Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fireworks Picture

I am ridiculously bad at most kind of arts and crafts with the kids.  Seriously, it's embarrassing.  I have these good ideas, or see something that looks easy, but when it comes to actually doing it, they never turn out very well and I get disheartened.

Dear Son saw this while watching Mister Maker last week and I figured even I could manage this one!  We enjoyed some small fireworks in the garden last week too so he was even more interested in this very topical theme ;)

Our results!  (Top: Mum's attempt, bottom left: DS (4 years), bottom right DD (2 years)

You will need:

Black / blue card
Poster paints (i.e. the type you can splodge on)
Squeezy glue (i.e. not a stick)

Squeeze blobs of paints at random points on the card.  Using your brush, flick outwards from the centre of the blob to create an "explosion".  

When the paint is dry, dab glue all over the card and sprinkle over the glitter.  Shake off the excess and display proudly on the fridge ;)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Little Green Frogs

Earlier this year, I discovered Little Green Frogs, a weekly singing class held in Godalming and Liphook.   It is a drop-in session, meaning you don't waste money on a pre-paid course if you can't make it one week and you can also buy a Ten Session card which offers you a saving on the weekly cost. 

Be prepared...Jacqui is lively…and if you haven’t had your caffeine fix it can take a bit of getting used to!  But that is exactly what the kids love about her – she throws herself around whilst singing and doing the actions to a variety of songs using cuddly puppets and props.  The class finishes with the children gathered round a colourful parachute for more songs and fun.  There is an ideal mix of fun and educational value too, with the children learning and re-enforcing colours, days of the week and animals. 

The singing session lasts for 30 mins, which in my opinion is just the right amount of time to keep the kids interested.  Afterwards, Jacqui puts out two large bags of toys for the kids to delve into while mums can socialise for the next 30 mins, whilst enjoying tea, coffee and biscuits that are provided.

Monday classes are held at Borough Hall in Godalming and Wednesdays in the Church Centre in Liphook.  There are two sessions on each day - the first at 9.30 and the second at 10.45 (should the kids give you a lie in one morning!) 

Jacqui also offers parties either at your house or in a hired hall and although I have no experience of these, I can imagine the kids would love it.

DD and I have been going regularly for a few months now, and I took DS along with us today for the first time as he is on half term holiday, and he loved it just as much! 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fruit Squares

I made these for the kids yesterday and although DD (fussy eater that she is!) didn't like them, I had to wrestle DS away from them after he had eaten five!  I got this recipe from One Handed Cooks - there are some great toddler recipes on the website, take a browse for some inspriration.


1 & 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc)
1/2 ripe banana
1/2 grated apple
1 tsp cinnamon
1 & 1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180 and grease a slice tin with a little butter.  

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and pour into the tin.  

Bake for 40-45 mins.  Remove from the oven and cut into small squares while still warm.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Spotted Cow

We had an impromptu Sunday lunch at The Spotted Cow yesterday.  I heard about the pub through a few friends but we hadn't yet got around to trying it.  It is tucked away down a little lane so you won't pass it by chance but once you know about it, I can imagine you will become a regular visitor!


It was pretty busy when we turned up and as we hadn't booked we had to wait for a table.  The staff however were happy for the kids to sit at the bar with a juice and between the drizzle showers, DH took them to play in the garden.  As soon as a table became free, I ordered our lunch at the bar so it arrived at our table within about 15 minutes.  DH had a Thai Green Chicken Curry and I had a Roasted Vegetable Jalfrezi, while the kids shared Scampi & Chips, and we finished off with Homemade Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Ice-Cream for the kids.  They also have a traditional Sunday lunch menu, as well as a large Specials menu and they do a few offers - kids eat free during the week between 6-7pm (when accompanied by an adult buying a main meal) and between 4-7pm on a Sunday, all starters are £5 and all mains are £10!  All the food was well cooked and delicious, and the service was friendly and efficient.  

There were plenty of families eating there, and quite a few dogs too - it had a very comfortable atmosphere.  We will definitely be going there again!

Saturday, 20 October 2012


When I saw Domestic Goddesque's post on making breadsticks with only TWO ingredients, I was heading over to read it right away.  We eat a lot of breadsticks in this house (since my dentist told me the cause of DS's slight tooth decay was eating too much fruit!) and as I've been really strapped for time lately, the two ingredients part made me think that it must be a super speedy recipe.

Although the original recipe calls for equal amounts of yoghurt & flour, it was far too sticky for me to do anything with so I kept adding more flour until it was workable - I think next time I would start out with these amounts:

1 cup of plain yoghurt
1.5 cup of self-raising flour

Mix them together and knead on a well-floured board.  It will look like glue to begin with but stick with it (no pun intended!) and keep adding more flour a little at a time if needed.

Break off small pieces and roll into sausage shapes.  Brush with a beaten egg and add a topping if required - I sprinkled some with sesame seeds (the fatter ones in the centre of the plate) but the tastiest ones were those I generously sprinkled with Parmesan before baking (the skinnier ones around the edge).

Bake for 10 mins at 180 and enjoy.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Dressmaking & Alterations

When we moved here last year, I had trouble finding somewhere that could take up a pair of jeans in not only a reasonable amount of time (i.e. not 2 weeks!) and for a reasonable price.  The local dry-cleaners seemed to outsource and material shops I tried wanted to charge an extortionate price so when the time came to have 3 pairs of DS' trousers taken up for school, I was resigned to doing them myself...very badly.


So I was very relieved to spot a card in a local supermarket advertising Caroline Harvey-Taylor offering alternations & dressmaking.  I called up and Caroline came to my house within a few days, measured up the trousers whilst DS was wearing them and took them away only to return them just a few days later all done!  In the interests of saving money, I had requested that we take them up loosely so that I could let them down again when he has a growth spurt but after 3 weeks of school discovered that boys and anything you need to be vaguely gentle with do not go well...  I called Caroline again to ask that she cut & machine the trousers now that I had learnt my lesson, and she again had them back to me within 2 days (and over a weekend no less so that DS could wear them for school on Monday!)  

I can highly recommend Caroline's services and will be using them again in the future for any alternations I need.  She can also copy any design you have so if your favourite dress is looking a bit tired, she can make you a brand spanking new one in any material you like!

Caroline is based in Headley and you can contact her on 07746-151961 or via

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Lasagne recipes always daunt me a bit...maybe it's the different elements that you need to get going and then bring them all together at the end!  Whatever it is, I've never been very successful and the few lasagnes I have attempted have not been great.  Saturday's version was great though...not too dry, which is usually my problem, and very tasty!  I think I've finally cracked it ;)

No-precook lasagne sheets
30g grated Parmesan
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g minced beef
250ml beef stock
Tin tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh parsley
40g butter
40g plain flour
450ml milk
Pinch of ground all-spice
60g grated Gruyere cheese

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 3-4 mins.  Add the garlic and minced beef, and cook until browned.  Leave to cool for a minute then put the mixture through a food processor for just a minute to get a smoother consistency.

Return the mixture to the pan, add the stock and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 3-4 mins, and stir in the tin tomatoes, puree, thyme, bay leaves and chopped parsley.  Bring up to the boil again and simmer for 20 mins.

Meanwhile...melt the butter in a separate pan and stir in the flour.  Cook for 1 min, stirring all the time, then whisk in the milk.  Bring to the boil, add the all-spice and simmer for 2 mins.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere until melted.

When ready, remove the bay leaves from the meat sauce and spoon a couple of spoonfuls of it into the base of your dish.  Add a few spoonfuls of the white sauce on top, then cover with lasagne sheets.  Repeat until your dish is nearly full - meat sauce, white sauce then lasagne sheets.  Keep enough white sauce to cover the final lasagne sheet on top then sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.  

Cook at 180 for 25-30 mins.  Remove from the oven and (this part is really important), let it rest for 5-10 mins before cutting - it will hold in place much better then if you cut it straight from the oven!

Serve with salad and garlic bread ;)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


When I discovered it was International Babywearing Week (8-14 October), I started reminiscing about when my little ones were small enough to be carried around all the time.  

Both DS and DD spent the vast majority of their first year being "worn" (and a great deal of their second year too!) and I had to try out a few carriers to find one I was really comfortable with.  My definite favourites were the CuddlyWrap for when they were tiny, and the Ergo for when they were a little heavier and / or when they began to need to ride on the back!  I did try a Mothercare carrier (in the style of a BabyBjorn) and also a sling style carrier but didn't really get on with either of those.

As a first time mum, babywearing took a bit of getting used to and many of my friends thought I was crazy for never putting DS down!  But I loved the ease of it and the fact that he would happily and calmly let me get on with most things while he sat in his pouch and watched or slept.  Second time around, I wore DD within a day of her birth (dropping her brother at nursery when she was just 30 hours old!) and over the next few months, it was great that I had my hands free to continue to play with / help DS while DD slept happily in the wrap.

I found so many great photos of our family's babywearing journey that I'm breaking my self-imposed rule (of not posting photos showing our faces on the Blog) to share them with you!

From left to right, top to bottom: 
1) Me with DS at 4 weeks in the CuddlyWrap; 
2) DH wearing DS in the Ergo at 13 months; 
3) Me wearing DD at 12 months & holding hands with DS (3 years)
4) DS in Mothercare carrier at 5 weeks; 
5) DH wearing DS to sleep at 9 weeks old; 
6) DD at 6 days old in the CuddlyWrap at DS' 2nd birthday party; 
7) DD on my back at 9 months, DS in the buggy!
8) DS at 22 months on DH's back & me 7.5 months pregnant with DD! 
9) DD at 13 asleep in the Ergo while I packed up our house to  move!; 
10) Hiking in Cornwall with DS in the Ergo at 9 months; 
11) DH & DS at 9 months, walking in a bluebell wood; 
12) At home with DD at 11 months;
13) Bird's eye view of DD in the CuddlyWrap at 10 months.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Rhyming Words

DS was very into rhyming words over the summer and he loved this little game.  I dug it out again this week as DD can now match some of the words up too.  It's a great game to travel with or keep them busy at a restaurant table ;)

I drew up a list of rhyming words (see below) and then just Googled photos of each object, choosing the easiest / most recognisable object. 

Apologies for the rubbish photo quality!

Cut each picture out and mix them up in a box then get them to match as many rhyming words as they can.

These are the words I used:

Cake; Rake; Snake
Frog; Dog
Moon; Spoon
Bread; Shed; Bed
Bear; Chair
Knight; Light; Kite
Star; Car
Nose; Hose
Rock; Sock; Clock
Mouse; House
Ball; Wall

Cheap, easy and fun!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Easy Beef Casserole

After quite a few quick & easy meals lately, I felt the kids needed a "good food" boost so I made this last week.  They both chomped it down so it will be going on the current list!  I have adapted it slightly from an Annabel Karmel recipe.

1 onion
2 sticks of celery
1 large carrot
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Large piece of braising / casserole steak
1 clove garlic
1 parsnip
1 medium sweet potato
2 medium potatoes
500ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
4/5 ready to eat prunes, chopped

Peel / dice the onion, celery & carrot and fry in a little olive oil for 5 mins.  Add the thyme, beef and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins.  Add the parsnip, sweet potato, potato, prunes, stock and puree.  Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for around 1 hour.  That's it!

As you can see from the photo, I served it to the kids as it was but served mine with rice.  I ended up leaving most of it, as it really didn't need an accompaniment - it was a complete meal in itself.