I’ve been baking with my son since he was 2 years old and he’s really pretty good at it. We recently entered our village bake off with this strawberry cake recipe and he won in his age category. This strawberry cake recipe gave very good results, but was easy enough to follow that he managed it himself.
Why Did We Like It?
- It used strawberry purée, something he had never attempted before. He mastered stirring the strawberries on the hob and showed me he’s more mature than I give him credit for.
- I like adding fruit to cake – it makes it seem healthy.
- The egg whites made it really light. Separating eggs is a tricky skill as he learnt.
- We don’t have scales and the recipe used cup measurements. We have plenty of measuring cups!
- Making buttercream is easy and quick. We didn’t use the strawberry purée in the buttercream. He chose to add a layer of strawberry pieces inside instead.
- He coloured the buttercream pink artificially rather than with the fruit purée.
- The cake rose beautifully, a bit domed on one half but an impressive rise.
- The baking skills he used: chopping, stirring, measuring, separating egg whites, reading a recipe, dividing cake batter into two tins, decorating and eating….
If your children like baking this is a different cake to try. It is a bit more interesting than a plain sponge cake and contains strawberries. So, surely that counts towards your five a day? In case you missed it, follow this recipe link: strawberry cake with real fruit! We are going to try adapting it with raspberries next.
Or if that isn’t your thing try one of our cake with a hidden image.
Happy baking xx
Breastfeeding and Dehydration
I couldn’t understand why when my two month old was starting to sleep longer stretches at night why I felt so bone crunchingly tired all of the time. It seems it is the simple solution of dehydration.
I have three children under eight, and my youngest is only two months old. In between dealing with them, their after school activities, the house, my business, it seems I have forgotten about me.
Ever since a child I have never drunk much. Well excluding alcohol between the ages of 18 and 25 then I seemed to manage to drink my body weight in lager and 20/20. Constant breastfeeding and not enough liquid has taken it’s toll. I’m exhausted, I have no physical or mental energy and I am slightly befuddled most of the time. I’ve made a lifestyle change and am slowly starting to see a difference.
My Dehydration Busting Tips
- Set a timer. On your phone, on a proper clock. It doesn’t matter what. But set a time for every hour. When it’s time get yourself another big drink.
- Bribary. Yes I can have that Hobnob if I drink a big glass of squash or cup of tea with it.
- Take a bottle out in the change bag. Pushing a buggy is dehydrating too.
- Dont expect to drink 2 litres a day – I can’t but try and get close to it.
- If you’re tired. Sit down but sit down with a drink!
- I am a de-caff person but if you drink caffeinated drinks be aware that they are just as dehydrating as they are hydrating.
- Mix it up. That phrase doesn’t have to only apply to gin (tonic and a twist of lime for me please) but drinking water gets boring. Add fruit pieces, squash, cordial (gutted you can’t get cola bottle cordial anymore). Fruit juice, lime and soda water or milk.
- Just can’t bring yourself to drink another glass of anything? Soup for lunch anyone?
Come on Mums we need to look after ourselves, especially if we’re full time feeding a baby, not just everyone else. On that ending I will sit down with my cup of tea and blueberry muffin…. My breastfeeding story might be useful, whether you are expecting your first or fourth child.
Not The 33% of Unregistered Voters
If you look back in history the right to vote takes centre stage. It’s hard to imagine a UK where voting was only granted if you were male and you owned property. It wasn’t until 1918 that all men over the age of 21 had the right to vote. Women over the age of 21 didn’t achieve this right until 1928. Yet 33% of people eligible to vote in the last general election didn’t. Make sure you are not the 33.
It won’t make any difference..
I don’t understand why people don’t vote! Every part of your life is governed by politics. From healthcare to benefits, taxation to public service investment. How has your life changed in the last two years? Is it better or worse? Do you have more money in your pocket? Or do you wish the Tories hadn’t won?
Don’t complain that the leader of each party is crap. You’re voting for a party, not a person. Which party do you believe in? Who will be the best Brexit negotiator? Which party will look after your interests? Don’t think that any of them can do the job? Don’t trust any politician? Then be happy with what those that can be bothered to vote to decide for you. Make sure you are not the 33.
They’re all as bad as each other….
I get it – you don’t trust politicians. They all say one thing and do another. Think about it though – how many times have you said you would do something and not done it? How many times have you promised you would contact someone and not bothered? Everyone says what they think people want to hear, knowing full well they can’t always live up to what they have said.
So which politician do you think will be less likely to promise the earth and give you barren lifeless Mars instead? No government will deliver on everything they promise. Just read the manifestos. They’re huge, it would take more than one term in government to achieve that. Besides most of the promises have by 2025 or some date way in the future as a get out clause.
It’s such a hassle….
Register for vote by post if you can’t get to a polling booth. You can vote in your own time. If you aren’t sure where you polling booth will be look at https://wheredoivote.co.uk and enter your postcode. You will find polling station details and a map in case you aren’t familiar with the area.
Not the 33: Register to vote on June 9th 2017
If you aren’t registered to vote yet, you need to apply by Monday 22nd May. Follow the link https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and apply online.
Whatever you believe, whatever party you choose to support, or whatever random choice you make. Please vote. Put that cross on the ballot paper. Our country’s future depends on it now more than ever before. #notthe33.
The best and worst part of Camping
This isn’t about who does and does not take holidays in term time to get cheaper holiday costs. I’m married to a teacher. We’ve never been able to take advantage of cheap holidays so we’ve had to deal with higher prices and find ways around that. I must admit as we’ve got children now the last minute holiday packages don’t really work as easily as they did for two lone adults. When the children came along we tried camping.
Tents are great fun: if it’s dry, not windy when you out it up or take it down and you don’t mind an army of ants tromping through your living quarters. However, the negatives are far outweighed by the positives and the biggest positive is the holiday cost.
Here is the Toy Infinity best and worst guide to camping with kids.
- Price – all of a sudden you can take 4 of you away for a week for a couple of hundred pounds.
- Outdoor living – the sun is out, the BBQ is cooking, the wine is open and the children are running free. Our ideal holiday!
- Europe is amazing for camping holidays. We loved dragging our tent all the way to France. Yelloh are a great range of campsites like Eurocamp but the French equivalent.
- Most of the bigger sites have entertainment and kids clubs so there is something for everyone. Most of these costs are included in the pitch price, but double check on booking.
- They have so much fresh air my children fall straight to sleep. No over-excited stressed out ranting at them in a hotel room on this holiday.
- There are some lovely sites in the UK – head to the Gower Peninsula, Dorset or Somerset for lovely coastal holidays. Further inland, the Lake District, Cotswolds or mid-Wales are beautiful places to visit.
- Tents can join the Camping and Caravanning Club then you get sites that have minimum standards so no dodgy toilet blocks.
- Packing and unpacking the car: it is impossible to get it all to fit back in. Everyone gets grumpy and you have your knees by your head unless your boot is big enough to take everything.
- You always have an audience with a tent. Nothing worse than watching a smug caravanner with a glass of wine watching you struggle to get the poles up.
- Holidays in rain. It’s not fun. I can’t even pretend it is. Everything gets damp even if your tent doesn’t leak. The outdoor living from the best part soon becomes the worst part lol.
- Toilet and bathroom sharing. It gets tedious any longer than 10 days.
If you can’t stretch to a package holiday and can’t go away in term time then camping might be worth a shot. You can get tents to suit any budget and you don’t need to invest in lots of high tech camping gear. We’ve graduated into Caravanning to get a proper bed and since we’re getting older we can take the jokes now lol.
Canva Graphic Design and Photo Editing
Until I found this app I was struggling to learn Photoshop on my computer. I didn’t like this for two reasons. 1) I’m really slow using it and get easily frustrated and 2) I need to log on to the computer. Finding Canva has made producing blog and social media images easy and on my iPad – so I can do it wherever I am sitting. Here are a few of the things I have taught myself from using Canva.
My Favourite Tips
- There are so many really good layouts to choose from. Make sure you update the app to get the newest layouts.
- Create images that are sized for the social media site you are using. No more half shown images on Twitter that you need to click to see the full thing.
- Alter your fonts on each layout if you want to have uniformity through all of your images.
- Upload your own images or images from commercial sites like Pixabay to each template for custom images. See my earlier blog post on Pixabay for a commercial image site I love to use.
- Search Canva’s images for free images. Some images do have a charge to them! look for the coin in the bottom right hand corner for the chargeable pictures.
- Or use the background templates for vibrant colours and designs if you don’t want to use photographic images. Choose your background depending on the cost you wish to spend (or not).
- Water marked templates are not free. So far I have only used the free templates.
- Brilliant selection of fonts. You can alter everything: size, bold, colour, position of writing.
- Easy to use icons and tabs.
If you blog or need to produce images for work, fun, projects or school work I recommend downloading Canva from the App Store. It is free, it does need iOS version 9.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Check the App Store for version requirements because these will change as new iOS versions are released. (Information is correct as of May 2017). But! And it took me a while to figure this out if you are on your computer log on to Canva and you can carry on editing images and have access to your designs from a different computer or tablet.
If like me, you have no graphic design training you can still produce good quality images that will help make your blog stand out!
How do I get my baby to sleep through?
Is what I would love to be able to tell you how to get your baby to sleep through. But like most parents I’m winging it and either being dealt a good hand and a sleeping dream of a baby or the nighttime equivalent of Animal from the Muppets. So how do I get my baby to sleep through?
How does my baby sleep?
I don’t get them to sleep like angels is the honest answer. Baby I is two months and my third child. I know already that whether he sleeps at night or not is nothing to do with me. When I had G my eldest I thought that I was the one who succeeded in making him sleep through from 10 weeks. It must be my wonderful ability as a mother and the excellent parenting routine I was in. I had read every book from attachment parenting to Gina Ford.
Like the scientific researcher I was I had researched. I knew the best things to do and the things that weren’t likely to work. Put them down to nap in their cot so they are familiar with it, feed them but put them down at night sleepy but slightly awake so they learn to settle themselves and keep a distinction between night and day (I.e. Dark and light).
My rose tinted view of my parenting ability was shattered with the arrival of my daughter. She is my Animal. Despite doing the same things she didn’t take any notice and still doesn’t sleep through. She is 5! “How will you manage with no sleep again?” I was often asked when my pregnancy was announced. Sleep? A full nights sleep? What’s that? I had my last full nights sleep in 2011.
Every night ‘Mum my tummy hurts’ I let her off that one she does suffer with tummy pains. ‘Mum I had a bad dream’ I let her off that one I’m not a bitch. Bad dreams are scary. ‘Mum I missed you’ not so nice mum on this one. The other conversation starters are met with shush as well.
My Sleep at the Moment
So here I am with baby I. He has turned out to be a pretty good sleeper after the initial sleepless newborn weeks (so far and written with a disclaimer that it will change). He generally gets up once now and then starts his day anywhere between 5am (ugh) and 8am (please on a weekend!) But add in that my daughter wakes me up at least once, he then gets up for his feed and too soon morning is broken I still only average 3 hours unbroken sleep.
So I have no more idea now than I did nearly 9 years ago. I do know that some babies are sleepers and some are not. Unfortunately you have no control over which type you will get. See even a Mum of three has no idea!
Sorry I haven’t told you how to get your baby to sleep through. But if you are reading this at 3am through heavy eyelids and with blurred vision. I’m probably writing my next post at the same time. We can sleep when we’re dead right? Oh and Rimmel wake me up concealer is amazeballs!
Have You Tried Reusable Nappies?
I suppose you could call me a tree hugger. I am not a perfect environmentalist: I use too much plastic, I don’t recycle everything I should and I have 3 children (just about the most unenvironmentally friendly thing you can do). Our house has a toy room full of plastic tat and probably a forest full of paper gets coloured in, cut and glued to more cardboard and plastic. But, I try and minimise my carbon footprint. Reusable nappies are one way I try to reduce what I send to landfill.
Dont get me wrong, for the first 4-6 weeks they are in disposable nappies. I might be earth conscious but I am selfish enough to look after my recovery. Adding another load of washing is just not happening straight away.
So what do I like about reusable nappies?
- They are soft. No scratchy paper against their bums. Soft cotton or microfibre. I hated the disposable maternity pants, I wouldn’t choose to wear them all the time.
- Less landfill. Disposable nappies don’t degrade.
- There is even more choice now than when my son was born 8 years ago.
- You can budget. Spend as much or as little as you want to. I spent £275 on Bumgenius nappies 8 years ago. My third child is now wearing them. A few have been discarded because the elastic has gone in the legs but the majority are still in use.
- Reusable nappies are so pretty! Whatever colour or pattern you can think of, you can probably find.
- You can support small businesses and cottage industries by buying reusable nappies produced by small-time seamstresses and businesses.
So what don’t I like about reusable nappies?
- I’ll be honest – the extra washing and drying. It’s ok in the summer, but in the winter it does make life more difficult.
- When you are out and about they aren’t as convenient to carry with you. They take up a lot more space and you need to take the dirty ones with you all day too.
My next blog post will talk about some of my favourite reusable nappy brands – and give you some idea of cost too.
What is Tom’s Storytime?
Tom’s Storytime is a new interactive website and You Tube channel launching today aimed at providing stories and activities for children aged 8 and under.
As you can see from the image the website is bright and appealing and the cloud images are easy to find and press links into the story sections.
The stories are categorised by age. The Sprites section for children from 0-6 years, and the Adventurers for children aged between 3 and 8 years. Click on the section Jumpers to get a play-along activity led by a very engaging explorer which is fun for all ages (maybe even parents…?!)
All the stories featured are available to buy on Amazon UK through the website if you would like your own paperback copy.
I used the website on my iPad and it worked well. The videos play with no need for flash player or any other programme that the iPad doesn’t have. If you click the You Tube icon it takes you straight to the Tom’s Storytime channel – don’t forget to subscribe if you like their content to keep up-to-date with their new videos.
Bug Hunt the First Sprites Story
The You Tube story Bug Hunt is a lovely tale of a little girl on a bug hunt in her garden. Bug Hunt is a nicely written rhyming story about a little girl’s bug hunt. The repeating language has a nice flow to it. The accompanying illustrations in the video are lovely and super detailed with bright colours. The insects in the story could be found in your own garden. Bug Hunt could inspire a garden bug hunt of your own afterwards.
Davey Chicken the First Adventurers Story
Davey Chicken is another story with a lovely rhyme to it. Surely, Davey Chicken must be one of the naughtiest chickens around! It is accompanied with some great illustrations that are slightly more grown up so they appeal to the older children. I love the Mum and Dad best they remind me of 1970’s parents.
Both my children enjoyed these stories. The language used makes them good stories for reading practice; with not many big or complicated words. Visually, the You Tube channel will become a very useful resource when they need entertaining.
I love the strap line “look in your imagination and find” and I’d definitely recommend looking at the website Tom’s Storytime with your children. New stories will be regularly shared, so keep checking back for new content. Happy Storytime!
My Favourite Toy Storage Pinterest Pins
My kids toy room is a mess. It is always a mess. That is unsurprising really because it is played in. If I banned playing, it would always be tidy and I would be less frustrated. If I was to plan the toy room organisation this is how it would look. I can but Pinterest dream! Click the links to see my favourite toy storage ideas.
Pens and Those Small Stuff
I love the idea of these jars. You can see exactly what is in them. In reality my two would probably take them out but not out them back in. http://pin.it/QZW4Krj
Craft Paper and Cardboard
Why don’t I have a system like this? It’s all in one big pile and they never pull the top sheet lol. http://pin.it/rXF5-6v
Completely impractical with the number of cars we have but I love this idea. They are so accessible; no more delving to the bottom of the toy box. I’d love to do this with our Disney Cars.
Soft Toys and Teddies
This idea I am definitely doing, it will free up two toy boxes alone. Damn the school teddy tombola!
We have a big box of random Lego pieces. I love this idea of storing it in an IKEA Kallax unit and glueing some base plates on top for playing. This is another definite doing idea. http://pin.it/5goYcLK
Some of these ideas will definitely be used in the near future to save my sanity. It is either that or get rid of the lot! Hope you like these toy storage ideas too. All Pinterest links are correct as of May 2017.
Let’s Speak Whale Dory Voice Changer
This has to be the biggest waste of money. I loved the idea of a Dory voice changer but in reality it gets boring very quickly and doesn’t always speak in whale.
One of the best things about Dory is her ability to speak whale. The bit speaking to Destiny always makes me giggle. My daughter loves it too so when she was bought this toy voice changer I thought it would give us a lot of fun.
It is a good size for small hands and looks just like Dory. It’s plastic and doesn’t feel like it will fall apart at the first drop on the floor. I like the tag detail which ties in with the Finding Dory film.
What Do We Think?
I have two problems with this toy. Firstly, the buttons don’t always work. It either doesn’t record your voice properly or the playback isn’t in whale. Secondly, the only funny thing about it is what you say. After five minutes she was bored and resorted to phrases that seemed to feature the words bum, poo and smelly quite a lot.
It isn’t a cheap toy, costing at least £10 in most retailers. If you see it in a pound shop I’d say it makes a good stocking filler, but by new year it will be charity shop donation. I was disappointed with the Dory voice changer: let’s speak whale but only some of the time.
It is available at Amazon UK (affiliate link) and the price varies according to the seller.