pARTy planning

On March 19th Little Splodge is going to be turning two.

For her first birthday her party was combined with our wedding reception for a number of reasons … mainly restrictive finances and the fact we couldn’t expect family to cross the country (and in some cases the globe) twice.

So this year we’re going all out for her birthday.

The theme is set, the community centre is booked and the invites are on their way from the printers.

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I’ve even got an arty themed menu worked out in my head.

All that is left is to come up with games and activities suitable for 1 – 4 year olds to play … and figure out how to use my extremely limited baking and artistic skills to make something like thisOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Me And Mine (January)

I have been a follower of the lovely Lucy’s Dear Beautiful blog for a while now and always looked forward to the Me and Mine posts but fo some reason never joined in. Now it’s in its second year and we’ve had a serendipitous photo shoot with our girls earlier in the month.

So here’s my chance.

The photographer we went to took some truly beautiful shots and made the children look like perfect little angels.

BUT

It is this shot, completely unedited and fresh from the camera, that really shows our family for what it is.

COMPLETELY INSANE

meandmine1

Now, I’m not saying we’re always in a state of utter confusion and disarray … probably only 90% of the time.

Now that you have seen our family at our photographic worst here is a shot that I think our photographer would prefer to be seen by the world

meandmine1(2)

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Siblings (January)

December saw a new addition to our little family. Beanie Baby made her appearance on December 1st and once again all blogging activity was put on hold while we adjusted to being a family of four.

Beanie Baby and Little Splodge

Ever since her arrival we have been stunned by the change in our Little Splodge. Overnight she went from being our baby to a fully fledged big sister and boy does she act like it. Splodge clearly loves Beanie Baby. She’s the first person to get attention in the morning, is cuddled constantly and Splodge even tries to help feed her … she’s lifted my top to get Beanie’s milk for her on more than one occasion.

There’s no denying that we have had a few, let’s say, teething problems. Splodge simply doesn’t understand that Beanie is still rather delicate being so new to the world and there have been instances of somewhat overenthusiastic cuddles and pats becoming squeezes and smacks … we’re simply hoping she grows out of that.

We’re sure that this new found sisterly bond will only get stronger as time passes and we can’t wait to see them grow closer as they grow older.

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Melting Snowman Biscuits

I haven’t posted here for a while for no reason other than life seems to be getting in the way of blogging at the moment.

However, I am now officially on holiday/maternity leave from work so the messy play and toddler cooking can recommence.

As we are due another addition to our family within the next couple of months there has been quite a bit of focus on making sure that everything is ready for Christmas before they arrive.

So, this morning Little Splodge and I made a start on “practicing” decorating our Christmas cookies.

Thanks to spending too many hours on Pinterest over the last few weeks I stumbled across this picture

snowmen cookies found on pinterest

As this was more a play activity for Little Splodge and less of a baking one I am guilty of taking the easiest approach known to man. I used shop bought digestives as a base.  To decorate them we made use of the icing sugar and little cake decorations we already had in the cupboard and added some marshmallows and writing icing (as you may have already guessed these are not for those watching their waistline).

ingredients for snowman cookies

Unfortunately, Little Splodge wasn’t as interested in decorating the biscuits as she was in eating the ingredients. She did however have a good go at dripping the icing off the spoon and giving it a good squish with her hands (I should point out that I had already rescued some of the icing for some serious biscuit decorating of my own)

little splodge decorating cookies

So, while Little Splodge was happily playing with all the ingredients and creating an almighty mess I actually managed to decorate a few biscuits.

Our biscuits are somewhat brighter that the original image as the supermarket I got the writing icing from didn’t have any black so a few substitutions had to be made.

finished melting snowman biscuits

I am also not ashamed to say that I am very proud of their little scarves.

What If She Was A Boy?

I’ve never really made any comment on the gender stereotyping argument that rages on the Internet.

I be truthful I’ve never really given it much thought. Little Splodge has a whole range of toys from dolls, to blocks, to cars.

It’s only now that we’re expecting Beanie Baby that I’m beginning to wonder if we’re treating Little Splodge differently than we would if she was a boy.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wondering about the best way to help Little Splodge realise that there is a new baby coming and what that is going to mean. On multiple occasions I’ve caught myself online looking at doll prams, doll cots even a doll high chair to get for when Beanie Baby arrives so that Little Splodge can look after her baby while I take care of Beanie Baby.

Would I be creating what is essentially a doll’s nursery if Little Splodge was a boy or am I unintentionally trying to make Little Splodge into a girly girl?

Freestyle Painting

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We had some glorious weather over the Bank Holiday, despite the weather forecast promising us the usual washout, so we let Little Splodge out into the garden armed with a selection of messy play materials.

Out of pure curiosity, on my part, the play was in no way directed and she was allowed to play as she saw fit.

To begin with she was very reserved and she restricted her painting to the paper

painting on paper

The play did, as I suspected it would, get progressively messier and the paint quickly progressed from being paper based to being on paper, in the tuff spot, on her skin and on her clothes (luckily the clothes she was wearing are generally reserved for messy play as they are already stained from previous paint encounters.)

paint gets progressively messy

Little Splodge also took her glitter shakers outside and decided to use these to decorate her pictures.

She does have a tendency to get a little carried away with glitter and it ends up everywhere. This was no different and a number of her multicoloured paint pictures quickly turned into single colour glitter pictures.

blue glitter picture

Allowing Little Splodge to have undirected messy play allowed me to get an idea of where her concentration level is and what her abilities are in terms of making her own choices as well as skills such as mark making and hand eye co-ordination.

As it turns out Little Splodge is pretty good at controlling her brush and mark making until her concentration slipped about 20 minutes into the play when she started to grab the paint with her hands and splat it everywhere.

We will definitely be allowing Little Splodge to have more free style messy play in the future if only to act as a marker for her abilities and progression.

Messy Play Materials Used In This Activity

Tuff Spot
Paint
Glitter
Sponge brushes
Bristle brushes
Paper

Plum Crumble

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My aunt has a plum tree in her garden and that tree is heavy with fruit.

In the space of about 5 minutes we filled a shopping bag with ripe, delicious fruit and are now officially over run with plums in our house.

Little Splodge is doing her best to eat them all as quickly as possible … she actually ate 6 of them at breakfast yesterday … but we thought we should do something with them other than eat them straight out of the bag.

So we made plum crumble.

Crumble is incredibly simple to make so, once again, we let Little Splodge get her hands in and help with the making … as well as the eating,

Ingredients

Crumble

100g Plain Flour

75g Butter/Margarine

75g Sugar (we just used ordinary granulated)

75g Rolled Oats

Filling

Plums – skinned and stones removed (we used somewhere between 25-30)

A small handful of sugar

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180*c / Gas Mark 4

2)Place plums into a oven proof crumble dish

3) Add sugar to the plums and give them a quick mix. Set aside.

4) Put the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl

5) Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs

6) Stir in the oats and sugar

7) Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the plums in an even layer

8) Sprinkle a little more sugar over the top for extra crunchiness

9) Bake for about 30-40 minutes

As we were using plums fresh from the tree we had to skin the plums and take the stones out before we could do anything else. Luckily, Little Splodge decided to take a nap so we had plenty of time to do this while she slept. As much as I enjoy involving Little Splodge in the baking I didn’t really want her involved in anything that involves boiling water and sharp knives … she is only a baby after all.

Once the plums were ready we pre weighed all of the ingredients and put them into separate bowls so that Little Splodge could add the ingredients as well as mixing them. I’d already put the plums into the baking dish as they were still hot from being skinned and pitted.

crumble ingredients

Little Splodge really enjoyed being able to add the ingredients to the bowl and then mixing them herself.

She really enjoyed combining the butter and flour to make the breadcrumbs although this took much longer than it normally would as she had a bit of a tendency to squeeze the ingredients together and formed quite large doughy bits that then needed breaking up again before we could add the other ingredients.

We used adding the ingredients as a chance to use some texture words and talked about the ingredients being soft, smooth, sticky, and rough while we added them. As Little Splodge has a natural inquisitiveness and likes to get her hands in the bowl at any opportunity this proved to be the best time to talk about texture and the way things feel.

mixing crumble ingredients

Once she had mixed all of the crumble ingredients together it was time to put the crumble together.

Once again, Little Splodge took the chance to feel the mixture as much as possible and loved sprinkling it over the plums.

sprinkling crumble topping onto the plums

The topping did need a little bit of tidying up when she had finished because none of the corners had any topping and the middle had a small mountain of delicious oat goodness.

Finally, the crumble was ready for the oven,

finished crumble ready for the oven

I can promise you that it turned out wonderfully and tasted even better.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of the crumble once it came out of the oven as it smelled too good and within seconds of coming out of the oven it was in bowls, smothered in custard and being eaten by a Little Splodge who was very impressed that she got to stay up later then usual especially to have pudding.