Monthly Archives: May 2014

31st May 2014

Easy breakfast pancakes

I’m always lacking inspiration when it comes to breakfast – and whilst I love pancakes, I didn’t think they were healthy enough to give Stanley regularly nor easy enough for me to cook. Then my friend Katie told me about Jamie Oliver’s  Breakfast Pancake recipe, so I looked it up that evening and decided to give it a go the following morning (if there’s one bonus from children that wake up at 5.30am, it’s that you have enough time in the morning to do these things…)

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so easy. There are just four ingredients and it takes minutes to combine them into a batter and start cooking. Jamie’s recipe contains grated pear, but Stanley is a bit obsessed with apples (he begs for them, he eats them, and he talks about them all day long) so I grated an apple instead. And that’s the beauty of the recipe, as you can use any fruit – mashed banana, chopped blueberries, diced strawberries, etc etc.

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Ingredients:

1 cup self-raising flour (95 grams)
1 cup semi-skimmed milk (240 ml)
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
1 apple (or other fruit)

Recipe

Add the flour, milk, egg and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Then add your fruit – I peeled the apple before grating, but it isn’t totally necessary.

Heat a large saucepan on the hob with a knob of butter. When the butter has melted, add the batter mixture a spoonful at a time – I think 3 tablespoonfuls is the perfect size for a pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes, flip it over, and cook the other side for a further two minutes. It’s as easy as that!

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How you serve it is up to you. I like them served with plain yoghurt and a few blueberries (on a good day) or bananas and maple syrup (when I’m feeling naughty). Stanley has them served with blueberries on the side – he likes them served whole so he can pick them up and chomp into them (far more exciting than chopped up, obviously). I love the fact that there’s nothing unhealthy in them and he’s getting a portion of hidden fruit.

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The best thing is how quick and easy they are to cook. A matter of minutes to make the batter, a few more to cook each pancake, and they are ready. Oh and you can keep any batter you don’t need for a few days in the fridge, making the whole process even easier the next day.

Yum.



30th May 2014

Painting with cars

If your boys are car obsessed, they will love this activity (and it only takes seconds to set up, which means it’s a good one for us too!)

You just need paint, a selection of different cars, and paper. Simple as that.

Stanley loved painting with the cars, rolling the wheels through the paint and creating a pattern of tracks on the paper. It kept him occupied for much longer than I expected and he asked to do it again that afternoon.

I think this task could be even better if we had a garden. I’d lay out a long roll of paper on the lawn (or use a large bit of cardboard if one was hanging around) and line the cars up. I’d also use different colours of paint, so he could crate a crazy pattern of track marks. That’s one to save for the summer when we’re back in the UK!

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Some tips:

1) Use water-based, washable paint. Very important if you don’t want your little people and their cars splattered with paint permanently! I used this one from ELC (£1 per bottle, bargain!)

2) Use a flat plate for the paint so the cars can be rolled over easily.

3) Choose different sized cars so the tyre tracks are different widths. This creates the best patterns!

Let me know if you give it a go!



29th May 2014

An ode to bedtime…

I love my kids, but other mothers of small children will understand exactly what I mean when I say that bedtime is often my favourite part of the day. The moment I walk back into the lounge with the baby sleeping peacefully in his cot and his brother passed out in the other room, I feel a sense of elation and relief that we survived another day. I check my emails, do a quick workout from YouTube, pour myself a drink (the contents of glass very dependant on the kind of day we have had; therefore it is often wine), and collapse on the sofa. Oh yes, I like bedtime a lot.

To be fair, there are lots of other things I like about bedtime. It’s little boys in the cutest pyjamas, the smell of baby shampoo in their hair, the cuddles as we read a story, and the squeals of “I love you” as I pop the big one down in his cot (I taught him that; he has no idea what he’s saying, but I’m keen to keep it going). So to celebrate this simply wonderous time of day, I have compiled a selection of bedtime buys for boys below. Goodnight all.

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1 – Monster Slippers, £8, John Lewis (click here)

2 – Angus the Sheep Pyjamas, £24, Ava & Luc (click here)

3 – Star Bedside Lamp, £35, Great Little Trading Company (click here)

4 – Ovre Bed Base, £95, IKEA (click here)

5 – Sleep Tight Cushion, £15, Not on the Highstreet (click here)

6 – Illustrated Stories for Bedtime, £8.96, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

7 – Hooded Dressing Gown, £12-£17, Debenhams (click here)

8 – Lego Brick Clock, £16.86, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

9 – Trains Duvet Set, £45, Cath Kidston (click here)

10 – Lounge Pants, £8, House of Fraser (click here)

11 – Knitted Dinosaur, £10, Next (click here)

12 – Cloud B Twilight Turtle, £24.95, Baby Lurve (click here)

13 – Port Side Pirates Illustrated Paperback, £5.99, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

14 – Read to Me Pyjamas, £14.95, GAP (click here)

15 – Knitted Blanket, £10, Matalan (click here)

16 – Pirate Pyjamas, £16, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here)

17 – Car toddler bed, £139, Mothercare (click here)

18 – Bull dog hot water bottle, £26, Not on the Highstreet (click here)



27th May 2014

Favourite Books

Books are a big deal in our house, especially at bedtime when we let Stanley pick his favourite stories to cuddle up on the bed and read with us. I’d much rather he got stuck into a good book than picked up the iPad or switched on the TV (although I’m not wholly against either, just in moderation), so I’m always looking for inspiration for new stories he will tempt him to reach for the bookshelf.

If you and your kids love reading too, I thought it would be very useful to ask 10 boys aged between 1 and 10 (and/or their mummies) to list their three favourite books. It’s fascinating to see how quickly their tastes change and I will definitely be taking hints from this list when buying gifts and future books for both my boys.

I hope you find it as interesting as I did – and thank you to George, Oliver, Stanley, Leo, Isaac, Reuben, Ruben, Matt, Mekhi, Joe and Thomas for sharing their love of books!

1 - OLIVER + GEORGE

Oliver George Collage

Oliver and George chose: Busy Airport by Rebecca Finn, Noisy Orchestra by Sam Taplin, and What the ladybird heard by Julia Donaldson.

2 - STANLEY

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Stanley chose: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr, Goat Goes to Playgroup by Julia Donaldson and The Gruffallo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

3 - Leo

LEO COLLAGE

Leo chose:  The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and Marvin Wanted More by Joseph Theobald.

4 - Isaac

ISAAC COLLAGE

Isaac chose: Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, Tales from Acorn Wood by Julia Donaldson, and Shhh! Don’t Wake The Royal Baby by Martha Mumford.

5 - Reuben

Reuben Collage

Reuben chose: The Twits by Roald Dahl, The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle, and The Dinosaur Cove series by Rex Stone.

6 - RubenRuben Collage

Ruben chose: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton, Deadly Series by Steve Backshall, and Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross.

7 - Matthew

MATTHEW COLLAGE

Matt chose: Frankie’s Magic Football by Frank Lampard, The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp and The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton.

8 - Mekhi

MEKHI COLLAGE

Mekhi chose: The Queens Knickers by Nicholas Allen, Horrid Henry and the Secret Club by Francesca Simon, and Surfs Up Sponge Bob by David Lewman and Heather Martinez.

9 - Joe

JOE COLLAGE

Joe chose: Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riorden, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.

10 - Thomas

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Thomas chose: Holes by Louis Sacher, Tom Gates Extra Special Treats (not) by  L Pichon, and The Recruit by Robert Muchamore.

What have your kids been enjoying recently? I’d love to hear!



25th May 2014

Monster Juice (a healthy green smoothie)

In my quest to get healthy things into my fussy son, I have recently turned to smoothies – and this brilliant recipe went down a treat. I decided to call it ‘Monster Juice’ thanks to its bright green colouring – and to make it even more appealing, I (badly) drew a monster and stuck it to the glass. As he sipped away, he shouted ‘monster juice! monster juice!’ and I did a silent whoop as I watched him inject a whole glass of apple, spinach, avocado, and mint.

It isn’t just for kids. I also had a glass and it’s really delicious. The perfect thing for morning as the avocado is filling. You can’t taste the spinach at all (great if you are low on iron like me) – and the avocado gives it a creamy texture without affecting the taste. The overriding flavour is juicy apples and a touch of mint. And it’s only 115 calories per glass. Winner.

So here’s what you need to throw into the juicer (nb: you can use a food processor or blender too, just sieve it before you serve to get rid of the bigger chunks).

  • 30g Baby Spinach
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 400ml Apple Juice (unsweetened)

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And here’s what to do:

1. Wash the baby spinach and mint leaves

2. Remove the skin and stone from the avocado

3. Throw the ingredients into your juicer and whizz until smooth. If you want it ice-cold, throw in some ice cubes too.

4. Pour into a glass with a badly drawn monster (or well drawn, depending on your talents) and enjoy watching your child drink a glass of healthiness!

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Ill be sharing more of our smoothie recipes over the coming weeks. If you try one, I’d love to hear whether you and your little monsters enjoyed it!

 



24th May 2014

6 ingenious products for travelling with children

You know when you walk down the aisle of an aeroplane with a baby/toddler/child and feel the eyes of every passenger on you, all silently praying you aren’t sitting near them? And the forced smiles of those unlucky neighbours when you plonk said child into a seat, grapple with your luggage and the overhead lockers, and then spend the next few hours of your life attempting to retain the peace?

I know that feeling all too well, being an expat mum living in Dubai and flying back and forth to the UK. We haven’t flown with Wilfred yet (the joy of flying with two small people is approaching in less than three weeks time) but Stanley has flown long-haul 14 times in his two years (I just added that up on my fingers and shocked myself a little bit). So anything that promises to make our flight easier, child happier, and airport experience hassle-free is very high up my list.

The six products below are things that have impressed me (and in one case, we have already parted with our cash). So without further ado, here are six very ingenious products for travelling with smaller people in tow. Good luck…

1 – Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair, £319 (click here)

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The amazing Babyzen Yoyo is the first pushchair to be approved for cabin luggage (measuring a teeny 56x45x25cm when folded up). Thanks to a recommendation from my Auntie (thanks Auntie Ruth!), we own it and have relied on it plenty of times. I can fold it in a matter of seconds – and the handy strap makes it light enough to carry over my shoulder while grappling with a wriggling toddler. You won’t be sacrificing on the buggy at your destination either, as it’s really sturdy, lightweight and reliable (I took it back to the UK last summer and used it solely for 2 months with a 15-month old).

2 – Ride On Carry On, £39.95 (click here)

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If you don’t have the budget for the Babyzen above, this very clever contraption comes a very close second. Attaching to your pull-along cabin luggage, the seat is suitable for children between 8 months and 5 years (up to 18 kg / 40 lbs / 3 stone). It  attaches in seconds and folds flat for easy storage in the overhead lockers. Clever stuff.

3. SkyBaby Mattress, £33 (click here)

SKY COT

We usually fly long-haul so we get the baby bassinet – but if you are flying shorter distances (or the basinets are already full), you may be panicking about how your baby will nap without both your arms going numb. Step forward the SkyBaby Mattress, which can rest on your lap so baby can snooze (especially useful if you have a toddler in the seat next to you and need at least one hand free).

4. Bubble Bum Inflatable Booster Seat, £29.99 (click here)

BUBBLE BUM

Your child might need a bit of a boost in their seat on the flight – and they will definitely need it in the hire car at the other end. But instead of dragging a bulky booster seat along with you, this inflatable booster seat will pack small, take up barely any weight allowance, and inflate in a couple of minutes. It’s suitable for kids between 4 and 11 years (max weight 36 kg).

5. TrayKit, £24.99 (click here)

TRAY KIT

With a toddler to entertain on a flight for 7 hours in a matter of weeks, I love the idea of this attachable tray, which can be folded down to allow him to colour, play, and eat easily. I can keep all his things inside it too, meaning my hand luggage is kept free for the baby. And once we are at the other end, it can be attached in the back of the car too. Clever.

6. CARES Safety Restraint System, £123 (click here)

CARE HARNESS

Wondering how to keep your toddler safe and still during a long flight, without having to bring along your bulky carseat? This CARES harness is the solution – and whilst it’s not cheap, you can’t put a price on a well-behaved toddler on a long flight, right? It’s the first and only FAA approved harness type child safety device and is suitable for children between 22 and 44 pounds.

Have you seen anything clever designed for travelling with kids? I’d love to hear and see it!



22nd May 2014

Baby Boy and Baby Shower Gifts!

It only seems like yesterday that we had a teeny tiny baby in the house, but Wilfred is 4 months old next week and I am starting to accept that I can’t call him a ‘newborn’ anymore. So to make myself feel extra sad, I have decided to compile a selection of perfect baby boy and baby shower gifts – and I can safely say that I would have been thrilled to have been given any of them (in fact, we own numbers 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18!)

If you have friends to buy a little gift for, these are very safe bets. And if you have a little boy on the well (congrats, you are a very lucky lady!), shop away to your heart’s content!

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1. Star Print Pram Blanket, £16, John Lewis (click here)

2. Bunny comforter, £18.99, Little Jelly Cat (click here)

3. Star Romper, £12.95, GAP (click here)

4. Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph, £6.98, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

5. Dream Big Little One Print, $5, Etsy (click here) (after paying, you are emailed the high-resolution image so you can print it yourself at home or take on a memory stick to a photo print shop – clever huh?)

6. Cloud Print Baby Gro, £20, Bonnie Baby at Milo et Mimi (click here)

7. Sophie the Giraffe, £12.99, Sophie The Giraffe Store (click here)

8. Superheroes Romper, £26, Beau Loves at Cissy Wears (click here)

9. Star Print Hat, £10.95, Bob & Blossom at Not on the Highstreet (click here)

10. Star Print Sleeping Bag, £22, JoJo Maman Bebe (click here)

11. Guess How Much I Love You Book, £7.43, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

12. Set of two leggings, £8, Next (click here)

13. Liberty Print Cloud Cot Mobile, £25, Little Cloud at Not on the Highstreet (click here)

14. Fabric Standing Letter, £10, Mamas and Papas (click here)

15. Jungle Jam Swaddle Wraps, £44.95, Aden & Anais (click here)

16. Hooded bunny towel, £19.95, Zara Home (click here)

17. Indulgence Bath Oil for Mums-to-be, £18, Bloom & Blossom (click here)

18. Milestone Baby Cards, £13, JoJo Maman Bebe (click here)



20th May 2014

Chocolate Muffins with Hidden Vegetables

Stanley will eat every kind of fruit under the sun, but vegetables are his arch enemy. I can only get him to eat them if I smuggle them into sauces – even peas and sweetcorn (my past failsafe) are now rejected. So when I found the recipe for these chocolate muffins with hidden vegetables, I couldn’t wait to cook them and watch as he chomped away happily on a portion of the green stuff (evil laugh).

The vegetables in question are broccoli and courgette (grated finely) – and apart from brown sugar (which this recipe does need to make it tasty), everything else is really healthy too. They are the perfect idea for treats at home and packed lunch boxes at nursery or school.

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By the way, this recipe uses ‘cups’ as a measurement guide, which I quite like as I find it much easier than weighing everything out. If you prefer the traditional way (or want to check you have the right size cup), I have put the metric measurements too.

Ingredients

2 Eggs
1/2 cup Oil (120ml)
3/4 cup Brown Sugar (170g)
1 cup finely grated Broccoli (100g)
1/2 cup finely grated Courgette (50g)
1/2 cup Whole Wheat or Almond Flour (95g)
3 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tbsp. Unsweetened Almond Milk

Recipe

I threw everything into the food processor and whizzed together, but the technical way to do it is whisk the eggs, oil and sugar together in a large bowl, then add the vegetables, flours, cocoa, baking powder and milk and mix it all together. Then simply grease a muffin tray (or use cupcake cases as I did), pop into the oven at 350′F/180′C/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes (mine took 20). Allow to cool.

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They do taste healthier than the regular muffin or cupcake, but I really do like them – and there’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing your child chomp into a muffin and know they are getting a portion of vegetables too. I have to admit that the husband wouldn’t touch them though, he said he could smell the broccoli before he even took a bite. His loss, they were yummy!

Stanley agreed too! VICTORY!

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Mwahahaha you are eating vegetables!

If you make them, I’d love to know how you get on. Enjoy!



18th May 2014

Slogan T-Shirts

Slogan T-Shirts couldn’t be more fashionable at the moment. For adults, the trend was set by Alexander Wang on the Spring/Summer 2014 catwalks – and  fashionable little people have no shortage of options for rocking the trend, as every shop seems to be packed with slogan t-shirts to choose and wear.

Here are my current favourites for boys. Stanley already owns number 5 and I am seriously coveting 1, 3 and 7!

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1. Black Je T’Aime New York T-Shirt, £33, Atsuyo et Akiko at Cissy Wears (click here)

2. Grey Little Man T-Shirt, from £5, Next (click here)

3. Beige Mini Zoologist T-Shirt, £20, Mini Rodini at Scandinavian Minimall (click here)

4. Grey Here to Play T-Shirt, £8.95, GAP (click here)

5. Black Le Rat T-Shirt, £29, Mini and Maximus at Scandinavian Minimall (click here)

6. White Happy T-Shirt, £4, Little Bird by Jules at Mothercare (click here)

7. Black Big Dreams and Rock Music T-Shirt, £19, Not on the High Street (click here)

8. Yellow Come Join the Circus T-Shirt, £17, Marloe Jnr at Latte Mama (click here)

9. Green I am 4 T-Shirt (available 1-6), £5, Next (click here)



17th May 2014

Five-minute Playdoh Recipe

I have my friend Katie to thank for this post. I teamed up with her in March to organise a joint second birthday party for our boys (Rafferty and Stanley) – and given the task of sorting out the party bags, I started to research contents online. I had already filled my online basket with the usual tat (bubbles, bouncy balls, stickers etc) when Katie suggested we did something a bit different.

Her idea was to get together and make playdoh with the boys, then divide it into equal portions, fill  pots, and give it away in the party bags. It was cheap, fun, and unique – and took us less than 5 minutes to make each batch (we made two batches so were at the stove for 10 minutes while the boys played). I have to admit that our arms were aching after all that stirring so we took it in turns (Katie was far more efficient on this front that me – biceps need a serious workout), but otherwise it was really easy and fun to do. And strangely satisfying when it all came together too!

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

2 tbsp cream of tartar

Food colouring

Recipe:

1. Pour the water, vegetable oil, flour, salt, cream of tartar and food colouring to a saucepan. Stir the mixture lightly together to combine. The play-doh will end up being the colour the mixture is now, so add some more food colouring if you want it brighter. You might also like to add some glitter for sparkle or essential oils for scent (we added lavender oil to calm our little ones as they played – or so the theory goes!)

2. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. It should be ready after about 4-5 minutes. During the first minute, the mixture will combine and look lovely and smooth During the second minute, you will start to see chunks (keep stirring to stop the chunks sticking to the side and burning). During the third minute, it will start to look like a lumpy mess (it’s meant to look like this – keep stirring!) During the fourth minute the dough will start to form into a ball. It’ll be ready when it’s not sticky and pulls away cleanly from the saucepan. Test it by pressing with your fingers (but be careful – it’s hot!)

3. Remove the dough from the saucepan and place on a plate to cool down.

4. Once cool, knead the dough.

5. Wrap in cling film or place in sealed containers

We used clear plastic pots (the best place to look is ebay.co.uk where I found a huge choice – search ‘round plastic containers). We also created pretty lids with tissue paper and ribbon (cut jnto squares, laid over the top of the pot, then secured with ribbon in a bow) and created ‘Playdoh’ stickers by hand.

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So that’s that – playdoh in five minutes! Let me know how you get on!