Toddler activity: Easter cards

LO and I made a card like this at Messy Church. I really liked the idea as they are so easy to make (what toddler doesn’t like having a good scribble?!) so we made some more.

This one was the prototype.

And these were the ones we made at home. You use two strips of masking tape to mark out a cross on a blank card, then get the toddler to scribble all over it.

Then carefully tear the masking tape away – leaving the shape of a cross amidst the scribble!

Depending on how much mess you want to create, you could also try it with paint! 😉




So, we did actually get some snow this year. Snow doesn’t happen that often in this part of the world, and when it does, there isn’t much of it. But the Beast from the East was on the way. And, well, this was it:

Yep, it didn’t even totally cover the grass.

You can see how it’s really deep here

Still, in many areas not that far from us, there was a lot more snow, so it did cause transport problems as trains run to and from those areas, points froze etc. My journeys to work were fine – I stuck to main roads and everything was gritted and clear – and LO’s nursery remained open, although the local schools ended up closing.

How much snow did you get?

Toddler activities: matching colours

I’ve been scouring Pinterest looking for ideas for activities to keep two year olds occupied, especially when it’s hard to get outside, as in the current snowy weather. This colour matching activity caught my eye and we tried it out a couple of days ago.

I drew some circles on card and used LO’s felt tips to colour them in with solid colour.

Then I put a circle of colour in the bottom of each section of a muffin tin and placed an assortment of pom-poms into containers next to them.

The idea was that LO could match up the colours with the pom-poms – and she did!

She enjoyed matching the colours, and also liked emptying the pom-poms onto the floor and putting them back into the containers. The pom-poms vary in size so sometimes she was picking up quite tiny ones, which was good for her fine motor skills too.

Time to set up activity: 15 minutes, although now I’ve made the coloured circles it would take about two minutes to get out.

Cost: I bought a bag of pom-poms (£4 in Hobbycraft, can probably be bought cheaper elsewhere) but everything else we already had – felt tips and muffin tin. The containers are old yogurt pots and the card was packaging I’d hung onto. The pom-poms could also be used for other activities.

Time it took: about an hour of activity in total as she went away for a bit and then came back to it.

Other comments: it would have worked better to have purchased a bag of pom-poms in primary colours. I didn’t have the right colour felt tip pens to match all the pom-pom colours so ended up removing those colours first.

Garden February 2018

It’s been a cold and windy February so far so, unsurprisingly, I haven’t been tempted outside to do any gardening! Just to keep the bird feeders topped up.

There are a few flowers appearing to brighten things up but I can’t wait until spring!

The snowdrops are over but some of the early daffodils are flowering.

The hellebores have looked amazing this year, although the flowers are quite hidden away so you only see them if you know they’re there!

A couple of camellia flowers have opened, although it’s mostly still just buds. This will be covered in flowers in a couple of weeks.

The cyclamen flowers are just about visible and the hyacinth leaves have appeared next to them. The hyacinths should flower just as the cyclamen are dying down.

Pansies in one of the hanging baskets. The daffodil leaves are beginning to appear alongside them.

Rhubarb beginning to emerge! Can’t wait until it’s big enough to pick and eat!

What’s your garden looking like at this time of year?

More rainbows

I finished the socks that I promised my friend I’d finish off for her. These have gone off to her Dad to see if they fit before I knit the second pair I promised. The pattern is the Winwick Mum contrast heel, toe and cuff pattern, incorporating a garter rib stitch pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. Yarn is WYS signature 4ply in spearmint and kingfisher.

And I’ve finished the shawl of doom pattern. This is the Stylecraft Head over Heels sawtooth edge crescent shawl. You may have noticed that it doesn’t appear to be a crescent. I HATED this pattern so much. It is very poorly written and, with hindsight, it was a mistake to choose a pattern which so few people had knitted and those who had seemed to have had problems with it. I haven’t darned in the ends yet or blocked it as I haven’t decided whether it’s even going to stay like this, or whether just to unravel the whole thing. Disappointing.

But I have cast on for an exciting new project. A friend is expecting a baby and I wanted to make her a blanket. After much indecision on my part, Greensideknits suggested this Gansey Afghan pattern, which I really like, so have gone with that. It is much better written than the shawl above! 😉 I decided that I wanted something brighter but appropriate for either gender and that I’d get bored if I knitted it all in one colour, so decided on doing a rainbox, having seen one like that in the existing projects on Ravelry. Much cogitation about yarn then occurred, but I eventually settled on Paintbox yarn cotton aran as it offered me a whole range of lovely colours to choose from. These are the colours I eventually went with granite grey for borders and garter stitch sections, possibly a lighter grey would work better? The rainbow colours are:  red wine, Seville orange, buttercup yellow, spearmint green, marine blue, royal blue, rich mauve.


These were all ordered from Love Knitting, who delivered really fast! I am pleased with the yarn as it not only gives the shade number but also the name on the ball band – I hate having to try and work out which shade is which with only a number to go on. This is a big project – the baby is due in June – but hopefully I’ll have enough time. I don’t have anything else on the needles at the moment other than maybe that second pair of socks – which will become my portable project once the blanket becomes too big to take outside the house.

Oh, and stash update so far this year. Well, the socks don’t count in my stash tally as the yarn wasn’t mine. So, so far this year:

Yarn in: 1530 metres

Yarn out: 500 metres

So, a high yarn in total at the moment, but that was the yarn for the blanket, so most of that will get knitted up!

Packed lunches

I don’t have time to have breakfast at home on work days, and LO has breakfast at nursery, so I take both a packed breakfast and lunch with me on those days. This is what last week’s looked like. The breakfast is almost always the same, but the lunches vary a bit more 😉

Both are packed the night before, because getting both of us out of the house by 7.40am is enough of a whirlwind without adding in extra complications.

This is my breakfast – 3/4 cup of muesli (I make my own now that the supermarket has discontinued the one I like – it is three cups of oats, one cup of mixed nuts/seeds and one cup of sultanas shaken together) and put into my Sistema breakfast pot. Then I pour orange juice on top until the muesli is just covered. In the upper layer, I put about seven frozen cherries (these defrost overnight) and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Put the upper layer in, lid on and in the fridge overnight. Once I get to work I pour the top layer into the bottom layer, mix it together and YUMMY!

And here’s last week’s default lunch. I had leftover salad to use up, so opened one of those  pouches of quinoa that are ready to eat. A third of this per day, mixed with salad leaves, pepper, cucumber and tomato, plus some salad dressing is really nice. In the top layer of my lunch box is an almond butter sandwich, cut up into chunks, and a cat-shaped cheese straw, made when I did some baking with LO and now in a bag in the freezer ready for snacking and lunches. The three little pots are all salad dressing – I get them all ready in one go then just pop one in with my lunch each day.

And it all fits in my super duper sheep insulated lunch bag, along with some fruit, little pot of almonds, and a Nakd bar to eat on my way to the car park at the end of the day.

What do you take in your packed lunch? I’d also love to hear other people’s ideas for breakfast on the go too.

Slow cooking

I’ve tweaked the type of blogs that I read – I still read knitting, crafting and gardening blogs, but now I read parenting ones too! 😉 This has led me to find various recipe ideas which I’ve been enjoying exploring. I’d like to use my slow cooker more, so have been trying out some recipes from the Organised Mum blog. My slow cooker is small (1.5 litre capacity) so tends to make enough for 2-3 portions. This works fine for my family, as we are a veggie, a meat eater who doesn’t eat rice or anything spicy and a toddler who eats everything but in toddler-size portions. So, I quite often only want 1 -2 adult portions of anything, and then have an extra portion or two to put in the freezer. I also don’t have a huge freezer – just four freezer drawers, so producing huge quantities of batch cooked meals wouldn’t work for us. This way, we get a couple of batch cooked portions of a variety of things. As the days I work end up being rather time limited in terms of cooking (I start cooking at about 7.45pm on these days, and would prefer it if we started eating by about 8.15pm!) batch cooking is the perfect solution.

This was my first attempt at an Organised Mum recipe – slow cooker lentil bolognaise. Before:

And after:

The bolognaise was really tasty and made enough to freeze a portion too so I’ll definitely be making this again.

One of my Christmas presents was a book about slow cooking – not just with a slow cooker, but the sort of recipes you can bung in the oven for a while whilst you do something else!

This is my first recipe from this book – Turkish halloumi bake (meant to be served with ciabatta but I did garlic bread instead). It is basically roast vegetables (I did sweet potato, peppers, aubergine and courgette), then add 150g lentils and a pint of stock to the roasting tin and cook for another 25 mins, then put halloumi slices on top and grill. This was so tasty and I’ll definitely be making it again.

It made enough for a meal for the three of us, with some lentil/veg mixture leftover. I added some stock to this and turned it into two portions of soup to use in packed lunches.

Last week I tried this veggie chilli recipe, also from the Organised Mum blog. I halved the ingredients and it fitted perfectly in my slow cooker. Because there is so little prep (you literally pour all the ingredients into the pot, stir and turn it on) I actually got this one going before going out for a play date with LO and left it cooking for eight hours. First time I’ve done that.

Again, this one was easy to make and tasty, although, for our family, I’d put less chilli in next time. I really liked the way there was so little prep and that it cooked for a long time – I’ve never really understood how slow cookers are meant to help when you’re at work all day as I don’t have time to start chopping and frying before going out in the morning, and, in the recipe book that came with the cooker, all the recipes take 4-6 hours, whereas a day at work means being out of the house for at least 11 hours.