The mini roll express

cooking, Crafty, food, kids
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Inspired by a recipe in Big Cook’s Cook Book (“Big Cook Little Cook”) caring No.1 son wanted to make a surprise train cake for his little brother. The main ingredients were 2 large Swiss rolls, but being wheat free myself, I didn’t really want to go to that extent because I knew 2 small boys could not polish it all off before it went stale.
So, in order not to disappoint thoughtful No.1 son or lucky recipient No.2 son, I adapted it a little…

For each train, you’ll need:-

  • 1.5 mini rolls
  • a piece of flake
  • a couple of cocktail sticks
  • some icing
  • 4 smarties (or any round sweets)

The photo pretty much shows how it’s done – the whole roll is the main part of the train. Insert a cocktail stick up the middle of the half roll and stick it in the back of the whole roll. Ditto the flake, but put this near the front (if you find the flake is splitting, just ditch the cocktail stick and push it in to the whole roll hard enough to break the chocolate coating and stand up). Then a blob of icing for each smartie to stick to, and we’re ready to rock and roll!

Mini roll express
Chew chew choo choo!

The Chinese laundry

Crafty, games, kids
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It’s been a wet day. The poster paint masterpieces have been churned out but you need somewhere to dry them. Worry no more. All you need are some pegs and a long piece of string.

My pegs have holes in the handles so I just fed them onto a piece of string, tied it between the curtain pole and the light fitting and there you have it. Just make sure the pics are dry enough so the paint doesn’t run off the paper when you hang it up!

Chinese laundry washing line

Keep your children on a leash

kids, safety, Thrifty
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We’re big into Bob the Builder. You know the score – reduce, reuse, recycle. So when I was just about to ditch the toddler wrist strap that was languishing in the back of the cupboard, I’m glad I didn’t!

No. 1 son was becoming a keen cyclist, to the point of wanting to cycle everywhere. Now I’ve got no problem with a bit of exercise, but the downhill run into town from home was a bit tricky with one hand on a bike and the other on the pushchair. So I turned to the wrist strap and figured I could use it to strap one end to the bike and the other to me (steering the pushchair more confidently with 2 hands!). You do have to be careful where you fix it to the bike in order not to interfere with the brake cable or the handlebars (on the main upright just below the handlebar junction seems to work best).

It’s great for controlling downhill speeds, and slightly less great (depending on whose viewpoint you look at it from!) for towing them back up the hill :s

Shake it up

food, kids, Reviews, Thrifty
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Getting the boys to drink enough milk is always a struggle. They’ve never been big milk fans. But when they started to get split nails, something had to be done. So I relented and bought some milkshake concentrate in an attempt to make it more palatable for them.

Inevitably, it was more appealing with some artificial flavours added, but it still seemed to have something missing. Then I stumbled upon the perfect gadget in the kitchen drawer.

IKEA milk frotherA while ago I went though a cappuccino stage and purchased an incredibly cheap battery operated milk frother from IKEA. It was just 99p, but was rubbish at making frothy coffee. However, it is just the ticket for making frothy milkshakes. Fill the glass about 3/4 full with milk, dip the frother in the glass, but make sure you don’t switch it on till it’s on there and switch it off before it comes out or you’ll have one hell of a mess! Agitate it up and down near the surface of the milk and very soon, you’ll have the perfect milkshake. Add a straw and in no time, the kids calcium levels will be inversely proportional to the amount of milk left in the glass!

Taken at face value

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After a simply dreadful day, I forgot that children are so innocent and sometimes when you least expect it, actually do exactly what you say.

Picture the scene – rotten day at work, no.1 son got the wrong shoes at after school club and the other child parents threw ours out as they were too small (so an unnecessary £30+ expense to buy a new pair), no.1 son smears the insides of a creme egg all over his face and school jumper, then tries to help me wipe the dregs that got caught in my hair with the hand he smeared it on with in the first place… know the kind of thing.

It’s the one day a week that the kitchen floor has been cleaned and so I like to try and keep it that way as long as possible (not usually for very long) so when no.2 son was reaching the end of a gingerbread man in my thoroughly cheesed off mood, I rather despairingly said ‘Please be careful with all those crumbs because the last thing I need is for them to be all over the floor.’ Then imagine if you will my horror when he finished the biscuit and swept the crumbs off the table, scattering them across the floor. On questioning him, he innocently answered ‘but you said the last thing you needed was the crumbs all over the floor, so that’s the last thing that I did Mummy!’

That’ll teach me! :-/

Trading up to a Dyson?

Crafty, food, kids, Thrifty
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As word of my wacky ideas sweeps the nation*, a friend sent me the fo article. I thought it’d be great at this time of year when people are snapping up bagless vacuum cleaners in the sales. What do you do with all those vacuum cleaner bags stacked up in the cupboard that will be useless now?

Simple! Follow the pictures below. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words…

Ice cream holder instructions
Read the rest…

Wipe the slate clean

games, kids, Thrifty
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Another thrifty tip if you are in possession of a magnetic drawing board (a Magna Doodle type effort).

They are brilliant when you have a child just learning to play hangman – easy to reuse and save having to scrabble around for paper. Also great for adults who like to play Pictionary.

You could use an etch-a-sketch, but that really would be hard work!

Jigsaw puzzles solved

games, kids
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Was your household one of the ones lucky enough to receive a plethora of jigsaws on Christmas Day?

My kids love them. We have boxes which contain several jigsaws (one even has 10 in it) and I got fed up of them all getting muddled together. The solution? Easy! A felt pen and some self seal plastic bags.

Next time the jigsaws are made up, flip ’em over and number the pieces (each piece in the same jigsaw needs the same number!). Then write the number of pieces in the jigsaw and the number that you wrote on the reverse of the pieces on the front of the bag, put the pieces in and seal it up.

As long as you teach the children that getting the right pieces in the right bag is all part of the game, you (and the jigsaws) will be sorted!

You’re not on my Christmas Card list

Christmas, kids
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It’s funny how little one determines who they would like to send a card to and who they don’t.

Number 2 son was asked about a particular child (who to protect their identity will remain nameless!). His immediate response was ‘She has a snotty nose. I don’t want to send her a card.’

So now you know.  Always keep a tissue handy if you’d like to be on the list next year 😉

All I want for Christmas….

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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….is a cardboard box.

Honestly, we sit watching advert after cheesy advert for ridiculously expensive toys (I’m not mean, but I consider anything over £30 for a child to be outrageous and a waste), and I know that despite all the ‘I would like that one please Mummy’ ‘I’d play with it loads’ etc etc that after at best, a week, it would be gathering dust in a corner.

But, bring home a cardboard box (free from work or a supermarket) which is large enough to fit a child in and you have a multi purpose toy. We’ve had it as a toy box, a garage, space city, a space rocket, a fire station, a house, a dog basket, a den….the list goes on and on.

It’s recyclable, reused and reeeeeeeeet great 😉

Bob the Builder would be proud (hmmm…it hasn’t been Sunflower Valley yet!)

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