Banana Bread? Yes, Please

Baking. It’s all anybody seems to be planning to do, isn’t it? Judging by the lack of flour on the shelves, at any rate. But what, exactly, to bake? We’ve made gazillions of cupcakes throughout the last few years (and still, believe it or not, I suck at them). We’ve done sponge. We made brownies the other day. What’s guaranteed to be eaten, and tasty?

Well, banana bread, of course. Filling, simple, with one of your five a day – what’s not to love? I found a recipe on Pinterest using 4 very ripe bananas (my kids never want bananas when we have tons of them… strange little beings) and changed it a bit to suit us.

We used

  • 4 ripe bananas (we like them browning for cooking)
  • 45g melted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg, pre beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Generous dash of salt
  • 200g plain flour
  • Generous handful chopped Brazil nuts
  • 3 rows of Dairy Milk (from the sharing size bar)

We used the Aga, and I slightly miscalculated the heat of the ovens – next time, I’ll use the bottom one, but for standard ovens, 180 is recommended. Preheat it before you start – not something I had to worry about!

I got the girls to mash the bananas and the melted butter together, then we added all the dry ingredients, flour last, then the nuts and chocolate chips (some may have escaped – into tiny mouths or large ones? Who knows… shush). It’s really that simple – then just pour into a bread pan, cook for 45-60 mins (until a skewer comes out clear) and Bob’s your Uncle.

We decided to use our daily exercise allowance to take the banana bread on a picnic in the field next to the house – with some Dairy Milk spread, too, of course!

What to do in Quarantine

Since both the U.K. and South Africa are in, essentially, full ‘lockdown’ now (movement restricted, shops and businesses closed), I’ve decided to dedicate a few posts as promised to what it is we, as a family, are doing to stay sane during this extended quarantine.

First things first, we have to acknowledge how incredibly lucky we are right now. As I said in my last post, my in-laws’s home is not a bad place to be quarantined – second only to being at home. I know most people probably won’t have easy access to the space that we have, and I can’t claim it as my own so this is in no way a smug post. What I can do is share ideas which have worked for us, and which can, hopefully, work in smaller spaces, too.

My mother-in-law, since she moved to this house 20 years ago, has become a keen gardener. She’s had the girls helping her with doing the borders – if you have a balcony, terrace, or even a big, sunny windowsill, this is definitely possible.

She’s given me a tutorial in the best things to plant for little kids – they can get their hands dirty AND make the place look lovely! Kids love knowing they’ve been involved with something they can see; they love feeling proud.

Firstly, please, don’t be put off if you only have a sunny window. Secondly, you may think that, in quarantine, you can’t find seeds etc, but most can be found either at your local supermarket or on Amazon. Finally, these are super purse friendly, even after all the corona virus nightmares. If you don’t have a plant pot, find a decent size, deep bowl – make sure to gently drain it the evening after you’ve watered, to make sure you don’t get stagnant water in the bottom.

The best flowers to start with for kids, and ones that yield pretty flowers, are probably sunflowers (seeds available at every supermarket with your fortnightly big shop, on Amazon for less than £3 or Takealot where you can get an entire 2kg for R149) or Nasturtiums (Amazon for £5 or Takealot – R99 for a bulk pack, also including sunflowers!).

Both can be planted in a small-ish pot, either on a windowsill, on a balcony/terrace or in your garden. Make sure to keep the seeds far enough apart, treat them lovingly, and watch them grow! If you have access to a bird table, or space for birds to land, then, once your sunflower has lived its beautiful life you can pop the spent head on the table and watch all the birds flock to nibble on the seeds in the middle. Nasturtiums are, as I’m sure you know, the edible flowers you see on cakes and cheese boards. Plant them now (before the end of April) and they’ll flower all through summer. They’re a no-brainer for kids – they look pretty and they can eat them afterwards!

Other easily bought options are herbs (you can buy them already planted in small pots at most supermarkets), which you can pop on a kitchen window and eat straight from the pot. Rocket seeds are easy to get hold of, and can be grown in 3 weeks (plus, it’s a year-round herb). It can be eaten straight from the pot, and occasional ‘thinning’ (i.e. eating and tasting, so nobody can see) only helps it grow better. French beans and carrots are also easy to grow, and start in small pots – and Sweet Peas are great fun if you want another cute little flower – plant them now, and they’ll flower from May until October.

I understand gardening might not be for everyone, but it’s a fun way to keep kids entertained and concentrating. Another, really easy way to amuse them, especially the younger kids, is to feed the birds. You might think that sounds overly simple, but why not mix it up a bit? Fat balls and suet-based feed (available at bigger supermarkets, on Amazon and Takealot) last for ages. You can make a bird-feeder out of old wire coat hangers, or buy from the same places. My girls love watching the birds (and squirrels, ahem) eating the food they’ve put out for them, but they also really like dividing the food out, too.

It can be difficult trying to keep children occupied when they’re not allowed out of your property (even in the U.K., we can only go out once a day for exercise purposes) – and trying to do things other than screen time can be trying. Much as we’re resigned, for now, to letting the girls watch more telly than usual, we’ve still started saving ideas to do over time. Tomorrow, we’ll be making banana bread. Watch this space!

Stuck in a Cold, Intermittently Snowy Rut

I know, I know. I restarted my blog with a single post in December, then vanished off the face of the earth.

We travelled to England for our every-other-year (what do we call that? Is it biannual? Biennial? Answers on a postcard/in the comments pretty please) Christmas holiday, and I decided to leave my blog until we returned – hopefully, with a lovely, full list of things to blog about.

Well, things never seem to go how you want them to, do they. Oh, sure, I’ve got a fantastical long list of blog subjects (which I will post in the upcoming weeks, I assure you), but I haven’t been able to sit on my sofa and talk about them, just yet. Why, you may ask?

Well, because we’re still stuck here. Without going into too much detail, we’re playing a waiting game with South African home affairs, and we can’t go home just yet. We don’t even know when we will be able to – nobody can tell us.

My mother in law (retired primary school teacher) is homeschooling Stevie. We are trying to keep them outside, playing, for the rest of the day, but it’s very difficult. They constantly want to return home, as do we. We miss our dogs! Stevie asks at least once a day, when she can go to big school (she’s supposed to have started Crawford 3 weeks ago).

This is not a post to moan or complain – just an information post, for those who may have assumed I’d vanished. We’re still here; we’re still just about hanging on. Our sanity is just about still intact. But, my word, I have never known homesickness like this!

Sum Ting Fresh

If you’re a follower on Instagram, you may have noticed my now-monthly obsession with fried chicken. A specific fried chicken, in fact, from local food-truck-turned-restaurant Sum Ting Fresh.

Started in 2012 by Hezron Louw and Andrew Leeuw as a loose idea of a food truck, they opened their restaurant in trendy Norwood in 2016.

I first tried the wonder which is their Gua Bao in early 2017 at the St. John’s Rugby Fest. I was on the lookout for something gluten free for my sister, and found these beautiful little fluffy buns of joy. A few weeks later, we went to Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein for the first time, and found them again. I was hooked. Pete took a bit longer to come around, but we soon found ourselves making excuses, on Saturday mornings, to drive into town for our fried chicken fix.

At the end of 2017, when I was 8 months pregnant, that same sister got married in Hartebeesport, the most beautiful location an hour from Johannesburg. The day after their wedding, guess who did the catering? Yup, the one and only Sum Ting Fresh popped up again. Imagine my pregnant excitement? I think I ordered 2 portions of Gua Bao.

Then, the Bedfordview Night Market came to town. On the last Friday of every month, Jeppe Quondam, a local sports centre, allows the market to take over their cricket pitch. After a couple of months, Sum Ting Fresh moved in. Well, that was us happy forever. We could have our date nights in between, at their Norwood location, and, once a month, we could sit outside in the lovely evening air and enjoy our chicken while the kids go crazy on the bouncy castles.

The Norwood cafe is now closed for renovation, until further notice. We are exceptionally thankful for the Night Market, especially as we are heading to the U.K. for the next 7 weeks. We managed to get our final Sum Ting Fresh fix for the year, last night! I wonder if it’ll tide us over long enough, until we’re back in the lovely, hot, African summer sun?

Hello, Old Friend

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? If anyone is interested in a very long story, read on. If not, there’ll be a TL;DR at the bottom for you.

Shortly after my last blog post (we never did win that World Cup, after all) I decided I was going to focus wholly on my modelling, and take a step back from the blog. All went well for a while, until I had an 8 day stint in London which, well, didn’t go quite so well. It was decided, mutually, that, since I would need to spend infinitely more time overseas than I already was doing, I would take a giant leap back from the European modelling circuit.

Why didn’t I start my blog back up then, you may ask? Well, because I’ve been working on a couple of novels, and to be quite frank this year has been a big, hard adjustment for us all. I’ll dedicate a whole post to that in the new year, once I’ve got the festive season out of the way.

You may now be wondering, why have I not changed the name of my blog? Well, I still have representation here in Soutb Africa, and over in Germany. And I still do bits and pieces, here and there. Expect a video, starring both me and Pete, to come soon, and I’ll share mine and Stevie’s full shoot and cover story for Your Family in the next few days.

TL;DR I’ve taken a step back from modelling and will be restarting my blog ASAP

Welcome back to the wonderful, chaotic world of Mumming and Modelling. Hope you enjoy it as much as last time!

PS – I chopped off my hair, by the way!

World Cup Fever

We’re a good, old-fashioned English family at heart. I was brought up on weekends in my grandparents’ house, watching football (or cricket, or golf, or snooker – but never rugby. Grandpa didn’t like rugby) on the television, rooting for whoever my dad rooted for, but knowing that, in this South Mancunian family, Manchester United were kings. Unless you’re my grandpa, in which case he supports Liverpool (no idea, either. Some say he did it on purpose to annoy my now-late Dad!)

I went to matches a few times with my dad, and since Old Trafford was a mere 10 minute drive from where I grew up, it was a very large part of my childhood. And, who am I kidding, United are still a big part of my life, now!

Pete grew up in Leeds, watching matches at Elland Road with his dad and Pops. However, when I met him, his love affair with the club was dying. After a horrific first part of the new Millenium, Leeds United’s fortunes have never quite improved, and, since Pete lived in Islington for some years, he became a localised Arsenal fan. When our children were born, I agreed Pete could ‘have’ their football teams, and, since Stevie was born in Islington, they are Arsenal fans, too.

At the end of this week, for anyone with their head underground, the World Cup starts. For the last two world cups, I’ve been extremely excited and buzzing with World Cup fever. Obviously, with 2010 being in South Africa (where just my parents and youngest sister lived, at the time) that was enormous excitement. Then, because the last one was Brazil, home of possibly the best footballing nation ever, that was also reason to celebrate (and get very drunk, as Raheem Sterling’s goal-not-goal in our opening game against Italy was a false starter). England always do terribly, but when you’re from such a big footballing family, it’s fun just to see the spectacle.

This year, I haven’t felt that excitement. Russia does have a terrible reputation for football hooliganism although they have been cracking down on this. But, primarily, having two small children this time (I fell pregnant with Stevie halfway through the World Cup 2014) I haven’t quite felt the same level of glee – I won’t be having spontaneous drinking sessions for the 1 o’clock kick-offs, and my kids have to be in bed at 7pm, which is the KO time for a lot of the matches.

So how to rectify this? Well, thankfully, Sky Sports have an app which updates in real time, which will be wonderful for when I’m in putting the girls to bed – as will the DStv Now app. Thankfully, our local, child-friendly places have televisions to show the daytime matches. And, for a whole 10 days, we will be in the UK on holiday! Which means long, lighter evenings and later bedtimes for the girls, which, in turn, means more football-watching time for Mummy and Daddy!

As for who will win? My money’s on France to sneak up and surprise everyone. Sorry for not being patriotic, but England, I don’t think football is coming home, this year (although we have a lot of future potential)!

Losing my Mum Tum – the Healthy Way

It’s no secret that I need to be in shape for work. It’s also no secret that it can be damn hard to get into shape after having a baby. I refuse to use the term ‘back into shape’ as I don’t believe your body will ever be the same. But being fit and healthy and strong is so important, even for people who don’t wear bikinis for a living!

So here’s how I did it. I’ve written a food diary of the last week to show what I eat every day. My snacks (not written) are Woolies maple syrup infused prunes and Lindt 85% chocolate (2 blocks). I drink only red wine and sugar-free squash or water, and if I have a hot drink it’s either coffee or rooibos with one sweetener.

This is the eating plan which works for me. The cows’ milk aspect is obviously new, but otherwise this is the way I have been eating for many years now. There is no diet involved here. I eat what I like. My only rule is that I try to eat a good amount of vegetables throughout the day. I also exercise every single day.

Mummy’s, Daddy’s and Stevie’s

The reason I am sharing this is twofold – one is to potentially help anyone who doesn’t know where to get started on eating well. Because getting started is the hardest part! But the other is to show that there is effort and discipline involved after pregnancy – and during – if you want to get into shape again quickly. There is so much emphasis on how a woman ‘should’ look after giving birth, but there is a lot of effort there and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Read on, enjoy – and if you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments section.

Monday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: oriental chicken wings with mini corn on the cob

I forgot dinner – very naughty, I know.

Tuesday

Breakfast: porridge made half almond milk, half water, with real maple syrup.

Lunch: Brussels sprouts and baby spinach cooked with garlic in coconut oil with chopped crispy bacon

Dinner: hake tacos made with coriander, cayenne pepper, cumin, parsley and chipotle paste, with peppers and onions on lettuce tacos with homemade guacamole, goats’ cheese and Relicious green jalapeño sauce

Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs on corn cakes with smashed avo and chopped spinach, with Relicious jalapeño sauce

Lunch: homemade peanut, chicken and coconut soup with rye bread (I didn’t make it, I’m not that good)

Dinner: 3 Woolies pork sausages with Mrs. G’s hot sauce

Thursday

Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled in coconut oil, cooked with goat’s cheddar and chopped spinach, on corn cakes with smashed avo

Lunch: Woolies lamb frikkadels with homemade sauce – beef stock, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and ginger with onions, garlic and peas

Dinner: ‘Southern style’ shell-on prawns, steamed with fresh coriander, chopped tomatoes, onions, chilli and cumin, with charred mini corn-on-the-cob

Friday

Breakfast: 1 apple, 2 boiled eggs and one extra yolk (Stevie nibbles the whites and gives the yolk to me)

Lunch 1: three Woolies pork sausages with avocado

Lunch 2: 2 chicken breasts with pineapple and salad

Dinner: half portion of chips – oops!

Saturday

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs with chopped spinach and smashed avo on corn cakes

Lunch: 2 fillet steaks, 3 steamed prawns (with garlic, chilli and lemon) and garlic wilted spinach

Dinner: 2x beef tacos with lettuce, guacamole and tomato and onion salsa.

Here’s a little disclaimer – I am not, in the slightest, advocating missing meals. Unfortunately, as a busy mum, time sometimes runs away with us. I like my three meals per day – it suits me. Monday, unfortunately, was not a good day – and I’ve kept it in the diary for honesty’s sake.

When Did my Baby Become a Child?

I’ve been busy recently. Not busy with work (I’m still desperately trying to stick to my not-working-until-June plans, but I’m finding it difficult to turn options down!) but busy with my kids.

Something has happened to Stevie. A few weeks ago, she became whingy and stroppy and I was worried, for a minute, that I had the ‘threenager.’ It would be about right, karmically – I missed out on the ‘terrible twos’ and it makes sense that I’d be given the threenager in return. But, if that was the threenage stage, I understand it, now, and that makes it easier to handle.

She woke up at night. She cried for no reason throughout the day. She wanted to nap all the time, and was really relying on ‘boobies’ for sleep – more so than she has for a while (but not as much as when Elia was first born). I found myself wondering where my happy little girl had gone! Okay, so the strops with the folded arms and the pout were seriously cute, but still…

Then, almost overnight, the change had happened. First of all, she asked me to do her hair like mine. Of course I did – but this wasn’t a once off. For anyone who doesn’t know, Stevie has always hated having her hair sorted – but she has started asking for it. She chats non-stop – all day, every day. It’s exhausting but also amazing – and challenging. I find myself having to use my brain every time she asks “why,” which is about 254789 times a day. I refuse to be the “because I said so!” mum. I walked into the lounge the other day to find her cuddling Elia, who she claimed was ‘scared of the Neverbeast.’ Uh huh, we all know who was really scared, Stevie.

I have seen the biggest developmental change in my first baby girl. She has, somehow, turned from a toddler into a little girl. The most perfect little girl I’ve ever seen. Yes, she doesn’t shut up, and she still has mini-tantrums when she’s tired, but she looks at me and says “I love you, Mummy,” with such feeling, that I can forgive her everything. I love that she’s at this stage – and I’m excited to see where she goes from here!

Back to Work!

I never intended on going straight back to work after I had Elia. To be honest, I was still reeling from the 26+kg I put on with Stevie, resulting in a further 9 months of maternity leave after she was born, that I was assuming, due to being healthier this time, I could go back to work when Elia is 6 months or so.

But here’s the thing – I’ve lost my weight already. I’m back in my 26in jeans, and, much as I’m not in my favourite, model ‘shape,’ I’m not looking too bad. And with that, comes work.

So, this weekend, leaving behind a hard-worked for 3 litres (yes, really) of breastmilk in the freezer, I boarded a flight to Cape Town, to work with the lovely James Harvest crew. 3 days of work, 3 nights from my babies. Never had I dreamt I’d be doing this again with a 3-and-a-half-month-old baby.

And it was fine. My mum sent me a message on the Sunday, after spending part of the weekend with Pete and the girls, to tell me how proud she is of him for being such a good parent (well, duh, Mama) and how proud she is of me for going away. That was lovely, and so reassuring. Of course, I really missed the girls and Pete. Mostly in the nights, when I’d wake up to express milk, and have to go back to sleep in a cold, empty bed. And, much as I love FaceTime, when Stevie fell and hurt herself mid-conversation, it pained my heart to know I couldn’t be there to comfort her.

But we all came through it. I was very, very spoiled with my first trip back. Not a high shot count, amazing locations and food, well-organised and nice people: I felt like I was working 10 years ago! Such a lovely shoot to slowly get back into the swing of things.

I can honestly say, I’m still pushing for July to be when I make my first, official foray back into work. But if jobs like this come up in between now and then, I definitely won’t be turning them down. It’s a nice way to dip my feet back in the working waters. Pus, I got to eat a hot breakfast with both hands, which is always a bonus!

PS – the nicest part of the whole thing, of course, was coming home. Those two little faces lit up when they realised Mummy was back, and Stevie’s been telling every person she sees today. It’s worth going away just for that!

Millennial Friendships

Since moving to South Africa, Instagram messages, Facebook and WhatsApp have been my saving graces with my friends. At least once a week, I’ll chat privately to my friends in the U.K. (and some here in South Africa), and keep abreast of what each other is doing. These days, I’ll be honest, it’s usually kid-or-work-or-husband related. Because, you know, life.

But yesterday, chatting with Portia, made me realize how lucky we are. We millennials (own it, if you were born in the late 80s you’re a millennial) are so fortunate to have instant access to our friends’ lives. I can see Portia’s kids growing up, even though I see them once or twice a year. I relive my own pregnancies through Billie’s. I get to pretend I’ve met Milly’s daughter, even though the last time I saw her she was 34 weeks pregnant. I can read Rebecca’s blog (modeltypeface.com) and reply to her, pretending we’re chatting here and now. I can see Emma’s renovations on her house, moderate MC’s Facebook mum’s group and watch videos of Chloé’s daughter dancing, and read about her hideous Hyperemesis Gravidarium.

Most of my friends in England, I’ve known since well before Pete and I got together. We’ve known each other through various boyfriends and work problems, through multiple births and a few family deaths. We’ve been hungover together, argued over where to have drinks, been in foreign countries together and held one another’s babies (mostly – I still need to meet Olive). And through it all, we’re still friends – even though some of us live miles and miles from each other.

I feel so lucky to live in a time where communication is so easy. Friends are so, so important – they’re the people we chat to about our husbands, good or bad, and who we moan to about our kids, and who we tell when we’re excited about something (even like a new bottle of wine we’ve discovered – those things are important!). So, this is my homage to my friends, just to let them know how happy I am to have them, and to keep in touch with their lives from afar! I love you all!

Some blogs and accounts to follow if you want to know my friends:

YoungLdnMum

Platforms and Pushchairs

Modeltypefac

The Model Mama – Milly Simmonds

Sivad Media

Tamara Kester

MotherTHUD