Thursday, 16 May 2013

Recipe Rifle goes shopping: JEWELLERY

Everyone said "The second baby will be so much easier" and I prayed they were right and I knew they would be. And so far, they are.

I mean, in my experience the fun, (and when I say fun I mean nightmare), doesn't really start with babies until they are 3 weeks old and don't do that thing anymore where they'll just sleep any on any old warm, stable surface for most of the day.

But for now, while Sam is doing this lovely thing that newborns do, I can actually genuinely appreciate it because I know it changes. And, unless I experience a serious rush of blood to the head, Sam will be my last child, which I now - released from the horrors of pregnancy - feel sad about, but in a good way. If that makes sense.

Kitty, (poor, poor Kitty), when she was born, signified the end of my life as I knew it. Sam is the beginning of my future; he is the first day of the rest of my life. Yes, I've got a newborn again, but I have never felt so free. I never left the house with Kitty when she was small because I couldn't quite believe the hassle of it and there were all those what ifs - what if she's sick, or screams, or does a poo? What then?? Easier to stay at home, thanks. Sam and I are out all the time: we take buses, we sit in cafes. Why did I not do this with Kitty? What was my problem?

And it turns out that I have remembered some valuable lessons about babies it took me months to learn first time:

1) if you put a baby down for a sleep and you know it is not hungry or cold or ill, it will eventually nod off, even if it squeaks and grunts and squirms or, even, emits the occasional bloodcurdling yelp.

2) if it's not crying, it's probably ok. Leave it alone.

3) give it a break, it's only a baby. Even if you are a total routine freak like me, deviations here and there - or entire days when absolutely everything goes tits up, don't matter. You have to just write the day off as a fucking disaster and start again tomorrow. Babies and small children respond best to persistence. It has taken an entire year to teach Kitty to say Please. Thank You she had no trouble with, but we've had to hammer Please into her just by saying it over and over and over and over again. Babies and little children are stupid, you need to repeat the things you want them to do, like, a billion times.

4) tiny babies do not get bored.

5) it's probably not meningitis.

Anyway, what OF Kitty? I have been asked over again what she thinks of Sam, how is she taking it? And I reply with what I always say about Kitty, which is that she doesn't give much of a fuck about anything, except the whereabouts of Rabbit, her blanket, Mr Tumble and the availability of biscuits.

She understands Sam is a baby, she gives him kisses, she only tries to jump on his head out of sheer exuberance, rather than malice, and knows that he doesn't like having his nappy changed. Other than that, she's unbothered. I think problems of jealousy and anger come later.

In the meantime, life for Kitty is simply super: her Daddy is around a lot on two weeks' paternity leave and they disappear together, scampering across London all day having an awesome time pointing at animals and eating chips. And most days a present turns up for her at the house, in commiseration for her having this "brudder". So in all, it's pretty nice for Kitty right now.

Me? I got jewellery. I don't understand especially the recent fashion for presenting one's wife with an expensive gift for having a baby. You are only fulfilling a biological imperative and it's not like a pregnancy isn't utterly miserable for fathers, too. (I bought Giles a pair of £140 sunglasses from Zadig & Voltaire to acknowledge this.) But still, I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to direct my husband and his Amex to Selfridges, so I requested this Anina Vogel charm necklace that was quite astoundingly expensive. It did for a birthday, wedding anniversary AND "baby" present, it was that pricey. I love it.

Here it is. You buy a naked necklace and then fill it with charms. Giles chose these - the Star of David is his idea of a joke (he is Jewish). The others are a cat (Kitty) and frying pan (cooking) a pistol (there were no rifles) a moses basket (new baby) and a typewriter (obvious).


And from lovely Babes With Babies I got THIS little beauty, which I really love. At £158, not as ruinously expensive as the Anina Vogel and if I was on a slightly tighter budget I would have requested this from my husband instead, you can have up to 20 characters engraved on it and Posh Spice has got one.


My readers get a 10% discount at Babes With Babies by typing RIFLE in at checkout. Don't say I never give you anything.


  1. Dammit, I think you've actually made me want a second child. Well, if there was a necklace with a typewriter and a frying pan on it at the end, anyway. Do you think I can have that written into a contract?

  2. I have discovered something earth shatteringly life changing that has SAVED MY LIFE with baby number two. In fact I would go so far as to say it would have reduced the tantrum quota by 80% had i owned it with my first baby six years ago. (My tantrums that is.) Two words: dry shampoo.

  3. Loving your diversification into shopping. It's good you're honest about what you have bought and what you've been sent for free. I trust you!

  4. Yep - those lessons. I learnt them too. It's amazing isn't it that what was totally terrifying the first time round is just never a problem the second time. So far, it has stood me in good stead to the point where my 2nd is now nearly 7 - at every step I have agonised about the first, but when the second reaches the same stage, it's easy to just get on with it - because you have living proof that whatever the issue is, the child will get over it and move on - eventually. I am hankering for a necklace with a frying pan on it. But as I got a springer spaniel instead of any more kids, I will have to buy it myself. Thanks for the code, then!

  5. actually, I got that wrong didn't I? I like the engraved necklace too ;-)

  6. second children are bliss - and the nappy bag shrinks to handbag sized - if they make THAT much mess you'll want to go home anyway because it's probably all over you too.

    the jewellery is lovely.

  7. Oh this all makes me really happy. I was one of those people who told you (via Twitter) that "the second is easier", because in my experience it was, so I hoped the same would be true for you. I do know of some people who have more trouble with their second - if their second is particularly troublesome - but I think they're in an unlucky minority. In my opinion it would have to be a pretty massive disaster for a second baby to challenge the life altering experience of the first. Aside from being happy that all is going well at RR HQ I am also REALLY happy that you're still blogging. So happy, in fact, that I can let go of the fact I am insanely jealous of your divine Anina Vogel necklace.

  8. I love that Annina Vogel necklace. Went on the website to see just how expensive it really is and nearly fell off my chair! Sadly not for me but I am having a nose at all the charms anyway. They are so lovely, like posher, nicer Monopoly pieces!

    Congrats on the birth of little Sam.


  9. Eeek! Sorry to comment again but I have just seen the page of charms with all the household items... The little knife, fork and spoon! The frying pan with eggs! The tiny Yale key! I love things in miniature... I'm now off to sign up for that credit card.... ; )

    Sarah (again).

  10. I like to keep you secret from my wife so that I can pretend that i've got interesting don't-give-a-fuck cooking ideas, and now i've got good ideas for shopping and jewellery too...

    You thoroughly deserve all the posh jewels and freebies that you can possibly get!

    Thanks, and congrats to all three of you!x

    1. ooo it's like we're having an AFFAIR!!!!! but no need for expensive hotels or, ultimately, lawyers. I don't even know your name!! this is wildly exciting

  11. Elizabeth Medovnik17 May 2013 at 10:38

    I'm so glad it's all going well. I'm thrilled to hear that second children are fairly easy to cope with and you may even be responsible for us trying for another one! xx

  12. Congrats on your baby Sam! I love it that you're doing lots of shopping and not much cooking (it looks like). That's how new motherhood should be. Super-envious of your necklaces (both!)

  13. I hate shopping but am impressed with yours. But what I really wanted to say was that I saw Giles and Kitty at the London Aquarium the other day. I totally fancy Giles so this was exciting but also Kitty is gorgeous - although Giles was having some difficulty persuading her to go in one direction when she wanted to go in the other.

    1. classic Kitty - without fail wants to go the OTHER way. dementing. Giles is fanciable when he's not talking.

  14. I am reading your new second-baby blogs/tweets voraciously and feeling tinges of hope for Oct! I LOVE the charm necklace....clever old Giles. And i am soooo impressed that you are blogging so soon after the birth! This is confirmation that you are not having a totally shit time at the mo....hoorah!

    I have moaned at you on here & twitter about my 2nd pregnancy being as bad but actually i have to take it back now....sickness has gone (shock , horror) and i've been doing normal pregnant things like swimming! Wonders will never cease!

  15. Hello Esther,

    Congratulations on baby Sam. I've never followed a blog before and only started reading this one after the article on the bad cook in the times but once I found it I read it all as fast as possible, got totally addicted in fact, you're a godsend when feeding the baby for hours & hours! Anyway, just wanted to say congrats on the safe arrival of Sam and, although I am enjoying the shopping advice & really read you mainly for your comments on life, I thought I'd ask a cooking question that I've been dying to know the answer to but didn't want to bother you at the end of your pregnancy/beginning of new life. But as you're blogging again I thought I'd come & ask.....
    You mention a few times that you shouldn't fry in olive oil as it goes bitter if burnt, this has been a revelation as I use it for everything all the time except egg frying when I found the taste overwhelming and I wondered if you could advise on which fat is best to use in which situation. I suspect the answer is often butter but I'm dairy intolerant so need alternatives! If you have a moment any advice would be gratefully received. Jan x

    1. Jan great to have you here, thanks for leaving a comment.

      I, too, am back feeding a baby for hours and am reminded of how dull it can be, good reading material is essential; I'm very pleased that this blog is yours.

      Frying: you can saute things (i.e. frying onions and other veg GENTLY) in olive oil as long as it is the lightest, palest olive oil you can find. What people tend to do is buy a bottle of expensive extra virgin and then use it for everything, when virgin or extra virgin is STRICTLY for dressings only.

      For all-purpose frying I use groundnut oil from Waitrose which is not cheap but it is flavourless and won't burn when you are frying things at a higher temperature (i.e. bacon). You also need only about half the oil to fry things that you think you do, so a small bottle ought to go a reasonably long way. Do not be tempted to use a cheap veg or sunflower oil because it's just disgusting and stinks.

      For eggs, (just for general information, as I appreciate your dairy No No), I would say either groundnut oil or half groundnut and half butter - about 1 tbsp of groundnut and 1 small knob of butter. Eggs ought to be fried very gently so you can use butter, which also burns at a high heat.

      Olive oil of any sort is wrong for egg frying just because the flavours interfere so badly with each other: Italian and British just really don't go well, unless we're talking a Miu Miu handbag being sold on Bond Street.

      All the best
      Esther x

    2. Hi there, it's Jan again. Thanks for this very detailed reply. I do sometimes use groundnut oil already, I think it has the closest to buttery flavour, so will extend its use as you advise. And thanks for the egg tip, I've been told by a dr recently that people with dairy intolerance can often tolerate some butter, so am building up the courage to experiment with it a bit, I might try your potato & egg pie.... One final fat related query, what would you use for roasting? I'm thinking chicken, veg & potatoes in particular.

      Thanks again,
      Jan x

  16. Esthef..i am a mummy of grownup ones but i love yr appraoach to life and cooking and husbs!!
    Am so glad the second is easier ..may it carry on and think you are doing well to write so amusingly and interestingly this stage ..i was slightly falling over having 2 with having to run the 3 yr old to play group to have a rest but always at the time the baby wd be asleep ..arrgh reminds me of the stresseven tho 20 yrs ago. Thanks for the smiles u give us!! Xx

  17. You'll prob find the 'fun' doesn't really start for months! Got to love 2nd babies, just makes me want a third - I mean they must be even easier? Right?!
    And Jan, lard is best for roasting, and hilariously cheap.

  18. Thanks Catherine!