Blog Awards Ireland 2015 Long List

I'm super delighted to announce that I got long listed for the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 in the PArenting Blog category. Now admittedly the long list does put me up against 46 other awesome Parenting Bloggers, but nonetheless I'm still happy and chuffed.

At the very least, seeing as I didn't nominate myself, it means that someone out there is loving what I'm doing. So even if it's for no one else other than them and me, I'll keep doing it.

That said, fingers crossed I get short listed :)

One Year Old!

So Saturday arrived and Beckett turned one year old. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty-five days. And to say I genuinely couldn't believe it had been a year would be a massive understatement. I can trace out with ease all his milestones. I can tell you at length what he's done and achieved (in relation to development etc.) in that time. But to actually look back and fully realise that a year had passed since Beckett came into our lives, is just amazing.

And even now, all that time later, he still captures my heart and moves me with the slightest facial gesture or baby-spoken sound.

The day itself was wonderful. His Aunt and Godmother, Tori, had arrived in from Edinburgh the night before well after his bedtime so he saw her in the morning. He was ecstatic, to put it mildly. He really loves his Aunty Tori! To make things even more exciting, before there would be any hint of a birthday party, we were off to the Zoo first thing. It was the baby elephants' birthdays and we were lucky enough to get invited along for a special talk and tour from Gerry Creighton, Operations Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo. You can read about it here.

We were back home for noon and it was all stations go to get his party setup and ready for the guests arriving at 2pm. So... the BBQ was setup, the gazeebo was erected, the ball pool and bouncy castle were put out, the fruit skewers and Top Hats were made, the bunting and decorations were put up and the other food and treats were all put out. My place for the afternoon was pretty much stationed in front of the BBQ, firing out delicious hotdogs and bbq chicken.

I think it's safe to say that everyone had a really great time. The kids had loads of fun, including Beckett's cousin Baxter deciding to run around topless to everyone's amusement. All the food was eaten. Perhaps surprisingly, the Fruit Skewers were a HUGE hit and we could have probably made two or three times as much as we did. I highly recommend them for your next kid's party (though obviously parental supervision may be required for younger kids due to the skewer!).

Before it was all over there was also cake and presents too. So basically, a super fun day. I know Beckett won't remember it when he's older but for the day that it was he had an awesome time - constant smiles and laughter.

Beckett, Jules and the birthday cakes

Beckett, post birthday cake eating

So, considering all the planning and preparation and cooking and wrapping and entertaining... would I do it again? I'm already planning his next one. The most fun ever and I can't wait for all the birth parties yet to come!!

In case you missed it in my 'Nearly One Year Old' post, here's the slideshow I made of all the photos charting Beckett's first year...

Dublin Zoo Baby Elephants' Birthday

As if Saturday wasn't special enough being Beckett's Birthday, it turned out that it was also the birthday of Dublin Zoo's three baby Asian Elephants, Kavi, Ashoka and Samiya. To celebrate the day The Natural Confectionery Company and Dublin Zoo hosted a special media event. For the weekend, the Zoo was transformed into an elephantastic birthday bash with music, face-painting, fun and games and a whole host of fun-filled family activities.

So at 9am we rolled up to Dublin Zoo ready for Beckett's first visit and his first glimpse of a whole host of animals, especially the baby elephants.

To say Beckett was excited would be an understatement. He was totally captivated by the crazy little elephants. Between just rambling around and play fighting with each other, he absolutely loved it. To make it all even better, we also had the opportunity to meet Gerry Creighton, Operations Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo.

Beckett and Jules checking out the Elephants

Beckett hanging out with Gerry Creighton, Operations
Manager for Animals & Grounds at Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo’s elephant care team shared some of the calves’ developmental highlights as they continue to thrive:

  • Kavi now weighs almost 700kg, or the weight of a fully grown dairy cow. Little brother Ashoka weighs in at 500kg while little sister Samiya is a dainty 450kg. At birth they weighed in at 80kg, 70kg and 68kg respectively
  • All the calves are still drinking from their mothers and will do until they reach about five years of age or another calf is born. Their appetite is increasing and they have begun to enjoy solids like hay and fruit. Their favourite foods include bananas and apples. The calves all love to pile on top of one another to sleep. Their big sister Asha, now eight years old, keeps an eye on them. The keepers can see from their night cameras that the calves like to wake the whole elephant house in the morning by jumping on their mothers!
  • They sleep for an average of six hours a night and take regular naps during the day, particularly on hot days when they tire themselves out playing with the water
  • Kavi is a brave little bull who likes to follow his father Upali. Ashoka started off a little shyer but now that he’s getting bigger he’s challenging his brother more each day
  • Samiya enjoys spending time with her mother Dina and sister Asha but also loves to play with her brothers. She also likes chasing wild birds out of her habitat
  • All three love to wrestle and splash in the two large outdoor pools, climb on big boulders, tree stumps and sometimes their sleeping mother’s heads!
  • They are actively swimming more and more each day. After a dip in the pool they like to roll around in the sand to dry off before enjoying some more wrestling!
  • As their confidence increases, they are learning how to use their voices more and more to communicate

Party Treats - Top Hats

As I mentioned before it's Beckett's First Birthday this weekend and there's been a buzz of planning and prepping at our house for at least the last month. Between decorating, cooking and presents there's a lot to go into a kids party. Even a one year old's party. It's not all hard work though.

I quickly realised that planning a kids party is a fantastic trip down memory lane, filled with wonderful nostalgia. One thing in particular that came back to me were the memories of the treats that we used to get at parties when I was a child. These days it always seems to be store bought stuff whereas all I remember were home made treats. And not just Rice Krispie Buns!

One of my favourite party treats was always Top Hats. Simple but super delicious. Now to introduce a new generation to an old skool treat!

Christian's Top Hat Treats

Milk Chocolate (not cheap!)
Muffin cases

Melt the chocolate over a gentle heat in a bowl placed in a saucepan of hot water. Pour a small amount of the chocolate into the muffin cases (5mm deep) and place a marshmallow in each one.

Now place a small dab of chocolate on top of each marshmallow and put a Smartie or Jellytot on. Alternate between toppers and colours of marshmallow. Put all the muffin cases on a tray and pop it into the fridge until the chocolate sets.

Keep them in the fridge until just before your little monsters are ready for them. Now all you have to do is peel off the muffin cases and line them up on a plate ready to be devoured!

The Ultimate Steak Accompaniment - Chimichurri Sauce

It's Beckett's Grandpa's birthday this weekend so the three of us decided to have him and Beckett's Grandma out for a BBQ. BBQ is obviously a winner all by itself (we're big fans in our house) but moreso, BBQ is a great excuse to try something new. Usually I like to experiment with a new cut of meat or a new rub or marinade, but today I decided to go with a new sauce for our steaks. I say new but it's really a case of an old favourite that I haven't made in ages.

When it comes to dressing a steak there are a lot of ways you can go: Garlic Butter, Pepper Sauce, Salsa Verde, Mushroom Sauce, Red Wine Sauce, etc. etc. the list goes on. In my opinion, however, there is one accompaniment to steak that surpasses all others... Chimichurri Sauce.

Chimichurri originally comes from the Rio de la Plata, Argentina. The theory for the name of the sauce comes from the Basque settlers that arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to this theory, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as "a mixture of several things in no particular order". As such, Chimichurri can be made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and white or red wine vinegar with additional flavorings then added such as paprika, cumin, thyme, lemon, basil, coriander or bay leaf. It is also common to find a red version in which tomato and red bell pepper are added.

Personally I like my Chimichurri to have a sharp kick with a warm garlic follow through. The whole thing is then rounded out with coriander, parsley and oregano. That's just me though. Feel free to fiddle around with the proportions and add any additional flavours that you like. At the end of the day, Chimichurri is a very personal thing - make it your own!

Christian's Chimichurri Sauce

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jalapeƱo chile, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine vinegar, salt, garlic, shallot, and chile in a medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in coriander, parsley, and oregano. Using a fork, whisk in oil.

That's it. Ready to go. A super simple sauce that is bursting with flavour. Of course, it's not just a sauce. If you fancy using your Chimichurri as a marinade, just place your steak in a glass bowl, cover with the Chimichurri and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. When you want to cook your steak just pat it dry and place directly onto a hot skillet or BBQ grill.

Either way, whether it's a sauce, marinade or both, you won't be disappointed!

Out for a Meal With Baby @ De Lacy's Steak and Seafood Restaurant

On Sunday we decided to go out for lunch and found ourselves faced with the age old question... where are we going to eat? Instead of just going to an old favourite we wanted to try somewhere new. So we threw around a few ideas but ultimately we remembered that De Lacy's in The D Hotel do a '4 course for €20' offer. And that's just too good not to try out. So off the three of us went to De Lacy's.

Initial impressions were very good. The place was spotless and the atmosphere very inviting. The staff welcomed us straight in and let us choose a table that best suited us while they got us a high chair. Speaking of which, the high chair of choice is one of the solid hard plastic variety - very sturdy and comfortable. Our server arrived back quickly with the high chair and our menus. Rather than wait we ordered a baby bowl for Beckett immediately so as to start feeding him before our food would arrive.

Within minutes Beckett's food arrived and to say we were both wowed would be an understatement. This was, without question, the most impressive baby bowl we'd ever seen. A big bowl of mash, a separate bowl of freshly cooked mixed vegetables and a cute little gravy bowl. It wasn't just a good looking dish either - the vegetables were nicely al dente, the mash was smooth and creamy, and the gravy rich and tasty. Honestly, a super dish of food, which Beckett absolutely devoured! Oh, and at €2 you're getting a serious bargain.

De Lacy's Baby Bowl

So with a very happy baby on hand, mama and papa got to think about themselves momentarily. The Sunday Lunch menu is not what you would expect for a '4 course for €20' offer. At least not what I would expect. Generally a menu for this type of offer is limited. Limited in options and limited in offerings i.e you may only get 3 or 4 choices per course and anything 'fancy' will carry a supplement. Not in this case. There are 6 Starters, 7 Main Courses and 6 Desserts, and not a supplement in sight.

Jules went for the Caesar Salad to start and the Roast Sirloin of Beef to follow. I started with the Chicken Wings and also went for the Sirloin for my main. The Chicken Wings were very tasty. Perhaps not as crispy or well done as I would normally like but still very tasty. Jules mentioned that the Caesar Salad wasn't as crisp and the croutons not as garlicky as she'd like. The Roast Sirloin of Beef was very good. A great cut of meat and perfectly cooked. In fact eating it all I could think about was when we'd get a chance to come back some evening and I could try a steak!

De Lacy's Caesar Salad and Chicken Wings

When it came to desserts I went for the medley of homemade desserts and Jules picked the Chocolate and Orange Torte. Both were very good. Especially noteworthy was their sorbet - light, not too frozen and super tasty. A really good accompaniment to dessert rather than a standard fare of ice-cream.

De Lacy's Medley
of Homemade Desserts

So, the final verdict? De Lacy's is a must visit - great value, gorgeous food and a fantastic setting. We highly recommend it for either date night or a family meal out. You won't be disappointed.

Nearly One Year Old

Not a day goes by that I'm not completely blown away by some crazy little thing that Beckett does. This morning as I was feeding him breakfast, he sat there in his high chair with a hand at each ear twiddling his earlobes. It sounds like nothing but it was so bloody cute. And it's just one example of a long, long list of his cute madness. And yet when I think about Beckett's upcoming first birthday, I have no idea where the time has gone. It has seriously flown by.

So in the spirit of his rapidly approaching first birthday, I thought I'd collect together the weekly and then monthly photos we took of him and create a little slideshow. In reality it's just an excuse for me to look at super cute pictures of him and see how much he's changed. It makes me feel all squishy inside. Hopefully you too ;)

Washing Toys - Am I Mad?

I recounted an amusing story about something Beckett did last week to a friend over the weekend. Without boring you with the full details of the story, it started by me setting the scene that I was washing a few of his toys at the sink. My friend stopped me, asking why in the world I would be washing his toys - his expectation was that he had been sick on them or something similar.

I explained that as he's teething at the moment, absolutely everything goes into his mouth. This of course mostly consists of his toys as we wouldn't let him hold much else because we know that he'll just try and chew it. Whatever it is!

He was rather surprised and I got the distinct impression, though he didn't say anything, that he thought I may be just a little bit crazy. At the very least, I was certainly being a bit excessive on the whole thing.

So here I am putting it out there - am I crazy for washing toys? Beckett chews on his blocks, various V-Tech toys, stacking rings, connecting shapes etc. so from a hygiene point of view I feel that they need to be regularly cleaned. I don't sterilise them or anything but they are given a good scrub in hot soapy water and then rinsed off and hand dried.

It'd be gross not to, right?