Chicks and Chocolate

These little easter nests are something that we used to make for easter when we were children.  I have always thought that they are just the sweetest little things. I haven't made them for years and years, in part because I couldn't find the right ingredients in Australia.  This year however I managed to find both Shredded Wheat and mini eggs with a sugar shell! Ella had a lot of fun breaking up the Shredded Wheat, mixing in the chocolate and placing the eggs on top. I think she enjoyed eating them at afternoon tea most of all though!

Easter Chocolate Birds Nests: makes 8 - 10

4 Shredded Wheat
120g Chocolate (milk or dark or a combination of both)
40g Butter
3 tbsp Golden Syrup
Mini chocolate eggs to decorate

Crumble the Shredded Wheat into a mixing bowl. In a heavy bottom pan, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup. Pour this mixture over the Shredded Wheat and stir well until it is all coated. Dollop the mixture onto a baking sheet or greaseproof paper, shaping each mound into a nest shape, with an indentation in the centre to hold the eggs. Place a few chocolate eggs into each nest and refrigerate until set.

Toddler Snacks

Ella has been helping me cook for a good year now, it's such a great thing for us to do together as I need to get our meal prepared and she wants to have my attention and spend time with me. This way we both stay happy and even thought it might take twice as long to get the dinner cooked, there are at least no tears!  Plus there are so many lessons to be learned in the kitchen, we measure, weigh and count; pour and stir; chop, grate and sieve. We taste and we talk - about what we're cooking, about our days.

However much Ella enjoys helping me with the cooking, it gives a whole new level of satisfaction for her to be able to make a snack for herself almost entirely on her own. I'm trying to compile a whole lot of toddler friendly recipes. These banana popsicles were a big hit - needless to say she was very enthusiastic about her first taste of Nutella!

Car Wash!

How do you entertain a toddler on a hot day when you've got a list of chores as long as your arm to get through? Put them to work of course! Ella had so much fun washing the car with Daddy and I think he had a lot more fun than usual too.
The real bonus of course was that it left me free to have a sleep on the sofa while Jacob was napping! Happy days!

Ice Cream Dough

This morning we set up our very own Ice Cream Parlour. We had a lot of fun! Ella spent about an hour and a half playing with this. First we made the dough together, then we set up the 'Ice Cream Parlour' and she spent ages scooping out the ice cream into cones (I only made 2 cones to begin with but she kept asking for more so that every teddy / dolly could have their own!) We had homemade confetti to use as sprinkles (there were also near constant requests for more of this!) and coloured foam wafers to stick in the top. Even the washing up afterwards was fun!

I saw this at Bath Activities for Kids (Sister site to 'Growing a Jewelled Rose' - go and have a look, there are so many wonderful sensory play ideas!) and really wanted to give it a go. I'm so glad we did. The 'Ice Cream Dough' was really easy to make - ours was chocolate - flavoured with cocoa powder - and it smelt delicious! (Didn't taste too good though judging by Ella's face when she tried it!)
It's basically just baking soda and water with some colour or scent but there are soooo many things you can use it for - I think we might try 'Errupting Snow' next... I just need to find somewhere that i can bulk buy baking soda and i'll be all set!

Mindless Parenting (The Activity Jar)

Do you ever have those days where you really do want to do something fun with your kids but coming up with the ideas is just too hard?  I first came across this idea in Montessori at Home! a really great e-book for anyone who is drawn to the Montessori way of learning, it's full of ideas for simple and inexpensive activities that you can set up at home.

Our Activity Jar is full of ideas for fun things that we can do if we are ever stuck for inspiration. Many of them are really simple things, such as 'Brush your hair', 'Read a book', 'Dance' etc. The activities are all colour coded into groups such as 'Art and Cooking' 'Outdoor Play' 'Active Play' etc so that we can ask Ella to pick a certain colour based on what sort of activity would suit the situation.

I sat brainstorming (and searching Pinterest!) for a couple of hours to create my lists but I think it will prove to be time well spent.  It's certainly not an exhaustive list and I'm sure it will be added to, but for now it's a wonderful resource to have.  Excuse me now, I have to go and help create an obstacle course...

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

I love deck chairs. There's something so nostalgic about them. They conjure up the most wonderfully evocative images of the British seaside for me. You know the sort of thing, seagulls, fish and chips, pebble beaches, ice cream, fishing in rock pools, old men with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads, little girls paddling with dresses tucked in knickers...

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled across these gorgeous little pint sized ones on eBay. They were pretty grubby and the seat fabric was mouldy and generally rather unappealing, but it's amazing what you can achieve with some new fabric, a screwdriver, a bucket of water and an enthusiastic helper!

I found the fabric in Ikea (I didn't even know that you could buy fabric in Ikea..) I was originally hoping for a classic navy blue and white stripe, but I loved this multicoloured version and thought it was just perfect for a child's chair.

The chairs were a big hit, with both Ella and Dolly, and got dragged all around the garden, although I think my favourite location is on the cubby deck - don't they look perfect up there?!  It's so satisfying to see something old being given a new lease of life, particularly when you are sure that an hour or two of work will result in years of pleasure!