Wednesday 13...Spiderman Cake
This was a bit of a puzzle to start with -how to make a Spiderman cake bright red without tinting huge quantities of icing...In the end, Sam bunged loads of red food colouring into the basic spongemix, we baked it in a deep cake tin and when it was cooled, sliced the whole cake in half. Then, flip over the top layer (so the brightest red is showing) and sandwich back together with some chocolate frosting. The details on the top were made with pre-filled chocolate icing pens. Voila!
Wednesday 12...Googlie Eyed Aliens!
We made a simple batch of cupcakes, and a ton of black butter icing...I'd found a small packet of googlie eyes in Hobbycraft and some glitter sugar and while the cakes were cooling, Sam and I put a blob of glue on the back of a googlie eye, added a cocktail stick and then sandwiched with another...After icing the cakes, adding some space-alien glitter and cleaning the black gunk off my kitchen we added the eyes.
If you clean them well with a little soap and water they are reusable, and will probably be appearing in mountains of mashed potato, bread rolls and husband's dinners for a while to come...
Wednesday 11...Photo Booth silliness
So I realised that in less than 4 weeks, it won't just be Sam and I on a Wednesday and that made me a little sad...So I wedged (really, it was amusing to watch) myself, the bump, some shopping and the child in a photobooth, inserted coinage and we pulled faces. This pic is now on his bedroom wall, and the 'nice' one is in his Daddy's truck. Good times, super cheap and a great result.
Wednesday 10...Actually enjoying shopping with a pre-schooler.
I know, lost my marbles, but I thought we should actually do something more entertaining than dragging eachother around a neon-lit hell-hole of a supermarket. I thought about what I needed from his point of view, what route we'd take and how to get everything done in an hour. Kind of worked. Neither of us cried!
1. The Butchers: supporting local businessmen, letting Sam choose the sausages and bacon (there's been a lot of discussions about what these items are made from, might as well be honest), and the unexpected surprise of Mr Allingham the butcher presenting Sam with a free bag of cooked chopped snorkers to snack on...Winner.
2. The Hardware shop: made easier by the free sausages, I needed a spice pot (see main page). Only small issue was when Sam asked very loudly "Mummy, is that a new wee pot for the midwife?"...
3. Feed the ducks: We bought a massive bag of bird seed ages ago from a farm shop and I keep a small ziploc baggie with some in my handbag. Sam now knows the difference between boy and girl ducks and has decided that geese really need to learn to share.
4. The Sweet shop: You can take a 3 1/2 year old into alladin's cave without a meltdown. I told him he was allowed three sweets because he is three. He picked three, the girl behind the till was really patient and he left with a paper bag of e-numbers and sugar. All happy.
Getting ready for Halloween -these are super quick and rely on household bits and bobs.
You will need: a carrier bag, scissors, boingy elastic, a needle, a Sharpie marker, an elastic band and a polystyrene ball/ping-pong ball/ screwed up newspaper.
To Make: Cut a long strip from the carrier bag and tuck the ball into the end. Get assisstant to hold our the ball while you secure it around the neck with the elastic band (the ball, NOT your assisstant...).
Thread about 70cm of elastic on a needle, tie a knot in one end and pass up through neck and out the top of head (again, the ball...). I tied a loop in the other end to hand on the door or use as a handle to swing around little man's head making swoopy noises.
Whilst assistant holds head of spookie, slit up the dangly bag endy bit to make really ghosty-type tails. Then add a creepy face in sharpie pen.
These now hang from Sam's ceiling like slightly cute Dementors. Whatever makes him happy...
Wednesday 8...Build a castle...
Really easy way to wind away a rainy morning. Collect some loo roll inners/card tubes from kitchen roll etc, a roll of masking tape, some household paint and brushes and a sharpie marker. We stuck the tubes together with the tape and then made sure there was enough tape to cover the whole castle structure. Little hands found this really easy provided I cut the tape up, and there is no mess to clear up (unlike paper mache). It's also great for the impatient as you can build super quickly and there is no drying time!
Next, splodge paint all over. Basic emulsion adheres to the tape without peeling and comes off little hands. No precision is required at all! I chucked in atablespoon full of black acrylic to make it a little greyer, but emulsion will 'take' most poster paints and even food colouring if you're desparate. Leave to dry (only patient bit required).
Once dry, draw on basic castle detail with the marker pen -if your kids are a smidge older they can do this themselves...There is no way in hell a 3 year old is playing with permanent pen!! Add stationary and assorted knights and be chuffed. Enjoy!
Wednesday 7...Blackberry Bushes!
This is simple. Get a tub. Drive to countryside. Pick blackberries and make pie (ok, maybe wash them first to remove bugs). My pie had a chopped up pear in, and oats in the crumble top. Bloomin' loverly.
Wednesday 6...Cracking Cookies
This recipe is indestructible and perfect for tough little hands giving it a pounding. Also all in cups which is much easier than scales and toddlers. I've pinched it from 'The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book' which is an American offering and translated it to UK cupboards. If you don't have a cup measure, a cup-and-saucer sized cup will do.
You will need:
1 cup butter or marge, softened (nuke in microwave, makes the mixing easier)
1/2 cup gran sugar
1 cup dark brown soft sugar
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
2 eggs (medium)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain flour
Chocolate chunks/drops/nuts/raisins/ cranberrys/smarties/whatever, in a couple of generous handfulls.
1. Bung the butter, sugar, bicarb and vanilla in a bowl and whack until mixed smoothly. Add the eggs and combine well.
2. Add the chocolate bits and bobs and mix well.
3. Bit by bit, add the flour. If you do it all at once it gets too stiff and is really messy and hard to work. Use those muscles!
4. At this point you can freeze some of the dough for another day (If you do it as a big clingfilmed sausage, you can slice off portions and cook straight from the freezer), or just cook it all! Scoop ping-pong ball sized dollops onto a baking tray (no grease needed) and put in oven at about 180 for 8-10 mins. If you wanted ginat cookies, make it a bigger scoop and cook for a tad longer. Easy.
5. Stuff your face.
So not an original idea by any stretch, BUT a life saver... Husband came back from town with two take-a-way coffee's from a well known international retailer, and Sam asked the inevitable question "where's my drink?". (At this point I will accept all comments about rampant commercialism amongst toddlers, and can only reply with 'It was a mare of a week')... Quick thinking resulted in one small cup of milk (full-fat is bubbliest and frankly, that's the way the cows make it), a splosh of warm water from the kettle, froth up with one of those wizzer things (or 5 mins of hefty manual whisk-work) and a smattering of cocoa-powder. Add the cardboard heat sleeve to his cup, scribble on his 'order' and feel safe at a) the increased calcium intake for the day and b) no melt-down from any of us. Phew!
(NB: I've saved the sleeves for next time -forarmed and all that...)
Wednesday 5...An Apology...
Sometimes the best laid plans become simply that, laid to rest at home, in a cupboard for next time. But what happens instead can be -although more chaotic- better in the long-run? I had an appointment at the local hospital that should have taken 15 mins, leaving plenty of time for leaf gathering in the woods and some printing. Didn't happen. 4 hours later (yep, 4 hours of joyous NHS time that left me with a complaints form and the desire to win the lottery so I can afford private healthcare), Sam was rescued by his Dad and I was a sweaty knackered mess.
But -and let's cling to the important stuff here - I learnt a few things. Sometimes the crafting is in the questions you ask, the ability to improvise and not about a specific trip to the store to purchase purpose built supplies.
1. Check out the ceiling There were tiles missing (It's the NHS). Sam wanted to know why. Cue 20 mins of story-telling about the day the rain came, the tiles fell in and how the fix-it man has to come and mend it...Meanwhile, the mices could spy on the patients waiting not-so-patiently below, waiting for night time so they can eat up the biscuit crumbs. Nuff said.
2. Can you hear Mrs Clonky-Shoes? It seems that consultants get to wear clonky shoes...They are also fleeting aberrations on the medical landscape, so scoring points (bit like in car cricket) when you hear one coming is a great way to pass the time. NB: the knackered out midwives who are desperately understaffed and need our help have very sensible shoes.
3. Invest in a wicked sticker book We found one at the weekend where there are different pirate scenes and you can make up the stories for each page. Sorted!
Loved this more than cheese on toast! The supermarkets are full of cheap back to school stuff, so I managed to pick up a plain white t-shirt (pack of 3) for £3. Combined with some inspiration from two of Sam's favourite books 'The Pirate Cruncher' and 'Pirate things to make and do' (courtesy of Auntie Kate), and some fabric crayons (£2.65 from a local craft shop) and we have a story t-shirt! I had to help with the drawings, Sam coloured in and got carried away with the tentacles...well who wouldn't? All you do to fix your picture is place some plain paper/ baking paper over the image and hot iron for a couple of minutes. Sam has worn it proudly all day, plus I have two more t-shirts and crayons left for a rainy day.
For more piratey-inspiration, check out this blog: http://froggooseandbear.blogspot.co.uk/ The things this lady can do with humus and a yellow pepper are the stuff of legend! Enjoy x
This is a happy, messy and quick activity to whip out when you need to fill 20 mins! Like many people, I get a lifestyle magazine subscription and every 6 months or so, I like to sort through it, chop out anything that makes me smile or think of other projects, and paste the pics in my scrapbook...Then (like a good little environmentalist) I pass the magazines on to family and friends. This time, the little dude wanted to help, and actually we spent a really nice hour ripping out pictures and sticking...Bit worried about his preference for manic looking cats and freaky squirrels, but hey, he's 3.
All you need:
Old magazines, paste, brush and some paper!
Salt dough food
This honestly wasn't an attempt to gloss over the sturdiness of my bread-making (which has improved in the last week!), but to add to a play kitchen I made last year with some new food. I have to admit there was nearly tears as I had to accept that a three and a half year old didn't have the same precision or creative persuasion as his mum (spot the 'rocket' in the kitchen photo...), but by the end we reached a happy agreement that he could have his rocket as long as I could do the cutting out. The painting he loved, and the playing has been even better.
1 cup salt
2 cups plain flour
1 cup lukewarm water
Bung all together and knead to a smooth dough. Explain repeatedly to your child that they can't eat it, it tastes yucky and isn't like cake mix. Cut out shapes and either air dry, or for the impatient, bung in oven for about 45mins (depending on the size of your shapes) at 150 C. Paint and for extra durability, coat in PVA.
I stole the recipe off the yeast packet, it might sink a duck if lobbed with strategic aim, but it was fun and the 10 mins of kneading wore the cretin out. So...
You will need:
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 pckt yeast
300ml warm water
2 tsp sugar
In a big old bowl, chuck everything apart from the water in. Rub in the butter, bung in the water and gloop together in a big ball. Turn out onto a floured side and knead for 10 mins (I broke a small bit off for the boy to hammer the crap out of). Put into a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 2 hours (cue the kids tv). When time is up, put onto an oven tray (v. rustic) or in a bread tin (more conformist) and bake @ 230 degrees C (450 F or GM 8) for 30-35 mins. Tap the bottom -if hollow then done! Spread liberally with butter, jam (or even chocolate spread) and engage!
[Approx. cost per loaf: 30p!]