Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sparkle Christmas Biscuits

I made these for the children's teachers last week, and they looked really pretty when all wrapped up - the sparkles made them feel very Christmassy!

90g butter (soft)
100g caster sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
Edible rainbow dust (or any kind of sparkles)

Cream the butter & sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg.  Mix the flour with the ginger, cinnamon, baking powder & salt then sift through a sieve to remove any lumps.  Add the flour mix and the egg to the butter & sugar mix and combine thoroughly.

Mould into a ball and place it in a bowl, covered with clingfilm, and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

When you are ready to cut the biscuits, take a piece of the dough and roll onto a floured surface - don't roll it too thin or the biscuits will be crunchy.  Cut your desired shapes (I did trees and reindeers) and place them on a lined baking tray.  Bake at 180 for around 10 mins.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with the edible glitter when they are cool and firm (it sticks regardless).  I stored mine in a tupperware overnight to keep the fresh and bagged them up the following morning to take into school.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Children are people...

On Friday night, Motorbike Man and I were rushing to pick up Spiderboy from school so we could watch his final ballet class of the term.  As I was getting him changed, he smiled a toothy grin at me in answer to a question about his day and I noticed a gap in his front teeth - one that definitely wasn't there when I dropped him off that morning!  I was aghast - how and when did this happen?!  He calmly told me that his tooth had come out that day at school...I was beside myself, holding him by the shoulders so he looked me right in the eye, to ask him what happened.  Again he repeated that he his tooth had come out.  I could tell by the twinkle in his eye, the one he usually gets when telling me a non-truth, that there was more to this.  

"It's in my bag mummy, wrapped up in tissue paper".  I made a grab for his bag and rifled through like a woman on a mission.  What was going through my head?  The simple question of "How on earth could I have missed a huge milestone like this one"?  Losing his first tooth...I still had the pattern I was going to sew for the Toothfairy Cushion I was going to make.  Of course I hadn't gottten around to it - it was far too early...he has 5 years old for goodness sake!  Arghhh...!!!

I dug inside his bag and found a piece of toilet paper which I carefully unwrapped.  Inside, I found the tiniest little tooth, root and all, nestled inside.  I wanted to burst into tears right there and then.  MM couldn't quite understand why I was acting so strange.  It was no doubt exacerbated by me going away on my first girly weekend away from my babies in just 45 minutes time - I was so unprepared for this!  Whilst MM finished getting Spiderboy changed, I rushed to find his teacher.   She told me that she had seen him fiddling with it and he had pulled it out...and there was a *lot* of blood!  She had rinsed his mouth (was there anything else she should have done?...bloody hell, these newly qualified teachers!)...and calmed him down, as he was apparently screaming in agony, with promises of the tooth fairy visiting that night.

All through his ballet performance, he poked and wriggled his tongue through the hole as I watched him, sometimes mouthing at me "it hurts mummy!"  With a swift chat about why he shouldn't pull teeth out if they weren't ready, I was dropped at the train station feeling like a failure while MM and the kiddos headed home for Movie Night.

To make up for my apparent abandonment, I called up on Monday morning for an appointment with the dentist.  I was concerned that his pulling out of the tooth (I was pretty sure it wasn't wobbly) had caused damage, and wanted to make sure everything was as it should be.  I got an appointment the next day.

Which leads us to today.  We headed to the dentist this afternoon, with Spiderboy fully aware that we were going to ensure his mouth was OK after he had lost a tooth and not in the slightest bit concerned.

After a brief wait, we were called in.  I quickly told both children to wait there while I spoke to the dentist.  A pleasant lady, I have dealt with before for both mine and the children's teeth, I expressed concern that he had pulled the tooth out before it was ready and that I not only wanted her to check everything was OK, but suggested she could perhaps talk to him about not pulling teeth out before they were ready.  I specifically asked if she had experienced this before (i.e. a child pulling their teeth out when not wobbly) and was met with a "well, lets take a look, shall we?"

I called the children into the room and Spiderboy hopped up into the chair.  He wasn't nervous in any way, and was quite happy to open his mouth wide while she looked into it.  The dentist recited information to her assistant, which let me know that the tooth next to the one that had come out was "also" wobbly.  She then asked her assistant to prepare a fluid and a sealant, not once talking to me and letting me know anything.  The dentist then briefly told me she was going to fill a tooth (one that she had been watching since last time we visited) and at that point, I came over to the chair and knelt down beside Spiderboy.  I held his hands and told him what was happening, as I try to do in every walk of life - especially when something is happening directly to him.

"You see the stick the lady has in your mouth?  That has a mirror on so she can see your teeth at the back.  There is a little hole in your tooth, and the dentist is going to put some cream in there to make it better for you" I said.  

Before I had even finished the sentence, she had already squeezed in the filling and Spiderboy clearly felt some discomfort, as he gripped my hands and cried out.  

"OK, mummy needs to stop talking now" she said.  Why?  Why did I need to stop telling my child what was happening to him?  

"Next time, I'm going to have to ask you to wait in the chair" (on the otherside of the room).  

"Sorry?"  I was confused.  Why was comforting my child viewed as a bad thing?  "If my child is in distress or discomfort, I will comfort him" I replied.  

"Trust me" I was told, "I've been doing this for many years.  Its better if you wait over there".

She then muttered something under her breath and Spiderboy was dismissed from the chair. 

I asked her what had happened and why, and she explained everything fully...at that point.  But I walked out there with a very uncomfortable feeling - not anger but a rather bewilderment.  Why was I not able to sit with and comfort my child?  Why was this viewed as a negative?  But also, why was a procedure carried out on my child without even a cursory glance in my direction?  What, because you are the professional you know best?

He is MY child, and I will make the decisions as to what is best for him.  Of course I would have agreed to the filling but the utter disregard for my feelings or even presence, astounded me.  

Have you ever experienced anything like this?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Orange & Choc Chip Biscuits

These were super easy to make and so perfect for the kids to help with.  Doodles loved cutting out the shapes - we used hearts this time but they could be any shape.  This is another recipe from Annabel Karmel's Feeding Your Baby & Toddler book - this was my bible when Spiderboy was learning to eat and I still use it!  

You might want to prepare the dough & chill it first if you have an impatient toddler who can't wait to get going :)

175g butter (at room temp)
75g icing sugar
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
60g plain chocolate chips

Sieve the flour & icing sugar into a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the choc chips and beat together well (or throw everything into a food processor and let that do the work!)  When the dough has come together, stir in the choc chips and knead the dough thoroughly before rolling into a ball.  Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out your shapes.  Place on a baking tray (using greaseproof paper if you have it) and bake at 180 degrees for around 10 minutes.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Autumn Playdough

A few weekends ago, Sunday morning saw the rain pouring down and it looked as though we would be housebound all day.  Fine by me but I knew we would need something to keep the littles amused so I made some autumn play dough.  I used the same recipe from before but added some cinnamon and nutmeg to make it smell wonderfully autumnal plus some red and yellow paint for colouring.  (It actually turned out a little more pinky than I planned but they didn't seem to notice!)

Motorbike Man man a dash into the garden between showers and collected a variety of leaves, herbs and nuts from the garden, and we were set.  We created trees of varying detail, from a few simple pasta pieces to a full display of leaves and nuts in the play dough.

We thought of autumn related things and made some of those - conkers, fireworks, pumpkins using the dough and some accessories.  

They learnt to identify the tree by its leaves - I was impressed that Spiderboy could name quite a few of them!

We passed a good hour or so having fun with all the autumn colours and the kitchen had a lovely smell afterwards!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sweet Potato & Honey Soup

I had intended to make this with pumpkin as they were plentiful 1 day before Halloween but 2 days later there were none to be found in my local shops so I substituted with sweet potato instead.  It was still pretty good...so good in fact that I didn't want to stop and take a photo before eating it!

1kg of sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
2tbsp honey
200ml double cream (or creme fraiche if you are counting calories)
1tbsp paprika

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the onions.  Sweat them for 5 mins until they soften.  Add the sweet potato & paprika, and cook for a further 10 mins, stirring to ensure it doesn't burn.  Add the stock to the pan (mine was cold as I made it the day before), bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 - 20 mins until the sweet potato is soft.

Stir in the honey and puree the soup with a blender (my hand held stick one was fine for this).  Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and heat through before serving with a sprinkling of paprika on the surface.

NB: This made a huge batch so I froze half.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Raspberry & Peach Pudding

Puddings weren't big in our house when I was growing up so I'm not great with them.  However Spiderboy has been eating some very traditional desserts at school lately and loves them so I'm trying to make a few more.  I've made this twice in the last month, and its gone down very well indeed.

Ingredients (serves 2)
Tin of peaches in juice
Punnet of raspberries
Natural Greek yoghurt
Teaspoon of caster sugar
Ginger biscuit

Layer the peach slices and raspberries at the bottom of the bowls, setting aside 6 raspberries.

Pour half the peach juice from the tin, along with a few tablespoons of the yoghurt and 6 raspberries, into a jug and blend into a puree.  (This literally took a minute - just a quick whizz using my stick blender).  Pour this over the fruit in the bowl.

Mix a few tablespoons of yoghurt with the sugar (use more or less according to taste) and pour this over the puree.  You can continue to layer like this until you reach the top but ensure you finish with the yoghurt on top.

Crumble over a ginger biscuit and serve in a glass bowl for added grown-up elegance ;)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hollycombe Steam Fairground

On Saturday night after an early supper, we wrapped up warm and headed out to Hollycombe Steam Fairground just outside Liphook.  I had often driven past the sign and meant to check it out but hadn't got around to it.  

Hollycombe is usually a day time activity but they open on selected nights through the year and this coming Saturday (19 October) is the last Fairground at Night opening for this year, and happens to be a Halloween special too!  We thought the kids would enjoy the adventure in the dark, and they sure did.

After a short queue to get in, we walked past the railway, a small steam train which we would later come back to.  First up was the Carousel, and with Doodles & I sharing a horse we were able to ride three-a-breast for a race!

Next were the chair-o-planes...

Fun on the chair-o-planes
...then we enjoyed a short Keystone Cops film, accompanied by live organ music, which Spiderboy thought was very funny.  

The Big Wheel was a highlight (not for me unfortunately, as I find myself suddenly afraid of heights since becoming a mother!) but I could hear great whoops of delight from the carriage behind us as Spiderboy enjoyed going to the top.  Doodles & I sat a little more serenely and enjoyed picking out the rides we wanted to go on next from high up on our vantage point.

Big Wheel
Next the Ghost House, which Motorbike Man took them into one by one (as it was apparently pitch black inside) from which they emerged in various states of distress, fright and excitement.  With enormous great steam engines and huge organs playing music dotted about the site, along with a pit stop for candy floss, there was plenty for the children to see and experience.  We ended the evening with a ride through the woods on the railway, which although chilly was great fun as there were plenty of ghosts & ghouls to spot along the way.

Passing by in a blur on the steam swings
There is a cafe on site, where you can warm up with hot dogs, chips and hot-chocolate.  It wasn't a cheap night at £40 for a Super Saver ticket which admitted all four of us *but* this does entitle you to as many return visits as you like for a whole year so we will be making sure to return so we take advantage of this.

With a quick visit to the toilet before leaving, Doodles couldn't keep her eyes open and promptly fell asleep on the loo.  Spiderboy wasn't too far behind with his eyes closing before we drove out of the car park.  We had a lovely family evening, and they have been talking about when they can go again ever since.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Erth Dinosaur Zoo

If you get the chance to see Erth's Dinosaur Zoo, take it!  We had such fun seeing it at GLive on Sunday, and Spiderboy has been asking non-stop when we can go again.

As well as being hugely educational, it is cute, entertaining and scary all in one.  The dinosaur puppets are amazing, they really are incredibly real.  

Doodles was a pretty scared by the Australovenator (the one that looks pretty much like a T-Rex to you and me!) but there were cute baby dinos and medium sized friendly ones too that held her attention.  Spiderboy too was a little unnerved by the large dinosaur - you can't imagine how life-like they are until you see them.  Of course they ham it up and have him practically drooling over the stage ready to eat the children but that's exactly why the kids love it! 

Not your average sight on Guildford High Street!
Throughout the show, they took various children up on the stage to join in the fun (tip: get there early as they pre-choose some children for part of it).  The company also came outside the theatre afterwards so the children could all feel the dinosaurs and have pictures taken with them.

I would thoroughly recommend this show to anybody with young children, it was brilliant - get some tickets if you can!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Making Lunches Fun

School lunches have been in the news a lot lately.  Home packed lunches are to become a thing of the past, with all school children now being provided with a hot meal at lunchtimes.

Spiderboy and Doodles do already have a hot meal at school & nursery but we often take a packed lunch along for a picnic on a nice day or for an easy tea after swim lessons.  I'm not a huge fan of sandwiches (too many dry, tasteless offerings from my childhood) so with that in mind, I try to mix things up a bit and make packed "lunches" more exciting.  

I posted a recipe for these ham, cheese & onion muffins a while back, and they were a huge hit with my kids.  If I do make sandwiches, I cut them into fun shapes - something I discovered when Spiderboy was very little and I couldn't get him to eat sandwiches - how much more fun is it to eat a train or a little animal?!

What do you mean you can't tell they are a crocodile, a lion and an elephant?!
Adding some individually packaged foods is very handy - it cuts down on the mess and makes it fun for the kids. We were sent some of the new flavoured Cheestrings to try out, which would be ideal for lunchboxes or snacks on the go.  Spiderboy was put off by the strong smell of the Cheese & Onion and Cheese & Tomato flavour when they were opened but Doodles on the other hand happily wolfed down a whole packet, followed by some of the Cheestrings Spaghetti!

I have to admit I was quite surprised when I read the Cheestrings website section about how they are made and of what...they contain no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours and provide one quarter of the recommended daily amount of calcium and vitamin D!

It only takes a little bit of imagination to make food more fun - if you have a lunchbox with compartments, you can offer different tasty treats, like putting some fruit into a cupcake case.

You could also personalise lunch containers without a huge expense - just use some stickers - or leave them a little handwritten note or joke inside.

If you're in the mood for more fun with food, check out Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons for some great ideas. 

I shall leave you with the memory of my mother discovering with horror the stash of mouldy sandwiches under my bed one day...can't recall why I didn't just throw them away in the bin at school but then I never was very bright!  Strangely enough, I didn't get anything tastier offered as an alternative after that...

Disclosure: I was sent a Cheestrings gift pack for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Recommended Birthday Presents

Both my kids have their birthdays in August so they have been on the receiving end of lots of great gifts lately.  I thought I would share some of the ones that most appealed to them and they have been making great use of.  

Each title links to Amazon where you can buy them (photos are all stock ones, not my own).

Doodles (age 3)

My First Sticky Mosaics

This was a huge hit, and kept her sitting still for ages.  It reinforces colours and shapes, as you have to stick the correct shape on to the base picture to create the finished product.  There are 4 pictures in the box and they lasted her quite a while.  They also have sticky hooks to attach to the back so you can display them afterwards.

Moon Dough Pizza Set

Both Doodles & Spiderboy played with this one although I have to warn you, don't let it into your house if you have anything resembling OCD tendencies!  It was the first time I have come across Moon Dough, & it has a strange dry texture which crumbles easily (but it does sticks back together).  The best thing is that it doesn't dry out unlike play dough so it has been sitting on our kitchen table for a good week or so, with the kids returning daily to play with it.  

This was a cute set with three colours of moon dough (although they quickly got mixed together) to make pizza bases and then toppings.  

Melissa & Doug Self-Correcting Number Puzzle

I love the fact that you have to match the pictures up to the numbers in this puzzle - each with a unique jigsaw fit so you know if you make a mistake.  She pretty much has her 1-12 numbers down pat but this goes up to 20 so it's great for that next stage.

Spiderboy (age 5)

Sea Monkeys

This has to be one of Spiderboy's favourites.  You get a small tank to fill and various sachets that you have to add to the water over a period of time.  After around 5 days, some tiny shrimps hatch and begin to grow.  You need to feed them every two days with some powdered food that's included.  I am worried that Spiderboy will eventually be disappointed because he keeps asking how big they are going to grow...I think he has visions of actual monkeys!

If you're slightly squeamish, don't Google them and read the Mumsnet thread about them essentially being lice... :/

It's a Chicken

This is like a child's version of pictionary, with some fun elements.  Spiderboy doesn't like drawing or colouring of any kind so I was interested to see that he enjoyed playing this.  Its great for developing fine motor, and the simple drawings you have to copy from the card are easy enough for children to follow, aided by pre-printed circles.  Of course they love the clucking chicken timer that you have to  compete against too!

Magic Tooth Fairy Game

This is one of those games that you can't understand the fascination with...and it quickly begins to grate although to be fair, there are no noisy elements to it.  You each get a "mouth" with a set of teeth and you have to work your way round the board, losing teeth and collecting gold coins from the tooth fairy in exchange.  Warning: Do not play this 10 minutes before bedtime because it can go on for *ages*!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake

There is a glut of birthdays in our family around this time so I was pleased to discover this chocolate cake recipe in a book recently. The kids helped me make it a few times, and really enjoyed it.

60g butter (softened)
165g caster sugar
1 egg
225g self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
125ml milk
60ml boiling water
1/4 tsp bicarb soda

160g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp boiling water

Cream the butter & sugar until smooth, and add in the egg, beating well.

Sift the flour and cocoa together, and fold them into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.  

In a cup, combine the water and bicarb, and lightly fold into the mixture.  Pour the complete mixture into a well greased cake tin and take at 180 / 160 fan for around 30-40 mins.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

When you are ready to ice the cake, sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl and mix together.  Add the water a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  Spread over the cool cake.

Before the icing dries & sets completely, carefully sit your numbers (or letters if you want to spell out a name!) on top and sprinkle over Hundreds & Thousands.  Gently left the numbers up and you will be left with sprinkled numbers in your desired age - easy peasy!

I saw the idea of using pre-cut numbers or letters a while back - I think the Blogger in question cut them out of cardboard so if you don't have these kind of plastic ones you could easily do that.

You could always add some more decorations to fancy it up further, or just some candles. I love the idea of using jelly beans to create flowers too - check it out here.  

Monday, 26 August 2013

Prawn & Chilli Linguine

This is one of my fail-safe recipes, a fall back when I don't have anything else planned or we need a quick meal.  Obviously it's not kid friendly, as I add fresh chilli (unless your kids have very tolerant palates!)  It has a lovely clean fresh taste, and I can guarantee that everything in this recipe will already be in my cupboard, fridge or freezer so chances are you will have the ingredients too.

Linguine or spaghetti (enough for 2 people)
Pack of frozen prawns
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded & chopped
30g Parmesan, grated
Any left over veg (in this photo, I used green beans but the previous week I added cherry tomatoes so use whatever you have lying around)
Half a fresh lemon - grated zest plus the juice

Put the pasta on to boil.  If you are using fresh veg like the green beans, put these on to boil for a few mins too or they may be too crunchy.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan, and add the chilli.  Add the prawns & the grated lemon zest, and allow to cook through.

When the pasta is ready, drain and add immediately to the frying pan.  Throw in the lemon juice, the veg and the Parmesan and toss well.

Serve immediately with a glass of chilled white wine (and no, that part is *not* optional!) 

If I don't have prawns, I use a tin of crab meat - equally delicious.  If I don't have a fresh chilli, I use Lazy Chilli from a jar.  See, there really is no excuse not to make this!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Spicy Salmon Pilaf

This has become a bit of a favourite in our house recently - its very delicious but also feels extremely healthy.  Of course it also has the added bonus of being easy to make ;)

Serves 2

2 salmon fillets
100ml natural yoghurt
1tsp curry paste
Half a green chilli
1 small onion, peeled & chopped
2/3 cardamom pods
2 tsp mustard seeds
200g brown rice
400ml hot vegetable stock
2 cupfuls of frozen peas
2 "blocks" of frozen spinach (or a few handfuls of fresh)

Mix the yoghurt, curry paste and chilli together and pour over the salmon in a shallow dish - set aside and allow to marinate.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion, cardamom seeds and mustard seeds.  Cook gently for 5 mins until the onion softens.  Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring for a few mins.  Pour in the stock, the peas and the frozen spinach (if you are using fresh spinach, add it at the very end) and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for around 25 mins, keeping a close eye so it doesn't dry out - in which case, add a little more boiled water.

While the rice is cooking, put the salmon as it is into the oven and cook for around 20 mins.  

Serve the rice with the salmon on top or on the side, sprinkled with some fresh coriander if you have it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

I'm back!

Not in a weird Arnold Schwarzenegger way but boy, it's been a while!  Almost 4 weeks since I posted here, & that's the longest I've been away from the blog since I started it.  

In my defence, the past two months has been crazy, filled with sports days, end of term assemblies, new teacher meetings, end of term socials, and school trips not to mention picnics, paddling pools and trips to London outside of school hours!  This is the first time I've experienced the End of Term Madness and it took me by surprise...hopefully next year I can plan ahead a little better.  

So to the new Likers that have recently joined us over here at TCM HQ: a great big WELCOME!  I'm hopeful that a relaxing summer at home will mean more time to blog - and I've got so many fun posts to share with you so watch this space!

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful sunshine and don't forget your suncream ;)

Early morning walk at the Devil's Punchbowl

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Father's Day Ideas

Are you ready?  It's very nearly Father's Day!  If you need a quick last minute idea, here are a few good ones.

This year, we have made Motorbike Man this cute Shirt & Tie card that I recently blogged about.  

For local readers, we've also ordered some delicious cookies from The Custom Cookie Co which has a great range to choose from, there is sure to be something to suit the man in your life - biscuits shaped like power tools, golf clubs and ties to name a few.  

I've also devised a questionnaire for the kids to fill in but Motorbike Man - I got the idea from Meet The Dubiens but I wanted a slightly more personal version (although they have a free printable if you're strapped for time!)  Obviously I helped Doodles to write down her answers down but Spiderboy will fill in his own, and this makes for very funny reading.  I had to try very hard to stop myself from laughing when I was writing down the answers Doodles gave me...  You can tailor the questions to suit the age of the child, I did a simplified version for my 2 year old and included more questions for my 4 year old, and added photos of them with Daddy over the years.  I really hope there will be some laughs on Sunday when we hand these over.

There are some really fun edible ideas rounded up by Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons to be found here.

Craftionary has some great ideas for photographic presents here... what daddy doesn't love photos of their gorgeous offspring?!

If you're short on time, Small & Friendly has a cute printable for a wallet sized picture here, which wouldn't take long to make.

Whatever your gifts, I hope you have a lovely family day spending time with the man that helped you bring your precious children into this world.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mamatography - Week 22

We had such a busy half term week, jam packed with days out and plenty of fun.

Day 146 - Sunday 26 May
Up early for a boot sale, which was a big success - I managed to sell lots of the baby items we no longer have a use for...*sniff*.  I was clearly too busy counting my takings to remember to photograph anything!

Day 147 - Monday 27 May
It was a sunny Bank Holiday so there was only thing to do...head to a fete!  Spiderboy loved the chair-o-plane.

Day 148 - Tuesday 28 May
It was raining when we woke up so I made some bath paints and let the kids loose in the bathroom!  

Day 149 - Wednesday 29 May
Grandad was up to his tricks again and had given Spiderboy a packet of flies and spiders, which he forgot to remove from his trouser pocket before putting them in the wash.  I got quite a fright when I pulled the washing out of the machine!

Day 150 - Thursday 30 May
A busy day for us!  We went on a bug hunt in the woods and found lots of creatures...

Later that day, we did a canal cruise dressed as Pirates & Princesses!  

Day 151 - Friday 31 May
A day out on the Watercress Line with lots of fun...is there a child that *doesn't* like getting their face painted?!


My kids actually think it's a treat to wash the car...shhh, don't tell them :)

Day 152 - Saturday 1 June
A friend was celebrating her recent wedding with a cruise along the Thames so Motorbike Man and I had a lovely evening on board, watching the sunset and enjoying the BBQ.

This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project hosted by Momma Jorje and Diary Of A First Child.  We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year.  Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Without further ado, here are the Mama/Papatography2013 participants!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Child-Friendly Paella

Last year my sister bought me a paella dish.  It is wonderful, and I have created some deliciously authentic paellas in it.  However, I am pretty sure Spiderboy and Doodles wouldn't be too enthusiastic about chowing down on an octopus leg so I made this child-friendly version recently and am delighted to report it went down a storm.

1 onion
Clove of garlic
2 small chicken breasts, diced
1 red pepper
300g rice
1tsp turmeric
750ml chicken stock
2 chipolatas, cooked & sliced
100g small prawns
Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion & garlic, cooking for a few mins.  Add the chicken & seal for around 5 mins.  Add the red pepper and cook for a further minute.

Rinse the rice in cold water and add it to the pan, stirring thoroughly along with the turmeric.  Keep stirring for around a minute or so until everything is coated and mixed.

Pour in the stock and leave to simmer for around 15 mins, or until all the stock has been absorbed by the rice.  

Add the sausages & prawns for the pan and simmer for a further 5 mins before serving immediately.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pirates & Princesses Canal Cruise

During half term last week, I took the kids on a Pirates & Princesses cruise organised by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust.  I wasn't sure what to expect but thought they might enjoy the experience of being on a boat coupled with the chance to dress up.  I was right.

We arrived to find the staff preparing the boat, each and every one of them dressed in pirate costumes.  We watched excitedly from the canal side for 5 minutes, and received a friendly greeting as we boarded.  We were seated at pre-allocated tables and the captain then explained that they had come across some mean pirates on their last cruise and we had better watch out for them!  The children listened eagerly whilst peering out of the windows.

The staff handed out party poppers and we were told to set these off if we saw any other pirate boats.  On the front of our boat was a cannon, which was fired with a button triggering smoke and a loud bang but thankfully no cannon balls.  This would also be fired when an enemy ship was spotted!  Throughout the trip, all the children on board took turn after turn to "fire" the cannon - it was incredibly popular.

We set off along the canal, stopping at each lock as the pirates hopped on and off to work the gates.  Spiderboy was very interested to see how the locks worked, and loved the rising up of the boat as we waited for them to fill.

We came across the rogue pirate boat and spent a good five minutes booing and hissing at the bad guys to a background of party poppers.  One of our pirates managed to capture their treasure chest, and bought it back on board to be shared out amongst us all - biscuits, juice and golden chocolate coins.  With the children happily munching away, us grown-ups were treated to a glass of sparkling elderflower cordial and some cheese straws.  

Next it was time for some colouring in, or an ice-cream if you were tempted, and a sing-along led by the captain.  We encountered the rogue ship again and this time managed to rescue the princess, who came back on board our boat.  Spiderboy particularly loved this battle as they came almost close enough to touch on our side of the boat, and he spent a good long time shaking his fist at them while they fired their "guns" at him.

After all the excitement of the final battle, we enjoyed a seat out on the front of the boat for the return journey, and enjoyed watching the banks pass by - Doodles was enjoying it I promise, she just doesn't look like it :)

Along the way, there were lots of things to spot such as toy parrots that had been strategically placed along the banks, and an inflatable crocodile floating on the water.  

Back on dry land at the Loxwood Canal Centre, and there was just enough time for a photo inside the character cut outs before it was time to head for home with two tired children.

Out of the many things we did last week, this was hands down the favourite of both my kids. I can't wait for the Halloween trip!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Bath Paints

We were faced with another wet day on Tuesday, the first official day of our half term holiday, so I got around to making up some bath paint for the kids to enjoy.  I've been meaning to do this for a while and as we skipped bath time on Monday due to a late pub supper, I had the perfect excuse!  

I've seen many "recipes" on the web for this so I made one I vaguely recalled using clear bubble bath and cornflour, along with some food colouring.  I kept the food colouring to a minimum, just in case it stained anything but it was fine - in fact, the colours were a little muted so I would probably used some more next time.

I used 1 cup of bubble bath (or body wash) - just make sure it is clear or the colour won't work as well.  Add around 2-3 tbsp cornflour, or enough to thicken it up to your desired consistency.  Separate the mixture at this point, and add a few drops of food colouring to the different pots.

Add two paintbrushes and some eager children then let loose on the bath tiles!  

They loved it, drawing pictures and writing letters on the walls.  Plus they had just as much fun washing it off the walls with the shower afterwards!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mamatography - Week 21

A successful week of healthy eating meant I could fit into my skinny jeans *relatively* comfortably by Thursday - hooray!  Here's what else we got up to.

Day 139 - Sunday 19 May
We visited friends back in London, and Spiderboy and Doodles were fascinated by the iPad my friend's daughter was allowed to use!  I do sometimes let them play games on mine but not often enough to ensure it isn't a novelty when I do :)

Day 140 - Monday 20 May
Doodles was very proud of the picture of Daddy she drew on the chalkboard.  I frowned at Spiderboy when he pointed out that Daddy's legs & arms came straight out of his head :/

Day 141 - Tuesday 21 May
I spent the week detoxing / dieting / generally trying to be healthier (its amazing the spur an old friend's wedding can have!) and loved how colourful my plate looked every night.  Wholegrain rice with stir-fried veg baked inside a red pepper with a salad on the side - yum!

Day 142  - Wednesday 22 May
Photo failure...it seems I always have to have at least one day where I forget!  A busy day with school & nursery photographs, and a ballet lesson meant there was no time to snap.

Day 143 - Thursday 23 May
I whipped up a homemade body scrub and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, considering it was my first time!  You can find the recipe here.

Day 144 - Friday 24 May
I spent the day sorting out the Leavers Hoodies for Spiderboy's school - a simple task we as the PTA committee volunteered for which turned out to be more complicated than expected!  Still, everybody was pleased with the end result at least :)

Day 145 - Saturday 25 May
I had a birthday lunch for my mother-in-law and she bought me along these gorgeous Stocks which brightened up the table.

This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project hosted by Momma Jorje and Diary Of A First Child.  We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year.  Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Without further ado, here are the Mama/Papatography2013 participants!