Monday, August 01, 2011

Something different- dirt playdough

I love how the interwebs can lead you on a journey to discover lots of new ideas for stuff to do with kids. I am always bookmarking ideas but never actually do them but when I saw this one I thought it was time to give something a go.

I saw this link for dirt playdough on the great site Playopedia set up by Childhood 101.

You can access the link directly here and seeing we regularly play with homemade playdough I thought why not mix it up a bit and do something different from the normal food colouring. The idea is to add cocoa to give it a dirt/brown colour.

I like to make my playdough using a non-cook method from the book Small Fry, Inspiration for Cooking with Kids by Susie Cameron and Katrina Cook.

The recipe requires the combination of:

  • 1 cup salt

  • 2 cups plain flour

  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar

Mix these together then add 2 cups boiling water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (combined) and of course your desired colouring. In this instance though I added a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cocoa powder to give the "dirt" appearance. Now mix it all together, turn out onto a floured bench and knead it together

Overall the mix was slightly stickier than normal but some extra flour helped with this. I have to say it smells so yummy, a bit like a chocolate cake!

We used ours to make tracks with the tyres on our cars and rolled it into balls to make rocks, the next day it became ice cream for pretend ice cream cones. One week on it still smells great and I have enjoyed trying something different to the normal food colouring.

Why not give it a try the next time you make some play dough!

Do you like making playdough or do you buy it? Do you add anything to your mix to make it a bit different?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shy girl in the corner - a follow up

Last week I wrote here that I was feeling tentative towards taking Joshua along to the local playgroup. It was really nice to have friends share their experiences in meeting new people and this helped me to take the plunge today and go along.

It starts at 10am and when I drove up there was nobody there so I sat in the car for a few minutes and then a few cars arrived, at this point I almost didn't get out of the car but looked at Joshua and made myself do it.

Well, what can I say, all the other Mums were lovely and most of the kids were Joshua's age. I felt really welcome and he had a great time exploring the sand pit, cubby and the toys that were put out. Turns out that the group has only been meeting there since January so I guess a lot of the friendships were still new.

I thought that there might have been a few more activities for the kids to do like craft, painting or playdough but it didn't really matter as Joshua was having heaps of fun anyway.

So all up I hope that we can go again next week. I think that it is really important for Josh to spend time with other kids without Emily and it was enjoyable to meet some other local people. I have always wanted to feel more connected to the local community and I think that this is one way I can do that.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The shy girl in the corner?

It is hard sometimes to be critical of yourself and wonder why you act in a certain way but I think it is important to acknowledge the parts of yourself that you can improve on.

One of my major weaknesses is meeting new people. Way back when I was always the shy girl in the corner to nervous to branch out and introduce herself and start a conversation with someone, at uni and at work I have always been like that. Now as a parent I sometimes fall into the same trap.

For more than a year I have been telling myself that I should take Joshua along to the local playgroup. This would give him an opportunity to have some fun playtime with other kids when Emily is at preschool and become familiar with a different environment that is not always being with Mum. But I am holding myself back, too nervous to walk into a room of strangers and introduce myself. I know I need to do it for Joshua's benefit but I can't seem to make myself, I am just not self confident enough.

Geez, this is a pretty honest post from me but now that I have written it down I am going to work out a strategy to get on with it. Maybe next week I might just get there.

Have you ever felt nervous going to meet new people, how did you manage it?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This place where we live

I love exploring this beautiful place where we live. Finding a new place that makes you wonder "why don't we do things like this every week" and has the kids exclaiming "wow".
The last time we explored was last year so yesterday we explored a local nature reserve, Kincumber Mountain. It was freezing and windy but we braved it anyway and the beanies actually stayed on the little heads so it must have been cold.
We took a short walk down a little track to what Ems dubbed "the bear cave", after the book We're Going on a Bear Hunt. It was only 300m one way but there were big rock overhangs, tall gnarly trees, mud, moss, old banksia men trees, massive dead tree stumps, lots of sticks for Josh to pick up and of course a cave. It was hidden and felt secluded apart from the distant hum of earth moving equipment coming across the
These are the days I want to remember
Having fun together, exploring and learning new things in the great outdoors. I have a great love for being outside that was fostered when I was younger so I hope that Ems and Josh want to choose doing things like this as they grow up.
I am resolved to do this more often, so many great places to explore here on the coast. Now off to planning our next adventure.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Today is my Dad's birthday

Today is my Dad's birthday, he is fifty eight today.

Except he isn't here to celebrate with us anymore but I like to remember it anyway and will always mention it to my sisters and Ashley when the 5th of July comes around each year.

For a long time after he died I was very sad and could hardly talk about it to anybody but now fifteen years later the words come a lot easier but there is still a tear in my eyes as I write this.

I find that it is good to remember him and reflect but not to dwell on it. Life is what it is and we can't change it, I know that my Dad is watching down on us and knows that we are okay.

(This is the last photo I have with my Dad. I was 17 at the time)

I decided recently that I wanted to record more of my memories of him, as I get older the recollections of him are fading and I don't want to forget. So I have resolved to start a journal of memories, maybe one day Emily and Joshua might like to read it.

So start of the collection, I do remember that my dad was a health nut and did not have the taste for sugar, so much so that at times when we would make a cake to celebrate a family birthday we would only put icing on half of it so that he didn't have to endure the icing that we all thought was glorious. I particularly remember doing this with a carrot cake one year. Lucky for me I didn't inherit this one and love a good bit of icing.

Happy Birthday Dad

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Little Red House is seven today

I always remember this day, it is a bit like a birthday in our family; the purchase of our first house, as in the Little Red House that is the namesake of this blog.

Seven years ago, way back then, we were young and had little idea of what we were doing. The house itself was stuck in a 70's time warp and had little work done since its construction in 1971. The retired owners spent much time inside and had no real love for the back or front yards. The house was mouldy, smelly and dirty. I didn't take many photos but I didn't need to, the memory is etched permanently into my head.

At the time the house was the best of a bad lot and we were desperate to buy something, I guess it turned out okay but not without a whole lot of hard work and money spent to renovate it. The only original internal fixtures left today are the kitchen bench and cabinets, everything else we have replaced.

Today our family fills the house with lots of laughter and fun as Ems and Josh gallivant around playing together with our dog Zorro never too far behind them. We might be starting to grow out of it but for the next few years our Little Red House will be just fine.

Happy anniversary house, I love that we are creating some great memories here and look forward to another year here and perhaps a little more scheming to improve you with a new project being sketched out at the moment but more on that another time.

And just in case you were wondering our Little Red House is in fact red, as in red brick!

How very seventies.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our backyard project; where did we end up you ask?

Seriously how fast does time go? Looking back to one of my very first posts written in August 2010 I proclaimed that Ash and I were planning a landscaping project to makeover our fairly dull backyard.

Almost one year on I thought it might be about time to record exactly where we ended up. I will be the first to admit that perhaps it didn't end up as planned but the completed work is amazing and I am in love with my backyard! I spend time every day pottering around while the kids play and dreaming up what comes next.

We didn't quite get to building the pergola and I think it would have ended up being way to imposing on our small space, the fairy garden is still coming together and of course lots of the plants are still mini sized as they await spring/summer growth but overall the garden is relaxing, fun for the kids to play in and enjoyable to share with our friends and family.

I never thought that our backyard could be a place that both the kids and I actually want to spend time in.

Here are some pictures to share the garden love with you

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Make it yourself challenge; week one

I have myself a new little project.

Now that Emily and Josh can play more independently together for short periods of time I am finding a little bit more time to do things other than housework! Woo hoo for that I say.

So after gathering some ideas from magazines, blogs and cookbooks and my new love pinterest, I thought that I would try to make something from scratch each week. That being something one could otherwise buy in the supermarket. I figured that I could improve my skills in the kitchen and see whether it is more cost effective to make something yourself than buy it. I guess it is to see how self sufficient one can be. If it works and tastes good then I may or may not keep making it, I guess we will see.

For my first week I tried hommus. Straight forward with simple ingredients. I used dried chickpeas, soaked them overnight then cooked them. All was going well with the ingredients in the food processor when I took the lid off to see how it was going, then a little chubby hand popped up onto the counter and pulled down the lid. There it lay on the floor with the locking mechanism snapped off.

Ahh, I felt so disappointed, the food processor is now useless and the whole lot had to go as I had no other way of blending it up. No hommus for us this week.

The joys of cooking with little people around.

Next week I am going to try and make some bread without my bread maker. Fingers crossed!


Shopping from the garden, tonight for dinner.....

Finally our winter vegetable crops are coming into their prime. Today I was able to pick all our vegies for dinner from the garden. It sure made for a yummy chicken fried rice and it feels so good to be self sufficient (at least for one meal a week).

(Wombok, snow peas, carrots, brocolli, lemongrass and shallots)

It would be great to have this much to pick every day but I feel that I would need a much bigger space to grow a bigger crop but at least if we can pick some of the days of the week then I am one happy home gardener.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

The elusive sleeping child, where are you?

Four weeks ago, little Joshua decided to experiment with a little bit of monkey business; attempting to climb out of his cot, caught red handed with one leg up and over his cot. Never having had that problem with Emily, I was a bit surprised, but hey little J has always been a climber. So off came the cot sides and on went a rail, hey presto, toddler bed.

Four weeks on and what an exhausting time we have been having!

I have spent countless hours putting Josh back in his bed after he has climbed out, patting him to sleep and sitting beside him waiting for him to go to sleep and even when desperate, lying down next to him (I know desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say)

This week I thought we had cracked it, we tried playing some lullaby music on my IPhone as this seems to help Emily drift off to sleep quickly and it seemed to have worked. He stayed in his bed! Woo hoo, happy dance, I even boasted to my sister that I had it sussed.

Alas, I spoke to soon, tonight he was back to his old tricks. That is the thing with kids and sleep, they go through several stages from birth to growing child and through each stage there is a new challenge. Say, moving from wrapping to not wrapping a baby, transitioning from two day sleeps to one day sleep then to no day sleep. I guess I feel comfortable when I have it worked out and sleep is golden and easy but it never seems to last too long and we head back into the next transition.

At least Emily is sound asleep in minutes at the moment, I wonder what her next transition might be, staying up later in the evening perhaps. Fingers crossed it might be a while away yet!


Monday, June 06, 2011

A little bit of cousin love

Today our beautiful niece Issy turns two. Happy birthday big girl. Yesterday we gathered for a lovely family celebration for the occasion, complete with bbq lunch and a yummy 'Hoot' birthday cake. As Emily, Joshua and Issy were all playing happily together I reflected that having a cousin to play with is wonderful, an instant friend for a little person. Someone to spends lots of relaxing time with, learn to share possessions and attention with and generally have lots of fun together.

The three of them are very lucky to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time together and I hope that this makes for a strong friendship together as they get older, but in the meantime we love getting together to play every week with our cousin Issy.

Hope you have a wonderful birthday Issy from your family living in the Little Red House.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today you are 2

Today my boy you are 2, for two years you have made life so much more fun, your beautiful sunny yet cheeky nature brightens even the dullest of days. You are very affectionate and love "cuggles" and kisses.

Your favourite thing would have to be Thomas the Tank Engine, which you describe in a excited "toot toot" but alas the words Thomas or Train have not appeared yet, it seems your big sister can do a lot of your talking for you. You also love looking at books, playing the the lego or annoying the dog, digging in the sandpit and anything outside.

You love playing with Emily, she is your most special friend and can make fun with you without any toys around from teaching you to climb over the arms of the lounge or pretending to eat food off the floor like a dog, there isn't much that the two of you won't try together. It is wonderful that you have each other to share your life with.

This year you have learnt so much; how to feed yourself, walk, talk (we at least a bit), how to get yourself off to sleep unassisted, and so much more.

As a little boy you love making noise and crashing things around, not to mention that you love putting on a show for some attention, your current special is pretending to roar like a bear! So cute. In retrospect, this is what you looked like a few days after birth

And on your first birthday

And today after enjoying your cake.

All our love Joshie boy, may your third year of life be even more fun and exciting


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Big girls first preschool adventure

After 8 long weeks since we finished attending day care, Emily finally started preschool yesterday.

I arrived expecting some anxiety and tears but she happily ran off to play without a backwards glance and I had to call out to even get a goodbye. Why is that I always underestimate her? I felt so proud of her and almost teared up as Josh and I walked away.

In the afternoon I was glad to hear that she had a great day and was already joining in with her new friends and teachers. She even presented me with a necklace she had made!

It was a big decision to move to a new centre but I think we made the right choice and I am sure that her time there over the next 1-2 years will go along way to helping her get ready for big school.

Needless to say Emily is a bit tired today but looking forward to her second day at preschool tomorrow.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Hipstamatic fun

I love trying to take photos as often as I can and when out and about my iphone is a great way to keep this up. I only just started playing with a new app I downloaded called Hipstamatic. I love, love the way it makes photos look. Here are a few of my favourites
The Gosford waterfront
Em at a little beach next to Gosford pool, taken this morning

Friday afternoon piklets in the backyard

Thanks for looking

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A big girls sleepover

As the oldest of three girls in my family I was often the one who was lucky enough to get to have an overnight stay with my grandparents. I don't remember much about what we actually did but I do recall that it was a really special thing to do and there was often a visit to the local coffee shop for a lime spider which I thought was heavenly.

So this week as the oldest of our two littlies, Emily got to have her first ever overnight stay with her grandparents in the Blue Mountains. Just her and her beloved Grandma and Grandad. We went to pick her up to today and she was full of excitement and busting to show both of us all the craft she had made and her new favourite game to play "fairies". As in the TV show.

Josh on the other hand enjoyed some solitude and having exclusivity of all the toys in the house and finally showed us that he can say Emily. Well in fact it was more like "mi" but close enough hey. So cute.

I hope Em will look back when she grows up and remember how special it is just to enjoy the company of your grandparent alone without having to share the attention. As for grandma and grandad, I am sure they are having a sound sleep tonight!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Today's adventures - Saratoga Island

This place where we live has many hidden beauties!

Saratoga Island is one of those.

My sis Alli has suggested a visit several times over the past year but we have never quite made it there until today.

Essentially it is a little Point off Saratoga on the central coast. Crossing over a little mangrove tributary onto the island we wandered around to the most central point with a little beach and shallow water for the kids to splash around in. We has it all to ourselves (mind the fisherman over yonder)

We had a glorious time, Emily was beside herself splashing around and dipping her head under the water. Josh face planted into the water early on so was a bit hesitant and preferred playing with the sand and pretending the beach shelter was a play tent!

On the way back we discovered the little path was succumbing to a high tide and we had to trudge through the water, Emily was a little trooper and tackled it head on. Josh caught a ride on my hip though. As we progressed around further we encountered the mangroves again which was a bit deeper now. Much to my horror my sandal became stuck in the mud and after a feel around under the water it was not to be found. Alli came to the rescue and felt around and retrieved it for me. Ahhh, something about muddy, murky water, gives me the creeps! But it was worth it.

Whenever I head out with the kids to do something new, I wonder why I don't do it more often. I know the answer, laziness! But I have resolved to make more of an effort as we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The best thing about making a cake is?

I have memories of cooking cakes when I lived at our family home in Berowra. My fav was a coconut cake, everytime I made it, it never happened to be quite right. But I didn't mind as there was always the bowl, beaters, spoon to lick. I think it tasted even better than the cooked cake!

So today whilst using the last of the mushy bananas, Em and I made banana bread, a tried and tested family favourite that always works, and to which can be added a variety of extra bits like nuts or other fruit. Our recipe is from No Time to Cook by Donna Hay but there are limitless numbers of recipes out there which all seem to be of similar ingredients.

Em is always the willing helper at cake making time. At the end I asked her what the best part of making banana bread was "Licking the spoon Mum", came the reply. Ahhh. Some things are passed on through the generations.

Me on the other hand, I enjoy eating it more these days with a cup of coffee, a magazine and 10 minutes to myself. A bliss!