Play ideas meme

As you know I’m quite new to blogging but I have seen some brilliant linkies, including the weekly ones I take part in, from Podcast Dove and Ethan’s Escapades.

I love the sharing nature of blogging and wanted to get some ideas from other parents about toddler play ideas. We are short of space, on a budget and have a little girl who is very very active. I thought I’d start a toddler play Monday meme and seek my first tagee this week.

So here we go with our three questions:

What’s the activity?
How do we do it?
What did your little one enjoy about it?

What’s the activity?

We tried a spot of highchair cornflour gloop! We heard about this at our local Children’s Centre and thought the highchair could be a good place to contain the gloop til we source a cheap messy play tray!

How do we do it?

Mix two heaped tablespoons of cornflour with water until you have a gloop in a cup, or mix it straight onto the tray like we did for floury then wet fun! Then get your hands in, get little plastic toys in or a cheap paintbrush!

What did your little one enjoy about it?

Joss loved the gloop despite an uncertain start, look at her face! The gloop is so strange it looks wet but feels solid and you can move it around but if you try to scoop it it runs like water through your hands! Hard to describe, you’ll have to try it yourself!

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Its pretty easy to clean up but do be aware it could be drain clogging so try to scoop as much as you can into an empty milk carton!

If you’d like to get involved and don’t want to wait to be tagged then grab my blog meme button! The next blogger to post next Monday will be In The Playroom – I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

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Potato week? Try a cheese and potato pie!

It’s potato week, and I prefer the simple potato dishes, so here’s my cheese and potato pie! I know others make it with layered pots and cream but that’s a bit too rich for me! This is perfect as a side dish for a bigger meal, or we have this as comfort food, with a side of green veg.

To serve four

Ingredients
8 medium potatoes, diced into inch pieces
1 medium sized onion, peeled and diced (I like it diced finely)
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
150g of grated mature Cheddar cheese

Boil the onions and potatoes together until soft, then drain and mash with butter and milk
Add about 2/3 of your cheese at this point and spoon into a baking dish
Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 180 C until the cheese has totally melted and is starting to bubble and turn golden

And finally, as it’s potato week, here’s our favourite potato, ready to be stitched into a page of Joss’ busy book that I’m working on for Christmas, Mrs Potatohead with Velcro hat, bag and feet!

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Making a start with meal planning on a budget

Mr B and I really want to put our shoulders under making some savings, we decided to start an MSE style storecupboard challenge, using what we have in for a good three to four meals a week. These meals are mainly vegetarian, with the addition of plenty of cheese and good healthy oils for Jossy. I set a monthly target for £s and number of purely store cupboard meals we want to make each week with a rough meal plan to keep us on track .

This month I’m going for £120 as I need to do some stocking up and Mr B has started taking lunches in to work so this feels reasonable.

I’ll be doing four purely store cupboard meals this week plus cheese and veg etc.

This week we’re having:

A Girl Called Jack’s lentil bolognese to do two days
Homemade pizza with the lentil bol as a topper, a few slices of chorizo, a little homemade onion chutney and loads of fresh veg
Jack’s spicy bean burgers with slimming world chips
Vegetable stirfry

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For our non store meat days I’m roasting a chicken and stockpiling soups

As a bit of an aside we’ve also started a £1 a day jar for Christmas, not that we get into the spirit early, we just like to plan ahead!

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When life hands you over ripe bananas make banana bread!

When life hands you over ripe bananas make banana bread!

I love GBBO, my baking always takes off when it’s on and I remember how therapeutic it is, and how impatient I am!

I spotted bags of bananas reduced to 10p outside the local greengrocer so knocked up a quick banana and walnut bread. Joss was delighted to have ‘cakey’ for breakfast and we’re going to have ours later with custard for supper as it’s been one of those days. I had a shocking day today, I somehow fell off a chair at work – “I’m ok , I’m ok” (I wanted to die of embarrassment), Joss sustained her first fat lip and didn’t want me to go to work today, and I turned up at the local Uni library to sign up as a distance learner but forgot it is freshers week so made a wasted journey.

So this is the recipe for my restorative banana bread:

100g softened butter, plus a little smidge extra for greasing
140g caster sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 over ripe bananas mashed
60ml milk
85g chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 160C (fan) and grease a 2lb loaf tin with butter

Mix the butter, egg and sugar, then fold in your flour and baking powder

Add the bananas and walnuts

Mix well

Pour into the tin and bake for one hour or until skewer comes out clean. Enjoy! (or freeze half as we have, it will keep well for a good month)

A Nappykind review and our lighthearted top tips for cloth bum babies and mums!

I received a 20% discount from Nappykind http://www.nappykindboutique.co.uk towards Joss’ new babylegs, all views and creative direction of this post are my own.

Joss and I have been using cloth nappies since she was old enough to fit the birth to potty styles, so since she was ten weeks. We often get a lot of interest when out and about, we also do a lot of mythbusting, so thought we’d share our top tips for cloth bum babies and mums. This is the first post in a series on cloth bum babies.

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1) Seems like a minefield of brands and styles? There are people out there who can help you!

You could find out about your local nappy library (I know, like for borrowing books, but fluffy, how good is that?!) here http://nappynetwork.net/nappy-library-map/ . I like coffee, and Joss likes cake, so we like to go to our local Nappuccino, Cappuccino, Nappucino, see what they did there?! Many libraries or Real Nappy Advisors run them on a monthly basis, so you can get advice, chat to other cloth bum mums and as I did recently, get support when your little one has a teething rash and you have had offers of hundreds of different creams to use! When I’m not working we go to a local one.

2) Save yourself some pennies and do some of the legwork yourself

We had a lot of poly-fleecy baby blankets that Joss had outgrown. Fleece makes a great nappy liner, it wicks the moisture away from baby’s skin and is really absorbent, if you’ll excuse the TMI but I call a spade a spade, the poo just flicks off down the toilet and it’s a lot less wasteful than paper liners. We try not to use disposable liners unless childcare necessitates, instead we make our own fleece liners cutting a template to the size of your nappy brand you can get lots of funky coloured liners for free in our case, or the £2 cost of a cheapo blanket. Do tell the grandparents if you’ve just popped a virulent red in as this caused a bit of alarm until closer inspection revealed a cheeky monkey! If you use disposable liners and you need to put a lot of nappy cream on as we have of late a fleece liner gives your nappies better protection too!

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3) Think about clothing for a big cloth bum

Many brands offer ‘a cut for cloth’ range for a big cloth bum. We’ve found two some simple things invaluable, vest extenders and babylegs. Vest extenders help accommodate a cloth nappy at night, meaning we save more as we don’t need to move up into the next size vests so often, most baby stores and nappy advisors sell them. Babylegs are something that we really like. They are so simple but effective. Babylegs are baby leg warmers, they keep babies legs warm in a sling, unlike tights which can cause pressure wicking around nappy legs they are cut to the top of the leg, and when potty training (which is looking likely as Joss keeps loudly announcing ‘poo’ and ‘weeweewee’ in cafes) they are easier than rushing to pull tights and trousers down!

We recently took up Nappykind Boutique’s kind offer of a 20% blogger discount on babylegs, great as we were about to look for more to see us through the winter! These funky mustard yellow ones are super soft and super warm.

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To add to my list of benefits above here are some more from the packaging:

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An added bonus for you thrifty mamas? Not just for babies they can be used for older children and once outgrown they can use them as arm warmers too!

We’re really pleased with the quality of the babylegs stocked by Nappykind, they’re really stretchy, a good fit for my tall girl and come in a wide range of styles and colours.

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The postage offered by Nappykind is really reasonable and the leg warmers arrived quickly! The only problem we had was that the washing/care directions on the packaging were in Japanese which I thought was rather fun, I did a bit of googling and we gathered they could be washed up to 40 degrees and tumbled too!

4) Sunlight is your friend

People always ask about whether poo goes in the machine and how I feel about that! Until weaned a baby’s poo is really water soluble, once weaned the poo flicks off the liner and the nappy gets washed as normal. Sometimes you do get a bit of staining, especially if you have a big stash of nappies and you want to wait a day or two between washes. This is where the magic of sunlight comes in, rain or shine get the nappies on the line and the sun will help to gently bleach them out! Follow the washing directions on your own nappies, they vary across brands and materials, i.e. microfibre, bamboo etc and be conservative about detergent usage, a little goes a long way and you want to avoid detergent building up. We use Totsbots Potion, there are others on the market and many Mams use an ordinary detergent. You will develop your own wash rinse routines as we have over the past year. Oh and if you find a small plump raisin in the rim of your washing machine door, do not be alarmed, we sometimes have escapees too!

5) Want to save more money and the planet? Wash your wipes

Opt for washable wipes, you’re washing the nappies anyway, this is a big saver and great for a sensitive bum. I use just plain water and wet them as we go, others soak a stash for the day with a few drops of essential oils. You could buy a washable wipes kit, you could also just use flannels as a friend of mine who got 5 towel bales as wedding gifts does!

Glitter and mess

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Love a spot of messy play! Here are our top ideas for cheap rainy day entertainment!

1) edible glitter and squirty baby soap, a lethal combination so do this on bath night! Joss loved the sparkles and thought the squirty soap was hilarious! If they’re passed the stage of eating it shaving foam is a cheap alternative!

2) a 25p bottle of blowing bubbles, even tiny babies enjoy bubbles, Joss now says pop when they come back down!

3) have you checked out pinterest? Wow what a goldmine of ideas, this edible paint was great fun for me to make and play with too! http://pinterest.com/kristi_cck/edible-art/

4) an oldie but goodie, cornflour feels lovely and silky, add water and it turns solid and gloopy but when you scoop it in your hand it turns to liquid, who knew?! Joss loves the mess with this one!

5) and finally water play, Joss is enjoying her baths so much that we bought a big plastic sheet for in the kitchen, sat on the floor with her old baby bath and some random items (bath toys are boring, sieves, spoons, an empty bottle and little pots and measuring cups are waaaay more fun!

If like me you love to be out and about don’t feel trapped indoors get creative!

From over ripe bananas to things of beauty

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Its GBBO again, I’m no Mary Berry but I’m fond of practical family baking and they don’t come much more practical than these banana breakfast muffins! Bake Off worthy? No. Toddler worthy? Oh yes!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
3oz butter melted gently
3 overripe bananas mashed
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
9oz self raising flour
1/2 tspn each of baking powder and bicarb
4oz caster sugar
4 fl oz milk

Preheat oven to 190 degrees

Sieve all your dry ingredients together and melt your butter.

Add mashed bananas, milk, beaten eggs and vanilla extract to the butter. Mix well, tip into a well in the centre of the dry mix and gently fold in.

Portion into cupcake/muffin cases and bake for about 20 mins until golden, my mix made 12 large muffins, yum!

Crafting time – canvas quad for less than £10

Crafting time - canvas quad for less than £10

I finished Joss’ 4 canvases today, all with a seaside theme and incorporating photos from her first trip to the coast at South Shields and her first dip in the sea.

Bargain canvases at £4 for 4 and a craft magazine with all the trimmings made this a really cheap and easy activity, kept me busy for a few nights and will make a pretty display in Joss’ room!

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