Thursday, 30 June 2016

My best new baby buys

Let's face it, new babies don't really need an awful lot of things, but buying baby items is so exciting and most of us do get sucked into buying items that end up being used once and forgotten about. I certainly did, particularly first time around.
Now Barney is three months old(how did that happen?!) I thought I would share my best new baby buys. Some are practical, some are pretty but I love them all.

Chicco Next to Me Crib I absolutely love this co sleeping crib, babies love to be close to you and after cosleeping with Alex most nights for over 3 years we thought a cosleeping crib would be a good investment, after looking at the available ones we opted for the Chicco Next to Me as it is a great size and I had an inkling I would have a long baby. We have it attached to our bed with the side down and Barney has been settled in it since we came home from hospital. I love that he is right next to me and if he stirs at night I can just pop my hand on him and he calms, it made life easy for night feeds too.
I love that it folds down for travel and have taken it away with us twice already.  I can't imagine him not being there next to me now and i am going to be so sad when he outgrows it!

Milton Cold Water Steriliser Of the various sterlisers we have tried the Milton Cold Water Steriliser wins hands down and so many other experienced mums feel the same,  there is a reason it is still around after all these years and why they are used in hospitals. It is the most simple thing ever but so practical! Simply fill with water add a Milton tablet and pop your bottles or other bits in, you can add bits in and take bits out throughout the day without the faff of having to re sterilise everything each time. After 24 hours change the water(you can use the old water to wipe down the kitchen or anything else). It is also great for travel too and I see that they now sell a solo version which looks really handy.

Mama Designs Cellular Blanket I have a thing for baby blankets, we have so many particularly as the big two were winter babies. I wanted a couple of new ones for Barney and while pregnant I discovered Mama Designs over on Instagram and ordered one of her fabulous cellular blankets right away. We have some bright cellular blankets that I dyed myself but I just love this one, it is huge, warm and gets so many compliments.

Funky Giraffe Bibs When Alex was small bandana bibs were just becoming a thing, these dribble bibs are everywhere now but Funky Giraffe are still among the best, I love the designs and the price is great too. Barney has a few but is now getting morw dribbly so I need to invest in some more.

Nappies I love my cloth nappies, we have a pretty big stash from using them with Alex but I did buy a few smaller ones to use this time as Alex didn't wear them from birth and birth to potty are generally a big big for newborns. I went for Tots Bots Bamboozles with wraps and a few teenyfits to go along with the nappies we already owned,  the teeny fits were okay until Barney was around 4-6 weeks old, the Bamboozles are still fitting him although on the biggest rise now. Although I have plenty of nappies I am considering trying the new Eayfit Star and a Happy Mat, the prints are so lovely!

Close Caboo I was adamant that I wanted to babywear more this time around. I did lots of research and found that the Close Caboo was widely recommended for a newborn and was easy to use. I was very sore after my section but I was able to baby wear fairly quickly and as promised the Caboo is very easy to use and comfortable too and I am happy knowing that Barney is in a natural position.   I also have a We Made Me Wuti wrap which I was sent to try out and I love that too, you can see my thoughts on that in my review.

Coconut Oil This is definitely the product of the moment, you can use it for pretry much everything. Barney has dry patches of skin and a little cradle cap like many babies and I use coconut oil on him. I don't use any other products on him at all at the moment, just water in the bath and then a massage with coconut oil afterwards. I also use coconut oil on the bigger boys after baths and on my hair, on any scrapes, in cooking, the list goes on and on. I personally like Lucy Bee Coconut Oil.

So those are my best new baby buys, what are yours?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Symmetrical Butterfly Paintings

Symmetrical butterfly paintings are a bit of an old school craft,  I bet most of us did this at nursery or school when we were children! As part of our recent butterfly life cycle work we looked at symmetry and these paintings are a great introduction to this idea for younger children and will cement the idea for those already familiar with symmetry. Plus it is always fun to get messy with paints!

These are so simple and give such lovely results that your children will be proud of.  All you need is paper and paints to get started.

Choose some paper and fold in half. I usually like to use coloured paper as I find that the boys tend to leave spaces between the paints and coloured paper looks pretty as a background.  Open up the paper and paint on one side, I make sure to encourage the boys to use a good amount of paint so that we have enough on the paper to get a good print.

Once happy with the painting, refold the paper along the same line and smooth over with your hand to helpmthe paint transfer before opening the paper up again. Tada you should now have a lovely symmetrical picture.

Leave to dry and cut into butterfly shapes. We have ours out on display at the moment  brightening up the kitchen.

If you like these Symmetrical Butterfly Paintings check out our Chinese New Year dragons which used the same technique.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Our weekly meal plan 27/6

Happy Monday Meal Planners, it's time for our weekly meal plan. We have got to the end of June and it's halfway to Christmas already. Yes I mentioned the C word, I am one of those people who likes to plan ahead.

Last week we ate all our meals although not in the planned order, I am so pleased we did the full week after a couple of weeks of missed meals.
This week is looking to be busy, we have a night away, and a few other bits planned so hopefully we will have another good week of sticking to our meals.

Monday Salmon, new potatoes and green beans

Tuesday Eating out

Wednesday  Fish fingers sandwiches with waffles

Thursday Chicken, bacon and leek pasta bake

Friday Slow cooked meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta

Saturday Pizza, garlic bread and salad

Sunday Chicken and potato curry with rice

Unfortunately the Meal Planning Monday linky is no longer running, but the good news is the meal planning is carrying on in the form of a blog hop. Why not join us?

Why not check out my previous meal planning posts

Sunday, 26 June 2016

June Degustabox Review and discount code

It’s time for my June Degustabox review and discount code offer for my readers. This month the discount has been increased to £7,  that’s right the fab team at Degustabox are offering an amazing £7 off your first box, all you need to do is sign up using the code BLDEG15 and you will receive your first box for just £5.99, this is a total bargain!

If you haven’t heard of Degustabox before, it is a monthly food and drink subscription box containing items from both well loved and exciting new brands so you can discover delicious new flavours each month. We have been lucky enough to have been reviewing these boxes for two years now, and i genuinely love them in particular as each month the contents are a total surprise until you open the box, plus i find the delivery service that Degustabox use is excellent so no worries about my box going missing or getting damaged in transit. You can see my thoughts on previous boxes and some recipes I have made with products received in the boxes here.

This month's box had a nod towards the summer season with lots of products suitable for holding a BBQ.

Butterkist Yogurt Covered Popcorn RRP  £1.49 We are big popcorn fans, I usually have a bag in the cupboard ready for rainy afternoons watching a film and I love all the new exciting things that popcorn makers are coming up with at the moment. Butterkist Yogurt Covered Popcorn comes in a large sharing bag or as a multipack and contains  just 95 calories per serving. This went down so well with my boys,  they could get enough!

Haywards Medium and Tangy Silverskins £1.89 With a classic flavoursome taste these silverskins qill add a tang to any dish. Great on a cheeseboard or in a BBQ salad. This isn't something we would use so we have passed them on to my mother in law.

Heinz Amoy Coconut Milk £1.99 Made from ripe fresh coconuts in Thailand, perfect for curries and desserts. I regularly use coconut milk am looking forward to using this one in a curry this week.

Branston Spicy Tomato Relish £1.65 With BBQ season upon us, everyone is embracing burgers and hot dogs and this relish makes a great alternative to the traditional ketchup. Phil has tried this one burgers and really enjoyed the different taste to his usual sauce.

Schwartz Homemade Burger Mix £1.49 Regular readers will know that I actually reviewed thsee Burger Mixes recently and really enjoyed them. They are such an easy way to make burgers for everyone to enjoy, perfect for the BBQ season.

Zeo Cloudy Lemonade £2.75 Having tried some Zeo drinks in the past I was really pleased to see the Cloudy Lemonade in this months box. Each serving contains only 28 calories and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, far less than alternatives. It is a lovely refreshing drink, perfect for summer entertaining.

Sacla Pesto Pots RRP £2.79 Pesto is a staple in our house and these mini pots are absolutely perfect for making quick meals for one without waste. We actually used two of the pots the day the Degustabox arrived using the recipe supplied by Degustabox and the pesto is really lovely and each pit us the perfect size for one person.

BakedIn Mug Brownie £1.50 Mug cakes have been popular for a while now and this brownie in a mug is an ultimate comfort food treat and is ready to eat in a couple of minutes.  This brand is totally new to me and i have ordered one of their baking subscription boxes to try.

Marstons Lager £1.70 A big bold lager laced with flavour. Unfortunately neither of us drink lager so this has been passed on,

Smooze Mango and Coconut Fruit Ice RRP £2.50 A freeze at home fruit ice made from natural ingredients including coconut milk, fresh fruit juice and puree. Mango and Coconut and a winning combo and with the weather being pretty warm these make a really refreshing treat for kids and adults alike.

Destrooper-Olivier Belgian Butters £1.10 I love Belgian biscuits, I have family who live in Begum and one of my big memories when visiting them was drinking hot chocolate in Bruges accompanied by delicious buttery biscuits and these Belgian Butters took me right back there, perfect with tea or hot chocolate these are available in Waitrose.

Shirataki Miracle Noodle If you are dieting and looking to lower your carb intake, these noodles are for you. Each serving contains just 5 calories which is pretty amazing and they are gluten free. A great alternative to pasta.

This months box was fab as usual, although a couple of tbe products didn't appeal to us, I am always happy to share the Degustabox love and pass those bits on. As the total product value was well over £20 it really is a great value subscription box.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my post you can receive a whopping £7 off your first box, simply sign up at Degustabox and use the code BLDEG15 for your discount.

You can also find Degustabox on Facebook and follow over on Twitter or Instagram to keep up to date with the latest information.

 **I received this box for the purpose of this post, all oponions are my own**

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Bottle Top Caterpillars

As part of our minibeast and butterfly work we of course looked at The Very Hungry Caterpillar, always a favourite. It is the first thing I ever bought for Seb when I found out I was pregnant and we have done various related crafts over the years plus a Very Hungry Caterpillar sensory tub. It is such a timeless story.
I have recently been clearing out my craft stash and found that I had a tonne of milk bottle tops, the boys love them just to play with but I thought I would use a few of them to create a very simple hungry caterpillar picture. This is super simple and quick which means it is ideal for younger toddlers although my boys(3 and 5) enjoyed it too.

The very hungry caterpillar craft,

I set the bottle tops out in a tray with red and green poster paints and the boys used the bottle tops to print circles to make a caterpillar. I made sure the book was to hand to use as a guide when the boys were printing their caterpillars. Using a little yellow paint the boys added eyes with their fingerprints.
Once dry the boys added features and legs with Sharpies. I love how Sebs looks really shocked and Alexs looks very cross indeed!

The very hungry caterpillar craft

Friday, 24 June 2016

Enjoy More Water Challenge

With the weather warming up, many of us will be encouraging our children to drink more water to keep them hydrated. However 64% of parents don't know how much water their child should drink each day and 42% say their children find plain water boring,
Esrlier this year Robinsons launched the Enjoy More Water campaign aimed at getting us all to drink more water and they have recently been asking us bloggers to write about getting our children drinking more.

Robinsons squash'd

I find when we are outside in summer the boys really need to be encouraged to drink,  they are often far too busy playing and having fun to want to stop and do anything as boring as having a drink. Of course when they are busy running around in the hot weather they need to be drinking more than ever.

My 5 tips to encourage your children to enjoy more water
  • Make it taste good, if plain water really isn't their thing, try adding a little bit of Robinsons Squash'd to it. Available in a range of flavours including the new Orange and Peach, and Lemon and Pink Grapefruit, Squash'd adds a real fruity flavour with no added sugar. 
  • Make it fun. Cute cups, paper straws, fun ice cubes and cocktail stirrers or umbrellas are fun additions to encourage kids to enjoy their drinks. 
  • Try ice lollies. Ice lollies are a great way to keep refreshed, try making homemade ones with Robinsons Squash'd, you can even pop some fresh fruit in.  Made with no added sugar,  no artifical colours or preservatives Squash'd makes a healthier alternative to shop bought ice lollies. 
  • Be a good role model,  I think this is so important, young children in particular so often copy what they see. Let your children see you drinking water and keeping yourself hydrated. 
  • Try eating water, juicy fruits like watermelon, strawberries and peaches all have a high water content to help us stay hydrated. 
How do you encourage your children to enjoy more water? 

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

We're going on a bug hunt

Did you know that this week is National Insect Week? (20th -26th June). Recently we were invited to take part in the big blogger bug hunt with Anthisan and I couldn't say no, if you have seen my recent posts you may know that our home ed topic has recently been minibeasts so it was the perfect time to try and spot some of the bugs we had been learning about. We received a Bug Hunting Kit to help us on the way.

Bug hunt

I admit I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to bugs, i cannot bear anything flying near me, spiders freak me out but I do try to be brave in front of the boys and this was a good opportunity to do that. We headed out into the garden to see what we could find.  

So what did we find on our bug hunt? Well slugs and snails were the order of the day. We found loads of them. Snails always seem to be interesting to children, my two love that they carry their house on their back.  

Sebastian very bravely used the tweezers and bug viewer pot from our bug hunt kit to bring home a slug that we found and him and Alex had great fun watching it squirm it's way around the pot leaving it's slime in its wake(shudder!) until we set it free.

We were also lucky enough to spot a couple of bees (sadly I am not quick enough to catch them on camera) and a pretty butterfly out in the garden.  Back at home we used the Anthisan website to create our own bugs too!

Bug hunt, build your own bug

If you are looking for something fun and free to do with the kids this weekend, why not head out to your own garden on a bug hunt? Don't forget the Antisan to soothe any bites or stings!

**We received a bug hunting kit to help us write this post**

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Bolognese is one of those meals that everyone seems to enjoy. It is a regular on our meal plans and I know I will always get clear plates(the boys often go back for seconds and thirds) I used to cook it on the hob but once I tried slow cooker bolognese I knew there was no going back and now it has to be cooked in the crock pot every time. The slow cooking definitely makes the flavours in this so much better and making it from scratch is so much nicer than any jars out there and to be honest is just as easy.

I've been meaning to post this for ages now but kept forgetting to take photos each time I made it (terrible blogger) but I finally remembered this week and of course I had no battery so Phils phone had to do.

This recipe makes enough for the 4 of us (2 adults, a 5 year old and a 3 year old) but is easy to add extra too for more people or to make double and freeze half.  Sometimes I add in extra veg like courgette or celery if I have some kicking around too.

250g lean  beef mince
100g bacon lardoms
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pepper, diced
1 large  carrot, peeled and grated
500g carton of passata
2 tbsp tomato puree
Dried mixed herbs

Add mince and bacon into the slow cooker and add the veg on top. The  add the passata, tomato puree and stir through sprinkle over the dried herbs, pop the slow cooker lid on and cook on low for around 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).  When slow cookimg i am a lid lifter and k tend to give mine a stir around halfway through.
Serve with your choice of pasta or spaghetti cooked in the normal way and if you are anything like me sprinkle with lots of grated cheese.

Bolognese,  heart shaped garlic bread

If you like my Slow Cooker Bolognese recipe, why not check out my other slow cooker recipes?

Link up your recipe of the week

Monday, 20 June 2016

Our weekly meal plan 20/6

Happy Monday Meal Planners! It's that time of the week again already. The weeks really are flying past, next week it will be July!

Last week we did well, the only thing going I didn't make was the curry, I just don't fancy it at the moment so I am not rolling it over to this week. I seemed to spend quite a bit on food this past week, despite not needing anything, a couple of trips to M&S didn't help, I can't resist the lure of their food hall. Plus I managed to buy a whole load of food when I popped to the shop for some blueberries.
My quiche went down well, both boys had seconds and when I was cooking our bbq pasta, Sebastian came to the kitchen to tell me how nice it smelt, high praise indeed from a 5 year old boy!

Our food shopping is being delivered today, I have stuck with using Morrisons recently, the fresh produce is great and I rarely have any substitute or missing items plus the drivers are always prompt and friendly. I promise that isn't an advert for them!

This week's plan is a mixture of meals requested by Phil and the boys (can you guess which meal the 3 year old requested?).

Monday Fish pie

Tuesday Chinese chicken curry with noodles

Wednesday Macaroni cheese (I have some leeks which I will probably add into this

Thursday Steak burgers, chips and salad

Friday Slow cooker spag bol

Saturday Picnic style tea 

Sunday Chicken nuggets, potato waffles and veg

Unfortunately the Meal Planning Monday linky is no longer running, but the good news is the meal planning is carrying on in the form of a blog hop. Why not join us?

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Spring day at Temple Newsam

A couple of weeks back we decided to head over to Leeds and spend the day at Temple Newsam. I have only ever been there for picnics before amd the boys sometimes go there with their grandparents for walks but this time we decided to explore the farm and house as well as having a picnic in the grounds.

Temple Newsam is a Tudor Jacobean house set in a large estate in Leeds. As well as the house there is a workimg farm, extensive gardens, play area and facilities for various sports. It always amazes me to find such green open spaces so close to a busy city centre.
As i said above we decided to explore the farm and house as well as have a picnic in ghe grounds. It cost us less than £15 for both which I thought was great value and there was even a free craft activity on for children to enjoy in the house.
We arrived and had our picnic and then we headed to the farm. After looking at the animals we headed to the farms play area for a while to burn off some steam.

After this we made a toilet stop and headed over to the house, the man on the desk was helpful in telling us the best route around and we went to explore.
Visiting old houses with young children is definitely not always the most relaxing experience, the boys were pretty good and Seb was quite interested in some parts but of course neither of them wanted to stop and read everything whereas I could have spent much longer pottering. I loved the house and spent much of our time there cooing over the chandeliers and four poster beds. I could live in a house like that!
In one of the rooms was a seasonal craft activity for children . The boys made garden mobiles with the lovely supplies. I have to say I was really impressed with the activity as there were absolutely loads of resources to use and the results were fab.

When we left the house the sun had come out so the boys had fun rolling down the hills while we headed back towards the car enjoying get the stunning  views.

We will definitely be heading back to Temple Newsam over the summer.

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