Thursday, 30 June 2011

An odd thing happened today...

A delivery man (non-uniformed and driving a plain white van) knocked on my door and said 'Do you want a bed love?' It was a very strange moment, to which I answered, confused 'A bed?'. 'Yes I've got one in the van - I've brought too many out for delivery'. I must've been looking at him like he had 2 heads when I replied 'I really don't understand'. He explained he wanted to sell a bed in the back of his van, having delivered one to the house opposite. I politely refused, and he then asked if I knew anyone else locally who'd like it instead. Very odd. And highly suspicious. The most annoying thing was that it was right in the middle of Eden's nap, and woke her up. We'd had a really busy morning at toddler group and she would've had a 3 hour nap at lunchtime. Instead it was cut short, she only had an hour, and I had a grumpy toddler for an extra long afternoon - not even a trip to the Zoo cheered her up.    

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Rainbow Rice!

This is a really easy play activity to do and any mess created can quickly and easily be swept up.

Eden's nearly 19 months old now, and is at the stage where she absolutely loves mixing and pouring! We were making playdough together the other day, she was helping me add the dry ingredients and all was going well until I added the water. All of a sudden her wonderful 'dry' mixture disappeared into a gloopy substance soon to become playdough and poor Eden dissolved into tears! Not the reaction that I was expecting! I happened to be videoing it at the time, and may have to create a post showing you.

Anyway, I thought as she enjoyed mixing the dry ingredients so much I would create some rainbow coloured rice for her to mix and stir. It was a big success! The method is really easy. All I did was buy a couple of big bags of bargain supermarket own-brand rice, add a few drops of food colouring and leave it to dry for abit. (Edited to clarify: No need to cook the rice first). I found that you only need the tiniest amount of food colouring, or else it will take ages to dry and the colour will transfer to fingers and hands when you play with it. 

Adding food colouring and leaving to dry

Mixing and stirring

Little colourful food measuring cups worked great as mini pourers

Learning a new word: 'Sprinkling'

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Transformation of the mass of weeds!

The front garden of our new house is really starting to take shape!
When we bought our house nearly 3 months ago, the front garden was an overgrown mass of weeds, with a big mound of earth right in the middle, it remains a mystery what it actually was!
Before shot when we bought the house
The house needed so much work, but we felt we couldn't just leave the front garden the way it was so it was one of the first 'projects' we set our hands to. Within a couple of weeks we'd completely dug over most of the area, removing as many weeds as we could, ordered some turf and had a new lawn which just painted a much nicer impression of the garden, and the house as a whole.

New lawn laid
A couple of weeks ago we covered our borders, which had remained overgrown with weeds, with cardboard boxes from the move in order to supress the weeds. Then just last week, somebody offered 30 bags of topsoil on freecycle. It was in great condition with practically no weeds, and we used 19 bags to cover the cardboard boxes.
Fresh topsoil on the borders from Freecycle
Today, we visited Cypress Nursery near our house to pick up some plants for the borders. I'm a big fan of yellows, oranges and reds and we came away with 5 plants. A gerbera, 2 dahlias, a gazania and a 'coreopsis grandiflora sunray' - not sure what it's 'normal' name is!

After a visit to my parents this evening for dinner, we dug up some self-seeding yellow poppies and penstemons. 
The plants in our side border
Finally, we have 4 roses lining the front boundary border - 2 are from Cypress Nursery, one is from Gardener's World that we went to last week, and one was a gift from my parents-in-law when Eden was born.

The roses lining the front border
All in all, we're very pleased with the transformation of our front garden!   

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Breastfeeding Awareness Week: Breast Milk Donation

Every Mum has a story when it comes to breastfeeding. They may have found it a positive experience, a difficult experience or a bit of both. For me, I found it to be a bit of both. I was going to write a post of my story, but have actually changed my mind, instead I want to promote the case of breast milk donation. This is something that I wasn't aware of when I was feeding my daughter, only subsequently finding out. But I think it's such a worthy cause to be writing about, and if I'd known about it at the time I would definitely have looked into becoming a donor.

There are 17 main breastmilk banks in the UK along with additional satellite banks, providing precious milk to sick and premature babies, increasing their chances of survival and aiding their long-term development. I watched a documentary the other day that stated that when hospitals run out of breastmilk donations, it can be purchased for upto £100/litre! That's an expensive commodity!

The UK Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB) is a charity set up to promote and support breastmilk donation. Their motto is EVERY DROP COUNTS. For more information about them or to find out more about milk donation please do visit their website.

A donation of breastmilk is such a special, lifesaving gift to consider giving.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Freecycle Bargains

I love Freecycle! I think it's great in promoting the 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' message, and I'm all for doing my 'bit' for the environment. I didn't fully discover it until I was pregnant, and realised just how much stuff babies need for so little time. We actually bought very little new - we had clothes handed down from older cousins, we bought Eden's Moses basket and stand for 99p off somebody local on ebay and we got some brilliant stuff off freecycle:

  • Eden's cot
  • Sheets, blankets and baby sleeping bags
  • Baby play gym and toys
  • A full set of brand new and 95% unopened reusuable nappies with all the accessories included - the extra small set had been tested out before deciding reusable nappies weren't for them. 
We've been really blessed by the kindness of people giving items away, and have returned the favour ourselves, donating our working fridge and freezer when we upgraded, as well as some other large items, and recently responding to an advert asking for some bluebells - our garden was over-run with them at the time!

This week, I was keen to get some plastic milk bottle tops, for counting and colour games with Eden. A kind lady donated 100 of them to us and we've been having fun with them: 
Sorting them into colours:

Enjoying the sound that mixing them makes:

Rolling them down little tubes:

Hiding them in big tubes:

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Update: Salt dough handprints

Regular readers may remember that I did a themed week of play with Eden a couple of weeks ago, focussing on using our hands. We made some salt dough handprints, and so I thought I'd do a quick update of the finished results. 

After baking the dough, I found the food colouring had sunk to the bottom, so I was left with a stone-coloured handprint. I painted the inside of the handprint with nail varnish and the results look pretty cool! 

They're really easy to make, and a nice little keepsake. They could even be used as a paperweight to give as a gift. 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Review and Giveaway: Doktor Power Magic Eraser

Doktor Power Magic Eraser by JML 
"Removes stubborn marks and stains... just like magic"

On first seeing it, I was a little sceptical of The Magic Eraser's claimed results - it just looks like a normal sponge. To use it, you cut off a small amount and run it under the tap to wet it. I was surprised at the results when I gave it a go. I tested it out on purple paint splashes on our bathroom floor from a decorating session a few weeks ago. I'd scrubbed these dried splashes with water initially, to no avail. Using the Magic Eraser, the paint spills were quickly and easily lifted off just with a gentle scrubbing. 

Next I moved onto our front door, we'd used soap and water two months ago to get rid of the layer of grime on it when we moved in. The Magic Eraser polished it up nicely, cleaning more grime off in the process.

Ok now for the real test I thought, the scuffs and marks on our cream dining room wall from when we had our central heating put in recently. This had caused a real mess at the time and I'd used sugar soap to get the worst off before planning to re-paint, which I haven't got around to yet. I really was surprised at the results
using the Magic Eraser - yes it's going to still need re-painting as it couldn't get rid of the burn marks from soldering the pipes, but the Magic Eraser did do a fantastic job removing the scuffs, marks and grubbiness that the sugar soap had left behind, and the wall looks alot cleaner now, ready to be re-painted.

I've also used it to clean off limescale in the bathroom and the kitchen, and to remove a layer of grime on the kitchen window tiles. 

It's funny this post has made my house sound filthy and like I'm a lazy housewife who doesn't do anything! So I just feel the need to clarify that we bought the house a couple of months ago, it needed a lot of tlc, and we've had a lot of work done on it since, and moved into it just a couple of weeks ago, hence why we're still in the process of cleaning it up.

Anyway, back to the Magic Eraser review. Pro's for it are it really does do what it says on the box removing tough stains and marks, it simplifies the housework by not needing various cleaning solutions, and virtually no scrubbing is involved. 

The Doktor Power Magic Eraser is available from JML and costs £4.99.  You can also find JML products in high street retailers, see JML's website for a stockist near you.  

*Giveaway time*

I have three of these from JML to giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning one, all you have to do is leave me a comment below and a way to contact you if you're a winner - either email address or twitter ID.

For an additional entry you can do the following and leave a separate comment below to let me know:

  • Like my facebook page here

  • Like JML's facebook page here

  • Follow me on Twitter @pondering_kate

All entries will go into a draw and 3 winners will be picked randomly on Sunday 26th June at 8pm. 

Terms and conditions:

UK entrants only please
No cash alternative or exchanges to the prize">Loquax Competitions

Firstly a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway!
It's been lots of fun, and fab to promote a great product from JML.

I've used to generate the 3 winners, I would've liked to have done a screenshot of the 3 numbers that were generated but unfortunately just couldn't figure out how to do that - will have a play for next time! 

Congratulations to the following 3 people who were generated from
  • Comment number 12: 'Maci234'
  • Comment number 36: googoodoll (Alison Ducky)
  • Comment number 40: Bruce (@essexgirlSE) 
I'll be in touch with the 3 winners to get your postal details so that your prize can be posted out to you.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Meet George

Today we've welcomed this cute little bundle of fluff as the newest member of our family. He's 7 weeks old, and we've named him George. He's settling in well, and is an inquisitive little thing, out exploring as soon as we opened the door to the cat carrier once home. He does a lot of deep purring when he's having a cuddle with us, and likes to sit on our shoulders.  

Friday, 10 June 2011

Pizza Making with an 18-mth old?

At the start of every week we plan our meals, not only does it help with budgeting as we can bulk shop and therefore avoid having to buy last minute ingredients from the corner shop, but it also means we eat a lot better and healthier as we (I!) can be more prepared every afternoon/evening with the cooking. Friday night is our pizza night, but this week we thought we'd have a go at home-made pizza (well, nearly home-made - I bought the pizza base).

I was a little dubious at letting Eden 'help' me make pizza, as I thought she wouldn't understand about putting the toppings on and just want to eat it all there and then, resulting in a meltdown. She surprised me by sprinkling the toppings on the pizza and only snuck a little nibble on some olives and chorizo!

 The pizzas before going into the oven:

Watching them cook 'Mmmmmmm' :

Needless to say, Eden loved her evening meal!

Ice Cube Painting

This activity with Eden was a lot of fun, and not very messy! I actually came across the idea from another blogger (Share and Remember blog) - you can see her ice cube painting here. However, instead of using material, I thought we'd give ice cube painting on canvas a try.

The materials are simple - an ice cube tray, some water-soluble paint (I used finger paint), some form of covering for the floor (I used a shower curtain) and a blank canvas frame (I discovered these are sold in my local pound shop and love them for the price of 99p each!).

I made up 25-50% mix of paint to added water for each cube. They looked very pretty!

I put them in a small tub to keep them tidy while painting:

Eden thought they were really colourful and spent a while just admiring them before getting 'stuck in'.

 The end result needed to dry outside. Once dry, I think we'll add some handprints to finish it off :)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Review: Chalkboard Stickers

As a busy Mum, it can be hard to keep track of the many little mental notes, reminders, shopping list items and to-do lists that emerge everyday. That's why I love these Chalkboard Stickers, from Spin Collective UK. In our family, life revolves around the kitchen. It's not only where we prepare food and numerous cups of tea, but it's also where the hub of family life takes place. We now have one of these Chalkboard Stickers in our kitchen; it's a great place for it as we can quickly jot down notes and reminders to ourself and each other in an area where pens and paper are forever going missing.

The Chalkboard Sticker that we have is in the shape of a tea cup, it's stylish and fun and fits perfectly in the kitchen. I've already had comments from visitors about what a great idea it is. The sticker is easy to apply and remove, and I love the reusable aspect of it - it wipes clean with a damp cloth.

Starting at £12, there's a Chalkboard Sticker suitable for every member of the family and room in the house and it would make a unique and unusual gift for the person who already has everything or is difficult to buy for.

We're really glad we've got one and I definitely recommend that you check them out.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Our annual big family camping trip

Once a year we meet up with the rest of the Strickland clan (Luke's brothers and sisters) for an annual camping trip together. It's a great opportunity for all of the cousins to play together, and for all the adults to catch up and spend quality time with each other.

This year we went to Anglesey, we had lots of sunny weather, and it was particularly sheltered from the wind in the haven of a nearby beach. Although staying on the campsite and nearby walkable beaches for the whole weekend, we packed a lot of activities in, including kayaking, swimming in the (very cold) sea - Eden was having the time of her life despite it being cold (!!), kiddy parachute games, a bbq on the beach, rockpooling and crab catching, Uno Extreme, roasting marshmallows, ice lollies before bed and for breakfast, water play for the children and digging in the sand. It was lots of fun, and even more satisfying being able to watch little people having a great time playing together.  

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Painting Flowers

A messy play week wouldn't be complete without a painting session, so today we got the fingerpaints out. In keeping with our 'HANDS' theme of the week, Eden used her hands to make the flowers. You may have seen earlier in the week that I wrote about how Eden has never been very good at handprints, and just got frustrated when we've tried handprinting sessions in the past. Well this week's theme certainly seems to have paid off along with the learning of her new word and gesture 'Splat!' yesterday. Today's handprint session was not only a success for a little person but also very fun! Amongst the random squidges, we made 2 'proper' paintings - one of which now has pride of place on our kitchen fridge, the other we are going to send as a surprise to a family member - so family members if you're reading it could be you! The idea for today's session was actually taken from another SAHM's blog - she has some great ideas and you can read her blog here

This ends our messy play week because tomorrow we're off camping. I have to say, we've never done as much messy play in such a short space of time, nor had a 'theme' for the week - but both have been a big success - I really feel like Eden's learnt from the process, she's learnt more about her hands and what she can do with them, and she's grown in confidence in her abilities and independence. I will definitely be keeping it up in future weeks, now to think up some more themes....

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Jolly Jelly Splat!

In keeping with our messy play and craft week, Eden and I had fun with jelly this morning. Now, I don't mind a bit of mess, particularly 'dry mess' like toys or cheerios strewn across the living room - I can deal with that - but letting a toddler loose on jelly was just a step too far for me, so instead we had a 'contained' messy play session, where I sat her in her high chair, with bib on, and floor protection in the form of a shower curtain (a fab tip I picked up a while ago from a fellow Mummy).

I don't think Eden's seen jelly before, she definitely hasn't got her hands on it before, so this was a new experience for her. I had a proud mummy moment when buying it the other day - while waiting in the queue at the till Eden picked up the jelly and said clearly 'Jelly'. The couple in front of us in the queue were very impressed when she repeated it a few times too.

During the messy play session, we brought out some of her toy pots, pans and cutlery, sang a song about jelly on a plate and learnt some new words 'squish' 'wibble' and 'wobble'. Eden's favourite bit however, was saying 'Splat!' complete with accompanying gesture, showering everything in sight in bright pink jelly!  Good job I had that shower curtain down!