A cheaper kind of birthday

The toddler’s birthday is fast approaching. I’ve tried to keep costs down for the last two birthdays and Christmases, but this year she’s 3, and that means she has asked for presents! Luckily her lists of demands haven’t be too much. She asked for a Lalaloopsy doll. However, these are £30 each. That’s about 3 times what I was planning on spending on her whole birthday this year! I put a call out on Facebook and fortuitously someone came straight back to me with a second hand doll for £5. I nearly snapped her hand off! I found some patterns on Ravelry for clothes for her, so I will be making her a few accessories.

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I also managed to get a new box of Playmobil for her. I will go into the story of all our newly acquired Playmobil another day, but I was particular pleased with this. I also found this on Facebook, and it hasn’t even been opened. Again it was £5, and it’s around £30 new.

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Having spent the amount I wanted to, I will have to do anything else for free. That means I shall be making things. Not a new concept for me, granted. However, I haven’t done much in the way of amigurumis, and I have set myself the task of making the three Totoros from My Neighbour Totoro, quite possibly her favourite film. So far I have managed the two smaller ones

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I still need to do the big Totoro, her favourite and also the most detailed. I’m also planning on making an amigurumi Ponyo for her, her second favourite film. Aswell as this, I want to crochet her a dinosaur Island. Chances are this will end up being made for Christmas, a long with the dolls clothes I’m planning on making her. It’s a lot to do, but I’ve given myself a couple of months. I’m going to embrace it whilst she stills wants toys that mummy has made for her. I don’t know what I’ll do when she starts wanting clothes and dvds for her birthday. Run and hide probably!

Stopping to smell the flowers

The weather has been picking up, which means we’ve been getting out in the garden. I haven’t done as much this year as I have in past years, but that’s OK. I’ve put an awful lot of  blood sweat and tears into our garden. We only rent the house, but I’ve always known how I wanted the garden to look, and this year it’s just about there. I have barely done anything, but I’m really pleased with it.

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Of course, in a couple of months this will all be gone and I’ll have to put some work in, but I can enjoy it whilst I can. There is one new edition on the patio. I planted into one of the apple crates that we had at our wedding and some of the veg boxes that my brother in law made for us. I think it makes a really nice feature and it looks quite unusual.

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There’s nothing like a little sunshine and a lovely garden to lift the spirits is there?!

How to make your own Bento Picks

I have been sucked in to the cutesy world of the Bento accessory. Though not at all necessary, I can’t help wistfully staring at Japanese imported Panda shaped rice ball makers, nori punches and tiny little sauce bottles. After putting a picture of one of Amelia’s bentos on Facebook, a friend of mine said she had a lot of accessories left over from when she used to make them for her daughter, and that I could have them. The set contained an impressive amount of stuff, egg molds, onigiri rice molds, sauce bottles, decorative grass, a nori punch and some animal picks. I also bought her some training chop sticks, so she doesn’t keep trying to steal mine!

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Even with this haul, I still found myself wanting more picks, they really make a cute bento, they’re the difference between it looking like food and it looking really fun! I was trying to find some for a relatively reasonable price when I came across a tip, make your own using a comb and some buttons. I found this tutorial on Oh! Bento, A wonderful blog that features bentos that I aspire to making, with lots of tutorial and wonderful example bentos, including this tutorial http://ohbentouk.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/diy-bento-pickscupcake-toppers/ All you need to do is cut each prong off a comb, then hot glue a button, brad or badge to the top. What a genius idea! I had a rifle through the button and bead boxes and put together all of these. It literally took minutes, and they were all free!

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Not only that, but the toddler helped me choose which buttons and beads we used, so she now says that she made them, it makes it all a little bit more special.

Galaxy Play doh and Space fun – how to

The toddler loves Play doh, she just can’t get enough of cutting and squishing and rolling it. It is, however, ridiculously expensive. The first kind she had was Crayola 1+ which was gluten free and couldn’t be nibbled on, though not encouraged. This stuff was so hard, and it cost a whopping £1.99 a pot! She couldn’t really play with it on her own because it was so tough, and it broke some of her cutters.

We put up with it until last Christmas when one set of grandparents got her some proper Play doh, and the other got her a Disney Princess Play doh castle thing. This stuff is much easier for her to play with, but I have a real issue with her mixing up the colours, because I don’t want to have to buy more! So, with this is mind, I took to Pinterest (as if I need an excuse!) in search of Play doh recipes. I saw an amazing pin of galaxy play doh, but, as so often happens on Pinterest, there was no link to the original poster and no recipe, so I tried to recreate it. I used a standard Play doh recipe

  1. 2 cups of plain flour
  2. 2 cups of water with food colouring
  3. 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
  4. 1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
  5. 1 cup of salt
Mix liquid ingredients together in a large pan.  Begin to heat liquids. I added one bottle of blue food colouring, and one bottle of black.  I also added a pot of edible shimmer and glitter as the original picture I saw was really glittery. In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, and then add these to the heating liquids.   Stir until the play doh comes together and thickens.  Cook until it gets that sheen to it.  Let it cool slightly and then knead to bring proper consistency.  Store in plastic container. Ta dah, you got play doh! 
 
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Once it had cooled down I added some star sprinkle things that had been kicking around in the toddler’s craft box for a while, and we made a galaxy, complete with stars and planets. We used some of her sparkly beads as the planets.
 
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Then we used star cutters, and gave them they’re own planet, and added more glitter too.
 
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We had loads of fun, and I don’t have to worry about her mixing this up , and she only needs one colour. Also, as we had all the ingredients, I made two tuppaware tubs of Play Doh for free! 
 
 
 

Bento Roundup

I have definitely been stepping up my Bento game recently. It has been a huge success for the toddler, it has been the best method to get her to eat her dinner hands down! She has become familiar with the concept, so she gets excited about what it might look like today, and for now I can still surprise her with the theme. Also, from my point of view I can make the food quite varied and healthy, and also give her a consistent portion size, so she isn’t overwhelmed by it. Not only that, but the food just looks so much more interesting!

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They started pretty basic, some salad, quiche, Japanese potato salad. Nice, but not very exciting looking.

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This was my first attempt at a scene, without any molds or cutters, she really enjoyed it and thought it was hilarious!

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Then I got my hands on some egg and rice molds, picks, grass and cutters. Makes for a much nicer scene, she loved this one.

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Today’s was a little simpler with sandwiches and savoury biscuits, but still really nice to look at and really enjoyed it.

It’s amazing how well this has worked, and I’m glad I’ve given it a go. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, just using a cutter for sandwiches and little cases for extras makes it exciting to look at, and improves the look of the whole meal.  They’re not overly expensive, and I can completely control what goes in them, in all a great success!

Toddler Science – Fun with milk painting

This has to be one of the simplest ‘experiments’ that we have tried so far. I’d seen it doing the rounds on Pinterest and I really wanted to give it a go! All it takes is a pint of milk in a shallow dish, food colouring, cotton buds and washing up liquid. Very simple but incredibly effective! Continue reading

Messy Time – SNOW!

We’ve not had much in the way of snow so far this winter, which is slightly worrying considering it’s almost March. We definitely had a couple of hours a week or so ago, but that’s been about it. The toddler has been quite disappointed as she really wanted to play in the snow and build snowmen and the like, so we decided to create a bit of magic and bring the snow to her.

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Tricking the toddler into eating- the magic of bento boxes

It seems our love of Japanese food knows no bounds. I’ve gotten so addicted to the cuisine that I spend an hour at a time searching for new recipes and ingredients. One thing I definitely wanted to try was bento boxes. If you have never seen  bento box, they are really just a Japanese lunch box, but they include a wide selection of nutritional food, often leftovers with rice as the main staple. They are an every day part of life in Japan, but in the west we really only see the works of art like these

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Tricking the toddler into eating

It’s not that she won’t eat, or that she’s fussy with her food, she just won’t sit still long enough to eat it, and even if she does, your dinner always looks better. Cue half an hour of swapping food, and then she doesn’t want any.  Frustrated, and more than a little annoyed at all the food that was being wasted (read  ‘wasted’ as ‘that I ate’) I took to the internet in search of advice. Continue reading

Toddler science – fizzy colours

I am ever searching for things to keep the toddler occupied that means our house will more or less stay intact. This search led me to Pinterest, which has a wealth of toddler activities and exciting experiments. Continue reading