Summer Holidays Ideas Jar

It’s been a while I know…and I’m only really posting to share what I think is a great idea to prepare yourself for the summer holidays and the unbearable notion that you have children to entertain 24/7. 

Trying to think of things to do is a nightmare and generally a plathora of tantrums, sulking or Kevin and Perry style attitude ensues in this house when I don’t have things planned – it’s time to act like kids; and I don’t mean 2016 kids I mean like 1980’s kids, which basically means playing and having fun.

So I came up with the Ideas jar – the children (and I),over the past few weeks, have been writing ideas of what we want to do in the holidays, on a piece of paper, screwing them up and putting it into the jar. The idea being that each day the kids will take it in turns to pick out a piece of paper and do whatever is on it (obviously this could end up being weather or money permitting!)

The rules are to have only one or two ideas a week that cost money (and preferable not much!) so it may need to be managed a bit. 

We’ve been trying to think of as many free things as possible; camping in the garden, making cookies, picnic in the park, home cinema day etc. I can’t wait to get started but we need more ideas so I’m after some help! 

Please help us to not watch Telly all day or play on the PlayStation – join our Act Like Kids Campaign for the holidays and share your thoughts! 

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Halloween Special -Games 

 it’s drawing near….I’m getting more and more excited by the day….We are hosting a small Halloween party on Saturday and I’m trying to think of games we can play to keep the kids (and adults) entertained. 

1. Try to get the worm out the jelly using only your mouth 

Not exactly the most catchy of names I know, but I don’t know what else to call it?! Blind Jelly Surprise? Our first experiment was to try to get the worm out of a jelly using only our mouth – this proved far too easy for Bear, who’s 6, so we thought we would try it blindfolded and on Boo, 4!!! For adults and children alike….this is how little Boo got on…friends reading this: your turn on Saturday!!! Thinking about making it a team relay! 

 
After thinking about this and realizing that trying to find 20+ blindfolds might prove tricky, and that everyone might really hurt their noses if they go in aggressively, I think maybe we will just do it in the dark! 

2. Torchlit Treasure Hunt

Hide lots of little sweets out in the garden (I’ll be using gold/silver chocolate coins as they should be easier to find) and get the kids go try to find them using torches. Great for indoors too with all the lights off if the weather is rubbish. Remember to keep some coins aside for the little ones who might find this more tricky. I plan to tell them that once they’ve found 5 that’s their lot so everyone gets their fair share.

We tried this indoors tonight and the kids loved it!

3. Pin the Wart on the Witch

Speaks for itself really just an adapted version of the tail on the Donkey.

4. Musical Statues – Halloween style

Of course I have a Halloween playlist for this, which I’ll post later. Cut out or make small pictures of witches hats/ghosts/cats whatever takes your fancy, and put them on the floor. This is just like musical statues, but when the music stops, the kids (and adults) have to stand on a picture, obviously take a picture away every time someone is out. A small treat for the losers and a big treat for the winner!

That should keep us busy for a bit….

Lollipop Spiders – Halloween special!

Halloween – one of my favourite times of the year! It’s at this time of year I wish I lived in America – they do Halloween so well!

I find myself constantly on Pinterest looking up crafty bits for the kids to do, home made costumes, make up, decorations, food ideas, basically everything!!!

Today we tried lollipop spiders. So simple, takes about 3 seconds for grown ups – 3 hours for children and their tiny fingers. No, seriously, it’s simple, even the kids can do it.

All you need is lollipops, black pipe cleaners and stick on googly eyes (and scissors and glue)  

      

Basically all you do is:

  • Take 2 pipe cleaners and cut them in half
  • wrap 2 of them together round your lollipop stick
  • Spread out the ends and turn them over at the very ends so they stand up
  • Stick on a couple of googly eyes

Hey presto!

  

If you need any more tuition than these simple instructions check out this link on Pinterest

 http://www.iheartnaptime.net/spider-suckers/

Mexican Chicken Salad

 

Beardy’s new favourite. I didn’t think this would go down too well with the kids but I do love giving them new things to try, so did it anyway!

Neither of them have found their spice tastebuds yet, if it’s got even a hint of spice to it, they’ll find it. They don’t like dressing on their salad, pepper on anything, Mayo, mustard, anything like that, but like all kids will happily smother tomato ketchup over EVERYTHING! So….I was totally expecting a meltdown when they saw Mexican salad on the menu…..

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Salad leaves
  • 1/4 Cucumber
  • 8 Baby tomatoes
  • 4 Spring onions
  • 1/2 small tin of Sweetcorn
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cheddar – grated
  • Bag of Nachos
  • Ranch or Caesar dressing
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Coat the chicken in the Cajun seasoning and pop on a baking tray into the oven on 160 for 20-25 mins
  • Meanwhile get a big bowl and chuck all the salad leaves into it
  • Chop the cucumber and avocado into small chunks, tomatoes in halves and slice the onions. Put them, along with half the tin of sweetcorn, into the bowl with the leaves.
  • When the chicken is done slice into strips or chunks and put into the salad bowl along with 2 handfuls of grated cheese.
  • Drizzle your dressing over, just enough to coat the salad, and toss well.
  • Scrunch up 3 handfuls of nachos in your hands and sprinkle into the mix with a couple of grinds of black pepper. Toss again and serve.

YUMMY!!!

So….I actually went out of the room while the kids ate this (they seem to eat better when I’m not there to moan at)…I hid round by the stairs, pretending I was doing something. 

‘Is this new food?’ Bear shouted, ‘erm…kind of’ I replied….they were quiet..’will we get a monster if we eat it?’ Boo shouted, (they get monsters on their reward chart for eating new food), ‘yes!’ I shouted back (with my hand cupped round my mouth, giving the false impression I was further away than I really was, (cunning!)) unbeknown to them I was actually right by the door, spying on them! I went and sat down in the den for a few minutes. I felt weird, they’d been eating for 10 minutes and no complaining. I was confused and felt like I was in someone else’s house. 

Another 5 minutes passed in silence so I walked back into the kitchen. 

THEY HAD FINISHED THE WHOLE LOT! BOTH OF THEM! PLATES CLEAN! Sorry for the shouting but reliving this moment is very exciting for me!!! 

So, then came the marks out of 10.

Bear – 9!

Boo – 25! 

Beardy – “this can definitely go on the menu every week!”

Woop! A hit all round…..and no ketchup in sight. 🙂

Bums, Boobs and Toilet Humour!

builders bum

Seriously, am I the only one who doesn’t find toilet humour funny? It definitely seems to be a boy thing. We watched The Inbetweeners 2 a few weeks ago, I was literally gagging and couldn’t watch with all the poo and wee in peoples faces, yes I really did say ‘in peoples faces’, gross right? Beardy was cracking up and I was covering my eyes, trying not to puke. Call me old fashioned but I just don’t get it.

From as soon as Bear could speak and understand, he found the words Poo and Wee funny, still does, and I’m sure will continue to do so for as long as he lives if Beardy is anything to go by. Same with body parts! Bottom, Bum, Willy, Boobs – all hilarious! 

I try not to swear in front of the children so the other day when I stubbed my toe I screamed ‘AAAH…….’ hesitating, trying to think of something that would satisfy my urge to swear, and came out with ‘BUM!’….well, that was it, the kids couldn’t stop laughing, which then made me laugh, begrudgingly at first I might add, but I soon forgot about my sore toe. 

I tell my kids not to say ‘Bum’, “bottom please!” but if they follow in my footsteps and use this instead of swearing (not yet obviously, they’re 4 and 6!) I really don’t think I can complain too much.

If I thought it would work, I would urge everyone when they’re upset and frustrated and they feel the need to swear to replace it with the word ‘Bum’ instead; it has to be said loudly by the way, shouted in fact, it might not work, it probably won’t, but there is a very small chance that it might make you smile instead of getting angry, one thing is for certain though; it will definitely make your kids laugh – apparently there is just something funny about it!

Rolling a Wrap

I tried to instil a bit of healthy eating into my children last week and gave Boo a wrap instead of sandwich for her lunch, a nice healthy alternative to bread. What a nightmare I had trying to  roll it! It flaked as I rolled and I knew Boo would struggle eating it but still gave it to her anyway, she picked it up, and as kids seem to have no concept of how to hold food properly, she picked it up like a dainty teacup and obviously it all fell apart and the filling fell all over the table and floor, she cried. I laughed. Evil Mummy. So I thought, right, enough is enough, I am not having a wrap beat me and upset my children, I will conquer this, so I looked up some videos on how to do this on YouTube and I tried again.

I did actually take a video of me doing this to see if normal people (rather than chefs) could do it as easily but Beardy found it and cracked up laughing, which then made me totally paranoid I looked a complete wally and decided against putting it on here! lol. I can tell you this though, it’s not as easy as it looks!

The two videos I followed were these below, if, like me, you suck and rolling wraps this is very useful……

Although I found both of these helpful, I also found a tip somewhere that said to heat your wrap first before rolling as it makes it more pliable, which I would definitely recommend! The only trouble with this is that the butter melts when you put it on obviously because the wrap is warm, but butter is paramount for the sticking, bit of a catch 22 really. I had also never put butter on before, but can confirm that this is definitely needed!

I found the tucking in of the ends in the first video a bit of a problem, it kept breaking on me and I think now in hindsight I may have left too much room and tried to tuck too much of the wrap in. I did this 3 times and only one of them turned out ok, could just mean more practice needed.

The other thing I tried was to copy the second video (easier) and wrap it in foil, I left one end open and twisted the other end so the filling wouldn’t fall out, kind of like a Twister from KFC (if you’ve ever had one) and as you eat you tear away the foil. This also worked pretty well but it’s a bit of a pain having to keep tearing away the foil so not ideal by any stretch, especially for kids.

In conclusion, I would say;

  • Heat the wrap, but only for 10 seconds (it does make it easier to roll).
  • Butter the middle of the wrap, not the edges to start with, just where the filling goes.
  • Roll up and butter the edges at the end of the process to stick down (i.e. after the wrap has cooled)
  • Don’t tuck in the edges (copy the second video) but trim the ends, or if you do want to tuck the edges in, don’t leave too much, about an inch at either end is ok.

Boo ate both of these well with her tiny fingers, dropping hardly any at all.  Happy Boo Boo, Happy Mummy.

 

 

 

Lamb Flatbreads

IMG_5361IMG_5358

I feel like I’ve neglected the blog a bit, I know it’s only been a week but I’ve missed writing it so it’s a double whammy tonight!

Haven’t tried the kids on this one yet, but Beardy and I tried it and liked it so….

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 Flour tortillas
  • 250g minced Lamb
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lamb stock cube
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp All Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Fresh Mint (2 handfuls)
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Splash of worcester sauce
  • Natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste

Method

  • Fry off the lamb until brown and get rid of any water/fat that comes off
  • Add all the ingredients to the lamb except: Tortillas, Mint, Natural yoghurt and Harissa
  • Leave to simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly and is not too runny
  • Add in half of the Mint
  • Pop the tortillas under the grill, both sides until they feel slightly crispy, don’t panic if they bubble up, this is normal!
  • Pop 2 tbsp yoghurt in a bowl and the tsp of Harissa paste on top of the yoghurt
  • Once the tortillas are done put the lamb mixture on top
  • Tear up the remaining Mint leaves and sprinkle on top along with dollops of the yoghurt/harissa

Done. Enjoy!

 

Kids Ruin Your Life…..

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…Of course this statement is completely untrue, they don’t ruin your life at all, the gorgeous little treasures they are, BUT they do ruin your brain.

I never wanted children when I was younger until my Sister had them. My Dad even told me I’d be a rubbish Mum! Thanks Dad! He was right though, back then I didn’t even like kids; we were standing in a queue once at Thorpe Park and a little girl was in front of us, hiding coyly behind her Mum and giggling, my Sister and Cousin were looking at her smiling and saying how cute she was, she just irritated me; I had no time to be nice to children, I wanted to get on the ride (although come to think of it couldn’t have been that exciting if a 2 year old was queuing to get on???).

Anyway, now, I have turned into a proper Mum, I used to be really cool. I know I did. I can’t remember when exactly but I was definitely one of the coolest people in the world.

I was listening to the radio today having a little bit of sing-along me time (Uptown Funk), feeling cool again, when who should come on the radio but Grampy Rabbit! In my head I was willing myself to visualise Prince Vultan but I couldnt. Now, those of you with similar aged children to me, will know what I’m talking about…… obviously it was Brian Blessed, who was always known to me as Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon, always; nothing would ever make me think of him as anything else….’Gordon’s ALIVE’ – that’s what used to pop into my head every time I saw or heard him, and a very fond childhood memory of watching the film with my Dad on a Sunday afternoon! Now all that pops into my head is ‘I got up this morning…..the sea was still there…..so was the skyyyyyy….the sea the sky, the sea the sky…..’ urgh….see what I mean, soooooo uncool.

So the legend that once was Prince Vultan has broadened his acting career and been engulfed in a world of childrens character voices. Not only is he Grampy Rabbit from Peppa Pig, but once your children grow out of that, he then becomes Mr Enormomonster in Henry Hugglemonster. Worst thing for us parents is, some of these programmes are actually quite good, especially Peppa and Ben and Holly. I find my inner child gets excited about new episodes, it’s the snippet of adult humour in them; God I so love the Desert Island episode when Grandpa Pig suggests they save the chocolate bar only to turn around and see that Grampy Rabbit has scoffed the lot and Grampy Rabbit making marks in the sand for every time he thinks about cheese – that would totally be me! Ahhh you’ve gotta love a bit of Peppa. Again, not sure this is doing my cool status much good.

I find myself quite often singing songs from all sorts of kids programmes, Sofia the First, how annoying are the songs in that, but so unbelievably catchy that I sing them all the time, I think I’m singing them in my head but then I get to a crescendo and I can’t help but blurt something out…..it’s happened at work before. What’s that song you’re singing? er….er…..I try to scramble around in my tiny cartoon infested brain trying to find a cool song and all I can come up with is the theme tune to Doc McStuffins! Doc McStuffins for Gods sake! What is wrong with me? I don’t even LIKE the programme! She irritates the hell out of me! Either that or, in my desperation to find a proper song, I blurt out something lame that I’ve heard on the kids playlist like Gangnam Style.

I have come to a couple of conclusions whilst writing this:

1. I need to get a life

2. er….there really isn’t a 2.

So, I’ve taken an executive decision – I need to stop actually watching these programmes, until that happens I will not be cool, like, ever again. I’ll start tomorrow, I’ve recorded a new episode of Peppa.

Kids Chicken and Bacon Carbanana (Carbonara)

I say kids, because it’s super creamy and cheesy, in other words, unhealthy (and delicious), not that I ply my kids with unhealthy stuff you understand, they eat well and have a very balanced diet (she says after just posting a peanut butter cookie recipe!), but because of this I don’t mind spoiling them occasionally with something creamy and delicious, something I very rarely treat Beardy and myself to! If I mention the word ‘cream’ in a dinner to Beardy I get a disappointed look (we’re trying to be ‘good’), thus forcing me to sneak away and secretly hide in the fridge eating cheese and drinking cream, out of Beardys view, shhhh, he doesn’t need to know (if I get caught I’ll just say I’m nibbling a lettuce leaf – got it covered!) Saying all this, it still doesn’t stop him ‘making sure it tastes ok!’

So, if you’re a follower of my blog you’ll know I don’t like spending loads of time cooking for the kids. I love this recipe because it’s easy and quick. We got in late tonight and I had some chicken, bacon and double cream to use up and this is what popped into my head. They both love normal Carbonara (or Carbanana as they used to call it), so knew they’d like it, but there is always something, no matter how small, left on the plate, not tonight, oh no, I almost didn’t need to wash their plates up they were so clean!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
  • 4 rashers of bacon, cut into small strips
  • 1 egg
  • Grated cheddar cheese, about a handful (I usually use Pecorino, but didn’t have any)
  • Double cream, say, half a cup
  • Pasta (I used Farfalle but obviously you can use whatever you have)
  • Pasta cooking water

Method

Put the pasta on to boil. In the meantime, put a couple of glugs of oil in a large pan and fry off the bacon until it’s crispy, set aside with the juices in a separate dish. Fry off the chicken until done, get rid of the fat. Chuck the bacon with it’s juices and pasta back into the pan with the chicken and add half the cream. Crack the egg over the top of the mixture and mix in well, making sure you break the yolk (you can obviously mix up the egg before you put it in, but it just saves on washing up if you crack it straight in the pan). Season (I like to add lots of pepper). Add in the cheese and the rest of the cream until it becomes a thick creamy sauce. Then lastly add in a ladle or two of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce up.

You can make this slightly healthier by adding broccoli, which I would have done if I’d had more time but I didn’t, so I didn’t.

Bear and Boo polished this off in about 3 minutes, and I gave them quite big portions. Both gave it 10/10. Shame it’s so unhealthy!

 

 

Salmon & Broccoli Bake

salmon and broccoli

Creamy Salmon and Broccoli Bake

Being a semi-working Mum (3 days a week) I’m always looking for quick easy dinners to do the kids. I find myself getting annoyed and frustrated at myself when I put the same things on the menu because I just don’t know what else to cook, so I try to find or create new dishes, just to satisfy my own irritations really.

I don’t want to spend ages cooking them as kids and new food just doesn’t mix, whenever I put something new in front of them, I get met with an ‘urgh’ face or an ‘I don’t like that’ (obviously before they’ve tried it), it infuriates me, BUT I persist because I like to write something different on my blackboard. I’ve even created a reward chart now where one of the rows is to try to new food and they get a little monster against the row if they eat it, 10 monsters = little treat.

So quick, easy, new dishes is the key for me. I can’t wait to see what the kids think of them and get quite excited when they like them. I couldn’t really go wrong with this as they both love Salmon, Broccoli and Potatoes (especially new potatoes). This was a bit of a mish mash of stuff I had to use up by the best before date so I got a big pat on the back for this one (by myself obvs coz no-one else will).

I haven’t put any measurements on here because I didn’t measure them, I just kinda chucked it all in, when I’m making up my own recipes I very rarely measure!

By the way, I forgot to take a photo of it after I cooked it so this photo is just a generic Salmon and Broccoli Bake, not my one, but it’s the picture that looked most like it (apart from my cheese on top was a bit more browned!)

Ingredients

Salmon fillets (2 – cut into chunks) (you could also use chicken)
New Potatoes (or you can also use pasta)
Broccoli (or any veg really!)
Cheese (you can use cheddar, which is what I used but could equally use any other, blue cheese I think would be especially nice if you’re using chicken!)
Garlic
White wine (1 glass)
Double cream or Cream Fraiche (as much as you want really!!! – I use loads)
Onion (finely chopped)
Breadcrumbs (if you want to)

Method

  • Boil your potatoes in a pan of salted water.
  • Whilst potatoes are boiling, put a few glugs of oil in a pan and add in the garlic and chopped onion, fry for a few minutes.
  • Cut up the broccoli and give it a quick 2 minute blast in the microwave with a little bit of water.
  • Add the broccoli, salmon, white wine and cream to the pan and fry for a few minutes. I also add a bit of water at this point, not much, just maybe 2 or 3 tbsps.
  • Take out your potatoes and cut them in half or thirds/quarters if they’re particularly big.
  • Add your potatoes to the other mixture and mix it all up. Season the mixture to your liking.
  • Transfer, in layers, to a baking dish, covering each layer with some grated cheese. When you put on your top layer I put another layer of cheese on top and then breadcrumbs on top of this.
  • Put into the oven for approx 10 mins.
  • Enjoy!

With the cheese, if your using blue cheese I wouldn’t bother putting a layer on the top with this as it’s such a strong taste and I’d just crumble a few bits in between the layers.

If you’re using chicken, I’d add this in with the garlic and onion at step 2.

I love this recipe as you can change so many aspects of it, it’s so versatile.  I might try chicken with leek and pasta next time. If you don’t like cream or cheese or are lactose intolerant you could also substitute them with tinned tomatoes and a bit of chili or tomato puree and lemon juice.

So, results: Bear gave it an 8/10 and Boo, always one to give high marks – 100/10! (she’s still not got it).