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Vegetarian Option For Lunch?

I love this recipe and made some vegetarian burgers to cook tomorrow. This recipe is really cheap and a great way of getting our children to eat different vegetables.

Thought I’d share this great find with you today.

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http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/04/06/carrot-cumin-kidney-bean-burger-9p/

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All a Toys Are Rubbish

Real life is better.

How many times I have you heard a parent say that their child played with the cardboard boxes for longer than the toy?

Most toys don’t do enough to keep children occupied yet we fill our homes with them. Ok I know some toys are great ūüôā

As a working mum with traditional values I find you can’t go wrong with these ideas:

HOMEMADE PIZZAS

Making the dough and putting all the toppings on is great fun and keeps children occupied for ages. Let them help wash up too. Not only is cooking fun but it’s also educational.

SHOPPING

Keep lots of kitchen items to use for shopping games- empty cereal boxes, sweet tubes, jars and tubs. Nothing sharp. When finished everything can go in the recycling bins.

GARDENING

Give your little one a trowel and something to kneel on and they’ll play for hours. Let them help pull up weeds, sweep,play with empty plant pots and watering cans.

CRAFT

I love making things. We’ve just bought a big bag of loom bands and are happy creating things together. I love crafts using leftover household items like toilet roll binoculars, pen holders from Pringles pots and landscapes using all manner if leftover items.

COMPETITIONS

Egg and spoon races, dancing competitions, who can make the best potato face, hide and seek. Anything can be made in to a competition to create fun for hours.

COLOURING

My little one is a whizz on the ipad but she will spend longer with good old fashioned colouring lens and colouring book. I love those great big felt pictures you can colour in. Colouring books are great for dexterity, colour recognition, colour use and concentration. Tracing paper over a colouring book is also good. Pavement chalks for outdoors. Bath crayons for bath time and paint for old wallpaper. Simple fun costing very little.

I don’t think you have to spend a fortune to have fun.

Children who can a use themselves will be less demanding of attention. And will be less likely to get bored as quickly.

Sometimes movie time with a hot chocolate is a great way for the whole family to relax.

Remember your little one wants to be just like mum or dad so role play games or helping out games will be just up their street.

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What Is Santa Bringing You This Year?

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I don’t want to come over all saintly but I do get a little annoyed that all people seem to ask my little girl about Christmas is ‘What Is Santa Going To Bring You’

I’m really pleased that her first Christmas at big school is quite traditional and I’m really conscious about giving her the same experiences I had when I was growing up. When she’s older she can make her own decisions about how she wants to spend Christmas.

We went to the Christingle Ceremony last week- a Church of Wales service organised with the Reverend and her school. To me it encompassed¬†everything I think Christmas is all about-family, celebrating our children and the wonderful qualities and talents they have, joining with your community and thinking of others-after all in essence that’s what the story of the bible is about. Believer or non believer.

I wouldn’t say I was particularly religious but I do think the values of Christianity are crucial to a happy life. You don’t have to believe in God to want to live an honest and kind life. That’s what I want my little girl to grow up understanding.

So I’m struggling to find ways of ensuring she knows that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get.

After the Christingle service she was given the symbol of Christmas-an orange with¬†a red ribbon, a candle and sweets on cocktail sticks. The sweets represent temptation. As I was driving home I thought ‘Those sweets will not last two minutes in our house’. But I thought I’d give my little girl the responsibility of looking after the orange until Christmas. One sweet went immediately but I’m really proud to say that five days later the rest are all still there and she checks it every day. For a three year old this shows amazing restraint-I’m really proud of her. I hope it teaches a little about being patient and not being greedy.

Being three she has just started ‘I want, I want’ and tonight she asked for a certain book for Christmas to which I replied ‘We don’t ask for what we want-Santa brings us what he thinks you’ll like’

And I know Santa has bought her way too much. and I’m sure that Santa must be relatively poor after all that shopping.

So what is Christmas if not all about the gifts- here are some of my ideas:

  • Spending time together-go to church, go for a walk in a forest collecting holly or fir cones to spray gold, go to a pantomime or just play games together
  • Christmas is about magical stories-read A Night Before Christmas together, read the story of the nativity, read Peppa Pig Christmas stories-whatever takes your fancy.
  • Make your own decorations-baked sliced oranges in the oven, make a fairy from a doily, make felt decorations to hang. There’s loads of ideas on the internet for all ages.
  • Do something kind-donate to charity, visit the animal centre with gifts, visit someone who’s not very well or make someone a handmade present
  • Do all the fun things that make Christmas magical-talc footprints on the carpets, porridge oats left outside for Santa, carrot-milk and cookie left out the night before, the sound of jingle bells outside as the sleigh comes
  • Go for a walk and enjoy the changing seasons. Christmas is a good time to get wrapped up warm and go outside.
  • Get your little ones to help decorate cards and wrap presents.
  • Give unwanted toys to charity shops

Don’t get me wrong-my little girl is totally spoilt-my house isn’t bare of decorations and I’m no bah humbug. I just don’t want to lose some of the more important parts of Christmas.

Do you?

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Winter Family Cooking

It’s turned much colder so I’ve been cooking some nice heart warming meals for my family. I have a husband who doesn’t eat vegetables and a daughter who doesn’t eat much meat and me with an ever increasing and decreasing waistline. It’s not easy to find recipes we all like.

My little girl is in nursery and school all day so I always like to have lots of meals in the freezer for her- one pot meals are best because I can hide vegetables in them and they freeze easily. I often have similar meals for my lunch in work although I was the butt of some ridicule when my colleagues spotted my tiny jacket potato, my spoonful of beans and my tiny pear. Maybe I have taken my lunches to the extreme-I can often been seen eating out of my girls plastic bowls and my favourite spoon is a pink plastic one!!!!!!!!

I love cooking but I don’t enjoy slave labour so you’ll find my ideas quick to make and fairly basic.

Hope you enjoy and try some of these ideas:

Macaroni cheese with ham and hidden vegetables:

No recipe-I just cooked some macaroni, added vegetables to the water. Drain and add cheese sauce and ham. Simple.

Soya Bolognese over a jacket potato.

Fry in olive oil some onions, carrots, garlic and herbs. Add a great big jar of pasatta. Add some soya mince which has been left in water to expand for a while. Add pepper and Worcester sauce and cook until the soya mince has absorbed the tomatoes and taken on their colour. This is great left in the fridge to have with pasta or a jacket potato. It’s surprisingly meaty!

Cauliflower and lentil curry.

curry

Found this great recipe today and will be trying it out this afternoon. I think the addition of coconut milk will make it really appealing for my daughter.

Warming soup.

soup

Whether you open a can, cook a ready made mix of fresh vegetables or make your own soup from scratch it doesn’t matter-soup rocks in winter and is a fantastic way of getting your family to eat their vegetables. I found these great soup mugs in a charity shop-I’ll be making some soup later today-ASDA do a brilliant soup mix which I just love! It costs just ¬£1 and will serve me and my girl for 2 days. Bargain!

If you get change to go to a market stock up on vegetables and then find some recipes when you get home. I have found a great fresh vegetable stall locally and yesterday bought a punnet of grapes, raspberries, big bag of white potatoes-big enough for baking, a cauliflower, a curly kale cabbage, onion, carrots, pineapple and a swede for £10. It will feed my family for the whole week.

There are some great recipe sites I use too-just Google the item you want to cook with and you’ll get loads of suggestions.

My top five sites are:

All Recipes

BBC Good Food

Good To Know

UKTV

Jamie Oliver

Thanks for stopping by-ironically now I’m off out to Sunday lunch-well even mums deserve time off

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Fairy Tea Party

It’s really easy to create a magical world for a young child-all you need is a bit of imagination…

For my daughters third birthday party I decided to celebrate with a Fairy Tea Party. I laid the table with fairy plates, bowls, napkins and party blowers-a bit of bunting and some balloons and the kitchen was transformed in to Fairy Tea Party.

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It’s a much fun to set up as it is to have the party.

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This is the first year my little girl has really been aware of what’s going on-picking her own food and opening her own presents. This is why I created a party that was just for her. All you need to do is pick a theme and the rest is easy.

What is a party without cakes? In the morning me and my daughter made scrummy cupcakes for the party.

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What if you are on a tight budget?

A lot of items can be picked up from bargain shops like B&M, UK Discount, Poundworld etc so you don’t have to spend a fortune.

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Girly table confetti £1 from Poundland http://www.poundland.co.uk/party-and-celebrations/celebrations/table-decorations/party-table-confetti
  2. Pink doilies £1 from Poundland http://www.poundland.co.uk/party-and-celebrations/celebrations/table-decorations/coloured-doilies-assorted-30-pack
  3. 20 party cups girls theme 99p http://99pstoresltd.com/2012/10/girls-party-cups-20pc.html
  4. 8 Barbie party plates 99p http://99pstoresltd.com/2012/10/barbie-birthday-plates-8pk.html
  5. Balloons 99p http://99pstoresltd.com/2012/10/party-balloons-80-assorted.html
  6. Fairy tablecloth £2.99 http://www.fabulouspartyware.com/product/12/Fairy_Party_Tablecloths/?gclid=CP6S6Z2st7oCFQrJtAod1AQA0A

My best advice if you are on a budget is:

  • Keep your theme broad i.e fairies, bright colours, jungle etc
  • Pick up bits and bobs as you go along and it spreads the cost
  • Re-use as much as you can
  • Use toys as centre pieces- no need to buy all new
  • Keep it simple.

Thank to my little girl for a lovely day.

At the end of the day all that matters is that you get time to spend together and create memories.

If you need any ideas let me know

Thanks for reading my blog

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Jungle Boogie

Todays blog is one of the easiest to write because I’m going to give you some ideas on parties-love them or hate them they are an essential part of a child’s social life-where else are they going to learn to hide under a table eating a blancmange, have a fight in a bouncy castle or get their faces painted like spiders?

Today my daughter had a joint party with five of her friends-all celebrating their third birthdays.

We decided to share the party after all six of us mums met in a parent and toddler group in a local library. It was a turning point in my enjoyment of being a mum. Before this I was stuck at home, used to working, desperate to go back to work. When I met these girls for the first time I wanted my maternity leave to last forever. When you become a mum friendships like these are invaluable. Anyway-I digress! So we all met and we thought a shared birthday party would be great for those of us on a tight budget.

I thought I’d share my top ten best party ideas for you-based on our party today:

  1. Eyeball jellies-these really were the star of the show. A lychee set in jelly with a grape or blueberry in the centre. Simple and great fun for kids (great for Halloween too) Courtesy of Gillian Jackson DSCF1829
  2. Share the cost with friends-we had a two hour party complete with face painting, games, bouncy castles, food and hall for less than ¬£40 each. It’s easy to spend close to ¬£200 for this sort of party on your own.DSCF1839
  3. When you are having a party for younger children the less structure the better. Just let them play and have fun. We had no sit down buffet and the children could just come and go as they pleased.
  4. Set a really broad theme-we chose jungle because of the bouncy castle we hired- one friend made home-made bunting in animal fabric, another friend brought yellow cutlery, animal plates, another friend bought wrapping paper to cover the tables with in animal pattern and I brought in some soft animals to put on the buffet table. Another friend made palm leaves to put on the tables, It all tied in so well and more importantly it was easy for us all to buy items in different places.
  5. With food have a selection of foods so parents can choose whether they want to have a healthy meal or a plate of party nibbles or a bit of both. We had a good selection of fruit, vegetables sandwiches, crisps and of course cake.DSCF1837
  6. Party bags-our entertainment company Fizz Kids sold these at ¬£1.90 each which was a really good price as you can go overboard as they can often look cheap. Our party cups were nicely wrapped, jungle themed-with a whistle inside, sweets colouring book and animal stickers. By the time you buy a few bits you can easily spend three or pounds per party bag so it’s worthwhile looking at buying them ready done.DSCF1827
  7. Keeping everyone happy in a party- it’s important for all parents to make sure they’re children are behaving as tempers can flare up with all the excitement. Keep a lookout for any situations which may ruin others’ enjoyment of the day
  8. Try and include parents who may have come to the party alone-parties are great events to make new friends-not just for the children!
  9. Birthday cake-shop bought or home made-don’t worry. Just don’t forget the candles as that is what makes a little persons day.
  10. Have fun and don’t stress. The only way you’ll be judged is by how much fun the children have had-not on how much you have spent.

Thank you to Fizz Kidz and all my mum friends for making this blog possible.

Have a good week all

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Halloween Fun Not Saved For The Weekend

You don’t have to save Halloween fun for the weekend just because it falls on a work night. It’s one of the easiest calendar events to have some fun with and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

I’ve decided this year to finish work early and while my daughter is in nursery I’m going to decorate my house with cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons and ghoulish footprints. I absolutely love Halloween and am so excited to celebrate it with her.

I’ve invited only two friends who live close-by because on a work night I don’t think I could be hostess for the mostess for loads of kiddies. Three is a small party and it should be fun.

The lead up to Halloween has also kept me and my girl busy today as we started making some crafty things for the party.

First of all the invites-we painted paper plates to look like pumpkins-on the back we are going to write details of the party and will hand deliver them.

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We also made pumpkins to hang from the lights-they we fairly simple. Strips of orange paper glued on to a toilet roll:

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For party games there are lots of ideas on the internet-I’ve chosen pass the pumpkins, find the bugs in the jelly and a scary treasure hunt.

Here are some more fab ideas-click  /www.mydeliciousambiguity.com/2010/10/halloween-games-for-groups-of-toddlers.html

Drop the Ghost: Give each child a tissue to make a ghost. Help the child pinch the centre of the unfolded tissue and twist it to make the head of the ghost. Once everyone’s ghost is made, let the kids drop their ghosts from the top of the stairs or throw them into the air. As the ghosts float down, the kids try to catch the ghosts.
Pass The Pumpkin: Sit in a circle. Provide a plastic pumpkin for children to pass while the teacher beats on a drum. Children pass the pumpkin to the tempo of the music. Alternate between slow and fast. When the music stops the child who has the pumpkin stands and takes a bow. Continue process.
Monster Freeze Dance: Play Halloween music and have the kids dance around like monsters! The Monster Mash is a great song for this game. 
When the music stops the kids freeze in their monster positions. 
The first kid to move is out, and the game continues until only one child is left.
Donut Chomp: Thread donuts on a long piece of string and make sure to leave space between each. Have the kids race to eat the donuts off of the string with their hands behind their backs.
Pumpkin Walk: This game is played like musical chairs. Place different colored pumpkins on the floor (made from construction paper) and the children walk around them to music. When the music stops the adult calls out a color and the children try to find a pumpkin of that color and stand on it.
Pin The Heart On The Skeleton: 
Buy or draw a skeleton on a big sheet of paper then tape a heart to the skeleton where a normal heart would be. Cut out hearts from red construction paper and put tape on the back of the hearts. Blindfold the children and have them put the heart on the skeleton
Trick For a Treat:¬†Make up a bag with candy and a bag with slips of paper in it. The bag with slips of paper will have all ‘trick’ apart from one which will have ‘treat’. The number of slips of paper should equal the number of children.‚Ä®All the kids who draw a ‘trick’ will have a specified trick that they will need to perform to get a piece of candy. One lucky child just wins a special ‘treat’. The tricks can be singing a song, doing jumping jacks while turning around, other fun things that are fairly easy for little ones.
Guess Which Paper Cup Has Candy Under It:¬†The name of this game says it all. Have children turn their backs while you place five or six cups upside down on a table with candy under one. Tell them to turn around. Have one child at a time come to the table, guess until he guesses the correct cup. Give him a small prize “for being such a good guesser”.
Marshmallow Bobbing: This game is a variation on Apple Bobbing. 
Take a large tub with ice water in it and float full size marshmallows in it. 
Each child is given a straw cut in half (shorter straws are easier to suck and hold the marshmallow). They then have to race to see who can suck up a marshmallow the fastest. Once a child scores a marshmallow they can eat it, and sit out to let another child have a turn if they cannot all fit around the basin at one time. Keep rotating until all the kids have had one or two marshmallows.
Halloween Eye Spy Activity: Go for a walk outside with the kids and look for Halloween decorations around the neighbourhood. Take turns playing eye spy and describing things such as: scarecrows, black cats, witches, pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, monsters and vampires. Keep track of how many of each kind of decoration is seen on the walk.
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We will be lighting up our pumpkins (Making sure they are kept well out of reach of little fingers)
And I’ll be making a little buffet-there are tons of Halloween recipes online but as a working mum I will be making some of the easiest:
  • Halloween punch
  • Pizza witches fingers
  • Tomato eyeballs
  • Slimy ghouly jelly pots
  • Bat jam sandwiches
  • Gravestone cookies

Hey presto you have an easy toddler party.

I love being creative and the Autumn/Winter calendar events are the best-we are lucky to live in a country where the seasonal changes help create different memories.

My little girl will Trick Or Treat¬†our house¬†as I think at three she’s a bit young to go door knocking.

With her two little friends coming over this year I’ll get them to answer the door together so they can see the Trick Or Treaters without being frightened

I hope you have a lovely Spooky time with your family-

Have a great week

Amanda