Mellow Mummy: April 2017 : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Early Readers and Spring Fun with Pat-A-Cake

Children are never too young to start enjoying books - I've brought up two little bookworms with a love of story books and picture books that has set them off perfectly in life.  A Pat-A-Cake board book makes a perfect introduction to books for even the tiniest babies; with red, black and white contrast for helping to perfect early vision and robust interactive board pages that your baby and toddler can watch you use, and then learn to use themselves, Pat-A-Cake have mastered the art of baby's first books.

As with reading, there are several other life skills that you needn't be afraid to introduce your baby to from a very young age and build into your daily routine.  This spring my girls couldn't wait to get out into the garden with us to start planting fruit and vegetables - watching a seed grow into a plant is a great way of getting little people involved in gardening and it's a fun family activity in the spring sunshine.

Over the last few weekends we've also done a lot of baking; Lara and Holly both started helping me to cook as soon as they were able to sit up unaided in their highchair. We've baked Easter cupcakes, hot cross buns and marble cakes together over the last few weekends and last night Lara even helped me make satay chicken.

Pat a Cake's First Baby Days On the Move Book inspired this blog post looking back on the habits we started early with Lara and Holly and which I'm so glad we did.  You can find out more about Pat A Cake Books' range of books for  new babies, pre-school and early years on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Mystery Buns - Easter Hot Cross Buns from NOW TV #TotCrossBuns

Yesterday was a very lazy day for me, recovering from an epic, hot marathon, the girls promised me that it would be an honorary Mother's day. The day started well with toast and coffee made by the girls, then they did the washing and sorted out the ironing.  In the afternoon we did some Easter baking together inspired by some of the range of kids TV programmes available on Now TV with a NOW TV Kids Pass.

We discovered NOW TV at Christmas thanks to an offer on a pizza (!) and we've watched a movie or show on it almost every night since! The girls have just started to explore what's available in the kids content too; there are some big names to look out for because you can watch channels which aren't available on Freeview including Cartoonito, Nick Jr. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

NOW TV sent us some Easter recipe cards with instructions on how to get the girls cooking their own Tot Cross Buns, each one inspired by a different NOW TV show. The girls chose to make the Mystery Bun.  A fairly normal looking Hot Cross Bun but with a mystery on the inside, inspired by Be Cool Scooby Doo.

Hot Cross Buns are notoriously hard to bake well but Lara is always up for a challenge. We were following a recipe by Candice of Bake-Off fame so Lara took it very seriously (she is a BIG fan). Our basic dough recipe was supplemented with chocolate chips and fudge chips and then topped off with an almond chocolate biscuit in the shape of a Scooby Snack, all dipped in a butterscotch caramel.

Lara had great fun making the bone biscuits - anything with chocolate in gets her interested. We didn't have a bone-shaped biscuit cutter so she did these ones by hand. I thought the biscuits added an interesting touch to an Easter classic and especially yummy when drizzled in butterscotch sauce.

Also in the range of Tot Cross Buns kids Easter recipes was:
  • The Hot X Bun inspired by the Powerpuff Girls
  • Iced pink cinnamon buns topped with marshmallows, popping candy and strawberry laces for a cross
  • Bun-der the Sea inspired by Spongebob Squarepants
  • Pineapple and blueberry buns topped with starfish
  • Ninja Buns inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Savoury, pizza-like buns with pepperoni, cheese and tomato

Monday, 10 April 2017

Pirate Pete and his Smelly Feet - Childrens Book Review

Holly loves rhyming stories at present - I think all her foundation work with phonics really helps her to recognise the art of rhyming words. Pirate Pete and his smelly feet is a fun and fast-paced rhyming picture book about a gang of pirates who've had enough of one of their shipmate's odorous feet and Holly thinks it is great fun.

First Pete has to walk the plank. Then he wanders all alone through the wilderness but finally, his old crew need him back to help out - Pete's cheesy feet are quite good at warding off shoals of sharks.  The story is written by Lucy Rowland and the illustrations are by Mark Chambers.

The paperback book comes with a sheet of stinky stickers for you to use throughout the book; scratch the stickers to release a very cheesy whiff indeed.  Holly and Lara both rushed to have a go before they'd even read the book!

I really loved the rhymes in this book - it always makes it so much easier to read out loud to the girls when the rhyme just works naturally. I found the story fun and fast and I particularly liked the way that the illustrations worked with the text to suggest passing of time as Pete sinks into the ocean and when he is wandering over the island.

The illustrations are bight and fun with lots of bright yellow whiffy, cheesiness and lots of piratey goodness to be found on ships, islands and oceans. Holly and I think it's a fabulous book that is lots and lots of fun.

Pirate Pete and his Smelly Feet is published by Pan Macmillan children's books and costs around £6.99.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ravensburger My First Pet XXL 200 Piece Jigsaw Review

Lara and Holly tend to do a lot of jigsaws or play a lot of board games after school these days but I had been starting to feel that they are both out-growing our collection of jigsaw puzzles; thankfully, Ravensburger have reminded me that jigsaws don't just have to be for tiny people to learn problem-solving skills, but are also a great source of fun challenge for older children and this 200 piece My First Pet jigsaw has really got Lara back into puzzles.
Over the past week Lara has been working on this puzzle a little bit at a time. It is a large puzzle about 40cm by 36cm when fully made. With 200 pieces and a fairly complex design, it took Lara about three evenings to complete.

The design was very much admired by both my girls so I often found Holly helping out her sister. They both quickly grasped that the blue and white gingham design wasn't just around the edges, but also throughout the jigsaw between each animal. The design features lots of different cute pets from a chincilla to a terrapin and a hedgehog to a pony. We particularly like the sleepy kitten.

Given the size and the length of time to construct, we got the girls to move the puzzle onto a board so that we could move it out of the way when needed - this is the first time they'd used a puzzle board and it worked really well. The finished design looks really grand on the board.

This My First Pet XXL Jigsaw jigsaw costs less than £10 on amazon and is of the same great quality that I'd expect from any Ravensburger puzzle. I'm expecting the girls to be constructing this one many many times over the coming years. It is recommended for children from 8 years old but I think an adventurous 5 year old like Holly would also enjoy it if they have the staying power!

Monday, 3 April 2017

#TescoEaster - Egg hunts, Easter crafts and a hamper of special Easter treats

This weekend Lara and Holly invited a friend around to take part in an Easter egg hunt to celebrate the start of the Easter holidays. Tesco sent us everything we needed to host our own egg hunt from Easter signs to a bumper pack of chocolate eggs, from fluffy chicks to a set of treasure hunt clue cards - I had everything I needed to create a team-building trek around our house and garden in search of eggs, rabbits and chicks.

Tesco is holding FREE Easter egg hunts on Saturday 8th April and Sunday 9th April in stores up and down the country; there are lots of Easter prizes to be won. To find out which store near you is participating, take a look at their Events Page.

Alongside our Easter hunt we've been preparing lots of half-term activities on an Easter theme so that the girls can get into the mood. Inside our Tesco Easter hamper we had lots of Easter craft activities from their Go Create range including Easter cards, Rabbit masks, stickers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, markers and lots of spring animal characters perfect for creating your own Easter bonnet.

We're preparing for a nice family weekend for Easter with lots of treats but also a traditional lamb roast and, if the weather is kind to us, a barbecue. The girls' favourite treat from the Tesco range was a simple gingerbread decorating kit where you get to decorate your own gingerbread Easter egg cookie with icing and spinkles. Mr. B. and I were more taken with the traditional Italian Easter cake which tested extra special with a bottle of Italian Prosecco - what better way to start the Easter holidays?

If you're looking for Easter inspiration for holiday activities, or Easter food and drink, take a look at the Easter events going on in your local Tesco.

Disclosure: we were sent a hamper of Easter treats to create our Easter egg hunt and help us prepare a big Easter feast.
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