were always on my mind.

I struggled immensely with the torment inside, school and college suffered, I feared asking for help when I needed to, mainly because I didn’t know how to ask and it meant having to talk to people (it wasn’t until many years later I would learn I was Dyslexic). At college I started failing exams, an administration mix up meant I missed my main exam, but I did nothing. University was my dream, but a combination of poor results and not being able to ask for UCAS advice meant I never got my application in. I ended up taking on my part time job, full time.

Moving Forward and Recovering

I don’t know when I changed but at some point I told myself enough was enough. So I began to push myself, go out more (alcohol helped, in a good way!). My social issues remained,I struggled to talk to people, I made friends, not deep friendships but enough to go out and have fun. Although I constantly dreaded anything social, but I forced myself. Sometimes it worked out fine, sometimes I wish the world would swallow me whole. This is how I continued form any years, wishing I didn’t struggle, but getting by just fine.

Anxiety Relapse

I think it was when I had Finlay that my old anxieties began to return. At first, I don’t think I noticed. I put a lot of things down to being a stressed out first time mum. I had a pretty traumatic first few weeks after Finlay’s birth. Maybe this is what triggered it, being rushed to hospital? Maybe it was caring for such an innocent little human and realising there’s a lot of bad stuff out there and wanting to shield him from that? Slowly, slowly I began once again to withdraw.

I found trying to fit in with mummy friends and mummy groups tiring and no matter how hard I tried, I just never seemed to fit. I would often go to groups on my own, hoping I would meet someone, but I never did. Then I began to dread going and then I stopped going. I stopped meeting mummy friend and today I have probably isolated myself to the point they don’t even remember who I am now. All because of stupid anxiety!

Getting Help

Earlier this year, I had a traumatic time at work (you can read about that here if you wish) and my anxiety became too much. New symptoms began to develop. Chest pains, insomnia and just a general lack of wanting to go out at all, worrying about the slightest thing that could happen. I took a step I had never taken before and went to the Doctor. The Doctor and I talked and I was diagnosed with generalist anxiety and offered CBT. I haven’t got round to booking in yet, as typically they had the wrong contact details. They wrote to me to ask me to call for an appointment and calling people is something I really struggle with because I don’t know what to expect from the conversation. I will but in my own time.

So for now, anxiety is a big part of my life again. I am determined to beat it, not to let anxiety win, but sometimes I wonder If I’m strong enough, I guess only time will tell!


Rainy Days, Muddy Puddles and Ideas to Inspire!

Rainy Days and Muddle Puddles

Rainy days and muddy puddles

We knew it was coming, it had been forecast, but waking up to the rain and grey skies was a tad gloomy. Especially after the glorious sunshine of the past few days. Apparently in the south we were hotter than Thailand, and it was glorious!!

Rainy days come with mixed emotions in our house. I love the sunshine, the long days of summer. Chris on the other hand, can’t wait for autumn and the cozy storms it brings. Finlay, well come rain or shine he loves being out. However, he especially loves a play in the rain. He’s a typical boy as soon as there’s a puddle, he is in it. So when I asked him if he wanted to go out and splash in some puddles, I got a massive yes and he kissed my knee and said “THANK YOU MUMMY”!! He was happy. However, I know venturing out in the rain isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I thought I would share some of our other rainy day activities to inspire you.

Our Top Ten Rainy Day Activities

  1. Splash in Muddy Muddles

    As we already said this is our number one activity for rainy days. Put your waterproofs and wellies on and go and find them puddles. Its actually really fun to let your hair down and jump around with your kids. On the same topic, if you live near a forest or nature walk, take your little ones bike. Finlay loves skidding through the squishy mud on his balance bike, its messy, but remember its only mud, it will wash off!!

  2. Bake, Bake, Bake

    What better excuse to make some tasty cakes or biscuits? I always keep a box of those fairy cake mixes in the cupboard. They are quick and easy and Finlay loves sticking the edible stickers on at the end! If you fancy something else, why not try jam tarts or cheese straws!

  3. Make a Den

    Get those cushions, duvets and sheets out and make a fantastic den. I remember how magical it was when I was little. Think of make believe adventures to combine with the den, is it a ship drifting on the ocean with pirates and sharks lurking? or perhaps a fairy kingdom, a princess waiting for her prince to rescue her?

  4. Craft some items

    I have a draw full of paper, paints, glue, glitter (yes we have this evil stuff, Finlay seems to love it), pipe cleaners,boggly eyes, tissue paper, old greeting cards and we just make crazy things. I admit this can be messy and isn’t my number one activity, but its  great for the imagination every once in a while.

  5. Make Rock Creatures

    Grab some stones and Rocks (Easy for us as we live on the beach) and paint them. Stick some some eyes on them and voila – Rock Creatures. You can make them look like bugs, Lady birds, snails, butterflies or turn them into monsters. Decorate with stickers and glitter too!

  6. Read

    Use the time to catch up reading some books. Involve the children, ask them what they can see, what lessons they think they have learnt etc. Also activity books are great fun to do together and pass some time

  7. Play Board games

    The type of games will vary depending on the age of your child. ELC and Orchard have some great  games for younger toddlers. Finlay is getting to the age where hes beginning to understand some more complex games which is nice. He apparently loves Ludo (but hes doesn’t get that just yet, haha) Some of Favourites are hungry Hippos, Elefun and we even have a very Retro 80’s Mr pop that belonged to Chris Finlay loves.

  8. Dress up

    Whats not fun about dress up and make believe? Combine it with some of the other activities. make your costume! Dress up in use your den in the adventure. Act out your Chileans favourite,book, film and TV characters!

  9. Get involved with toys

    Get out the toys and play together. I often let Fin play while I’m trying so hard to fit everything else in. Don’t get me wrong, Finlay plays happily on his own, but its great to play with him. To put everything aside and just spend that time being part of his make believe world, the little things, rainy days can make us remember this!

  10. Watch  Movies

    Last but not least, do not let anyone tell you that TV is the spawn of the devil. I Think that TV can be a life saver. Especially if your busy. As long as you don’t have your little one glued to it 24/7 then don’t worry. On those rainy days make it extra special, Grab a duvet, get some popcorn, put your feet up and relax and watch a movie together!



The Fifa Fafer fo of the Primary School Application!

Education - Primary School Apllication ProcessThe Utter Confusion of the School applicant Process!

Seeing all the back to school photos on my news feed, has sent my tummy to a bag of nerves. This year we will be starting the School Application Process! To be honest It has come round so quickly (I guess it does for everyone). I feel I know very little about the process, but I know from word of mouth and news feeds, its a scramble for any place. I know also, all the local schools to us have been oversubscribed for the past few years. I’m guessing that’s a bad thing!

The Schools…

We live in an area that has one definite school in catchment. This school has a great reputation, but its a church school. They hold 30 places for worshippers and 30 places for everyone else (this may drop if they have over 30 church applications).  Then they follow the standard allocation procedure. The School application process for this school is also direct through the school (do I still apply online also? I’m so clueless).

I wouldn’t mind Finlay going to a church school. Although I don’t currently go to church but I am not an atheist. I like the values they teach and would like Finlay to learn about religion. To be to make his own mind up when hes older. However, I don’t hold out much hope of getting a place if I am honest.

The next nearest that may be in catchment, I know little about. It has a good OFSTED rating, but the parent feedback put me off a little. It had the highest percent of all the schools I was looking at with regards to bulling and how it was addressed. I also have heard very little about this school from word of mouth. This I find nerving and makes me think its not as highly regarded as some others.

Next, and to be honest just from my own research is my current favourite. I am unsure if we are in catchment but last year places did get down to distance and the furthest they accepted was 2.1 km away. We are about 1.9km. There may be hope for this one! I like this school as it promotes a lot of sustainability and Natural values. They even have there own Honeybee’s on the Marshlands opposite!

Finally, we have a lovely little School that’s on route to work for both Chris and I. Catchment for this school seems varied, but from last years stats we live too far away by about 0.2km. I do know people who have gone their who live where I live. Each new year will tell I guess.

None the Wiser!

I guess what really worries me is we don’t fall into many catchments as such, that our preferences will not matter and we will be placed anywhere. Scary stuff, thinking this decision is in someone elses hand.

All I know and have read is that children that have good supportive parents do better at poorer schools, than those at good schools with less parental support. So I know at the end of the day, I have some input into how well Finlay achieves. What worries me though is I want Finlay to be at a school where he feels safe and happy, is this something these other schools will offer?

For now, follow this space as I try and decipher the School Application Process. Working out about open days, questions to ask, applications and anything else. Currently I know very little, if anyone has any advice, please comment!


The Difficulties of being a working mum

Working Mum

Becoming a working mum

When I found out I was expecting Finlay, I already knew I wanted to be a working mum after maternity Leave. I wanted to be a good role model. Little did I know then how it would pull on my heart strings. I also had no sense of how difficult the financial burden would be. My choice was made though. It was difficult, but I was lucky to have a good boss who understood I needed flexibility. I returned part time on compressed hours. This allowed to balance my childcare between family and nursery. It also importantly kept the cost of childcare down. I had a great work life balance and I was Lucky. Don’t get me wrong, it was still difficult. I longed to be with Finlay. Money was extremely tight, but I knew working was right for me.

The beginning of the end

Fast forward a few years and all has drastically changed. Its been a very difficult time the past 6 months. I have been at my company 10 years in one position or another, I am well liked and respected. I have given a lot to this company over the years. However, the last few years have seen many rounds of redundancies. This year I was served my ‘At Risk’ notice, I panicked. I work as an Administration Manager (part time and in a job share). My pays not great, but its not bad for administration. If I lost my job, how on earth would I find another as a working mum, part time and at my rate of pay? They come few and far between.

Luckily, after the consultation period our team were advised there would be no compulsory redundancies. I felt relief, but it would be short lived. A meeting was held in my absence with the team. We knew Line management was changing, but at this meeting my job Share was discussed. It no longer fitted the needs of the company. My hours would being cut (and given to my job share) and my working pattern would change to ‘office hours’ only. I would not be allowed to come in early or finish late.

Fighting my corner

I sought much advice over this from legal representatives, but I had no money to pay for in depth help. citizen’s advice were great, and I also used a free solicitor consultation, and an acquaintance who knew employment law . I highly recommend Working Families, a charity which provided legal advice to me as a working mum. Time and time again, the term indirect sex discrimination came up. My company were trying to enforce an inflexible working pattern that impacted my child caring responsibilities.

I had tried to negotiate a slight change to the working pattern. This was rejected due to unfairness on other team members. I now know, that this was an unlawful reason. The company had a responsibility to at least look into how the work could be rearranged to allow the flexibility. This was not done. It got to the point where my only option was to raise a grievance. By this point I was signed of due to stress and anxiety.

I put in my grievance to try and get my company to look into how everything had been handled.  There were suggestions about how the work could be rearranged. I asked them once more to reconsider my working hours. The very next day I received a letter stating, My role old role was redundant, the contract was up. I was served my redundancy notice (which they apologized that I had not received weeks before). I would be placed on garden leave. If I could not agree to my contract, my employment would terminate at the end of my notice. My grievance would be handled separately.

So now I faced the prospect of losing my job with no redundancy pay. I was so stressed out and I felt so out of my depth. However, I knew I was not wrong about following this up further, but I was torn. Did I carry on and risk the company saying enough is enough? Should I withdraw the grievance and accept my new contract?

Moving on

At the end of the day I couldn’t risk losing my job. I withdrew my grievance and advised my employer I would accept my new contract. This means with the reduction in hours and additional childcare I have lost about £3500 a year. A huge cut. I’m not sure how we will cope financially only time will tell. I ended up being off work for almost 2 months and returned 2 weeks ago. Luckily there is no animosity, but am I happy now as a working mum? I don’t think so. My job is now only a means to an end. My work life balance has gone and I’m left thinking where do I go from here? I guess only time will tell.


NB: The situation is a lot more in depth and complicated than this post shows, this is just a brief overview but a lot more went on than I have touched upon.

Back to Blogging – Reviving Southern Mummy!

Back To Blogging

Blogging History

I wanted to write a post about why I decided to get back into blogging. I  first started in early 2013. My Son was born with Plagiocephaly, I  wanted to raise awareness about his condition, and help with fundraising towards his treatment. I had never blogged before, to be honest I never thought I was great at writing due to having dyslexia.

To my surprise, I loved it and writing about him and our experiences came naturally. I ended up collaborating with quite a few well know brands in the parenting circles. I even ended up as a brand ambassador and was sponsored to attend Britmums. Unfortunatley I had less and less time to put into the blog, juggling work (a senior promotion) and first time parenthood. The blog took a back seat and eventually with a sad heart, I abandoned it.

Creating Southern Mummy

I decided to try again last year and created southern mummy. I missed blogging, and all the friends and opportunities that came with it. After using Blogger, I decided I wanted the freedom of self hosting and taught myself all I could about wordpress. I set my site up, but I struggled to find topics, I felt lost in a sea parenting blogs. I struggled to find my voice.

I know now this was the my anxiety developing. I began withdrawing from friends, activities, social events and once again my blog. I had lost my confidence and my voice. Whereas before I had a topic, a health condition, I found it easier to tell our story, our journey. As my anxieties took hold, I questioned myself as a parent and my parenting abilities. Everyone seemed to be a perfect parent and I felt I couldn’t compete. One day I just stopped blogging (stopped being me altogether) and southern mummy drifted off.

Gaining my Confidence back

Not too long ago, I sought the courage to speak to my GP. I worried they would brush me off, but they were so kind and understanding. Although my confidence remains low and my anxiety is still very much present, I found my self more determined to move forward. I am not happy in my work and the cost of childcare is a struggle. I decided to look into ways to increase my earnings from home. I hope  that maybe once day I can leave work and support myself. What better way to document my journey, than blogging it?

Southern Mummy Returns

I decided that with this new gained confidence I would try and resurrect my blog. Blogging was a hobby I loved. As I overcome my anxiety, I want my blog to grow and flourish. I want it to follow my journey, my families journey. I want Southern Mummy to be a true reflection of our life.

Sometimes I shout at Finlay, yes even in public. Sometimes I swear in his presence (yes he then repeats this at the most inappropriate times). No he doesn’t eat organic all day.  Yes he eats chips and beans, even sometimes those ready meals. Sometimes he doesn’t have a story before bed. Sometimes I pull my hair out. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, BUT sometimes we play all day. I cook us lovely wholesome meals. We go days without raising our voices. Together we have wonderful adventures.  Most of all and more importantly he is loved every single moment of every single day.

What I am trying to say is we all have bad days and that’s ok.  I want this reflected in my Southern Mummy and to banish the mum guilt. Sometimes we achieve and sometimes we fail. We all have ups and downs and this will be the story of ours every step of the way.



25 Facts About Me!

25 Facts About Me

Well, this is my first blog post on Southern Mummy, so what better way to introduce myself than 25 Random facts about me!

  1. I don’t know how I am thirty something, I still feel like a teenager (How can I be a parent!?!)
  2. I am Mummy to Finlay.
  3. My all time favourite film is Walt Disney’s ‘The Incredible Journey‘ from 1963.
  4. Cows hate me – They actually do!
  5. I love animals (even cows).
  6. I have two cats, Milo a 13 year old ginger moggie and Sebastian a 7 year l old posh Oriental.
  7. I am Extremely shy, especially around people I don’t know – it really annoys me!
  8. I don’t really have much dress sense – as long as its comfy, hey!
  9. I LOVE cherry pie and custard.
  10. I’m Dyslexic – I love to write, I’m not sure that’s the best combo, but I try!
  11. I have a pea head – I have to buy child hats and glasses as a result.
  12. The thought of meringue currently makes me want to spew!
  13. Chewing cotton also makes me want to spew – I discovered this chewing on a duvet when I was about 3.
  14. I can’t dance.
  15. I can’t sing.
  16. I am a qualified PADI open water diver – although I need to do a refresher.
  17. We are a zombie loving household.
  18. Chris and I got engaged in 2012 – no pennies to get married yet – sad face!
  19. The news often makes me cry.
  20. I suffer with Anxiety.
  21. I have an MSc in Conservation Science.
  22. I lived in The Caribbean during 2008 carrying out research on an endangered population of Lizards.
  23. I like the smell of rain.
  24. I’m scared of Flying.
  25. I believe in magic!