Monday, 26 January 2015

Top 10 weaning & feeding essentials

So as the time starts to wean baby number 2 I'm reminded of a post I was going to write when Doof was weaning but never got round to... So here it is, second time lucky (and doubly as true I guess as these are still my top 10 second time around!)


Vital baby bowls with sucker

Once your baby learns that the bowl moves and how fun it is to watch things fly off the highchair you're in big trouble. So we loved these bowls that clip onto a sucky base (that actually stuck to the highchair tray unlike some other makes we tried!).

Before we had the sucky bit...

Yay - no mess once the sucker is in place :)

Temperature spoons

I don't heat food very often (aka never when D was weaning) but obviously do if making ready brek or a half-uncooked dish. These tommee tippee temperature sensitive spoons are great - orange when the temperature is ok and quickly turning yellow when the food is too hot.

So simple but visually so effective

Square morrisons bibs

We were given these as a present. Initially I was a bit meh but then once I tried them, loved them. The square design allowed a lot coverage of D when he was at his super-messy eating phase, the neck fitted snugly so no food escaped down there (and was comfy as made of fabric) and lastly no amount of tugging from D would remove it :)

Mess mess mess!

Emergency stash of pouches

Yes yes I know, real mums hand steam every vegetable that passes within 5 yards of their baby. Except sometimes (often!) that's not practical. Sometimes you're out unexpectedly and need something now. Sometimes you're on a long joinery and so you want something that travels well. Sometimes you're just too tired to cook from scratch... Anyway a stash of emergency pouches has always saved this household!

Tommee tippee milk bottle or Nuby 

We tried nearly every cup in existence when weaning D off the breast (he skipped out the bottle phase) - you can read about all the different ones we tried here. By far our favourite were the standard Tommee Tippee and the Nuby. Both of which I've already bought for Iz :)

Fully mastered his TT cup by 6 months

Highchair cushion

Most simple yet ingenious invention ever! £5 in Ikea buys you a blow-up 3-sided cushion which you can slip into any highchair when out&about, instantly transforming those far too big wooden ones into something even your 5 month old is secure in. And it rolls down into practically nothing so easily fits in your nappy bag. Definitely as essential if you eat out with a little one.

Love the simplicity of this cushion - brilliant!

Brother Max pots 

There are so many different pots available for freezing food in. I loved the Brother Max ones because the 2 sizes were perfect portion sizes for early weaning (5-7 months) and the larger ones for later (8-12 months). They also had space to write on them and came with a pen. And even better they have a squishy rubber bottom so it's very easy to "pop" the food cube out once it's frozen. Although equally they double up as fab little pots to feed from - very handy if out as then you don't need to faff with more bowls etc.

The smaller sized pots

Ikea Antilop highchair 

Why spend anymore than £15 when that will buy you the best highchair out there?! The 2 reasons that make it the best in my mind are:
- it is all plastic so very easy to clean without any edges for food to get stuck in (you can even put the whole chair in the shower if it gets particularly messy!)
- it doesn't have a big "lip" on the tray so even small babies just starting out can try reaching for food and can see what they're being offered
Both of these also mean its perfect for using during painting or crafting activities when you want some sort of control over your toddler!

Perfect for crafting
The downside is that it doesn't fold away but as I'm using it 3 times a day I'd be far too lazy to fold it down anyway!

Great for finger feeding (and mess making!)

Floor mat

Essential of you want to stand any chance of keeping your carpet clean under the highchair. And can also double up as messy play mat for painting, gluing etc. Perfect!

Protect your carpet!


So those are my top 10 feeding/weaning essentials. What do you think? Any others you couldn't have lived without that I've missed out? I'd love to hear them :)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Dear Grumpy Old Man on the bus

Dear Grumpy Old Man on the bus

Thank you for your invaluable help today. Indeed I could actually hear my baby crying before you pointed it out to me.

The fact that I had already heard you muttering and complaining about the noise to your neighbour did not enamour you to me.

Thank you for having no clue what was wrong with my baby but still managing to suggest things that would "definitely work". And for repeatedly commenting that "he" had a good set of lungs.

I know you think I'm an awful mother because I didn't give her a dummy the moment she started crying. And an even worse mum that (shock horror) she's never used a dummy so I didn't have one with me. Even after I explained that, thank you for continuing to repeat that I needed to give her a dummy and why wasn't I...

You know, I'd never even thought of stroking her or trying to comfort her until you suggested it. Or maybe your eyesight is really bad or you would've realised I'd been doing nothing else for the preceding few minutes. 

And thank you for imparting that magic secret that all mums need to know - the one thing that is guaranteed to always work and stop your child crying, whatever the cause - rubbing their tummy. I’m really glad that always worked when you were a baby. And your mother was certainly lucky to have a one-thing-fixes-all-ills cure. I'm sorry I didn't try it on her after you suggested it but she was tired and hungry. If you're tired and hungry I doubt you want someone poking your tummy.

I know it's shocking I've managed to raise 2 children thus far without your invaluable advice... But I have.

So Grumpy Old Man on the bus, next time you hear a child crying and want to share your pearls of wisdom... just butt out. *That* is the most helpful thing you can do for that mother.


Yours lovingly 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Handprint casts (with baking soda clay)

So I may have a teeny tiny obsession with baby hand and footprints... We have done so much stuff with both D and Iz. The only ones I've written about so far are the Christmas cards we made over the last 2 years - I'm not quite sure why I haven't blogged about the rest but over the next few weeks I'll put up posts and pics of all the things we've made :)

First up is actually the latest thing we've done - clay handprints. I wanted to get both the kids' handprints, especially Iz's whilst she's still so little. But there's only a finite number of "art pieces" you can keep about the house so I thought it might look cute to 'montage' them. Initially I was planning to do my hand too but there wasn't enough clay in the batch :(

So this is what we did:

Recipe 1

The first recipe I tried came from MamaPapaBubba blog (full post here). This was the first time I'd ever heard of baking soda clay - I'd been about to use salt dough - but thought this looked great so why not try it.
So I carefully followed the recipe:
1.25 cups baking soda
0.75 cups cornstarch
0.75 cups water
Heated gently and removed from the heat when it looked like mashed potato and then left to cool for 15 minutes under a wet cloth. And initially it all looked great.
Initially it all looked very promising

But then when it was drying you could see cracks starting to form even in the first 12 hours :( if you read the comments under her blog post it seems quite a common problem.

The cracks are starting to show...

But I was not deterred - time for a new recipe :)

Recipe 2

The above got me thinking. Could you substitute the baking soda for baking powder? (I had a lot of baking powder in the cupboard and no more bicarbonate of soda!). Baking powder is effectively baking soda plus corn flour so I thought by re-jigging the proportions a bit it might just work?

Well it didn't. When the mixture started bubbling and emitting a thick gas as soon as I added the water I began to have my suspicions.... Anyway I persevered, tried my best, added some extra water but ended up just making a nice bubbly white oobleck.

Hubbly bubbly

Now D loved the last rainbow oobleck we made so there was no point in wasting it... He had fun anyway :)

Squish, squish
Recipe 3

Still not deterred I found another recipe with slightly different ratios on The Imagination Tree blog (full post here). This one had a bit more water in which I thought boded well.

1 cup baking soda
0.5 cups cornstarch
0.75 cups water

So I mixed them all together and heated over a medium-low heat. I stirred constantly and removed the saucepan from the heat as soon as the big clumping was starting to form (so about 10-15 seconds) earlier than when I tried "Recipe 1". I left to cool again and the resultant clay was a lot more squidgy/less firm so I was worried it might not dry properly. But I shouldn't have been.

We flattened it into a circle again. D did his handprint and then Iz did hers. By this time they were pros so got it perfect on their first attempt :)

Doof's handprint

Iz's handprint on top

Then I lifted it off the baking paper and put it on a drying rack. I thought this would be better than having to turn it every few hours, as I was worried if I turned it the handprints would get squashed out of shape because the clay was so soft.

And after a few days it was as hard as a rock :) the prints actually even improved with time - the palm lines got more visible - amazing! The clay also adopts a sparkly glistening colour. 

Recipe 3 versus Recipe 1 - I know which I think looks better!!

Then my final decision was how to finish it off. I had originally planned to paint the prints but it looked so beautiful when up against the light...

So pretty...

But anyway here is the final result - I love it!

Perfect keepsake :)

The last thing I need to do is coat it with a layer or two of clear protectant (which was also great in this project) and thread some ribbon through the holes so it's ready to hang. I love that we'll always have a record of just how tiny Iz' hands were as you quickly forget :)


So what are my top tips if you want to try this at home?

   -  Use recipe 3
   -  Take off the heat earlier than you think (you can always put it back on if you want)
   -  Aim for a slightly 'wet' dough 
   -  Use baking paper on both sides of the clay 
   -  Don't press too hard when making the prints as it can make the clay quite thin (although it does look pretty cool in the light!)
   -  Air dry at room temperature rather than put in the oven 
   -  Dry on a mesh rack
   -  Leave as long as possible before painting
   -  I used tempera paints as I've temporally misplaced our acrylic ones, but I think those would've given a more even coverage


And for anyone wondering about amounts as we don't really use "cups" in the UK. I used a full pot of baking soda (200g) and then just scaled everything else around that. We were left with a piece of clay perfect for making the 2 little handprints but had none left over. So if you want to make more than one I'd scale up your ingredients at the start?


Have you ever tried making baking soda clay? Do you have another recipe? I'd love to hear it :)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Second birthday cake smash

So if you thought cake smashes were just for first birthdays you were wrong. And if you have no idea what a cake smash is then read here. And if you're planning your own DIY one at home then you can read more tips here.

But back to D's second birthday one.

We had so much fun planning and doing his first birthday one that I always knew I wanted to repeat it the next year. He was also super dainty last year, having never really seen cake or icing before, so I thought this year he might get more stuck in. 

So here is a quick run down of what we did/used, with some pictures at the end :)

The day

Similar to last time we didn't do this on his birthday (we were actually in the States then) but did it the weekend after we got back. He loved the excuse for another day of cake!

The setting

I used exactly the same setup and location as last year. We don't have many choices in our house so thought I'd stick with what I knew worked. Again the lighting wasn't perfect but we have to work with what we've got and that was the best possible.

The cake

I made another multi-coloured cake but left out the purple as I thought I might after last year. This time it was lovely as D even helped bake the cake :) 

I chose orange frosting so it would stand out a bit from the surrounding colours and topped it with 100s&1000s and different coloured stars. I meant to put some whipped cream and blueberries (D's favourite) around the edge but completely forgot :(

The outfit

D wore a cute onesie with a "2" candle and flame above it. The design was from "Oh the places you'll go" by Dr Seuss which I absolutely love and it came from Jams and Bells on Etsy. I've got a discount code for their shop which lasts for the next 3 months - use MFDS15 to get you 15% off any of the items in the shop :)


We used a couple of different things. Firstly in the cake - we had a sparkler fountain to start with which D was fascinated by. Then we got a "2" candle and lit it a few times so he could blow it out. Amazing how much changes in a year - at his first cake smash there was no way he could even attempt to blow out a candle. Nor could he shout "more cake!" either but that's another story ;)

We also gave D a big spoon at one point when the cake wasn't breaking up as easily as he wanted. He then had great fun sticking it in the cake and being fed from it!


And lastly (but definitely not least!) we bought an illuminated "J" (you may have guessed D's real name is not Doof!) from The White Bulb. It's battery powered and really light - perfect for so many photo opportunities, including birthday parties and cake smashes!! I love D's one (as did he) and am getting Iz one too. And if you use the code TWB2015 you can get 10% off all orders through their website during January :)

The end result

D definitely got more stuck in this time and enjoyed exploring the cake textures and colours. He didn't eat very much of it, which was surprising as if you offer him cake any other time he'll bite your hand off, but it must be quite a surreal situation to be suddenly given a whole cake when normally you're not even allowed sweet puddings at nursery!!



I'm really looking forward to Iz's first smash in August and have already got a decoration for the top of her cake:

And one year I might get them to do a joint smash - I think that would be super cute :)


Have you ever done a cake smash or are you planning one? I'd love to hear about it - especially as I'm now planning Iz's first birthday one so am always looking out for new ideas :)

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Simplest playdough ever?

I wanted to make some no-cook playdough with D last week but every recipe needed cream of tartar and after my local Sainsburys could only offer me tartare sauce (hmmm not *quite* the same!) I was beginning to despair... Until I found this blog and read their recipe.

Washing up liquid

Really?! I was a bit dubious but wow it really works!!

Mix the flour and fairy liquid

Squidge it all together
Then just use like regular playdough

Lots of fun naming the shapes and chatting about the colours

Could it be any simpler?!

D had loads of fun playing with it and at the end of the afternoon I put it in a Tupperware box - it then stayed "fresh" enough to use for the next week. 

Perfect afternoon activity with a toddler :)

Do you have any similarly easy makes?

Monday, 5 January 2015


So here is a post I never imagined I would write when I first started this blog.....


Thank you to everyone who reads, comments and supports my blog :) I love writing it and am looking forward to keeping it as a souvenir memory for Doofy and Iz when they are older.

My two blogging inspirations...