Saturday, 23 June 2012

Kate Finch shares a recipe for Sticky Chicken Stir Fry

After reviewing junior's pantry and featuring a recipe from Kate Finch for Cheats Roast , I thought I'd share another one!

Kate Finch's Sticky Chicken Stir Fry:

Kate Finch sticky chicken stir fry juniors pantry founder shares a recipeThis is my version of a Chinese take away dinner, great for the kids as not full of salt and other nasties, and half the price! It’s deliciously sticky and lots of fun to try with chopsticks (perhaps with a fork on the side!)

What you need (serves a family of 4):
250g long grain/basmati/brown rice
400g of diced pork or chicken
150g of broccoli florets
150g of carrots cut into matchsticks
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil/olive oil
4 spring onions chopped finely

What you do:
Put the rice on to cook, according to instructions on the packet.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or a wok, and then add the diced pork or chicken. After around 10 minutes and just as the meat starts to turn a golden brown, add the broccoli, carrots and red pepper, and fry together with the pork or chicken for another 5 minutes.

Once all the meat and vegetables have cooked through, add the Soya sauce, honey and orange juice to the pan. Toss all the ingredients well in the sauces.

Once the rice is cooked, tip that into your pan, and stir everything together so the meat, veggies and rice all get a good coating of the sticky sauce. Let it cook for around 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced a little.

Serve steaming in bowls, with a little sprinkling of spring onions on top.

Let the chopstick war commence...!

Kate Finch was a cordon-bleu trained chef who became a successful city worker before she left for the country to start a family. She’s now combined her skills and experience and has launched a range of ready-meals for primary school aged kids. She was inspired by listening to a feature on the radio about the challenges and stresses faced by women in business (something which chimed with her own experiences!)

When she heard the piece, she began to think about the difficulties of juggling the family routines without occasionally resorting to the old convenient standbys of sausage, fish fingers or pizza. She also confirmed through her market research that many parents were loath to use ready-meals for adults because they felt they contained too much salt, fat and sugar. The result was a range of convenient but nutritious ready meals. Called Juniors Pantry, they’ve been designed specifically for primary school age children and contain a portion of vegetables, protein and a starchy staple in each serving.

She has a website here:

Emma in Bromley xx

Friday, 22 June 2012

Downham has history! Building of the downham estate, grove park ASC barracks and Marvels lane workhouse

Ok, I know I often grumble about living on the Downham / Bromley border - but given that I grew up in the lake district, I think I can be forgiven for thinking that Downham is a bit scruffy, in need of a good scrub - dog poo (complete with angry looking dogs) unartistic graffiti and fly tipped mouldy old mattresses and broken furniture are a common sight.
LCC Downham Estate being built between 1924 and 1930 train line extension

But actually, Downham does have some good points, most of my neighbours are great people and the older generations that live here are superb! There's lots of stories about what the area went through during the second world war!

Actually, when we had our driveway built, there were the remains of half a bomb shelter under the lawn!

Most of the houses were underpinned too because of bomb damage to the area!

On one of our walks recently, there was a display in one of the empty shops opposite grove park train station - sadly it's already gone but luckily I managed to photo a few bits to share! Was lovely to see something different and learn a little more about the areas history - so Thank you to the person who went to the trouble of making the display.

Downham estate Shroffold train engine

When the houses were being built between 1924 and 1930, the area had previously been farmland and the local train line was actually extended into Downham so that the building materials could get to the right locations to build 6000 homes!

Marvels Lane Workhouse, Grove Park ASC Barracks

ASC Grove Park Barracks, 1914 Marvels Lane Workhouse, Aerial photograph 1949
Army Service Corps at Grove Park Barracks in Marvels Lane circ 1914 to 1921.
Grove Park Barracks.
The Workhouse in Marvels Lane was taken over from 1914 to 1921 by the Army Service Corps, and from 1926 it was a TB hospital, being demolished in the 1990's.

Emma in Bromley x

Monday, 11 June 2012

The health visitor visit.

I've been in a bit of a spin thinking about this post and if I should publish it. I was left feeling upset by my recent Health Visitor's visit - I've tried to just forget it, but I want to know a little more! 

We live in Bromley but on the lewisham border - literally the first road classed at Lewisham, recently we had to change GP's as we were no longer in the catchment area for our preferred GP - who hubby had been with for 30 years and I had built up a level of trust and been through two pregnancies with.

We now fall under Lewisham health care even though we are in Bromley.

I received a letter to say that as we were new to the GP's, Blake needs his 2.5 year check and Meg her 9-12month check, they would be doing a home visit.

Now I've never heard of home visits after the newborn checks so must be something just Lewisham NHS do.

I know my parenting styles don't always follow the conventional methods but I do believe in what I'm doing and that I am a good mum (not perfect, but I do what I feel is my absolute best - BF past 6months, Baby Led Weaning, Co- sleeping, sometimes wearing a sling, organic food, BPA free products, only use artificial pharmaceuticals if I feel it's absolutely necessary, avoid parabens in skin care etc)

Maegan was having a nap, so Blake had his development check first. Blake is bright, he's known numbers up to 10 since he was 18months, can now count to 20, knows his ABC's, that his name starts with B and is a general chatterbox and excellent story teller, one of the things I'm proud of - naming a large number of dinosaurs! - the Health Visitor recommended that Blake needs help with his speech and we should take him to see the drop in speech therapist! My reply was that we do lots of phonics exercises and reading and I'm confident in his speech. Is it common practice to refer all children to a speech therapist? Or has my son got a genuine problem that I can't see? Love is blind and all that.

I'm a little concerned by Blake's current fussy eating but not too worried as his weight is still on the 50th and he's a very happy healthy little boy and almost all nearly 3 year olds go through this stage. She advised vitamin drops - I explained that I would try them as a last resort but I believe in teaching a balanced diet rather than artificial supplements. - she really didn't want to let it go, and repeated that she strongly advises vitamins - that she's seen a number of children in my neighbourhood with rickets! My reply was that we are an outdoor family and I feel the sun provides us with vitamin D and I asked if my son was displaying symptoms of rickets - which of course he isn't.
Is the standard advice really to give artificial vitamin supplements to our children, rather than practicing a good healthy nutritionally balanced lifestyle and regardless of need?

She also advised me that Blake needs another MMR jab as in lewisham they do an extra one "just incase the previous ones fail!"
Anyone else advised to have an extra MMR? there also seems to be conflict over the age of having the MMR2 Preschooler booster.

When it was Maegan's turn, I was advised to give her the BCG - as we live in a neighbourhood with a "high number of infected immigrants!" but they don't give it to Blake! So I can protect one child but not the other!
BCG jabs for under ones only?

She also, and again, not willing to drop it - advised I give vitamin drops to Maegan too!

Maegan was exclusively breastfed until 5.5months and then we went down the baby led weaning route. She still has BF's from me and I plan to do this as long as I can or up to 18 months.
Firstly, they don't advise extended breastfeeding as "it doesn't provide adequate nutrition" and that she recommended introducing a formula, growing up milk!
Since when have they started advising formula over boobie milk? I've never heard of that one before! - she even wrote in Maegan's book that she has formula when she doesn't at all! - I've noted in the book that she's BF.

And they also don't advise BLW I need to make sure I give her lots of textured purees! Maegan has a fantastic sense of adventure when it comes to food and where I can, I buy organic. Now, I'm a fan of BLW even though I know it's not the advised program , I'd recommend it but I also know that BLW doesn't suit every baby and every parent. Surely, if BLW is clearly working - you wouldn't expect to be advised to switch at 11months?

The discussion moved to dental care - where I explained that we see a family dentist together and Blake's last check up was only a month ago with no concerns. I have a few missing teeth - this is from a genetic issue and nothing at all to do with dental hygiene - I can't help but think this was an assumption the Health Visitor made as she asked my son to show her his teeth and went on to say that she would advise switching from the children's tooth paste my dentist is happy with to an adult toothpaste for both children! This is because lewisham has a high rate of tooth decay in children! My children are being judged here purely on their neighbourhood and not their actual dental routine!
Is this a new standard to advise adult toothpaste for babies and toddlers? Even if only a month ago my dentist was happy with my children's oral hygiene?

She looked around the living room and said we should revisit our home safety needs and went on to start asking about the rest of the family. She said she was compiling a brief family tree for their records- when I asked what it was for, I was told that it was for if Social services were ever needed - if I was in "an accident ... or something!"
Anyone else have a health visitor compile a family tree for if social services are needed?

This did not sit well with me, especially after being told to revisit my home safety needs! Was she implying something?

Other points of the meeting included discussing domestic violence which I know are discussed with other health visitors too and she also asked if I was up to date with my smear tests - I'm not sure why but this is something which everyone needs to ask! - right down to the GP's receptionist! While I appreciate the importance of smear tests, I don't see what they have to do with my baby and toddler's development checks and I also believe that a woman should have the right to chose if she does or doesn't partake in having them without being judged.

She also informed me that they have a drop in sexual health clinic - in which I find that  an extremely offensive comment given that we had already discussed I have been married for almost 5 years.

Although I found her to be a pleasant and professional health visitor, I couldn't help but feel disappointed and judged by the visit - even though I'm sure she was just following guidelines.
Which leads me to my next questions ...
Are the guidelines so rigid they take over common sense?

Is there an assumption, and that I conform based purely on the area I live in and not actually on my home and family?
(rickets and poor nutrition, TB, tooth decay, sexual disease, social service needs, poor speech, unsafe home etc)

Has anyone else come across this situation or blogged about their Health Visitor?

Emma in Bromley x

Sunday, 10 June 2012

We love the Brio Dachshund from Hello Baby!

We recently received a Brio Dachshund sausage dog from Hello Baby to review.

Blake named him, Bruno - influenced by the sound "brio" and he's been a huge hit in our home!

Hello Baby's wooden Brio Dachshund sausage dog toy being played withI'm sure by now, you realise that we love wooden toys in our house and Bruno the Brio Dachshund is wooden with a springy tail and plastic flappy ears!

He's just lovely! I was a little surprised at first as he was smaller than I expected - he's about 17cm long but he's actually the perfect size! He fits in my handbag and the nappy bag and is small enough to play with in the car.

He's suitable for ages 19m plus but Maegan at 11months is smitten with him - just likes to lead him around by his string attached to his nose, and Blake - nearly 3 takes him out for walkies!

He's very robust - he's been battered and clattered around the park and up and down the garden as well as dragged up the stairs, played with daily for 2 weeks and he has only one teeny tiny scratch in his paint! Im impressed!

He comes ready to play straight from his box - no silly screws or wires, just a good old fashioned recyclable box!

Hello Baby sell him for £7.99 plus £2.95 postage which I think is great quality for money.

Here is a place to purchase the Brio Dachshund Pull Along Wooden Baby Toy at  Hello Baby"

Emma in Bromley x

Friday, 8 June 2012

Help Dora Help! 2012

Last year, I featured the help Dora help campaign with an interview with Helena Dowling, I'm pleased to see the campaign is running again this year and would love to see local preschools taking part! With a chance to be awarded £20,000 for your nursery, apply for your pack today!

Second Year of Campaign is set to Award £20,000

London, 15th May, 2012 – Nick Jr., the award-winning pre-school channel from the Nickelodeon network,  announces the 2012 launch Help Dora Help, the campaign that brings exploration to life in nurseries and pre-schools across the UK.

Winners of 2011 help dora help campaignThe campaign, supported by The Prince’s Foundation for Children &; the Arts consists of a free activity pack, giving nurseries and pre-schools educational activity resources. Nurseries will also have the opportunity to apply for an award of £20,000. The pack follows the Early Years Foundation Stage development goals and contains six activity session plans that provide stimulating learning opportunities with the theme of Dora the Explorer’s adventures. The themes for this year’s pack are: Cooking, Sports Day, Fairy Tales, Animals, Seaside and Music.

Registration is now open at for nurseries to apply for a pack. They have until 22nd July to work through the activities with their pre-schoolers and put together their application for the £20,000 award.

Once this year’s applications have been submitted, an expert panel led by Nick Jr.’s Wake Up World Helena Dowling, alongside Nick Jr. representatives and partners including The Prince’s Foundation, Dora Magazine and Chad Valley will choose five finalists. The public will then be able to vote for their favourite application and decide who is awarded the £20,000.

Winners of 2011 help dora help campaignEach of the five finalists will be awarded discovery and learning equipment from Chad as well as a classroom visit from Dora the Explorer and all five finalists’ award bids will be filmed and aired on Nick. Jr.

In 2011, Hope Nursery School in Belfast was selected. With the award the Nursery selected to build a play area featuring numerous play structures, a puppet theatre, garden, sand and water area.

Tina McCann, MD Nickelodeon UK, said: “The quality of applications in 2011’s Help Dora Help campaign were incredible. We’re delighted with the way the award has been used at Hope Nursery and equally excited to engage with pre-schoolers and practitioners across the country once more throughout 2012.”

Nurseries and pre-schools can apply for the free Help Dora Help Activity Pack and Award Fund at" Enter by 22nd July 2012. Make sure your preschool takes part!

Emma in Bromley x

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Calendarwizard fathers day 2012 ideas and offer

gorgeous photo diary from calendarwizard, perfect father's day 2012 gift idea!With Father's Day fast approaching it’s the perfect excuse to get your other half organised this Father’s Day

Calendarwizard’s mid year photo diaries and calendars make the perfect gift this Father's Day – particularly if your other half struggles to remember family birthdays and anniversaries!

As well as including up to 13 photos, you can add free printed personal dates – so no more excuses for forgetting!

Start his diary in June 2012 and share your most cherished memories every month with a different printed photo.

Calendarwizard offer a range of sophisticated designs so you can create a beautiful and useful photo gift this Father's Day.

Simply upload your photos, add your dates and order. Your diary or calendar will be dispatched within 5 working days.

Don’t forget FREE P&P with code 280509 entered at your basket. So what are you waiting for! Order your Father's Day photo diary and get him organized for 2012 now. Last order dates for guaranteed Father’s Day delivery is 11th June.

Photo Diaries are available from Calendarwizard from £12.99.

Emma in Bromley xx

Friday, 1 June 2012

Stop the killing, Syria

This is a post as part of the Britmums Syria: Day of Protest.

Syria first came to my full attention (besides just the name of a country on the globe) because that's where my pet hamster was from - a Syrian hamster - my hamster was lovely!

When I was about 20, I went on a date with someone who's parents were Diplomats in Syria, so he spent a lot of time out there. He told me some really horrific things, stories about secret police, torture, things that had happened to friends, people who he knew that had disappeared - including children, and all sorts of  other things (Like a spiders bite that could rot your skin) that to me just seemed unbelievable - I didn't go on another date with him as I'd felt he was exaggerating way too much to impress me and nothing really clicked - for the record, torture does not impress me and is not a good first date topic! - (however I did marry the man who took me to see a Zombie movie for our first date.)

A few years later, I found myself working for emap - a large magazine publishers at the time - think Heat, Grazia, FHM ... But I was on MEED - Middle East Economic Digest!
Working in marketing conferences and exhibition for the middle east, I learned a lot on that job, a lot of it was things I'd rather not have heard about - it made me realise that the guy I'd been on a date with a few years before hadn't been exaggerating at all - if anything, he'd dumbed things down!

I'm shocked and disgusted by the things I'm seeing on the news about Syria - but sadly I'm not surprised, in my opinion it's about time people knew about the situation there!

Having a baby and a toddler, I couldn't not be affected by what I saw reported on Wednesday. It's hard to imagine how the "soldiers" doing the executing can actually do it - if you were in the army and your captain told you and your fellow soldiers to go and slit the throats of all the babies in the town next to you - you wouldn't do it would you? I'd like to think all the soldiers would turn round with a "screw you" attitude - but these are people who have been brain washed, abused, tortured and fear for not their own lives, but their own children and families ... and we all know what the answer would be if the choice was your child or a child you didn't know.

"The children of Houla were not killed by random shelling. The UN yesterday revealed that they were murdered one by one. The militia came in the night armed with knives and guns, and the young victims were executed with a bullet to the head or a knife to the throat.

One photograph shows a cherubic baby girl, no older than 2, with a tiny gold ear-stud. She is wrapped in a white shroud. Half her skull has been hacked or blown away. A saucer of bone juts from a bloody gash in what remains of her head. (You can read the full article on The Times website )

Kofi Annan has said that the situation in Syria has reached a ‘tipping point’. BBC"

I don't always agree with stepping into other countries and sorting things for them, but on this occasion, it gets my full backing.

Syria, you are currently bringing shame on yourself and mass killing anyone - let alone children is just ridiculous and disgusting.

If you blog, join in. "Many of us are joining forces in protest against the killings in Syria. We’re blogging and tweeting and using our collective voice to make as much noise as we possibly can. If you’re on twitter, watch out for bloggers tweeting links to their posts using the hashtags #Syria #StoptheKilling and #tippingpoint, RT their posts and join in. It may not be much, but doing something is always better than doing nothing."

This is my voice, my protest.

Emma in Bromley.

Peppa pig comes to blakes party! Penwizard book review and free postage offer

Recently, we received an excellent personalised Penwizard book for Blake!

Blake will be 3 in a few weeks time (can you believe it! 3 already!) and the topic of birthdays has been a hot one! Blake is extremely excited and knows all about cake and gifts!

The personalised book "Peppa Pig Comes To Your Child's Birthday Party" from penwizard is really great - when you order it online, you can personalise it for your child - so the character in the book reflects your child.
We customised eye colour, skin tone, hair colour and hair style.
The personalisation options are really simple and quick to select and use.

We also customised the balloon to show Blake will be 3 and added a dedication message inside the book.

I recognised that the story in the book had been taken from the episode of Zoe Zebra's birthday - incidentally one of Blake's favourite episodes!

Blake in his PJ's reading his copy of Penwizard personalised story book - Peppa pig comes to your child's birthday party

Blake is a big fan of Peppa and George so was really excited by the story and recognised himself as the character in the book.

"On his birthday your child gets to share his day with Peppa Pig and George, starring in the words and pictures of his own personalised birthday book. The three of them deliver party invitations with Mr. Zebra in his van before being joined by Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog, Rebecca Rabbit, Pedro Pony, Emily Elephant and Candy Cat at your child very own party. 

Personalised books are a perfect gift and a great way of getting your kids involved and excited about reading as they hear and read their name and see themselves on the pages of the book in the Peppa Pig illustrations. "

It's a large 21 x 28cm size glossy cover paperback with vibrant colours and great printing quality - it arrived much quicker than I expected it to and is already a firm favourite!

We've read the book a lot as it helps Blake understand birthdays and what to expect on his 3rd birthday next month.

I'd recommend this story to other Peppa fans, particularly in the run up to a birthday for curious little minds!

My only niggle? I would have liked to have been able to add a sibling into the Peppa story too. 

Penwizard are offering all my lovely readers Free Postage on all personalised books (They have lots to chose from) - use code 150920 at checkout.

Penwizard on Facebook -

Emma in Bromley xx

Front cover for Penwizard personalised Peppa Pig goes to your child's pirthday party story bookHappy Birthday. Blake page from Penwizard Personalised story book