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Weekly Meal Plan – 16th May

May 17, 2011

So last week was manic. It was the sort of week when I really should have done a clear meal, but I didn’t! We did some crazy hand-to-mouth living and I resolved to get straight back into meal planning this week to save my sanity and my budget.

I have run the stock cupboard, freezer and fridge down to nothing, so it is a great week to try some new recipes and get in some new ingredients. I have written my meal plan using another two books I haven’t used for a while: Seriously Satisfying (a WeightWatchers book I reviewed a while back) and The Pampered Chef Fast and Fabulous cookbook. I’ve also included a couple of quick and easy recipes that are good old favourites for days when we are busy.

Cook books meal planSo this week we are having:

Monday – Pizza and homemade wedges

Tuesday – Paprika chicken and pasta (from Fast and Fabulous)

Wednesday – Slow cooker chilli and rice

Thursday – Toad in the hole

Friday – Salmon Puffs (from Seriously Satisfying)

Saturday – Lamb Tagine and Couscous (from Seriously Satisfying)

Sunday – Roast chicken

For more inspiration and meal plan ideas, head over to At Home with Mrs M and check out the linky.

A guide to toddler talk

May 8, 2011

I guess I shouldn’t really refer to Faith as a toddler any more, after all she is 3 years old now. Maybe the correct ‘label’ should be Pre-schooler? Perhaps it’s because I know she’s my last baby and I haven’t quite got round to facing the fact that she’s growing up! At nursery she’s in the Transition room. I think that’s a pretty good description as she’s certainly not a toddler but she seems far too small to be in Kindergarten just yet, and I certainly can’t entertain the fact that she’ll be starting school next year!

Whatever we refer to her as, Faith has always been fairly good with her speech and is usually able to express herself clearly. However, there are some things she says that have us in stitches and some things that are just downright cute. So here’s my brief guide to toddler talk in our house. I’d love to hear the toddlerisms that appear in your house.

1. When it comes to expressing time periods, 2 words are enough.

Toddlers are busy people, they don’t have time to waste by clearly defining periods of time. If an event has already happened at any point during their life then it was yesterday. If it is yet to happen then it is tomorrow. In some cases, it can be both. It is always best to hedge your bets when in doubt!

2. If you don’t know a word, just make it up.

There are some words that are just not as they should be. In this case it is best to make up your own version. It’s often easier to say and adults generally think it is cute. For example, ‘I had to’ becomes ‘I hadded to’ and ‘aren’t I’ becomes ‘amen’t I’. There are also those overcomplicated words that are tricky to say such as banana and spaghetti. Nana and sketti will do just fine.

3. Use many, many words for extra emphasis.

Any toddler who has watched or read Charlie and Lola will be well versed in the art of adding emphasis to make an impact. Sentences such as ‘I actually didn’t even actually touch it’ are winners. Such sentences drive home the point clearly and are viewed by grown-ups as quite cute, often diverting the attention from whatever you did actually touch.

4. Be alert for any words adults say with emphasis – some of them may be inappropriate for you to use. Identify them and use them.

We try very hard not to use any ‘naughty’ words in our house but sometimes toddlers pick up words from elsewhere. Whilst staying at my Mum’s house Faith heard my Grandma refer to something as ‘blimmin”. Yesterday, when I was hanging out the washing, Faith wanted me to do something. I told her several times to wait until I’d finished. Eventually she turned to me and said, “Will you just blimmin’ do it!”

5. Pick your moments to express yourself clearly and at a good volume.

At home we talk about things such as disability and different cultures but my heart still misses a beat when we see someone in the street in a wheelchair or who is a little overweight. This is the perfect time for a toddler to embarrass the adult they are with as they point out this person in the loudest and clearest voice they can muster. Do not ignore your toddler in this instance as they will persist with the questioning getting louder each time. I will never, ever forget the time when I was signing for a parcel and Faith announced in a very loud voice that there was a ‘chocolate man’ at the door *shrivels with embarrassment at the memory*.

6. Save good manners for when you really need them.

Don’t waste time with pleases and thank yous in run-of-the-mill situations unless prompted to do so. Save these for when you need to sweet-talk a grown-up or as a last resort. Perfect manners can get you out of many a tricky situation, just make sure you team them with a winning smile.

7. If all else fails, the tantrum is your friend.

Sometimes, communicating with adults or siblings just gets too much. Toddlers get tired, they struggle to find the right words and express themselves. In this situation it is best just to throw yourself to the ground and sob or scream. I can guarantee your parents will want to join you but they will probably just try to divert you in some way. Stay strong and stand your ground.

Despite their cute appearance and endearing toddlerisms, toddlers are actually finely tuned speech ninjas. As long as you remember this, all will be fine.

Xbox Birthday Cake

May 5, 2011

Yesterday was Dale’s birthday and no celebration is complete without a cake. Those of you who know my other half will know that there was one obvious cake choice…

Despite the fact I’m not a great Xbox fan myself, I really enjoyed making this cake (although shaping the controller was a little tricky). I learnt from my previous experiences when I made this Ben 10 cake and bought black sugar paste – it saved me a lot of shoulder pain 🙂

Rice Krispie Puffle Nests

May 4, 2011

I have to admit that when I was asked if I’d like the recipe and ingredients to make Rice Krispie Puffle Nests, I had no idea what Puffles were! After a little Googling, I discovered the world of Club Penguin and the little creatures called Puffles.

So it seems these colourful little creatures like to live in nests – in particular, chocolate Rice Krispie nests and of you fancy making some yourself, then here is the ingredients list and a step by step guide. They are quite easy to make and don’t need many ingredients – ideal for pre-schoolers with short attention spans! The nests went down well in our house and we made a batch over Easter so the girls could take them to my Mum’s to show off their skills.

You will need:

150g milk or plain chocolate

75g Rice Krispies

White and coloured ready to roll icing

Edible black pen

Cake cases

How to make:

1. Melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave.

2. Stir in the Rice Krispies until they are coated in the chocolate and divide them between 12 paper cake cases. Make a little hollow in the middle for the Puffles to sit in. Leave to set.

3. Take small amounts of the coloured icing and roll into balls, as demonstrated by my glamorous assistant.

4. With some scissors make 3 or 4 small snips in the top or each Puffle and pinch the pieces together to make the spiky hair. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt them – they have no faces yet!

5. Roll some tiny, tiny pieces of white icing to make the eyes and stick them on with a little dab of water. Press gently to flatten them. Leave to dry.

6. Once the Puffles have dried you can add features with an edible black pen. Well, the pen isn’t edible, but the ink is! We added eyeballs and various shaped mouths.

7. Place a couple of Puffles in each nest and serve.

And there you have it. Happy Puffle nest making!

Disclaimer: I was sent all the ingredients to make these Puffle nests.

Weekly Meal Plan – 2nd May

May 2, 2011

My last attempt at meal planning went very well. We really enjoyed the meals I chose and I was very excited as I tried out new recipes and got back to cooking from scratch every day. It also helped with the budgeting and shopping – meaning less trips to the supermarket and less impulse spending!

If you want some inspiration for your meals (or you’re nosey like me and want to see what everyone else is cooking) then pop along to At Home With Mrs M for Meal Planning Monday. There is a linky too so you can add your own meal planning blog post should you so wish.

This week I have chosen another 3 recipe books to try out. I picked Nigella’s Kitchen again as it is a very large book, so I’ve got lots of recipes to get through! Rachel’s Food for Living is yet another book I’ve had for a while but haven’t got round to cooking from – I saw some very nice looking recipes as I flicked through. The final book is Fabulous Pasta, which I’ve had for years and years and used to use quite a bit. It’s good to dust off some old favourites, especially as it’s just a generic cookery book and not one written by a celebrity chef!

So here is this week’s meal plan:

Monday: Pizza

Tuesday: Italian baked pancakes with cheese and tomato from Rachel’s Food for Living

Wednesday: Lemony salmon with cherry tomato couscous from Nigella’s Kitchen

Thursday: Gnocchi with tomato sauce from Fabulous Pasta

Friday: Chicken Curry

Saturday: Beef and spinach cannelloni from Fabulous Pasta

Sunday: Roast turkey

Royal Wedding – celebrations and cupcakes

April 27, 2011

I’m guessing some of you won’t even look at this blog post due to the fact it has ‘Royal Wedding’ in the title – but I am quite enjoying all the celebrations and excitement that surround the upcoming wedding! It has been made even more fun by the fact that I have spent a lot of my time in Grace’s school recently, helping them prepare for their Royal Wedding celebrations and I have seen the buzz that it has created and the wonderful things the children have made.

I started a few weeks ago by helping with the sewing, which is going to be made into a celebration quilt. All the children in the school have now sewn a square for the quilt and they look brilliant.

Yesterday I gave the Year 2 children a quick demonstration on how to decorate a wedding cake and matching cupcakes. They were so interested and asked lots of questions – it actually made me miss teaching! Today I went in and, along with a fabulous team of parent helpers, decorated nearly 400 cupcakes with the Year 2 children. Later in the afternoon they dressed as waiters and waitresses and served the cakes to all the other children in the school.

All the other classes had worked hard too with the Year R children making Royal hats, the Year 1 children decorating plates, the Year 3/4 children performed wonderful maypole dances and the Year 5/6 classes made scarecrow versions of Prince William and Kate Middleton and did a Royal dance to show all the parents. It really was a wonderful afternoon, not only celebrating the Royal Wedding but all also the amazing talents of the children and staff at the school.

The afternoon ended with the opportunity to look round the school and see all the lovely things the children have been making followed by tea and cakes. All the cakes were donated by parents and what a wonderful spread there was! I made a batch of cupcakes and decorated them in red, white and blue – the theme for the event. I even made some bunting to go on a few of them. I do love bunting!

We’re off to a party and BBQ with friends on Friday and to watch the wedding on the television. I shall, no doubt, be making more cake to take with us! What will you be doing on Friday? Are you looking forward to watching the Royal Wedding or are you fed up with all the coverage and avoiding it at all costs?

April Bake It! Club

April 25, 2011

Thank you to everyone who joined in with the pizza rolls recipe this month – hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t got round to baking yet but want to join in, there’s still plenty of time. As always, please add your photos to the Flickr group for everyone to admire and link up your blog post using the inlinkz tool below. I will choose one baker at random from those who joined in this month at 8pm on Sunday 1st May. The ‘winner’ will receive a signed copy of my book – The Baking Pocket Bible.

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s pizza rolls, x.