Saturday, 29 March 2014

Water beads or dinosaur eggs?

Watching the boys play together is one of those things I love doing both because their bond is lovely and because I like seeing the different ways they play with things.

Last week I filled our water table with water beads in rainbow colours and added some dinosaurs and greenery. Alex is now past the stage of shoving everything straight into his mouth so I was happy for him to play with the beads under close supervision.
The weather was being indecisive so we started off playing inside. Alex was happy to put his hands right in and use the beads as a pure sensory experience and Seb was more interested in the dinosaurs, he decided the water beads were dinosaur eggs with babies in and set about collecting them in some plastic bowls I got out.
The weather turned into lovely sunshine so we headed out to the garden where the play continued with the addition of a couple of plastic spoons to help with scooping and pouring the beads, something both boys enjoyed.
I really like using water beads in our play and have used them in various ways over the last couple of years. My favourites being in a seaside sensory and when we froze them adding some simple science to our play.
I buy mine on eBay where you can get 2 small bags for 99p. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

This weeks meal plan

This week has been a bit hit and miss with our meals, Seb and I have been poorly, he hasn't been eating much and I have wanted the comfort of a big bowl and pasta smothered in cheese.

We're on the mend now so back to the meal planning we go, we still have lots of meat left from our butcher haul, it has worked out so much better for us buying this way.

Slow cooker spag bol
Parmesan chicken with potato cubes and veg
Roast Chicken, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing and veg
Beef casserole and dumplings
Cottage Pie
Pasta and Pesto
Freezer dinner(fish fingers possibly)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Baking with Jordans

Granola is usually kept for breakfast time in this house so when I received an early Mothers Day gift from Jordans containing a bag of their Super Nutty Granola along with a recipe for some cookies I was interested to give it a try. 
I did adapt the recipe a little to suit what we had in the cupboards but the result were some rather gorgeous cookies. Below is the original recipe along with my adaptations. 

Granola, Cherry and Chocolate cookies 

100g plain flour
50g Jordan's Super Nutty Granola
75g light muscovado sugar
2tsp baking powder
75g dried cherries (I used chocolate chips instead)
75g butter
3tbsp golden syrup
75g white chocolate, broken (I used milk chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C for fan oven), line a baking tray with baking paper. 
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cherries and Jordans Super Nutty Granola(break any large clumps with your fingers). Melt the butter and syrup together in a pan on a low heat making sure the mixture doesn't get too hot, pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. 
Shape the mixture into 9 balls and arrange on the baking tray with space to allow spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof  bowl over simmering water and use a teaspoon to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Leave to set and then serve. 

I added my chocolate chips at the same point as you would add the cherries and they melted into the mixture leaving me with super chocolatey cookies that we've already made 2 batches of.
For more information on Jordan's products check out their website, there are also some lovely recipes on there to try out. 

** We were sent the Granola and recipe to try  but all opinions are my own**

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Three easy Spring painting ideas for toddlers

Spring has arrived and this weekend we got the paints out for some spring themed fun. Painting with a 1 and 3 year old can be a messy business but these pictures are simple to create and will look cute on display or turned into a card. 
 First up are these trees with blossom, Seb helped to paint the trees, then I mixed some pale pink paint up and showed him how to use his fingerprint to add blossom, he did this independently while I guided Alex to put blossom on his tree. I think these are really sweet and for Seb it was a good conversation starter talking about how trees change during the year. 
Handprints can be used in so many ways, we made these handprint flowers which I think would really nice on a Mothers Day card. 
 And finally some simple stamping, we used spring themed cookie cutters, dunked in various coloured paints and printed. I am making these into cards for Mothers Day as they came out really well. 
Have you been doing any spring themed crafts?

Friday, 21 March 2014

This weeks meal plan

We stuck to lasts weeks meal plan which of course i'm really pleased about. We also visited the butchers again this week and I raided the reduced bread section in Tesco so I have a freezer that is fit to burst at the moment!

This weeks meals are mainly meat based, thanks to the butchers!

Pork and Apple Burgers with Herby potato cubes(sweet and white) and peas
Beef steaks in a smokey Texan marinade, mash and veg
Meatball pasta bake
Chicken, veg and halloumi kebabs with rice
Pork steaks with stuffings, Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes and veg
Pasta and pesto
Home topped pizzas and garlic bread

I'm really looking forward to all of these!

What are you eating this week?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Weekend Box Review

Right now subscription boxes are huge. From meals to beauty to crafts, there is something for everyone. 

Seb and i were sent a Weekend Box to try out. Weekend Box is a fortnightly box aimed at children aged 3-8 years, each box contains 4 activities for your child to do, some stickers when each activity is complete and a sticker chart to fill up so you can receive a gift when you have completed 6 boxes.

The activities are split into 4 catagories; something to eat, something to make, something green and something to explore. The activities are designed to be healthy, green and creative. 

The first activity in our box was to make Green Pancakes, we received a couple of little sachets of mixes in the box and provided the flour, spinach, cheese etc ourselves. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and Seb enjoyed helping to make the pancakes.
They looked exactly how they were meant too which is always good!
Our next activity was a Pot Of Gold game, we made a rainbow with pipe cleaners and put them into a cup, then took turns throwing the gold coins into the cup. I'll be honest, Seb wasn't that excited by this game and we spent less then 5 minutes on it, his aim wasn't good enough to be able to get any coins into the cup so he soon grew bored. Perhaps an older child would be more entertained by this.
The third activity was to make a Rocking Spring Bird. This is the activity Seb probably enjoyed the most, everything that was needed was included in the pack and it was fairly simple to put together and the bird we made is very cute.
 The final activity was exploring sound. We had a sheet where the child has to match sounds with pictures and the other side had pictures and the child has to write the sound they make. Of course Seb wasn't able to write the sounds yet so we talked about them instead. We also received some straws and a balloon and there was a link on the card to a video online where we could use these to make a robot voice box as an extension. I think if I was buying the box as a means of getting my child away from a screen I personally would have preferred paper instructions. 

I love the concept of the Weekend Box. Overall we enjoyed our box, particularly making the pancakes and the bird. The other activities were maybe aimed at a slightly older child. I think it's ideal for school aged children as something to do on a rainy afternoon. I also feel would be nice if the boxes were themed so the activites were all linked in some way.

Each Weekend Box costs £7.50 and they arrive fortnightly(you can also choose to have them monthly).
If you fancy trying a Weekend Box for free then simply click here and enter the code EMMA125

**We were sent this box to review but all opinions are my own***

Friday, 14 March 2014

This weeks meal plan

We did well with last weeks meal plan although my Enchiladas were a bit too spicy. My first attept at roast pork was pretry good, we got some awesome crackling. We went to the butchers and got a good deal on mince which we have frozen in portions, we also got some pork and apple burgers there for 65p each. I really like our local butcher, we get some lovely meat for either the same or less than the supermarket. 
This week we're having nice simple meals. On Saturday night we are going to a party at an Indian restaurant where they make amazing food, I can't wait!

Fajitas and wedges and salad
Tuna pasta bake
Spicy sausage pasta
Pizza and garlic bread
Jacket potatoes
Freezer dinner

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Coconut loaf cake

I love simple loaf cakes, they're easy to make, don't require fancy decorations and are perfect for having alongside a cup of tea. 

100g sugar
100g softened butter
100g self raising flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
50g dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180°. Cream together your sugar and butter then add the flour, Add your eggs and vanilla essence and mix until you have a nice smooth batter. Stir in the dessicated coconut. Then pour into a greased loaf tin. Sprinkle a little sugar over the top of the mix.  Bake for 35 minutes.

As you can see I checked mine a little bit early and the centre sank a little. I added a littlE glace icing over the top but you could leave it bare or dust some icing sugar on top. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Photo bunting

I'll happily admit i am a massive fan of Instagram, it's probably taken over from twitter as my favourite social media and i love getting my Instagram photos printed off. I've tried a few different places for printing but now tend to stick with Polargram.
The only issue i have is what to do with all of the photos i have had printed off. Some go onto the boys pinboards in their bedrooms and some a stuck to the fridge. In the playroom we have a string on photo bunting that i made using some of the prints.
It is so simple but effective and Seb loves it when i change the photos around and add new ones. All you need to make the bunting is some prints(of course), some twine and some mini pegs or wasabi tape. My twine and pegs were from ebay and cost about £2 for both.
Simply cut your twine to the required length and arrange your photos in order with even spaces between them and then attach them to the twine with your tape/pegs. Tie a loop at either end and hang.  

Seb loves ours especially when I add new photos onto it. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Planning a shared bedroom

When we moved in last year we gave Seb a pirate themed bedroom but he(and I) have become a bit bored of it recently. Because we rent, we're limited with what we can do to the house so we have to work with what we have.

The plan has always been to put the boys in a bedroom together once Alex is ready for a bed, and although I hope that won't be happening for a while yet I am already browsing for bits to create a room that will suit them both and that we can add things too rather then buying everything to match. 
I don't want a theme, I like the idea of black and white with pops of colour. The room is cream with black carpets so I think it'll work well for us.

I have already ordered this Farg Form cloud lightshade, i've wanted one for ages and Phil managed to break the shade we currently have so I figured I would just get the one I wanted. It's huge and amazing.
Do your little ones share a room?

Friday, 7 March 2014

This weeks meal plan

This week we mostly stuck to our meal plan. The chicken and veg kebabs were lovely and I also added chunks of halloumi onto them too. Of course we also had pancakes which are always a favourite here!
 This week we'll be eating

Tomato and bacon pasta bake
Roast pork with crackling all all the trimmings
Chicken, sweet potato and coconut slow cooked curry
Chicken Kiev's with wedges
Naughty chip shop dinner

What will you be eating this week?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Trendy Thursday

Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking ahead to the boys spring and summer wardrobes :)
Neither boy needs much as Seb still fits in most of last years things and we kept a lot of his old clothes to pass on to Alex. Of course that doesn't stop me buying new things!

First up I ordered these amazing handmade leggings from Handmade is Haute which arrived today. This is the Antique Circus print and I am so pleased with them. Thank you Alex for making me aware of them. 
Then from M&S I ordered this fab yellow raincoat and leaf print bottoms for Alex and the Zebra tee for Seb, 
 Then I was tempted to browse Zara online and ordered some faded jeans and yellow vest for Seb and an arrow print tee for Alex.
I am still waiting on a H&M parcel with more bits in too, bring on the sunshine!!

Linking up with Trendy Thursday, head over to Medicated Follower of Fashion to find out more and join in!

February Haulin

This post is a little late, I'm on a massive blog catch up at the moment!

In February I didn't buy much clothes wise apart from some knickers and a couple of basic cardigans. 
Instead we got a Hudl from Tesco( of course I got it a cute cover too. It's my first foray into the world of tablets and I like it, compact and easy to use, I have been using it a lot to catch up on blogs and do the weekly shop. 
We also got a new pushchair. Alex never liked the Zia that we had and I was fed up of our Quinny Buzz(I love it for a younger baby though) so we got ourselves a Mamas and Papas Armadillo in Yellow. I really like this pushchair and plan on doing a post on it soon to tell you why.  
So these two purchases didn't leave much left for clothes buying!

Coconut and dark chocolate chip muffins

I had a big bag of dessicated coconut in the cupboard so at the moment i'm making lots of coconut based things! I made these easy muffins with Seb and they didn't last long!

To make 6

110g plain flour
100g sugar
1tsp baking powder
30g dessicated coconut
50g dark chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
1tsp butter, melted
90ml milk
1tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180°
Mix together the dry ingredients before adding the wet ones. Lightly mix leaving a lumpy batter.
Fill your muffin cases to around 2/3 with the batter and sprinkle a little extra sugar and dessicated coconut on top of the muffins before putting into the oven. Bake for around 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Eskimo Kisses

Tonight as I was tidying away toys and winding down I heard Seb cry out. I ran up to him as it's quite unusual for him and he had happily gone to bed an hour earlier with a Brambly Hedge book that used to be mine. 

He had heard me putting away the bricks and was upset that I had taken down his creations but I said we could do more tomorrow.
He asked me to get into his bed for a cuddle so I did and we laid nose to nose and I showed him how to do Eskimo kisses, he wrapped his arms round my neck to give me a big squeeze and told me he loved me. I stayed for a while and then said I had to come down to finish the tidying but he said I couldn't because I was stuck while tightening his arms around me and said he wanted mummy to stay all night.  We laid there giggling and talking, me sniffing in his scent until I really had to leave feeling on top of the world. 

I'm documenting this because i don't want to forget the little things that make my days so special. When he is towering over me, I can look back and remember my sweet little boy. 

Seb at 3 (and a quarter)

Seb is growing up before my eyes, every day he seems to do something new to make me proud.
I guess the logical place to start would be with his reading and writing. He started recognising and reading words of his own accord back last year just before turning three, phonics don't really interest him at the moment instead he asks me to write a word down and then that will be it. He can read around 50 words for now he knows them in familiar and new books, on signs when we're out and when handwritten or on documents. I am taking it slowly with him and letting him decide what he wants to learn. We read several times a day and I have a feeling he is going to be a real bookworm, 

He loves writing at the moment, he can write Seb on his own or Sebastian(and other words) if I guide with dots. He can also write various letters unaided. His drawing has changed massively recently, he now draws recognisable people and various other things and when colouring he tries to stay in the lines. 

He still enjoys numbers and puzzles and currently his favourite toys are Lego, his train tracks and Happyland. He knows all his colours and shapes including semi circle etc He Ioves messy play and crafts and is much more careful and precise when painting and sticking now. He has recently got into dinosaurs.

His speech is great, his vocabulary is wide and varied, his sentences more complex and he can be easily understood, he still has his toddlerisms eg. enormous is enormeous, and he loves to make up funny words. He has recently started joking with us too.

Though he is generally happy he has some threenager moments and he loves to voice his opinions to us. He will have a proper tantrum maybe once a week or so but he is quite easy to deal with and they don't last too long. He is pretty sociable, he loves spending time with his grandparents and mixing with others. He is good when we're out and will along with the pushchair nicely and chat to people in shops.

He is a skinny little thing like his dad even though he eats like a horse. A typical day he'll have a big bowl of porridge and fruit, lunch will be something like a bagel, cucumber chunks and more fruit and then a homemade dinner plus pudding and snacks in the day. He still drinks around a pint of full fat milk a day and has water for other drinks. I love that he will give any food a try and he knows how to make omlettes and muffins with no help,

He has been fully potty trained for quite a few months now, we don't tend to take spare clothes out with us anymore.

In the evenings when Alex goes to bed we have some one on one time with books, music or toys, I think it's my favourite time of the day. He usually goes to bed at 7pm and will sleep anytime up until 10am. Once he is asleep, he doesn't wake.

He is becoming so independent, it's sad and exciting at the same time, I still get the odd glimpse of my baby still when he is sleepy  though. I hope I am giving him the confidence to be who he wants to be instead of following the crowd as he grows and becomes even more independent. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Alex at 16 months

I've not posted an update for a while but I like to to do them every now and then so I can look back on them. 

Alex is 16 months now and is most definitely a toddler instead of a baby. He runs around at speed, climbs, dives and is full of beans from the moment he wakes up. He just discovered that he can go onto his tiptoes so he is constantly doing that at the moment. He is a real daredevil who loves soft play and the park, he has always got bumps and bruises from his stunts, I think he'll be giving me grey hairs before long. 

He is very sociable and has a smile for everyone, he is for the most part a happy little chap who has a real mischievous side to him. He loves to spend time with Seb and is like his little shadow and he copies him a lot. He is very affectionate and will walk around the room giving everyone kisses and cuddles in turn. He also loves to cuddle dolls and soft toys. 

He understands everything we say to him though he doesn't say words yet apart from mama, dada and lots of noises that clearly  mean something to him. I can't wait for him to start chattering away to us. 
At the moment he loves to play with bricks, his rocker and Happyland. He is still at the stage of breaking apart train tracks, puzzles or similar so we keep those in Sebs room for now. He enjoys sitting and looking at books and has a liking for the gruffalo. He has really enjoyed the sensory play we've been doing recently. 

Alex gave up daytime naps at about 13months and we have been much happier since, he will naps for an hour maybe once every couple of weeks. Bedtime is around 6-6.30pm, we stay with him until he falls asleep(usually about 10mins) but he will wake most evenings and will only settle on me, before being put back into his cot.  He sleeps in our bed 1 or 2 nights a week. He usually wakes for the day at around 7-8am. 
He is very different from Seb who has always slept beautifully from 6 weeks old. I will admit I sometimes get frustrated that he wants me most evenings which means I don't get that time to myself but when he is ready he will grow out of it and at least he sleeps through the night. 

He is a good eater and will try most things that I put in front of him, he eats loads and I can't believe he only weighs around 21lb! He has around a pint of full fat milk a day in cups with a straw and water for other drinks. We stopped bottles at 12 months when we stopped formula. He can clumsily use a spoon or fork but prefers his fingers though I still feed things like porridge with a spoon. 

He is pretty healthy though he has had his first doctors visit recently due to awful stubborn nappy rash and very sore dribble rash on his chin. Despite them both being sore he is very brave when we clean and put creams on him. 

Watching Alex grow and learn is amazing, I am sad about the baby days we have left behind but excited at what lies ahead. 

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