Category Archives: Life’s Little Secrets

For sharing one’s own little gems for happiness and wisdom.

Tasty Risotto – Welsh Recipe

  1. Finely Chop 1 Large Onion and 1 Garlic Clove
  2.  Gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil (2 minutes)
  3. Add a medium-sized mug of Arborio rice to the onion and garlic. Continue to fry for 1 minute. Add a good glug of Vermouth sherry.
  4. Make up 2 pints of hot stock, using chicken or vegetable stock cubes.
  5. Add 1 pint to the rice onion mixture.
  6. When absorbed add the other pint.
  7. When absorbed, season with salt and pepper. Add a load of frozen or fresh peas. If frozen this can be added  before everything is absorbed.
  8. Stir in 1 tablespoon of ground almond. Fresh lemon thyme. Honey. Or grated cheese.

It will take about 30-40 minutes.

Best Buys for the first 100 days of Baby

The prerogative of every daddy is to become the “smart procurement manager” of baby purchases. This is made very easy with the ease of online ordering, where “just in time” arrivals of goods is a possibility. So, here are my best buys, which worked very well for my baby boy, Michael Luke:

Baby Box – this took us by surprise how incredibly useful this was in the first few weeks. While at first sight it is a colourful cardboard box – taking a second look you’ve basically saved yourself the cost of a 2nd Moses Basket, and, due to its box like properties, can be usefully filled up with stuff inside if travelling with it to stay at the parents in laws 🙂

SnuzPod – you’ll love this purchase. It oozes style, and while we didn’t actually get to strap it to our bed and use the zip-down wall(due to our bed being unusually tall) it’s been perfect for being able to see Michael Luke through the mesh. We used this from the start, and reckon we’ll get at least 5 months use out of it, before needing to upgrade to a larger cot.

Washcloths – to help with a little baby boy who will wee once the nappy is open / help with particularly messy nappy situations for either a baby boy or girl. We actually used my wife’s old original nappy cloths that her mum still had – alternatively Bamboo Baby Washcloths (6-Pack) Ultra-Soft, Super Absorbent Hand Towels | Gentle on Sensitive Skin for Infants, Toddlers | Naturally Antibacterial, Hypoallergenic 

Top & Tail BowlMothercare one – I found this v useful in the early days, when using cotton wool pads on baby while changing his nappy. It is £4, get it.

Nappy Bin – (aka Sangenic Tec Nappy Disposal System by Tommee Tippee) – one of my favourite “wouldn’t have thought of buying one of these” items. Passed down from a friend, I’ve been using one of these without the refill cartridges as didn’t realise they were needed! Alternatively AngelCare do one too!

Grosnug – these were perfect, for getting the convenience of grobags from the start. We didn’t use the swaddle feature, after being talked out of it by our midwife’s sleep-safe advice (i.e. sounds like swaddling is for when they are awake, rather than to let them go to sleep swaddled). Buy 2.

Electric Steam Steriliser – we inherited a Philips Avent one and also bought a microwave steriliser too. To be honest, the whole thing about sterilising was completely alien to me before baby was born. I found the standalone Electric Steam Steriliser a worthwhile addition to the kitchen. The microwave steriliser isn’t so good for storing your bottle kit, and more relevant for saving space when packing to go on holiday / parents-in-law. AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE “COMPATIBLE” BOTTLES FOR THESE THINGS SO DON’T WORRY ABOUT MATCHING TO YOUR BOTTLE BRAND!

Microwave – when it comes to anxieties around making formula milk – one of the worst I’ve heard of is fear of microwaves creating a dangerous “hot-spot” that could scold your baby. To overcome this, common sense would tell you that a thorough swirl of the milk after heating in the microwave, using a low setting for c. 30-40 seconds. It can also be a helpful excuse to upgrade your microwave to a higher quality one, to minimise this risk. We did eventually get a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine, which is a best buy in its own right (it’s true, you won’t look back – especially if you do powder first, then hot water, swirl, then the cold water) – but this only works for feeds 120ml/4oz up, so the microwave is the true best buy of the first 100 days!

Calming Lullaby MusicFar Away Dreamer – this came to the rescue after being almost driven stir-crazy by the same lullaby coming out of one of the calming toys we bought – Ollie the Owl – thank you Benjamin Sandbrook!

Noises of the Jungle and the OceanWhite Noise App – while you can get other “white noise” apps, which babies can respond well to, I personally wouldn’t want to spend a lot of my time listening to a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner etc. Enjoy this superior “white noise” with baby, while at the same time closing your eyes and recalling all those wonderful adventures and holidays you had before baby was born 🙂

Aroma DiffuserMade by Zen Soto – Michael Luke was getting dry lips so my dad recommended getting a “humidifier” for the room. Then luckily I realised that this excellent “Spa” gadget works perfectly – and you can always add the aroma oil in too, to help soothe you on those sleepless nights!

AngelCare Movement Monitor – I have to say I don’t have the same level of anxiety as my wife on monitoring movement, but do think this is a great way of being sure your little one is still alive without too much prodding! Recommend this combined with the security camera below. Only word of warning is that you’ll spend lots of your time having to reset a the alarm when you inevitably lift the baby out of the cot, walking away having forgotten to turn the alarm off, only for it to then trigger because of lack of movement! Grrr.

Infrared Security Camera – I went for a very good value Mibao Security Camera IP Camera 1080P WiFi Surveillance System with HD Night Vision – which works perfectly for us, including being able to install the app on multiple phones (but only one of us can login at a time!) – or there might be merits in a more expensive Nest Cam – just don’t bother with “baby cams” as you’ll be paying a premium for nothing!

Dummies and Clips – you’ll hear a lot of views on dummies. Within the first 100 days babies aren’t able to develop “attachments” to things, due to a lack of “object permanence” – so use without fear! When out and about, these dummy clips on Amazon (soother/pacifier chains) have proven invaluable. We loved our Mam Soothers – whose glow in the dark feature isn’t that essential, but a nice touch none the less 🙂

Bibs – as the weeks move on, you’ll be surprised by how much they sick up! While, yes, muslins are a clear must (and it is true you can’t have enough) some planning ahead on bibs could help you too – such as “Baby Bandana Dribble Bibs 8 Pack Drool Bibs for Drooling and Teething Super Soft and Absorbent for Boys Girls by YOOFOSS” on Amazon!

Shnuggle Bath – this has simply been amazing, and deserves the “Mother & Baby” award 2017! We started bathing Michael Luke in a plastic tub, but when we discovered this, he has been a very happy bather indeed – being able to sit up so nicely and enjoy splashing about and giggling.

Playmat – for bathtime! So that my wife and I can play with Michael Luke easily while in his Shnuggle Bath, we’ve been popping the bath on the guest room bed. This Playmat on Amazon protects the bed from all the splashes, and transforms your bed into a large changing mat. This is going to be really great for the future too…

Microfibre Cloths – not strictly a baby purchase, but something I happened across when rethinking my “how to keep kitchen tops hygienic” strategy once Michael Luke arrived. So, you might have already discovered these for yourself already. They dry quickly and are highly re-usable (occasional bleaching works – they are colourfast even with bleach).


Alcatel 20.12 – it just gets better

oooh – chocolate covered Alcatel Onetouch!

My 20.10 Alcatel bit the dust all of a sudden, after 18 months of service – but loving the replacement – again just £40 from Argos

Re-equipped the phone with ringtones (place into a folder when in mass usb mode and you can pick it up from profiles)

…although you might like the following simplest mobile phone in the world  for:

…and also how this one I’ve just bought, the size/shape of a key fob (BMW X6 Mini Phone)!!

>>> and finally, the future for sustainable mobile phone technology