Making dinners interesting for my boys… Pirate Pie!!

Rowan is now 3.5 years old and has been getting a little lazy fussy when it comes to mealtimes. Breakfast and Lunch is not a problem, but dinner time when he is tired, i have a bit of a battle on my hands. I have found that if i make meals a little more interesting, i can persuade him to eat. One of the meals that i make, that i can get Rowan to eat is fish pie, but we don’t call it that because Rowan thinks fish is ‘yucky’ (his own words). So instead of fish pie, we have Pirate Pie! And this is how i make it…

I make a basic white sauce, i don’t follow a recipe. I literally melt a table spoon of butter in a saucepan, then mix in 1/4 cup of flour and cook for one minute.

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I then add about 3/4 pint of milk and use a whisk until i have a thick creamy sauce.

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My fish of choice for this meal is cod, smoked haddock and i really like these lightly smoked salmon fillets from Aldi (i use one fillet for the pie). I mainly buy the bags of frozen fish from Aldi, i can make a few fish pies this way and works out a lot cheaper!

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Into the white sauce i mix in fresh parsley,

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and a handful of frozen peas (you can add sweetcorn too)

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In goes the fish that i cut up into bite size pieces.

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I transfer all the filling to an oven dish, I then top the pie with mashed potato and a sprinkling of cheese. I bake in the oven (200c) for about 25-30 minutes until brown.

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To make the meal more fun, i add a pirate to the pie (isn’t he cute?) and a pirate cup for juice. This is Rowan’s dinner and by adding these little touches, it makes him really enjoy his meal more. I get a lot of bits from pound/99p stores to add to meals to make them more interesting.

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This pie didn’t touch the sides. The boys loved it and there is plenty left for us all to have the next day too BONUS!

Let me know if you have any other tricks to make kiddies eat their dinners!

Our trip to Pecorama – Beer, Devon.

My parents came for a visit this weekend, so we thought about visiting Pecorama. My dad retired from the Railways last year and has decided to create a model railway in his man cave back home in Birmingham, so he was very excited about visiting there too!

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Pecorama, one of Devon’s leading tourist attractions is set on the hillside above the picturesque fishing village of Beer and is home to the world’s foremost manufacturer of model railway track, there are lots of model railways to look at (to my Dad’s delight) and It also had a mini steam train, gardens, play parks and huge indoor soft play area.

The view from the car park before we even got inside was quite spectacular! Oh East Devon, how i adore you!

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Our first port of call… the model railways! Each were so intricate we could have spent all day looking at all the fine details (well my Dad definitely could have), there were lots of different types of scenes, coastal, urban, old klondike mine trains etc and also lots of different settings for where you could actually build a model railway, i.e. attic, bedrooms, garages etc.

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Dad getting the youngest member of the family into his new found hobby!

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This was my favourite model railway, based on Catalunya in Spain. It had all the sounds of a lovely Mediterranean location but it also went from day to night, when the sun went down and the moon appeared, lots of little lights started to turn on inside the buildings and on the train… very cute!

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Next we went to the part that Rowan (and myself) was most excited about…. the Beer Heights Light Railway. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but so much fun!

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After the train journey, we headed to the gardens to have the picnic that i had made, we just about managed to get a bit of food in the boys before they were onto there next adventure… the play park! The pirate ship was there favourite outdoor bit.

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We had to prise Rowan from the park but he soon got over it when he saw the huge indoor soft play area. The soft play looked brand new, i’m not sure if it was but it looked very well kept. Rowan was straight in there playing, he loved it! There was so much for him to do inside the soft play and it went quite high with 3 good size slides for my dare devil 3 year old to go down.

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It took Rowan a couple of minutes to trust that the glass floor in the soft play was not going to collapse under his feet… very funny to watch though.

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There was a smaller area for Fred to play in but he was more interested in cuddling Nanny and having a nap.

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When Rowan’s batteries finally ran out of power (we were in soft play for a loooong time) we had a little walk around the gardens and then headed down to Beer for a walk and a drink. It was such a lovely day to be by the seaside.

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The view wasn’t too shabby either!

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And of course, when you are by the sea and the sun is shining, it would be rude not to have a cheeky white wine spritzer!

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We had such a lovely day at Pecorama, there was things for all the family to do and see, whatever age. I think we’ll head back there again soon… if only to feel like a kid on that steam train again!

How To Get The Kids Away From The TV And Out Into The Garden

Don’t get me wrong, the TV is a wonderful little distraction every now and then. I can get a little peace and quiet while the little ones watch their favourite Disney film. It can be fantastic for learning too. But, there’s a limit! Nothing compares to the laughter and joy they get from playing out in the open air. The garden is our little hidden gem and the kids love it. One day it’s a garden, the next it’s a football pitch, the next it’s a theatre!

I’ve found the garden to be the best place to let the kids’ imagination run wild. They make up stories, fantasies and games and I try to encourage that as much as possible. But it’s not easy to lure them away from the TV and computer games! Here’s how we get them away from the TV and out into the garden.

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Create a play space

The easiest way to get the kids out in the garden is to actively turn it into a play space. Turn it into a place they really love and can’t wait to play in! We use a simple swing set and a small climbing frame and they can’t get enough of it. We also have a large patch of lawn that’s theirs for playing. Create a space they want to be in.

Garden together

This is has so many benefits for the little ones. Firstly, you can teach them how the planet works. The simple act of planting a seed and watching it grow is fascinating for children. Help them discover it! It’s also a very ‘grown up’ activity. I don’t know about you, but my little ones love getting involved in grown up activities! I like to give them a small patch of garden to look after. It becomes their responsibility and they can plant whatever they like. They get so excited!

Grow your own fruit and veg

You can take gardening one step further and actually grow your own food. Children love this mostly because they get to eat it all! Delicious strawberries and blueberries are their favourite. They even love the asparagus crowns and tomatoes! If you struggle to get your children to eat fruit and veg, I highly recommend growing them yourself. It’s another little responsibility you can give them too. Put them in charge of the raspberries for example.

Bring the inside out

The trick is to make the garden area loads of fun! You can really take advantage of this in the summer when it’s nice and warm. We like to drag out an old sofa, blankets and cushions. We even have a bean bag that comes out. It’s such a strange sight for the children, they love the new experience! Plus, it’s a lovely way for hard working mums to relax. We lounge out there with music or bring the TV out into the garden. If you can stretch the cable far enough, you’ve got your own outdoor cinema.

Getting the kids into the garden means turning it into a fun, playful place. Give them fun and exciting reasons to get outside. Give them responsibility and teach them about the world. If you do that, you’ll be dragging them back in at the end of the day!

Kids & Technology: Where Do You Stand?

Do you worry about the effect that technology has on your children? In the build up to my eldest child preparing to go to school, I have been thinking a lot about this. Technology is playing a bigger part in our children’s lives than ever before. I don’t think I even touched a computer in a class until I was a secondary pupil, whereas my son already uses one in pre-school.

But there are problems. A study by the Kaiser Foundation found that by the time they went to school, the average child used technology for entertainment purposes for seven and a half hours per day. That is astonishing and scary.

Clearly, there is a balance to find.

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Back In My Day

It’s a far different world today than when I grew up. Of course, ‘back in the day’ things were much better, and all children lived very healthy lives, skipping  around outside from morning until night. We made our own fun and had much better imaginations because of it.

Except, that didn’t happen really, did it? TV was as relevant to children back then as it is now – and perhaps even more so. At least when they play games, they are actively thinking about things and solving problems, rather than sitting there in a zombified state.

Too Much TV

Television is an easy thing to turn to when you have young children, especially if you have more than one. When the washing piles up, and you realise you don’t have any clean cutlery for dinner, plonking the little ones in front of the box for five minutes is almost a necessity.

But you need to be careful. Studies have shown that children under the age of two should not be exposed to much television at all. It is just a glowing box of magic for them, and they take nothing from it other than watching the pretty colours. And it isn’t good for their sleep patterns, moods, or behaviour.

Are Games OK?

I think games are fine for kids to play – as long as they are over a certain age and have an educational value. Schools even recommend using games as a way to learn and overcome problems they are facing in their curriculum learning.

Should all games be educational? It’s okay to let your children have some fun, too. As long as you supervise what they are playing in a structured environment, it’s a great way of introducing technology to kids as they approach schooling age. There are some good games for kids over at http://playberry.com/. Just make sure you check them out first and limit the amount of time they are allowed to play.

Alternatives

If your kids are obsessed with gadgets – and many of them are – try to wean them off by getting them gadget-like things. Musical instruments are a perfect example.

A little electronic keyboard that makes cool noises can keep the most energetic child entertained for hours on a rainy day. And learning how to play an instrument is proven to be beneficial to their development.

What are your thoughts about kids and technology? Let me know in the comments sections below!

#BritMumsLive 2015 Aspirations

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It’s exactly 9 weeks until BritMums Live 2015. I am so excited about attending even if i don’t really know anyone.

The excitement of returning to London and having a lovely hotel room all to myself (a whole night uninterrupted sleep? Yes please!) is a bonus in itself. But what excites me more is what i am going to learn.

I was just looking back over my blog that i have had for almost exactly 2 years and feel sad that i haven’t put more into it. I really regret not giving it more time but i do get overwhelmed very easy to the point i am looking at what other bloggers are doing on their blogs, that i leave no time for my own little bit of space.

However, over the 9 weeks I’m going to give my blog the tlc it so desperately needs. I plan to add a lot more content because i actually do want to look back on my blog when the boys are older and be transported back to that exact time that i was writing about in my blog.

I want to also ‘make some friends’ online before attending BritMums so i can say hi to them in person when i am in London. It would be nice to be part of a Mummy blogger community, i feel like i have made friends in the Mummy vlogger community but not with blogging – which is all my own fault.

I can not wait to be inspired at Brit Mums and really hope i come away with a new perspective on how to go forward with my blog. I do regret that i haven’t utilised my blog to its full potential but it doesn’t mean i can’t start now.

I would love to know if you are going to Brit Mums Live, leave a comment if you are and i will come and say hi!

One Year From Now…

Today there are a lot of very happy parents and some very disappointed parents in the UK.

Today is the day the next generation of school beginners find out if they got in to their chosen school or not ready for the September term.

My tummy is in a knot for I will be experiencing the same this time next year. We will have visited, discussed and chosen the school we feel is best for our baby, our first born… the little person who changed us from thinking about just ourselves into the parents that we are today.

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It really does only seem like yesterday we saw the double line on the pregnancy test, the first flicker of a baby on a tiny hospital scan screen and that first sweet little cry. Now i have to think about Rowan going to school… already. Time is going too fast and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. It feels so final that he’s going to be going to school, it’s such a mandatory thing and i know things won’t be the same again. We won’t be able to have that special snuggle time when Fred naps. We won’t be able to be spontaneous and do whatever we like when we like, i feel like i am going to lose my little buddy to the big wide world… already!

I know i am fortunate as i still have a whole year before we find out if Rowan gets into his chosen school and then another 5 months until he actually starts, i am going to make this last year a very special year, we won’t get that time again and i do not want to look back and regret all the times we just did nothing but stay in the house, or the times he asks me to play jigsaw but i say ‘later’ because i am in the middle of typing a blog post *this has just happened so i will be making a pirate jigsaw as soon as i press publish!*

Becoming a Mum is hard initially but then each time you have to let go it gets harder and harder. If Motherhood was a roller-coaster it would be the biggest, scariest, most emotional ride of your life!

17 months and counting until September 2016 :'( teary-eyed-emoticon-crying

Hard Working Mums: Treat Yourself!

Being a Mum is much more than a full-time job. While the biggest reward for this role is the happiness of your children, every now and again you feel like a little treat for working so hard. And my approach to this is: don’t wait around for someone else to get it for you. If you feel like rewarding yourself, whether it’s with a naughty but nice chocolate bar or a glamorous piece of jewellery, go get it! You’ve worked hard, and you certainly deserve it.

Here are some great ideas for all you Mums for Treat Yourself Tuesday, or any other day you need a little reward.

  • Pamper yourself

What could be more satisfying than spending the day at a relaxing spa being pampered from head to toe, without the need to lift a finger? Whether you need peace and quiet, a massage for those aches and pains or some beauty treatments to make you feel glamorous or all of the above, a spa day can tick all of these boxes. Ask your partner, relative, friend or babysitter to watch the kids while you get much needed and deserved relaxation.

  • Give yourself a gift

Is there something you’ve got your eye on that you need, or just want? Spoil yourself! It could be just what you need to perk up your mood if you are feeling tired or run down. If you don’t have time to hit the shops, have a browse online when the kids are in bed. You can buy all sorts of beautiful treats for yourself, like pearl jewellery, a new outfit or cosmetics and they will be with you in a just a few days. Something new could restore that feeling of glamour that you may have lost amid all the nappies.

  • Savour something delicious

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Eating something you find delicious, is bound to put a big smile on your face. This doesn’t always have to be something naughty, but if it is, don’t beat yourself up about it! It is a treat, after all, not something that you do every day.

  • Indulge in some reading or watching

Sometimes the best and most appreciated treat is not something big or complicated. It’s simply having some “me time” to put your feet up with a cup of tea and reading a book or watching your favourite film to TV programme. If you are finding it difficult to find the time for these simple pleasures, call in your reinforcements to help out with the kids.

  • Time with your friends

You may be craving some time off and an evening of adult conversation. If so, arrange for someone to look after the little ones while you go out and enjoy some quality time with your friends. You may not have seen them in a while, or at least not on your own, so it will give you a great opportunity to find out what they are all up to and will allow you to blow off some steam.

So, go on Mums, treat yourself today for doing such a great job! I know I will.

Party Bags and Supplies Review

I was recently contacted by Party Bags and Supplies to review some of their party supplies. I decided to let Rowan choose what we reviewed as he is 3 years old and has a very good idea of what he likes!

As much as i tried to sway him to go for the cute ‘Gruffalo’ items, he opted for the Spiderman items! Boys huh?

They kindly sent me a box full of goodies.

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Inside was everything you would need to host a children’s birthday party, including plates, cups, napkins and plastic tablecloth

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The items above can be bought as a set for rrp £9.22 but it is currently on offer for £7.38 (as of today). I find this very good value as i have seen the same items being sold individually for £2.99 each a couple of weekends ago in The Range.

I was also sent some party bags, they sell pre- filled party bags, these retail at rrp £2.00 each bag but they are currently on offer for £1.60 (as of today).

This great Amazing Spiderman  Party Bag comes ready filled with:

1 Spiderman Pencil,

1 Spiderman Mini Notebook,

1 Spiderman Erasers,

1 Spiderman Box,

1 Spiderman Sticker

1 Fizz Wizz Popping Candy.

All you would need to include at the party is a slice of cake and it’s all done!

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They also sent me some Activity Packs which retail for rrp £5.00 but currently on offer for £4.00.

This pack includes:

4 Pencils,

4 Activity Booklets,

4 Sticker Sheets,

4 Boxes,

12 Stickers

 

These packs would be ideal to give to each child as a little keepsake from the party or to pad out the party bags even more!

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Rowan was so excited when the items arrived, he can not wait until he has his Spiderman birthday party… which isn’t until October!!

For convenience i love that you can get everything you need for a child’s birthday party in one place. Party Bags and Supplies also have many deals and offers on, so you could purchase items throughout the year and have everything you need ready for your child’s party. They have many, many themes and a good variety for both boys and girls.

As well as tableware and party bags, they also have candles, banners, hats, masks and balloons plus much more.

I shall certainly be purchasing more items from Party Bags & Supplies ready for Rowan’s Ultimate Spiderman birthday party in October, he can not wait!

How I Find Relaxation In A Stressful World

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We all have difficult things to go through in life. Whether it’s work, family life or other commitments, stress builds up quickly. It hangs in our shoulders and tightens our muscles. It makes us feel anxious and agitated. I find it really helpful to look for ways to ease this. Relaxation is the best way to channel the stress out of my body. Without it, I’m pretty sure I’d explode!

There are two types of relaxation. There’s the calming area of relaxation, which eases your mind. Then there’s the more physical ways of working stress out of the body. Different tricks work for different people, but I find a combination of the two is perfect. Here’s how I relax and push the stress out of my body.

Reading - Reading is the perfect way to find some time to myself. I can get lost in different characters and worlds. It helps push out the stressful thoughts of the day and clear my mind. It’s also much better for relaxation than sitting in front of the TV. Most people think that zoning out with the TV on is a good relaxation technique. In actual fact, it stimulates the brain far more than you’d think. Reading is a much better way to wind down.

Yoga – Yoga is a really powerful way to reduce stress. The best part about it is that you can tailor it to your particular needs. If you’re a person who thrives off quiet solitude, you can focus on a more meditative yoga. If you need a more active stress busting technique, try a more active yoga routine. Best of all, it works the stress out of your muscles. We all hold stress in our shoulders and upper back. Yoga forces it out while giving you space to think.

Massage and acupuncture – There is nothing as calming and relaxing as a full body massage. It’s almost enough to send you to sleep. The masseuse works out all the knots and tightness in your muscles. It’s a wonderful way to forget your troubles and just drift off for half an hour. Acupuncture is another great little trick. It works to restore your body’s natural flow of energy. It helps to reduce stress and ease pain.

Spend time with friends – When you’ve got a family to take care of, it’s not easy to find time for going out! But, it’s one of the most important things you can do. Talking things through with friends really helps see your problems in perspective. When you need to destress, there is nothing better than a good laugh with friends. Go out for dinner and laugh all night, it’s the best medicine!

Exercise – Sometimes, when the stress gets on top of you, there’s no other option. You just have to burn it all out! Exercise actively powers the stress out of your body. Running and cycling are great for working it all out of your body. Even better, hit a punching bag for twenty minutes. You won’t believe how good this feels!

Finding a little relaxation in a stressful world is so important. Keep the stress and anxiety at bay and you’ll keep everything in perspective. What helps you relax every day?

Planning A Fun Filled Pool Party: Must-Read Advice

While we are enjoying some rare British sun, you could plan a pool party for your little ones. Children love messing around in the sunshine and taking them to a swimming pool is an incredible way to spend a day. If you have to plan a birthday event, you could even invite a bunch of your child’s friends to come along too. Read my advice to help you plan a fun-filled pool party, and you will not go far wrong.

Hire a play pool for the event

If there is a public pool nearby, you might find that they have a play pool you can hire. Most swimming pools have two separate sections. The main section is, of course, for lane swimming. Some public baths have an extra pool for kids to play in, though, and it could be perfect for your party. Contact the venue and ask them whether they hire out the pool for parties. If you can rent an entire area of the swimming pool, it would be ideal.

Talk to the staff at the pool

Before the party itself, you need to have a chat with the staff at the pool. They need to know everything that you plan to do at the party so that they can prepare for it. You should also let the lifeguards know whether there are any weak swimmers in the group. That way, they will know who to keep a close eye on when the children are in the pool.

Plan games and activities

You can’t just turn up at the swimming pool and hope for the best – you need to plan the entire event! Come up with some pool party games so that you can entertain the children throughout the party. You might even want to buy a few prizes that you can give to the children who win the games. If you’re feeling extra generous, you could make up some party bags so that every child has something to take home with them.

Ask the other parents’ for permission

As a parent, you know what it feels like to worry about your children. When you care for other people’s kids, you need to reassure them that they are in safe hands. Speak with all the parents before the party and explain what their child will do at the event. Ask for permission before you let kids do particular things, such as diving. You don’t know whether their parents allow them to do these things.

Think about everybody’s safety

At the party, you need to watch all the children and make sure that they are safe. As I already said, some of the kids might be weak when it comes to swimming. It is your duty to protect the little ones. It might be a good idea to have the lifeguard go over the basic safety tips before the party starts.

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Make sure that there is food

After all that swimming, the kids will be starving. The last thing you want is twenty children moaning at you because they want some food. That is why you should sort out the catering in advance. You might want to put a buffet on for the children or take them for pizza after swimming. Make sure that you have a plan ready so that everyone gets some tasty food.

A pool party is a fantastic idea, especially if you have particularly active children. It is not as difficult as you might think to plan an event like this one so you should give it a go! I promise that your children will love it.

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