43 weeks to go – need to get started on the new plan Reply

Yesterday I received a ‘like’ from one of my blog followers – 400daystil40 – a blog written by someone trying to figure out life by their 40th birthday. It is a great read and the post that really inspired me is this one

Since starting my blog, I have been wondering where it might go. The writing and the cooking are both very therapeutic for me. On stressful days it really helps me and there have been rather too many of those of late. The interaction with my new found friends and followers has also given me a terrific boost and it has been lovely hearing from people who have found my blog interesting and helpful.

As I don’t have a job, and have little hope of getting one any time soon – extortionate childcare costs plus lack of school holiday care options equals no chance! Also, I used to work in marketing and it is a well-known fact (within the industry) that you are finished when you have kids unless you are willing to get a live in nanny, never see your family and work 10-12 hours a day 5 (or more) days a week. Also the salaries are relatively poor if you calculate your hourly rate, so it is hardly worth the effort.

So knowing that is ‘over’ I have often wondered if I can find a way to generate some income from my writing or establish a business associated with helping others dealing with allergy and intolerance and the challenges that come with it. I set up the blog about nine months ago and in that time have come into contact with many people who have done just that and seeing their great work has made me wonder what else I can do.

I have investigated various options and the one that comes most naturally to me, and could be the quickest one to get off the ground – is to write something. I have considered a cookery book, but there are loads of those. So I thought about an information website, but there are plenty of those too. I have also recently considered cookery classes – specific to mums with allergic kids. But increasing food prices look like they could be a major stumbling block there.

Until yesterday I was still undecided but then I had several ‘moments’ that made realise I do know what needs to be done and I really need to get a move on. Hearing from 400daystil40 made me realise I have less than that to go myself. It has come round so quickly and I can’t bear the thought that I might still be out of work with nothing to be proud of other than my children, my (voluntary) work with pre-school, and this blog.

My 30th birthday still only seems like yesterday and I remember the sheer panic as the day loomed and I realised I hadn’t achieved the things I thought I would by then – I wasn’t a mother or a wife, I wasn’t even engaged. But I did have my own flat and was pretty happy with my career, was enjoying my London life and was positive as I did have a new boyfriend and was confident I could catch up. In that 10 years I did catch up, the boyfriend became my husband, we became parents and my career in marketing was replaced by a life as full time Mum. Now I am feeling left behind as so many of my friends are returning to their (more flexible) careers and I know I need to start all over again.

That is why I thought it was quite ironic that I heard from 400daystil40, exactly 10 months before my own big day. I read the ‘Never too old to live your dreams’ blog post and saw Julia Child’s name among the older achievers. Another sign that I should do something. I love the Julia Child story and it definitely motivates me on days when I feel like I am getting nowhere.

I had never head of Julia Child before I saw the film Julie and Julia

For those of you who are also unfamiliar, Julia Child was kind of an American Delia Smith – but much more eccentric. She wrote a book teaching Americans how cook French food and became very famous – but not until she was in her fifties. The film was about a woman called Julie Powell, who was inspired by Julia Child and who not unlike myself was also a frustrated writer and food obsessed cook, using her blog as a way to work through her stress and get to her own milestone birthday having achieved something.

So that was the second sign. I was reminded of Julia Child, by someone else stressing about turning 40, exactly 10 months before my own birthday. The ‘decider’ came as I watched the newspaper review on Sky news just before bed. One of the reviewers was Annabel Karmel.  Another legend in the world of writing cook books.http://www.annabelkarmel.com/

She is most famous for writing very simple books teaching mothers how to wean their babies. She has written countless books covering the issues we all face, such as fussy children, making food and cooking fun, sneaking in the right amount of fruit and vegetables etc. She is now a ‘brand’ and all of the Mums I know have at least one of her books. She has even started to look at how to cater for allergic children – but as with so many chefs and cooks has only really skimmed the surface and just looked at gluten free and pretty much ignored dairy free foods.

So that is it. I need to be her or at least follow her lead – and write a very simple guide – How To Feed My Intolerant Child – or something like that, and definitely make sure it takes care of the dairy free folk, because they are so overlooked. As I have said before, I have got the Pippa Kendrick book, but as she says herself she is ‘The Intolerant Gourmet’. So the gourmet end is very well covered. So there is little point trying to be her.

I received a couple of other ‘allergy’ cook books for Christmas and many of the recipes are very complicated with hard to find and often expensive ingredients and I find myself sticking to the same old faithful recipes – soups, brownies, rock cakes and slow cooked dinners. But what is wrong with that? I haven’t got the time or money to go mad, I just need to knock up some good nutritious meals and snacks – pretty much every day, so quick and simple is what I need.

I often call myself The Reluctant Baker because that is what I am and I bet I am not alone. I am sure there are lots of other mothers like me who have a child with allergies, and have had no choice but to reluctantly learn how to bake/cook because their child’s needs are just not adequately catered for anywhere and it something you have to do every day.

This needs to be a collection of simple every day meals and snacks and solutions, some advice, some tips on ingredients, but all very easy to dive in and out of and use and follow – and who knows perhaps enjoy. Because to me, that is what it is all about. There is no greater feeling than watching my little man wolf down a home-made pasta sauce that is full of vegetables and good things. Every time we see the various doctors they all tell me he is a great weight and looks so well and congratulate me on keeping him healthy – and that is what keeps me going.

So the countdown has begun. I have just under 10 months until I turn 40 and I want to get this book or guide ‘out’. I have a copy of the Annabel Karmel book ‘Feeding Your Baby & Toddler’. I will go through it and find the simplest recipes that can be adapted or improved for gluten free, dairy free diet. I will also add my own recipes and work through some new ones for weaning, toddlers, pre-schoolers, school packed lunches, family meals, party foods, events and occasions e.g. how to cater an ‘intolerant’ birthday party/Christmas/Easter/summer barbecue etc. I will show photos of the end products and I promise to keep it simple. How does that sound? The challenge is that I will need to put up at least one new recipe or blog post a day if I am going to have enough material to pull it together as a book before the 10 months is up. Wish me luck!

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