Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to avoid a runaway toddler?

Our little 20 month old monkey is VERY crafty and has taken to making the most of every opportunity to climb, escape and generally put himself in harms way.  This is new territory for me as my daughter wasn't this way inclined at all! 

So what are we doing? Well, following his latest escape attempt which resulted in Dad running down the street after him in a teeny tiny towel after jumping out of the shower, we have implemented a few simple extra security measures:
  • Lock your doors and remove the keys as it doesn't take the crafty ones very long to work this out.
  • Consider fitting a latch if you are worried you or someone else in the house (aka partner or absent minded siblings) might forget.
  • Use window locks.
  • Keep garages and sheds locked up if the children are playing outside. 
  • Safety gates can also be useful to keep them away from open doors or other temptations.
There are also a few tricks and games that I have picked up along the way to help keep control of everyone.

I would highly recommend using reins in busy places and car parks, even getting into and out of the car at home if you don't have garden gates and live by a road.  I know some people find them controversial but believe me if you have more than one child to hold onto and a few things to carry while trying to get into or out of the car they are essential.  There are so many cute styles these days too, some with little back packs and soft toys but I go with the bog standard plain variety and my little boy loves them!

Explain your expectations to your toddler before you leave the house or car.  For example 'You need to stay with Mummy and hold my hand while we are in the car park'.  You might not think they understand yet but you might be surprised and this is a good routine to get into anyway.

Get your little one to sit down on the doorstep while you lock the door.  Its usually just enough of a distraction so they don't run off before you are ready to run after them!  Try and give them something to carry back into the house to make them feel important and avoid any de-tours.  If you have multiple children with you get them to hold hands and stay together, keep hold of the littlest or most likely to wander.

Teach them the 'Stick like glue' game in car parks so you know where everyone is at all times.  This is a really basic game we started while trying to get everyone in the car.  When a grown up shouts 'stick like glue' everyone has to keep a body part stuck on the rear car lights (or any other bit of the car that works for you) and if they let go they are 'out'.  You can shout out new body parts every 30 seconds if you want to keep them engaged or are taking longer than you thought.  We do Hi 5's at the end and it works a treat especially if you are enthusiastic.

As they get a little older we play the 'stop-go game'.  To teach older toddlers to follow instruction and allow them a little freedom we started to play the stop go game in parks.  It's another simple idea where they have to stop or go according to your commands and if they mess up they are out and have to come back but if they do well they get to be the leader.  Its especially good to practice when they are on scooters and could zoom off.

Discipline them for not coming to you or stopping when called and for running away etc. I'm just talking a stern face to face chat with them here so that they know it is just not acceptable.  Don't forget to reward them for doing well, just a little enthusiastic praise will do the trick.

Give your littlest plenty of chances to run free where it is safe.  Don't be tempted to use reins or harnesses for ease when you are at a park or other safe places.  I know its tempting if you have a runner but its not great for them and they will struggle to learn to be independent and follow your instructions.

Make sure you explain to them the places where they should always stop and wait for you, for example road curbs, shop exits, lifts, escalator etc and why.  Have a little family chat about it and get them to come up with ideas of places too.  The older they are the more they will understand but start to tell the little ones too.

When you are out and about (and have time) let them decide if it's safe to cross the road.  The good old green cross code can't start early enough if you ask me and this way they will be much more aware of the danger.

 So this is what we do to try and contain their crazy urges to run away and I hope it gives you some new ideas and inspiration but I'd love to hear any ideas you have or tricks you use to keep everyone safe so please do comment!

photo credit: <a href="">22 January 2012</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The mystical cleaning powers of baby wipes, bicarb and hairspray!

I don't know about you but I am not particularly skilled I in the art of 'home making' and unlike Martha Stewart I seem to muddle my way through most problems via the somewhat mystical cleaning powers of my 3 hero's, baby wipes, bicarb of soda (or baking soda as they call it in the US) and hairspray!

Ok, so I know it might be cheating a little but there aren't many problems that I can't fix with one of these 3 little gems, they are truly amazing tricks!

The humble baby wipe is cleaning way more than just bottoms and sticky fingers in my house.  Here are just a few of the little jobs I use them for.

Removing marks from just about anywhere:
  • Pencil and crayon
  • Face paint and makeup
  • UPVC black scuff marks
  • Baby sick or milk from carpets (followed by bicarb if it's bad)
  • Grubby fingerprints off walls, doors light switches etc 
  • Removing sticker residue
They also make great cleaning companions for:
  • Dusting the house plants
  • Sprucing up plastic shoes 
  • Cleaning your car interiors
  • Spot cleaning floors and carpets
  • Added to a Swiffer for a shinny clean floor
  • Spot cleaning clothes (especially school uniform)
  • Cleaning up plastic or wooden toys or dolls
  • Cleaning down outdoor toys or furniture
  • Leather cleaner
  • Cleaning your skirting boards
  • Bathroom surface or floor cleaner
  • Shower screen cleaner
  • Cleaning computer screens and keyboards
  • Fridge cleaner
  • Microwave cleaner
  • Blind cleaner
  • Removing sticker residue

Bicarb is my best friend No 2 and will literally get bad smells out of just about anything (even the really bad ones)!

  • Sick odor remover (amazing)!
  • Fridge freshener
  • Litter box freshner
  • Mattresses freshner
  • Stinky bin freshner
  • Stinky drain cleaner and deoderiser
  • Bathroom mould remover and grout cleaner (when mixed with vinegar)
  • Boosts your laundry detergent as a freshener, degreaser and washing machine cleaner
  • Dishwasher cleaner and deodoriser
  • Polishes silver (in a paste)
  • Cleans the microwave, hob, oven or burnt on food pans (in a paste)
  • Cleans smelly sports wear and gym bags
  • Shoe deodoriser
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Preserves cut flowers (when added to the water)

And finally, my go to girl....Hairspray:
  • The biggie for me is the removal of ink (inc permanent maker) stains!
  • Lipstick and grease stain remover
  • Stops ladders from forming from nicked tights
  • Removes sticky glue residue (if baby wipes fail)
  • Preserves cut flower heads (spray on rather than in the water)
  • Lint remover
  • Artwork fix (for anything loose, glittery or chalky)

As long as you have these 3 secret weapons in your cleaning cupboard you'll be able to tackle most of the challenges family life throws at you.  OK, so maybe you should also add superglue and plasters to that list but you'll be on the right track!

Now I can't be the only one making the most of these little tricks and many more I haven't yet come across so I would love to hear any that you have to add that might help me along the way?

You Baby Me Mummy

Scuttle Bug - Tried and tested review

Assembled Scuttle Bug
First things first, this isn't a sponsored review I just wanted to share what I thought was a great little product with everyone!

We ordered our Scuttle Bug as I wanted something for my 19 month old Will to use while we were out with our 6 year old Faye on her scooter.  He was getting very frustrated that he is too small for a scooter and didn't want to ride his trike as he can't peddle it yet.

We ordered ours from amazon while it was on offer for £24.00 which I thought was very reasonable for what you get.  I loved the cute animal designs and chose the grasshopper for Will.

I was surprised by how small the box was when it arrived and it also says 'adult assembly required' on the front (que internal groan).  So I was pleasantly surprised when we opened it up and it was just stored in its folded down position. All I had to do was click out the back wheels and steering column and it was ready to go, bonus!

Folded Scuttle Bug

It is just as easy to fold away to with obvious release buttons so no faffing about at all.

Will absolutely loved this toy, I think because it has a little face and was very easy for him to get the hang of straight away.  

Because the Scuttle Bug is very slim it is easy for him to get on and off and he soon got to grips with steering.  Its also very lightweight so easy for him (or Mum) to carry around which he always wants to do with these things.

Do you think he likes his new Scuttle Bug?

We are using ours indoors and outdoors at the moment which is working great as the wheels are narrow so they don't pick up dirt and it keeps Will happy if the weather isn't good.  He is a little slow riding on the street if we are off to the park but if you have a little patience he really enjoys the trip.  I also used a  harness while we ride on the footpath so I have hold of him if he veers into the road unexpectedly. He handles the steering very well though so it hasn't been an issue yet.

The box says this will be suitable until he is 20 Kgs or 3 years and since his sister is also very keen on it (and very upset to find she was too big) I think it will be getting very well used at our house.

Hope you enjoy yours as much as we do if you are off to buy one!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Easy Oreo pops and truffles: quick and easy treats for any occassion

So you need to come up with some treats for a children's party, afternoon tea or a baby shower type event and don't have a great deal of time (or lets face it the skills)to bake up a storm.

I always seem to have one of these occasions pop up where you would love to make something really cute that everyone will love but end up buying something from the supermarket (and feeling a bit rubbish about it).

No I'm not advocating 'competitive mothering', you know the kind of Mum who its obvious have spent an entire week creating a professional 'Bake Off' worthy offering in order to keep up with the Joneses but I do like to at least look like I care and made an effort.

If this is you then next time you should try one of these two little gems and voila, problem solved!  You really don't need to do a lot with these two REALLY easy no bake treat solutions I promise its mainly melting and dipping!

Oreo Lollipops


What you will need:
Lolly sticks
Oreo's (or the Aldi version that I used is fine)
Chocolate or candy melts (any kind is fine)

Choose the chocolate and sprinkles that fit your theme.  I went with white chocolate and multi-coloured sprinkles but anything goes.


Step 1

Open your Oreo's and gently insert your sticks a good way into the biscuit to make sure they are secure

Naked Oreo pops ready to coat

Step 2

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in short bursts, stiring in between until fully melted.

Step 3

Coat your Oreo pops in chocolate, holding them over the chocolate and turning to allow the excess to drip off and lay them out on greaseproof paper.

Lollipop drying station

Step 4

Sprinkle with whatever you like and leave to set on the paper.  All done (told you it was easy)!

Tip:  You might want to wipe any excess chocolate from around your pops before they set if you have a lot of excess chocolate pooling as they dry.  Just make sure you twirl over the chocolate bowl for a little longer to stop this happening with the next one.


Oreo Truffles


What you will need:

3 packs of Oreo's (or the Aldi version that I used is fine)
1 pack of Cream Cheese
Chocolate or candy melts (any kind is fine)

Choose the chocolate and sprinkles that fit your theme.  I went with white chocolate and pink and blue sprinkles as this batch were for a baby shower but anything goes.

Step 1

Blitz up your biscuits into crumbs.  Either in a food processor or in a frezzer bag with a rolling pin and bash away.  I blitzed in 3 batches in the food processor in small 2 second bursts and they came out like this:

Oreo crumbs
Step 2

Mix together with a full pack of cream cheese until it forms into a dough like so:

Oreo truffle dough

Step 3

Form into small balls in the palm of your hand and put into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes

Truffle balls ready for the fridge

Step 4

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in short bursts, stiring in between until fully melted.

Step 5

Lower your truffle on a spoon into the melted chocolate and turn until coated.  Remove gently and place on greaseproof paper.

Tip: If you would like to make your truffles appear like cake pops then use a pretty wide drinking straw pushed into the truffle as the stick.  Pick up your truffle by inserting your straw and  dip it into the chocolate to coat.  Then place your truffle pop upright in a glass to set.

Step 6

Sprinkle with your chosen decorations or some crushed cookie to finish

This recipe does make quite a large batch of truffles, around 30 or so but they are sooo good that really isn't a problem!


Friday, 17 April 2015

Yummy Easter Bark

In an effort to get rid of the rest of our Easter egg glut and have some serious fun too we had a go at making yummy Easter chocolate bark today.

Now I have to admit that our version is a little less 'designer cute' and a little more 'chuck it all on' but then the kids did make it!

We were inspired by a recipe that I found on Pintrest and added our own sparkle and flair. Check out my Pintrest Easter board for the original post.

This is what we used from our Easter grotto

What you'll need for your Easter Bark

Now we set about smashing up our white chocolate bunnies and our eggs and melted them in shot blasts in the microwave is 2 separate bowls.

Mmmmm, all ready for melting

You will need to bash up your Oreo's into crumbs with a rolling pin before you start and lay out all of your Easter egg sweeties ready.  We had Smarties, some Minion Mini Eggs, Jazzies, mini marshmallows and a selection of sprinkles from our baking cupboard.

Clingfilm your tray for ease of removal

Set up your baking tray with 2 layers of cling film to make it easy to get your bark out later and sprinkle with a handful of your sweets and some Oreo crumbs.

The Easter Bark creation station

Once the chocolate is melted pour it over the scattered sweets in the tray any way you like as you will be swirling it together.

Pour over the melted chocolate yummyness

Then, with the wrong end of a spoon give your chocolate a gentle swirl until it looks something like this.

Swirly whirly time
Now all that is left to do is let the children cover it with sweeties and chocolates, sprinkle over more Oreo crumbs and then top with a selection of sprinkles and a little edible glitter (if you have it).

Ta dah, sugar heaven!

Pop this into the fridge for about an hour to set firm and then break it into slivers and enjoy!

And now for the best part...eating your Easter Bark

It was a sure fire hit in our house so we hope you enjoy it too.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

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Easter egg recycling ideas to keep them busy in the holidays

OK so I don't know about anyone else but we seen to have more than enough Easter eggs in our house to last us until next year so today we have set about using a few up, getting messy and being (a bit) creative.

I am not reinventing the wheel here as you will see these ideas are oldies but goodies and I thought we would share anyway.

So, first of all we had great fun with the egg opening and chocolate smashing, melting and spoon licking to make these beauty's.

Easter nest anyone?
I'm not going to include a recipe as I'm sure you all know how its done but we had fun doing it so I'm sharing all the same!

The next bit (what to do with all the shinny papers) was surprisingly good fun.  We drew our best Easter egg designs onto sugar paper, got out the glitter glue and ripped the shinny paper and some tissue paper up into little bits.  

Our inspiration came from yesterdays decopatch experiment which also went surprisingly well (for me and children's crafts that is)!

Fill in the different sections of your Easter egg design with either a mosaic of glued down shiny paper or screwed up tiny balls of tissue paper, like this:

The creation station
Et Voila!

Now all you have to do is leave it to dry and hang it up on your fridge door for a lovely Easter decoration!

For some more Easter craft ideas why not check out my Easter Pintrest board?

As we STILL have a small Easter egg shop in our living room we are also planning to give a version of this  Easter Bark a try later in the week or maybe some Easter chocolate tiffin so keep an eye out.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Design your own decopatch letters for an easy, fun craft

If you have more than one little one to entertain then the age gaps can mean it's sometimes really hard to find activities that you can do with both or all.

These cute and very simple decopatch letters are a quick craft to set up and can easily be done either during a nap time or with the little ones too if you don't mind getting messy.

They really take very little skill so don't need a great deal of adult help and the results are really lovely.

Our finished decopatch letter

I cheated and bought this little kit from our local craft cafe Create It but all the bits and pieces are easily picked up from places like amazon, eBay, The Works or Hobbycraft.

What you'll need:

  • Cardboard letters or other object to decorate.  These can be picked up online or from craft shops.
  • A small paint brush
  • Scissors
  • 'Mod podge' glue (again easily available from craft shops or online)
  • Decopatch papers, the prettier the brighter the better!
  • Jewels, buttons, sequins of other pretty bits and bobs your might have.

Decopatch kit
The creation station

What you do:

Start by cutting the papers into small squares so you are ready to go, they are very thin so children's scissors are fine for this but would also help to avoid boredom kicking in.  Faye was very precise (if not painfully slow) at this bit and there were lots of papers!

Next you paste a small amount of 'mod podge' glue onto the letter, place your paper square over the top and then add a layer of glue over that to flatten it down and seal it in place.

Overlay the papers to get a nice patchwork effect and keep going until you have covered the whole template, ta dah!  It dries really fast so don't paste too large of an area or you get a build up of dried glue.

Now you could stop here but we all love a little glitz so now you can add a little glitter or some embellishments to your project using the same glue.

We used some buttons, sequins and gems but you can literally add anything!

Our kit was for a small letter but you can but bigger ones which look great on kids room doors or a full name of letter to go up on a shelf.  You can also decopatch things to already have, boxes, animal figures or for a bigger project these little sets of drawers from IKEA  would be great.  

The kits are a great idea for birthday presents or even a birthday party activity.  The possibilities are endless and we will definitely be doing it again!

Have fun!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Making Pitta Pizzas with my creative little mini chefs

If you are anything like me and looking for an easy way to make mealtimes a bit more smiley and a bit less shouty then these pitta pizzas are a great activity that is cheap, easy to set up and simple to get even the very little ones involved and eating!

Our finished pizza creations

All you need are some pitta breads (I use wholemeal but you don't have to), tomato paste, cheese and a selection of toppings of your choice.  The more colorful and exciting the better!

The creation station

Give them a helping hand getting started with the tomato paste and then really let them loose!   Resist the OCD urge to help them 'do it properly' that I certainly have.   

Smiley face fun!

Make sure you make a note of who made which one though or it could all go terribly wrong!!

I also add in a few dips if I have any in as my toddler loves anything dippy so all the more fun.

Watch them go!

It really doesn't matter what they put where as long as they get some cheese on the top and then pop them under a hot grill for about 5-6 mins until they are starting to brown mmm.

Top Tip:  I normally let them eat the leftover toppings while they cook to help with the waiting as 6 minutes is a long time when you're pint sized.

Nearly ready...

I love making these with the kids as they really enjoy the activity, its a quick meal and they are really nice for grown ups to so its win win. 

Dinner is served

Et Voila, happy full tummies and zero whinging!  They will be begging to make them again believe me. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Stress free and simple Frozen Pamper Party

As this week is my little Faye's 6th birthday we have just recovered from the 'most fabulous party of the year' to celebrate (or so Faye keeps telling me)!  I love it when a plan comes together and they actually enjoy something you have put a little effort into creating for them (phew).

I managed to survive a pretty stress free party this year and kept to a fairly modest budget so I'm really proud of myself.  Especially proud of the bit where I don't turn into partyzilla Mum and really enjoyed the party with her!

I thought I would share how I created a magical party for the girls without killing myself stress, time, effort and budget wise!

Princess Faye with her grown up (fake) party fizz

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A whole new world

So this is new!  Here's me writing my very first blog about my very new full time job... that is the most important of jobs ...domestic goddess and super mum of course!

Now how to appear to be super efficient and creative while still making plenty of time for cuddles and coffee shops.  Please tell me it doesn't have to be all military laundry routines and cleaning rotas right?!

I have 2 little munchkins, our princess Faye who is 5, very soon to be 6 (4 sleeps and counting) and cheeky monkey William who is 19 months and more than a handful most days.

My list of achievements so far include becoming best friends with several appliances (my slow cooker, dryer and second freezer), pulling together a list of local toddler groups (rated by their hot drinks and snack provisions) and mastering the art of doing everything possible the night before therefore avoiding the 8.15 buggy pushing sprint to the bus stop.

Things I have discovered about myself include, being able to get presentable in under 3 minutes, your iPhone is your friend so reminders and alarms can be set for everything (including reminding you to get your bum off the sofa and wash your hair the night before) and it is important to appear to work verrry hard at all times or risk the other half thinking you have the easy job, pah!!

There are however also a list of tasks that I am enjoying having more time for in my role as school run mum, like having time to plan the holidays, arrange nice birthday parties and be more involved in school.

So why am I writing this blog if I am so busy you ask?  Well there is one part of the working world that is hard to replace and that is the fun banter and colleagues to bounce off.  Here's hoping that by sharing my journey in my blog it will a) stop me talking to myself and rocking in a corner on bad days and b) let me share any genius tips and shortcuts I find along the way to domestic bliss.

Whether anyone will be interested in my journey, well we shall see.......