Thursday, 30 October 2014

My house before children.....

When you have a child your whole world is turned upside down. Everything changes.

Many changes are welcome, some you have to adapt to and some frankly you just want to change back.

There are things I miss about my life before entering the world of motherhood. A clean and tidy flat/house is one of them!

Before I had somewhere to put everything.
Now toys seem to be spilling out of every room , we only have cheap storage so it doesn't hide them away.

If I won the lottery (I guess it would help if I played it in the first place) a playroom would be great! It would be a lovely playroom, a wonderful exciting place for G and I'd get some control back over the rest of the house. Happy child, happy mummy.

Ok I should be fair, not all the problems with my house are down to my child! Yes before I could arrange things nicely and had a lot less house work but In fact the battle for a clean, tidy house began when I moved in with her father.
Then a lot happened and the house that my daughter and I now live in has a long list of problems!
 Lack of storage is one and that's not just down to a little person who's needs are continuously changing.
That on it's own of course is something to deal with - from Moses baskets, playmats and bouncers to bigger clothes, space taking toys to rival even baby activity stations (a trampoline) and even first pets. But along side that we have no laundry cupboard, no bathroom cabinet, I have no chest of drawers, our shoe cupboard gets damp & mouldy in bad weather and so on.

 A good chest of drawers in my bedroom would totally transform the room as would proper toy storage in the lounge. Clutter is something that really gets to me, some days it makes me crazy! I am sure proper storage would help with that. I have a small glimmer of hope in that I may be getting a small proper storage unit from Ikea for Christmas. Having at least one room in the house (ok besides my bedroom) that's not dominated by toys/toddler items is becoming a real possibility.
I am obviously happy to have signs of my little girl everywhere, I'd be distressed if not, but I'd also like some signs that I live here too.

Before it wasn't a huge battle to keep it clean and tidy.
Now as I'm getting one thing tidied/cleaned or organised it seems like G is making another mess or undoing something I've done.

Now this is something most, if not all parents of young children have to deal with at one point or another.
It is untrue the volume of mess one tiny human being can make in such a short time. However, toys wise - there would be no point having them if they weren't being played with!

G will usually help tidy up now when asked and also cleanliness wise she's better than she was about a year ago. She'd always wipe her hands all over the carpets, walls, furniture.... such a battle against her smearing muck (not actual muck I am lucky I missed that joy of parenthood some poor people face) or toothpaste everywhere! Now it's usually just wiped on her clothes. Easier to manage!

Before I didn't need to worry about redecorating....
Now there are scribbles, marks, hand prints on the walls, furniture....

...along with the mold in this damn house I try cleaning these marks off too. However if they are on the walls the paint wipes straight off too! Cue awful looking walls either way. I have to say when I was younger I also never imagined that now I'd be scrubbing wee out of a carpet on a daily basis. I hired a rug doctor a few months ago when I had a very small loan out and I felt so much happier after cleaning the carpets! I'm one of those who would love a steam cleaner as a present - welcome to the boring world of being a grown up. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love a huge bottle of baileys or a mad night out still (I imagine I would anyway but I'd probably be asleep a couple of hours in).

Before my house was empty*
Now my house is a home.

As I said many of the issues I have aren't down to having a child but extreme difficulties I've had in the past few years meaning that I currently struggle a lot financially.
On dealing with the mess making machines that are children - It may be a massive challenge, some might say soul destroying, trying to keep the house clean & tidy but knowing the reason why, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Except if I won the lottery.

Then I'd get a maid.

And then the fun began...

*Her father didn't count

Throwback Thursdays - Halloween

I think these photo's are from 8 years ago which terrifies me! A Halloween night out at University. I love a bit of fancy dress.

It was at one of our favourite haunts in Concert Square Liverpool. I really miss these days.

Happy Halloween everyone! 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wicked Wednesdays - Halloween

I've not managed to get on the blog much with it being half term but I thought I'd pop on to do a Halloween Wicked Wednesdays.

Here is my daughter 3 years ago on her first Halloween.

So scary she scared herself!

Ok maybe not. She just wasn't in a very happy mood that night.  A novelty singing Halloween dog did the trick of cheering her up though.
This photo makes me come across as a cruel mummy forcing my baby into a costume she was not happy with, complete with mess in the background. Bloody awful. Definitely a Wicked Wednesdays contender.


If you'd like to join in just click on the pic above and it will send you on over to the lovely Brummymummyof2.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Throw back Thursday - Good Friends

This week's Throw back Thursday is one of me and my uni friends. People who I've met in the last couple of years wouldn't even recognise me here! I will get back to this eventually (except a bit older looking).
These are three of the five girls I lived for 2 to 3 years at uni and this is from when we met up a year or so after we'd finished. Another of them is behind the camera. It was 10 years after we first met this September and we are all still really good friends and planning our next meet up soon.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Young children book recommendation of the fortnight - The baby who wouldn't go to bed

This week I have chosen The Baby who wouldn't go to bed by Helen Cooper. A brilliant bedtime story for very young children especially those that can be funny with going to bed.
I originally got it for G for that very reason. It used to take her forever to go to bed or to sleep. Now she's much better although still has problems during the night.

It's a delightful book with baby refusing to go to bed and supposedly travelling off in his little car, coming across a tiger, some soldiers, a train and a musical band, all of whom he asks to play. They tell him they are too tired and are heading to bed and that he should too. He carries on until everything around him falls asleep even the moon.

But there is one person still awake, someone who can't go to sleep until baby does ....... mummy.

All the characters he's come across are toys in his room and he finally settles off to sleep. Lovely book and I recommend you have a read. I got our copy again from Amazon, second hand but in great condition.

Do you have any books that are great for getting your little one in the mood for sleep?

Wicked Wednesdays - Getting dressed in the dark

One day I will get this link up post done first thing rather than when it's hurtling towards the end of the day!

So G dressed herself the other night when getting ready for bed....

.....nice mismatched outfit plus cardigan on upside down......

....and yes it would have still been the same outcome if she'd not been getting dressed in the dark.

She put her knickers on wrong at nursery yesterday after having an accident. She put her whole body through one of the leg holes and they were really digging into her when I picked her up!
 Besides the painful looking knickers episode, these are the moments I love. She does/has done and says/has said so many funny things as a toddler/preschooler. I will miss them when she's all grown up. It's really going to too fast....she'll be dressing herself like this for school next year having only turning 4 just before she starts.

Join in with Wicked Wednesdays with the lovely Brummymummyof2 blog by clicking on the pic below!


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Halloween Scene and My Top 5 Spooky Crafts 2014

I love Halloween and I love crafts, especially one's that G can join in with, so after having a little look around a few blogs and being inspired I thought we'd try a few out. I've listed my top 5 simple Halloween activities that you can do with your child.
I also am sharing my own crafting activity of making a Halloween scene.

Mini Glitter Pumpkins

I found this great simple Halloween craft idea from the brilliant Hodgepodgecraft blog. Great to do with even really young children and you only need a couple of things to do it. I found the mini pumpkins in a large Sainsburys store and a couple of tubes of acrylic paint in the pound shop. Gude who writes the blog got hers from The Works which I'll be checking out as our paint didn't coat the pumpkin so well.
G had a quick go at doing one whilst nana was round at the weekend. I think she'll be giving it a second coat and doing the second one next week

Hanging Spiders

These are from Life As We Know It and look like a fun make. I know G would love playing with them after. I've struggled getting hold of the polystyrene balls and black pipe cleaners but I figure if I manage to get hold of the balls I can substitute for sparkly silver pipe cleaners instead.

Jack Skeleton Apples

These are from Wonkywonderful blog (click the link) and look AMAZING! I can't wait to try them out. I'll be getting myself a couple of clocks of white chocolate, some fresh apples and some black icing next week!

Hobbycraft Foam Clay Cat Set:

This little kit is no longer on their site anymore but you can probably find it in your local store like I did. It's a lovely little set and cost me £1. It makes 2 small cats. I've never used foam clay before, it's odd stuff! G enjoyed this but it was more fiddly than I had anticipated so I had to help more than I would have liked to. I love to make things but obviously this activity was intended for her and therefore more she does the more enjoyable it is for both of us.

They have a few other little Halloween craft kids at the £1 to £2 price range. I also love their papier mache pumpkin for decopatching/decorating - great as a decoration/center piece and/or a great place to hide Halloween goodies. I'd love to get their scrape away Halloween decorations kit, these are easy and fun for 3 years plus, perfect for G to do single handedly (I will be sat watching of course) and they are only £2.

Pumpkin Carving:

A wonderfully (or in my case averagely) carved pumpkin....isn't this the best bit about Halloween? Well along side the dressing up! I think I'll be attempting a Jack Skeleton one as I'm not sure how I'd go with any more complicated unless I was on my own for a few hours, which is not going to happen. I love looking at designs on Google images.

Our Halloween Scene: 

For our Halloween scene we used:
  • A large sheet of black card from Hobbycraft
  • A few sheets of craft foam in white, black, purple and white - depending on the shop the pound shop sometimes do packs of craft foam.
  • A packet of googlie eyes
  • PVA glue
  • A couple of pipe cleaners
  • A black marker pen
  • Some black fabric (or could just use craft foam)
  • Glitter
  • Some coloured paper (we used brown to do the tree)
  • Scissors

It depends on the age of the child how much you'll need to help with this. G is only 3 so I made most of the characters and she put the glue on and stuck them (apart from the tree which was a bit fiddly) wherever she liked. She made her own bat almost completely by herself which she was very happy with and even gave it a dress out of some scraps of paper we had left. She did the glittery bits and some of the cutting out, taking the big edges off and I did the more intricate bits. I'll be using the left over scraps of paper and foam with G next week along with some googlie eyes so she can come up with some more of her own creations.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Handforth Paddock Fair

What is it?

Handforth Paddock Fair is a new event held in the Paddock shopping area. It has been running the past couple of years and is organised by a lady from Cheshire books. It expanded to Cheadle Hulme family market this weekend and Handforth Paddock Fair itself ran twice this summer and again November 22nd for the Winter event.

What is there to do?

It is a free entry event with:

  •  food
  • stalls
  • bouncy castles
  • face painting 
  • lucky dips
  • pony rides 
  • raffles 
  • a treasure hunt 
  • miniature railway 
  • appearances from popular children's TV characters (usually Peppa pig) 
  • games 
  • craft activities - last year they had sand art at one of the events which was fab and this year pottery and canvas painting.
  • Punch & Judy Show

The activities/stalls vary each time as do the characters present.

How to get there:

The event is easily accessible with a bus stop right by the paddock and it's also only a five minute walk from the train station. Beware if you have a buggy though as it's stairs only, no lifts or ramps.
There is also parking behind the Paddock itself. 

Whats it Like?

We went to both the summer and winter events last year, the first being where G had her first ever pony ride and had her face painted for the first time. It was chilly and wet but a nice event and I particularly liked the Little Mermaid balloon she had made for her and the Cookie Monster cupcakes on sale.
A just turned 2 year old G was also over the moon meeting Peppa Pig for the first time which was lovely.

 We also went to one of the two summer events this year where they had a Frozen theme with an Elsa tribute, someone in a bit of a dodgy Olaf outfit (but the kids loved it) and a Frozen stall. It was a beautiful sunny day and we got a free little box of chocolates and there was plenty for G to do.

We went again the saturday just gone (November 22nd) for the winter fair and G enjoyed the bouncy castles, frozen characters, punch & judy show, train rides and joining in for a fun dance with a small local song/dance class. The sun made an appearance so it was another bizzarely warm November day and the paddock was nicely busy.

There's been a lot of bubbles about for the past couple of events with bubble guns being on sale, so prepare to have a few quid saved for one of those or be left with a crying child.
There is also a fab play park behind the paddock (Meriton road park) with some lovely play equipment, which is great to go to when you've finished at the fair.

The costs can add up at the fair, so if on a budget you have to keep an eye on what you spend. However with the train rides only being 50p a ride, the characters and this year a free Punch & Judy show ( not a show I'm overly comfortable with but G loves puppets) it can be a good cheap morning/afternoon out!

Friday, 17 October 2014

My annual cake decorating

So above are some photo's of some recent cake making and decorating attempts over the past couple of years. Cake decorating is something I have a big interest in and if I had more money and time I would love to practice and get good at it! As it stands I usually only ever attempt it once a year for G's or occasionally other people's birthdays. I'd love to go to classes,watch lots of youtube video's, build up a collection of tools, to learn and practice different skills! I can only hope that it will become possible at some point in the future.

For G's birthday cake this year I took inspiration off a wonderful local cake decorator the princess and the cupcake. Of course mine turned out nothing like hers and I designed it slightly differently as well. The making of it ended up a bit of a disaster....the wrong size cake tins, one of the layers not coming out of the tin right meaning it was so bumpy and uneven and rolling the icing too thin when stressed. 
I was making it in extremely limited time whilst almost single handedly trying to organise G's 3rd birthday party. G got so tired the day before the party she ended up napping during the day for a short while, which she's not done since she was 2 and then waking up after and screaming for an hour. The icing being too thin meant it broke open in several places when fitting it on. Nightmare! Everything went wrong and it didn't turn out quite like I wanted! However it could have been worse G liked it which is the main thing. She kept asking for another one for week's afterwards.

The above mentioned cake was a Frozen cake and I used the Craft company for most of my supplies. Luckily for me they were offering free delivery at the time. I brought my first set of plunge cutters off eBay to do the snowflakes and the cake toppers off Amazon. E Bay and Amazon have great deals of cutters and plunge cutters so I suggest always checking there first if you need/want any.

My cake for G's second birthday went quite well except for the difficulty of doing rainbow like layers when you only have one cake tin of the same size! I also didn't have a cake leveller yet that year, but besides that it still turned out quite smooth and was the least stressful out of the three.

The first time I attempted decorating a cake using fondant icing was for her first birthday. There was a lot I had no idea about and on top of that I was in the middle of an awful time in my life and still that day whilst making I had her father causing me trouble and a huge amount of emotional trauma. The fact I got a cake and a party done was a miracle! 

Despite how stressful I found it this year I'd still do it again. It would be much easier if I could afford enough ingredients and time to have a practice run through and have someone to mind G for a bit whilst I actually did the fondant icing parts! A normal/good sized kitchen would be nice too! That add's on to my massive wish list that includes having a craft room and a playroom. I really should start playing the lottery!

Despite the stress I still enjoy it. I like to create things and I have loads of idea's and different tools I'd like to try out.
Have you tried your hand at sugar craft? Or have you had any cake disasters?

Bad angle - there were more than 3 people at her party!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Throwback Thursday The Countdown to Labour part1 Antenatal Class

This weeks TBT is a post from my previous blog. July 2011

Monday was my fourth iron infusion and our first antenatal class. Ashley came with me to the infusion after that I went to get us some dinner before the class. I bumped into a few of my work friends whilst I was there. It was really good to see them as I've been missing them and feeling very unsocial at points whilst I've been away.

What I expected
Our class had a lovely young midwife called Rebecca running it who I'd met before in the Maternity Assessment Center. It was not how I expected, not like the one's I'd seen in the movies with women sat between their partners legs practicing breathing techniques. I think they had separate 'Active Birth' classes for that which I'd been misinformed about.
Instead the first class was a talk through of labour and giving birth, what exactly happens in each stage, how to deal with the situation, when to get in touch with the hospital, pain relief options and so on.


Doesn't look fun
I knew roughly what I needed to about the stages but it was good to go through it in more detail and feel more prepared.
The one thing I hadn't ever thought so much about though, is the part after your cervix is fully dilated....when you've got past that pain, you then have to fit this baby through your birth canal! Whenever I'd thought about the terrifying prospect of giving birth before pregnancy, I always just related the cervix and the birth canal together, thinking they both widened and opened up. I suppose I'd just never thought about it properly. So talking about the actual giving birth, the 'pushing the baby out' part of labour in the class and solidifying the idea into my head, I did feel that fear coming back. It just seems physically impossible to me!

The main thing that got to me in the class besides that was talking about epidurals. Dear god I am NOT having one of those! I know you can never predict what will happen but the thought of that huge needle...and mainly the location where it goes ( could so easily paralyze you if it was done wrong) are what put me off! My naivety again became apparent to myself as I didn't realise a needle is left in to control and keep the dosage going. Whilst the midwife was talking through this my blood pressure was dropping and I came close to passing out. My very real needle phobia took over. You would think I'd be long over them by now but no!
After the talk she took us to see the Delivery Suite rooms. There were two types, one being a bit more homely with a separate room with a massive bath, which I would prefer if I get to choose when the time comes.

Giving birth - a scary thought?
Its funny, since becoming pregnant my feelings towards giving birth have changed a lot. Previously I had a morbid fear of child birth, I used to think that I couldn't do it and I would have to have a C - section and if not definitely an epidural.  Now they are the LAST two things I want!
During most of this pregnancy the thought of giving birth hadn't scared me at all. I think I was so in love with this new life I'd created and the excitement about meeting her, the worry and fear didn't factor in anymore.  You make the connection and your focus changes.
 I have to say though, now that I'm counting down the final days until my due date (9 days left at the time of writing) I am getting a bit nervous. I still partly can't imagine/believe it's actually going to happen, but with the back pains and what I assume are braxton hicks that I have been getting the past couple days it is starting to feel more real. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Young Children's Book of the Week - Noisy Poems

We love our books in this house so I thought I'd start a weekly post of our favourite's in case anyone is looking for any inspiration. They will generally be aimed at G's age group and I've had a bit of writers block with the title so it may change.

This week I've chosen Noisy Poems collected by Jill Bennet and illustrated by Nick Sharratt.

I remember having this read to me by the teacher in my reception class when I was little. I got a second hand copy off Amazon for G to have all these years later. I like to share books with her that I loved as a child.

These poems are full of alliteration and onomatopoeia's which are great fun for young children and great for developing language skills. I love On the Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan and Yickety Yak. Great poems full of funny words for little one's to get their mouth around so to speak.

Wicked Wednesdays Tink's in Trouble

Again another one from Archives for this week's Wicked Wednesday. There are so many great one's and not so many recent ones so why not? There are plenty of moments but not surprisingly I didn't take a snapshot when Grace was having a massive tantrum in the supermarket the other day, I actually almost cried.

Add caption

Here one of my best friends had come to visit and brought her fancy camera with her to take some lovely photo's. Here are the results after mummy hadn't realised G had a dirty face ....a grubby, angry looking baby who looks like she's about to snap Tink's head off.

Beautiful moment! Ha :)

Join in with Wicked Wednesdays with very funny Brummymummyof2 by clicking on the pic below.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

On a budget - Basic Tips No.2 Shop Around

For a while now I have been coping on a very low income. Even when with my daughters father I was scraping by and then since having to leave my job I have had to adapt hugely. This is even though I wasn't exactly having much of life's luxuries anyway and by luxuries I mean clothes when I need them, occasionally getting my hair cut, a social life.
My ex partner was on a higher wage still did these things and more yet objected tome getting our growing baby the next size up of clothes. Since becoming pregnant most of my money had gone towards G anyway but since becoming so short of pocket I very rarely have any to spend on myself and without these series of tips I'll be posting I'd be living in black bags!

I'm starting a voluntary position at my local hospital soon to help me get on the path back into work, but even then I will be on a tight, maybe slightly improved budget. I hope these simple saving tips will help others, whether you are not even scraping by, coping but never affording anything beyond groceries and bills or doing a bit better and wanting to be able to save for a holiday, emergencies, something more expensive you need or for your children.

This is the second of the budget tips & advice posts I'm doing and this one is really simple.


 If there's something you need try not to buy it from the first place you see it. If you do more often than not you can end up kicking yourself when you find it/see it being sold cheaper elsewhere.
I've never really understood why people shop in Waterstones when books are always cheaper know second hand isn't for everyone and it of course can limit your choice but you can buy books cheaper in certain supermarkets, online (Amazon etc) or cheaper bookstores such as The Works.
I understand wanting to support local people and businesses. I can't afford to right now but that doesn't mean I don't support it.

Another example - there's a specific toy/toys that your child/children want for Christmas. Shop around and find the best deal or if you don't have time to trawl the web etc join a site that might already have found the best deal for you.
A good site I joined on facebook recently is Bargain Finders Group. People share where they have seen great bargains and it can save you loads of money, especially on the run up to Christmas when I'm sure most of us need to make the pounds stretch further. They also have a social group so if you want any advice of where to look you can ask there.

Amazon is great for having brilliant deals on popular sought after products. You could maybe save 50% or more than you would have done just picking it up in say Toys R Us.
Of course the internet has made is so much easier to find a good deal. If you're not specifically looking for goods, but instead more along the line of experiences, treatments and the like, Groupon, wowcher, kgbdeals and a variety of others are great.
Even if you can afford to consider expensive treatments lipolysis, invisible braces, even a brain and body MRI scan which I've just spotted this evening to name a few you're not going to say no to 60% * off.

Anyone who's got a TV, in the UK at least will know about price comparison websites for car, home insurance etc. What's great is that you can use them to check your energy bills and see if you can save money by switching suppliers. This time of year, if any energy bills are on most people's minds, so it's worth a look. Don't forget to check to see if you or a relative might be eligible for the warm home discount too.

Then there's your general groceries shop. For me not driving and being ill I find it easier to just stick to one supermarket/shop but they all have different deals on/better prices for certain products. Aldi which has become 'trendy', is fantastic. so is great if you can get to one. Even saving the pennies counts as they all add up! Most would welcome ways to be frugal in the current financial times but especially if you are finding you're really struggling try to shop around.

CBeebies Peter Pan Media City Event

 On Saturday the 11th, after a brief jab in the arm for my flu vaccine, I took advantage of the couple of days that the British weather decided to stop being so rainy and miserable and decided to head down to Salford Quays for The CBeebies Peter Pan Event.
The CBeebies Christmas panto of Peter Pan was being held in the Lowry over the weekend, with rehearsals on the Friday and the show on the Saturday and a stage and free activities for young children were put on outside.

If I had known in advance about tickets and where the shows were held I would have entered to try and get them. However the outside activities sounded good fun and sites online advertised that Mr Maker, Sid Sloane and others would be on the stage and there would be a seated area to view the panto on the big screen!

We took the train to Picadilly and the tram like last time we visited the Lowry so it was pretty straight forward but a massive squash when on the tram as possibly every family with young children in Manchester had decided to come along to the event.

It was super busy and I realised just a bit too late that it would have been a better idea to go on the Friday. It wasn't overly a problem and I consoled myself with the fact the panto wasn't shown on the Friday so we would have missed out. However it turned out that they had changed their minds about the seat's, I presume as it was so busy, so there was nowhere to rest your legs or 'get comfy' as Dr Ranj suggested to view the panto. After having G on my shoulders for one of the previous stage performances I really needed a break so we couldn't stay to watch the show as obviously with everyone standing up she couldn't see unless I held her.
It also seemed really difficult to actually see much on the screen once the panto came on, possibly because of the lighting, so in general that was a bit of a let down. The other entertainment on stage was great however!

We got there for 12 and sadly missed Mr Maker as I think G would have enjoyed seeing him. We also didn't see Sid which mummy may have been looking forward too....
I think they either must have been on the Friday or earlier in the morning, I'm sure they would have been great for those that were there!
We did see the Rasta mouse and 'the easy crew' set twice with Dr Ranj busting some serious moves. G enjoyed this and despite being full of a nasty virus she was kept going by the excitement of it all. I moved to the front with her on my shoulders, possibly a little excited myself to see Dr can tell the only TV I've really been able to watch the past couple of years is CBeebies!
There was also a Furchester hotel set due on stage at 5pm but that was too late for us, especially with G being ill, we needed to get home. I'd also been forwarned on the busy tram there about the rugby ending around 6 so wanted to be out of Manchester by then!

Before we wormed our way nearer the front, Rastamouse and Dr Ranj

The pirates from Swashbuckle also made an appearance but at the time we had finally made it onto the CBeebies pirate ship. There were set times when you could queue for a quick look on board the Liverpool ship the Glaciere/Cbeebies jolly roger. Apparently there were story telling sessions in the cabin, I don't know when these happened but we missed them too! It was quite a long wait in the queue and G announced just before we were able to go on that she needed a wee! Luckily she managed to hold on. We had a quick look round but G really wanted to stay on longer....such a long wait then a quick rush round. It was still great that we were able to go on.

Just before then we had queued for a while to go into the Tree fu Tom tent where there were activities such as making a bug hotel, apple printing, 'guess the veg', decorate a leaf, make a cress pot, looking for pond life. G took part in all of these and enjoyed herself. We would have stayed for longer but I had to rush her out just as she was enjoying herself cutting out a leaf to queue to get on the boat so that she didn't miss that!

There was also apparently an area where they were doing 'sea themed singing and story telling with musical instruments' I'm sad we didn't spot this anywhere whilst we were there.
We did go into a tent with Maths activities where G enjoyed digging around in buckets of sand and counting or mainly just discovering objects in them. She also had a play in the Science tent with the tubs of water with objects that either floated or sank. We also queued to play hook a duck, again which was very brief due to the day being so busy and G was given a bag of duck feed which we will be using on our next park visit. I am always meaning to go and get them some proper food from home bargains but it always ends up being old bread, which apparently stunts their growth! So it was nice to get this.
There was also a treasure hunt to take part in. I did see some people with maps but as I wasn't sure where to get them and there was other activities going on we didn't take part in that.

After looking online after I was gutted to see we has missed some Peter Pan themed under fives special dance and movement sessions in the Lowry on the Friday. They sounded wonderful.

I really should have done more research before the event instead of just going off a vague media release and this post wouldn't have been mostly about all the things we missed!
 However it was great considering it was free and although I don't think G has ever seen Rasta mouse she enjoyed the songs, seeing the characters and seeing Dr Ranj.
It was also great that they had set up area's to park your buggy and leave it. It definitely made things easier.

Did you go to the event? What did you think and what did you and your children get up to?

Friday, 10 October 2014

No cook vanilla scented purple glitter playdough

If like me you sometimes get the playdough out and find it's gone a bit hard or you fancy making the world of playdough a bit more exciting you can try and make your own. Whilst I can't pretend I enjoy the messy side of baking and being crafty with a baby/toddler/prechooler, I do love being creative and finding new things for G to discover and do. (You know you're a mum when you find yourself unintentionally quoting CBeebies)!

There are loads of simple recipes out there on the web but like my salt dough recipe I thought I'd do this one in grams. I'm always a bit frustrated at having to convert to grams, ml's if I follow one on the internet with not having cup measure's for the kitchen. The amounts never turn out quite right and I end up with the dough being too wet. One day I'll remember to get myself a set when I actually have some spare pennies!


  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp glycerin*
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 300g Salt
  • 200 ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • Glitter*
  • Vanilla essence*
  • Sugarflair Gel Colour of choice*

* These are optional ingredients and can be varied.

  1. We mixed the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. We then added our chosen colour of glitter to the mix.
  3. We then added the oil and the vanilla essence.
  4. After that I took over from my little girl. I added a small amount of gel colour to the hot water and mixed until dispersed. I then added the hot water to the dry ingredients, stirring in bit by bit.
  5. I then with careful supervision let my little girl start stirring again when the dough had begun to form. We then added the glycerin. 

If your playdough seems a bit wet/too sticky just add more flour until you feel it's right.
You can choose to add the gel colours afterwards and kneed them into the dough. This makes it much easier if you want to make multiple colours of dough.

What is great about making your own dough is that you can vary the additions to it to suit you.
I add glycerin now when I make dough after reading a great tip online about it making the dough shiny. We added glitter as we love glitter! My little girl chose which gel to use and we used vanilla as that's what we had in. It would have been nice to do a lavender scented one this time to match the colour she chose. You could use almond, lemon, rose, orange, lavender, herbs, spices, the list goes on.

There are many ways to play with dough. We usually use a big box of cutters, some playdoh tools and mummy's silicone cupcake cases. This time we got out some candles and other bits for a different sensory experience. G loved sticking things in the dough instead of rolling out and cutting or rolling into balls.

I've heard of people making dough using conditioner or bubble bath. We've got some cornflour in now so that will most likely feature in our next messy kitchen experience!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

My top picks from the shops for Halloween

I love Halloween and although I don't always get to dress up and do something special for it I still love seeing all the Halloween themed stock come out in the shops and having a browse.
Here are some of my favourite buy's I've spotted this year. If I'd had the money I'd buy them all.

Aldi - Signs £1.49. As I mentioned in my autumn post, I thought I'd update my very small Halloween stock and get one of these fab signs. We have the 'turn back' sign pictured above.

Also in Aldi were these amazing doorbells. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it gave me a shock when I pressed it and a nasty spider or other design of tongue shot out their mouths.
The shopkeeper couldn't confirm the price of these for me at the time. I might be tempted back next week to get one. I think they'd be great for giving trick or treaters a scare. Does it make me evil finding it funny to give them a scare? That's what they're coming for right?!

PoundLand have some great bits and bobs for Halloween. I got a pack of green and black balloons (as G loves her balloons - what toddler/preschooler doesn't!), a green halloween bowl, this fab bunting
and a tacky looking light up green spider which I knew G would love.

Looking on their online site I've also spotted this fab door mat which they didn't seem to have instore. They might well do in a store near you though.

I am quite a fan, of what others probably would find annoying, halloween novelty musical toys - I do have a little collection of my own. In Sainsburys earlier in the week I found this impressive musical 'rising witch' which retails at £15. Sadly I don't have that amount of money to spend on a novelty item otherwise I would have snapped it up.
I also loved the candy bowl with a snapping skeleton, which I think was £12 in Sainsburys but also found by looking online that B&M have it too for £9.99. Again great for scaring kids ha!
Sainsburys are also selling MONSTER pumpkins....they really are huge!!
 B&M also have a variety of halloween goblets on sale for 4 for £3. The designs I liked aren't on their website so I'll update this post when I've managed to get a snapshot.*

After a brief browse in H&B today (actually looking for hairdye so I'm not the one scaring the kids with how bad my hair looks) I spotted some great flat tinsel like hanging pumpkin decorations, I think for about 69p which I'd like a couple of. I also like their cute little ghost outfit. Their website doesn't seem to have any of this years halloween stock on currently so I'll have to try and get some photo's and update this post over the weekend.

I found this gorgeous little top in the girls clothing section at Asda for £4. I'd actually love this in adult size. I'll probably have G in this for the rest of October.

Morrisons also has some great Peppa Pig long sleeved tops in, a pink one with Peppa &Suzy as witches with plenty of bats and an orange one with George dressed as a Mummy. These are £5 each.

I also love Tesco's baby halloween clothing range, particularly the orange and black selection including a lovely orange 'Happy Little Pumpkin' bib and lovely little pumpkin booties!
Tesco also have some great little Halloween craft packs starting from £1, including a pompom spider.
Also for once a supermarkets claims for selling huge pumpkins are true. I hauled one back today for £2 and I'm looking forward to searching for some great carving inspriation.

Finally Hobbycraft is worth a visit, especially if you're not on a tight budget. They have some lovely bits and bobs and craft sets, all quite good prices but you could get really carried away! We chose the foam clay cat set pictured below. I loved the papier mache witches hat and pumpkin, they would be great to do in some fab decopatch papers or whatever decoration you or your little one choose. I also loved their little witch and pumpkin lanterns at £3 each. I was disappointed however to find their pack of 3 little polystyrene balls, which I went in for (for spider making) was the same price as their big variety pack in the Christmas section.
I also found the most amazing Christmas project in there of which i did spend a good deal of time staring at, dreaming away......but that's another season and another post!

*The hardship of not having a working smartphone! To be updated.