I was kindly gifted a box of new Lomo Crisps by Awfully Posh to try out! No idea what a lomo crisp is? I didn’t know either…
What are lomo crisps?
The word “Lomo” is Spanish for tenderloin, a cut of pork that is often served cured and air dried – think of the kind of cured meats you might expect to be served at a tapas restaurant.
These Awfully Posh lomo crisps are made from Spanish pork loin which has been cured with garlic and paprika. It’s then sliced super thin and air dried until it’s all crispy and crunchy – like a potato crisp, but made of 100% pork!
Because they’re made of pork, they’re also gluten free and high protein – we’re always on the look out for gluten free snacks in this house so I was keen to try them out, as was my gluten-intolerant husband!
What do they taste like?
First impression: they really are super crunchy! Even though I knew they are marketed as crisps, I think in my head I was expecting these lomo crisps to be more chewy – after all, they look like slices of pork, so I think I subconsciously expected a texture more like jerky or dried meat. But no! They have the proper crunch that you expect from a regular crisp.
The flavour is really nice, very rich and savory – it took me a while to work out what it most reminded me of, but I realised eventually that it’s the crispy bacon that you get on top of the turkey at Christmas. That’s a pretty great association! I’d say that if you’re a fan of bacon, you’ll love these crisps.
How would you serve Lomo crisps?
The crisps come in packets that are the right size for an afternoon snack for one, and the flavour makes them perfect to enjoy with a beer (kind of like pork scratchings, I suppose) or a glass of wine. If it weren’t for all the current restrictions, I can imagine they’d be a big hit in pubs! Lomo crisps would also be a great addition to a charcuterie platter or tapas selection, if you fancy introducing something a bit different into the mix.
I can also imagine using them as a cooking ingredient as well, perhaps for a crispy bacon-esque topping on a dish or even a baking ingredient.
Well, we’re well and truly into autumn now, and if you’re anything like me you’re spending your evenings bundled up in cosy jumpers and slippers (and sometimes a snuggly woollen blanket as well!), and enjoying some tasty autumnal treats. But what tea should accompany them? As you know, I’m a total tea fiend – so I’ve pulled together my recommendations for the best teas which reflect the flavours of the season – warming, cosy, spiced teas with hints of delicious autumn fruits. So if you’re looking for your next tea purchase, read on!
When the summer starts fading into autumn, one of the things I’m always excited about for this season is making spiced apple crumbles and pies, so for me this apple spiced fruit tea from Jenifer Teas really encapsulates the spirit of autumn. This tea is made with real dried apple pieces, along with classic seasonal spices – cinnamon, clove, cardamom and pepper. Unusually, it’s available as a loose leaf tea or as pyramid teabags, so you can make tea your preferred way.
This unusual loose-leaf blend by Very Craftea is made with peppermint leaves, vanilla extract and liquorice root. The first taste of this tea is a beautiful fresh peppermint, which fades away into the liquorice flavour, with a very light hint of vanilla. It’s nowhere near as sweet as you might expect from the name, and I’d say it’s just about perfect for curling up with a book on chilly autumn evenings…
It doesn’t get much more autumnal than pumpkin spice, so this loose leaf tea by Arthur Dove Tea Co. is a perfect choice for the season. It’s a sweet, spiced tea not dissimilar to a chai, with a lovely hit of sweet ginger and a gentle, peppery aftertaste. I’d say it’s an ideal after-dinner drink.
It’s recommended to drink this pumpkin spice tea with milk, but I think it’s great with or without depending on your preference – with milk it mellows down into a perfect drink for snuggling up on the sofa on a rainy afternoon.
This tea bag offering from Twinings is another lovely warning tea that’s great for the autumn season. It has a really bright, fresh cherry flavour that hits you straightaway, then gently melts into the comforting taste of cinnamon. It’s a tea for crisp autumn mornings and warning up after a walk out in the frost. Plus, it’s a fabulous colour – check out the picture below!
Those are my top picks for autumn teas this year! Do you have any favourite teas that always make a reappearance at this time of year? Let me know in the comments!
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve used pretty much all my spare time when Little Man was sleeping or doing his settling-in sessions at nursery to work on creating an illuminated window display for Window Wanderland 2020. I themed the display around the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro, because a) it’s one of my favourites, b) I assumed there would be lots of families out and about with kids, and c) honestly the characters have nice simple designs that should be easy to recreate in a papercut.
I was really happy with the final result!
In this blog post, I’ll talk about how I created my window display, and also share some photos of some of my favourite illuminated window displays from my local Window Wanderland event this year. Hopefully others will find it useful for information, ideas and inspiration if you’re planning on creating a illuminated window displays yourself. But first things first…
What Is Window Wanderland?
Window Wanderland is a scheme encouraging communities to set up “fun, local, all-people-friendly, window-display-based walking trails then share them with the world.” Illuminated window displays are set up by individuals or families in their homes over a couple of days, and then you can look up a map of your local area showing you where to find displays. It’s a really fun scheme, and obviously it’s especially great this year with the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, because it’s all outdoors and compliant with Covid-19 restrictions.
How Do You Make Illuminated Window Displays?
The flippant answer is: however you want to! As I walked around the illuminated window displays in my local area, I would say that it looked like most people (like me!) did displays using coloured crepe paper and black card. I did spot what looked like a display that had been painted onto tracing paper (?) so that it illuminated beautifully, which I thought was a great effect and allowed for a lot of detail:
How Did I Create My Window Wanderland Display?
By taking over the dining room table for about two weeks! Apologies to my very patient husband. I’ll outline exactly how I approached it and some of my top tips for how to make an illuminated window display with paper and card…
Step 1: Measure your windows
We have quite a complicated downstairs front window set-up, with 10 panels of varying shapes and sizes, so the first thing was to measure them up. I did a really bad job of this and actually got the measurements for six of the panels wrong, which I only discovered on the night when I went to put my display up in the window… Oops. They were only about 1cm out, but still! I recommend measuring everything twice…
Step 2: Buy your supplies
For my display, I bought a pack of 10 sheets of A2 black card, and a mixed pack of 20 sheets of coloured crepe paper (I already had a lot of the dark blue crepe paper that I used for the background colour). I didn’t use tracing paper as a backing, but lots of people do, especially if you’re going for a more collage-style effect.
I already had a craft scalpel in the house, which was essential for the finer lines, and a cutting mat. I also already had Pritt Stick glue in the house, but I ran out on the last day and had to run to the shops to get more – so make sure you have enough glue, as if you have large windows you can end up using a LOT. I also used blu-tack to stick the panels to the windows.
Step 3: Plan your design
I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but I first cut my panels of black card into the right sizes for all the window panels – in some cases I also had to stick extra bits of card together to get the right size and shape for my windows. Then I outlined a reasonably thick border around the outer edge of each panel, and then started designing.
I did this as an iterative process, working panel by panel and outlining a design in pencil – rather than designing every panel from the start, before beginning to cut and paste, and I’m glad I did, because the first panel I did was way too complicated and took forever! After that, I simplified my designs a little, and also learned what shapes were easy/difficult to cut etc. as I went. You can see my excessively complicated first panel here – the top one with all the leaves:
I definitely think that when coming up with your design, less is more! I saw some amazing illuminated window displays around town that were just done with two colours – black card and a white background (for instance, see the Halloween themed Window Wanderland display below!). I think the simpler panels of my design have more impact as well.
Step 4: Cutting and sticking
My method was to cut a design out of black card, using a craft scalpel, and then stick coloured crepe paper in the gaps. For a few features, such as the eyes, I then glued more bits of black card on top of the crepe. It was quite fiddly, but I definitely got faster as I went along.
Actually one of the trickiest things was just finding somewhere I could put the panels while the glue was drying!
How To Illuminate Your Window Display
I simply used blu-tack to attach my pieces of card to our front room windows. We then put the lights on in the front room. To make the display brighter, I also placed a lamp on a table by the window. If you’re wondering how to make your Window Wanderland display brighter, using extra lamps or even a projector will help light up the windows perfectly.
Window Wanderland Ideas and Inspiration
Before I started making my Window Wanderland display, I really wanted to see other people’s displays, for inspiration! So I thought I’d share a few more illuminated window displays that I particularly liked from my local area. Perhaps they will give you ideas for your own window display. Personally, I think windows work best when they have a strong theme – I really liked some of the Halloween themed windows we saw, and those themed around literature or music. As we get closer to Christmas, I imagine that Christmas themed Window Wanderland displays could be really awesome as well. Anyway, here are a few photos of displays from my local event… and my thoughts on how to make something similar.
Koi carp and irises window:
This beautiful display looks like it was made in a similar way to my display: cutting the design out of black card, and backing it with crepe paper.
Abstract colours window:
This abstract design is so beautiful and I think something like this would be easily achievable if you’re not feeling confident about making your window display. Again, it looks like it’s made with black card backed with crepe paper.
Prehistoric ocean window:
This lovely prehistoric ocean display looks like it was made by glueing strips of crepe paper onto tracing paper, and then sticking black cut outs on top.
Your Experience of Window Wanderland Events
I hope this post has been helpful if you’re looking for some inspiration and ideas for a Window Wanderland illuminated display!
Are you taking part in Window Wanderland in your local area? I’d love to see your designs and ideas! Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media for a share.
Recently I’ve noticed that when Little Man gets excited, he goes through a very specific set of behaviours. He will raise both arms up and out wide, lean in with wide eyes, and start shaking. This could happen over a new and exciting toy, a new experience (such as when we first took him to the seaside and dipped his toes in the ocean), or even a new food. It’s such a rapid shaking, it’s almost like he’s vibrating with excitement. This got us a bit worried… Why does my baby shake so much when he gets excited?
Shaking when excited
We’ve all heard the phrase “shaking with excitement”, but I have to admit I assumed it was a metaphor until I had a baby. It’s almost as if he gets so excited that he just can’t contain himself! Now, I know that babies do lots of things that seem weird (like staring at lights, or crawling backwards) but are actually totally normal. So, is it normal for babies to shake with excitement?
Is it normal for babies to shake with excitement?
Yes! It’s very common. It’s to do with baby’s immature nervous system. Their developing nervous system sends too many electrical impulses to the muscles and they get all twitchy. It’s normal for babies to shake with excitement, when they see someone they know or a favourite toy. This can present in lots of different ways – for instance, full-body shakes, or baby may clench his fists and shake, or tense up his whole body when excited.
Some babies may also display shuddering or shaking at seemingly random times, when there’s no particular reason for them to be excited, and sometimes it can last for a few seconds. No-one really completely understands the cause of this infant shuddering, but it’s not harmful and usually goes away by the time they’re four years old. Sometimes it’s referred to as infant shudder syndrome, shuddering attacks, or shuddering spells.
If baby is otherwise healthy, developing well and meeting his or her milestones, then there’s probably nothing to worry about if he or she tends to shake with excitement. Life is just that exciting when everything’s new! There’s no treatment for infant shudder syndrome, because it’s not an illness – it just goes away over time.
However, of course it can look a bit peculiar, and as a parent you may worry that it looks like your child having a short fit. If you’re worried, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and speak to a medical professional.
When to get worried about baby’s shaking movements
Of course, as parents it’s natural to worry. Shaking can be evidence of a seizure, but there are some specific seizure warning signs to look out for:
If shaking continues for over 20 seconds
If the shaking movement is accompanied by vomiting, unusual eye movements, or loss of consciousness
If it’s associated with illness or injury, or if baby sleeps for a long time afterwards
If you notice any of these signs, you should seek medical help urgently.
Ultimately, you know your baby best, so even if you don’t spot any of the warning signs, if you think it’s time to call the doctor or NHS 111, then do it. It may help (if you think of it at the time) to take a video of the shaking behaviour that’s worrying you, to show your health professional.
Is baby shaking when excited a sign of autism?
When I got onto Google and started researching about babies shaking with excitement and infant shudder syndrome, it was clear to me from the Google search bar that lots of parents who are researching this subject are worried that their baby’s shaking or shuddering could be a sign of autism. This is probably because some people with autism use repetitive or rhythmic movements to soothe themselves (also called ‘stimming’), and this can take the form of shaking or hand flapping.
This may look similar to a baby who is prone to excited shaking spells; however, infant shudder syndrome is not commonly viewed as a sign of autism. These kind of behaviours are also common with neurotypical children, so just because your baby or toddler shakes with excitement or flaps his or her hands, doesn’t mean that it’s a sign of autism. There are other early markers of autism which are more reliable as red flags that something could be wrong, such as a lack of eye contact or smiling. Again though, you know your baby best – so if you’re concerned that something is wrong, talk to your doctor.
Other causes of shuddering or shaking in babies
There are other reasons that babies may display shaking or shuddering movements, beyond excitement, infant shudder syndrome, or epilepsy. Babies and toddlers often shake their heads from side to side when falling asleep – it can actually be a motion they use to help themselves fall asleep (not that it looks very restful, especially when they start head-banging!), or a sign of teething or even an ear infection. My own Little Man is very much in the habit of shaking his head from side to side when he’s teething, especially after meals – it’s a sure sign for us that his teeth are playing up.
There’s also some suggestion that infant shudder syndrome could be an early sign of vitamin d deficiency in very young babies, so if you’re exclusively breastfeeding make sure that baby is getting their vitamin D drops in line with NHS guidance (babies who are formula fed get their vitamin supplements from the formula, so they don’t need any more).
So, in conclusion… there are loads of reasons your baby may shake or shudder, but if he or she is specifically displaying this behaviour when excited, it’s probably nothing to worry about. In some situations, continued shaking or shuddering could be a cause for concern though, so exercise your best judgement as a parent, err on the side of caution, and check with a doctor if you think you need to.
Being a parent with chronic illness can be tough. It’s tiring enough looking after a baby or toddler without having to deal with pre-existing issues with fatigue and pain. When I started the Sickly Mama blog, one of the key things I wanted to do was write about parenting with chronic illness, and connect parents who suffer from chronic illness and disability to build a supportive network (you can join our Facebook group here if you’re interested!).
But of course I’m not the only one writing about this, so I wanted to do a post featuring articles from other blogs about parenting with chronic conditions, to bring together a range of advice on the subject from people who aren’t just me…
Parenting With Chronic Illness – A Collection Of Articles
Parenting and pacing yourself:
When you have a chronic illness, pacing is so important! I remember when my hen do was being organised, my husband was basically a consultant to my bridesmaids about how much I’d be able to do before I’d need a break. He did a great job, as did they, and I had a fab time (and then a really, really long sleep lol). But how do you manage pacing yourself while looking after a tiny, unpredictable bundle of energy (or two? Or three?).
Coping with a newborn as a parent with chronic illness:
The newborn period is notoriously an exhausting and difficult time for all new parents. If you already have chronic illness, it can be quite scary wondering how you’ll cope with the newborn phase, especially if you suffer with fatigue under normal conditions. How much worse will it be when you’re woken up constantly by a baby who needs feeding every couple of hours? Will you be able to cope?
I’ve found a couple of articles that give tips for new parents with chronic illness, on how to manage that difficult newborn phase. This blog post covers tips for managing a newborn with chronic pain and chronic fatigue. And this post covers taking care of a newborn and yourself when you’re chronically ill.
I think the best tips for looking after a newborn when you’re chronically ill are about determining the things you absolutely must do each day (feeding baby, feeding yourself) and identifying the things which perhaps are good to do but not essential (giving baby a bath, doing the washing up). That way when you’re having a bad day, you can stick to just doing the essentials without feeling guilty, and on a good day you can aim to get a bit more fine. Oh, and asking for help is important. Always ask for help if you can!
Helping your child cope with having a parent with chronic illness:
When your child is still a baby, it’s not really something you have to worry about. But I’ve already started wondering – when Little Man is a bit older, how will we talk to him and explain things when I’m having a flare up of my symptoms? This is a really special article, which is actually written both from the perspective of a parent with chronic illness and her grown-up daughter, looking back.
I think the key thing I took away from the article was the reassuring sense that it’s totally possible to have a great childhood even with a parent who clearly suffered from very severe illness. Even totally healthy parents tend to suffer from the mum/dad guilt that they’re not doing enough for their children, so naturally the same guilt is there when you also suffer from a chronic illness that is sometimes limiting. But treating your child with respect, honesty, and trying to maintain a stable routine is what they need.
How to thrive as a parent:
So far in this blog post, I’ve used words like “coping”, “managing” and so on to describe being a parent with chronic illness. But that seems to be setting our sights a bit low. What about thriving as a parent with chronic illness? After all, none of us goes into parenting with the intention of just ‘getting by’ – we want to enjoy the experience!
It’s autumn! The leaves are brown, the sky is grey, and going outside is starting to feel like a chore rather than a treat. But for me, one of the ways we’re compensated for the chilly weather and the shortening days is the delicious flavours of seasonal autumn cooking. And by that, I mean pumpkin! I absolutely love pumpkin as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes, and I think these gluten free pumpkin muffins are a perfect autumn treat.
They’re made with tinned pumpkin puree, which isn’t always easy to find in the UK – although large supermarkets will often stock it in their international foods section. If you can’t find a tin of pumpkin puree, you can substitute it with homemade puree from a roasted pumpkin or squash – instructions here.
Okay, enough talk. On to the actual recipe!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins Recipe
Ingredients for pumpkin muffins:
You will need the following ingredients for your gluten free pumpkin muffins:
250g gluten free flour
225g sugar (I split this between caster sugar, demerara sugar, and dark muscovado sugar – a mix with some darker sugar is ideal for a bit of extra flavour)
120g butter (salted)
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 can of pumpkin puree
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla essence
Method for gluten free pumpkin muffins
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cake cases.
2. Melt the butter. You can do this in the microwave in 10 second blasts, stirring in between, until fully melted.
3. Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and mix until thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit lumpy though!
4. Spoon the mix into the cake cases.
5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You’ll know the muffins are fully cooked when a skewer or fork inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
6. Put the muffins on a cooling tray to cool. Or eat them straightaway – they’re delicious still warm from the oven!
Tips and pointers for your spiced pumpkin muffins:
These bad boys will keep in a tin for 3 – 4 days, although they’re yummiest fresh from the oven! You can also freeze your gluten free pumpkin muffins for up to three months – here are some pointers on freezing muffins. So you can make them now and enjoy them later!
This recipe is gluten free, however if you’re not in need of gluten free muffins, you can make them with regular flour and leave out the xantham gum. They’re just as yummy when they contain gluten, but do be careful not to over-mix the batter, as it will leave you with tough, chewy little cakes. Over-mixing is not such a problem with gluten-free baking, which is one of the few benefits of cooking for the gluten intolerant!
You can also very much get creative with the spices you use in these gluten free pumpkin muffins. I love a pumpkin spice blend that’s heavy on the cinnamon and ginger and light on the clove (by which I mean has NO CLOVES in it, because they’re disgusting). But a traditional American pumpkin spice mix has a good dose of nutmeg and clove in it, so you may wish to go for maximum authenticity there!
I’ve previously given my top tips on underwater modelling, based on my time as a professional mermaid and underwater model. So I’m going to continue this as a little blog series! And I’m starting with a question: can you open your eyes underwater? Being able to open your eyes underwater is a really important part of underwater modelling. If you can’t open your eyes, you may still be able to get some beautiful shots with closed eyes, but to be a successful underwater model you need to be able to open them. As the old saying goes, the eyes are the windows to the soul – and in underwater photography, seeing a model with their eyes open is part of what really brings that magical, fantastical quality to the picture.
So if you’re not comfortable with opening your eyes underwater, how do you get there? Realistically, you do need to accept that opening your eyes underwater is likely to sting, and you’ll need to practice to get comfortable with it gradually, over time. Here are some key pointers that will help you get there.
Learn How To Open Your Eyes Underwater
1. Start By Staying Still
If you swim forwards with your eyes open, it’s more painful, because you’re effectively forcing the water into your eyes. For your first attempts at opening your eyes underwater, try to stay quite still as you open them.
2. Avoid Chlorine If You Can
Chlorine and heavily salted water are the most unpleasant on your eyes, but even fresh water will sting a little bit. Aim to start trying to open your eyes underwater in lightly chlorinated water, or natural water such as an ocean or lake that is clear and free of other irritants (such as a lot of dirt or sand).
If you’re in a public swimming pool, remember that these tend to have higher chlorine levels than private pools or tanks, so your eyes are likely to sting more in a public pool. You may find that opening your eyes underwater in the ocean is less painful – but if there are a lot of waves, be aware that this can stir up the sand and leave you with painful sand particles in your eyes.
Make sure you have eye drops on hand for when you get out of the water – there are lots of great drops on the market, and I recommend looking for the kind that are marketed as being more viscous or gels, such as Viscotears liquid gel.
3. Check The Temperature
It’s also worth being aware that the temperature of the water will make a difference. The most unpleasant underwater photoshoot I ever did was in an indoor tank, and me and the other models noticed that our eyes were burning much worse than normal. We spoke to the tank operators and they did several checks on the chlorine levels, which were completely within the normal range – but by the end of the shoot, we were all barely able to open our eyes (and seriously glad we had brought our eye drops along!).
Afterwards we realised that the problem had almost certainly been the temperature of the water – it was a cold winter’s day and the tank was located in a chilly warehouse, so the operators had very kindly turned the temperature up to ensure we didn’t freeze. However, the warmer water meant that the chlorine was reacting more easily with our eyes and thus a lot more painful than usual. So if you’re shooting in a heated pool or tank, try not to have the temperature turned up too high. You’re better off being briefly cold than having red vampire eyes for days afterwards!
4. Build Up Slowly
Start by opening your eyes for one or two seconds and build up from there. Practice makes perfect, but don’t spend too long practicing at once – spread it out over a number of different sessions to make sure you’re not putting your eyes through too much punishment.
Try opening your eyes while looking upwards initially, as some people find this easier.
5. And Finally…
If you find that you’re still not comfortable opening your eyes underwater and want to shoot pictures with your eyes shut, make sure that you’re not scrunching your face up to keep your eyes closed – you want to look relaxed!
Other tips on how to open your eyes underwater…
Can you open your eyes underwater with contacts in?
If you wear contact lenses, you might be wondering whether you can swim and open your eyes underwater with contacts in. The short answer is yes, you can – but don’t! Contact lenses provide an ideal surface for bacteria and germs to stick to, pressed up against your eye, so they increase the risk of eye infections and irritation, especially if you’re modelling or performing in chlorinated water. Additionally, if you open your eyes underwater while wearing contact lenses, there’s a pretty high risk that they may come away from your eyes and get lost, or that they will absorb the water and change shape, which can be damaging to your eyes and increases the risk of them floating away as well…
If you do open your eyes underwater with contacts in, make sure you take them out and ideally dispose of them as soon afterwards as possible, and rinse your eyes with eye drops.
How can you treat eye irritation and/or burning eyes?
If you experience eye irritation or burning eyes after opening your eyes in a chlorinated pool or salt water, flush your eyes out with an eye rinse or eye drops. Both chlorine and salt water can be very drying on the eyes, so keep your eye drops on hand and use them as needed to soothe your eyes.
If your eyes become very red and sore, this can be something that is actually visible in your underwater photographs. The best way to avoid this is not to spend too long in the water at one stretch, and to use eye drops. It’s pretty hard to quickly reverse the redness, unfortunately, so this may be something your photographer has to just fix when editing your photographs.
Is it safe to open your eyes underwater?
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to open your eyes underwater, the answer is – well, mostly. Unfortunately if you do open your eyes underwater, there is an increased risk of eye infections, so that is something you need to watch out for. Swimming pools, freshwater and saltwater pools all have a risk of containing bacteria and other nasties that could damage your eyes – and the same goes for natural bodies of water like the ocean, as well!
If your eyes are red, sore, blurry or burning the next day after your swim, or if they are really painful, you may have an eye infection – get your doctor to check you out.
Can you open your eyes underwater?
Do you have any tips for how to open your eyes underwater that you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!