The Crazy Kitchen: February 2012

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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Cuddledry Cuddletwist

My 9 year old daughter Hanna has recently joined a swimming club, where she currently swims four times per week. Ever since she started she's been asking for a towel for her hair, one that's specially made to twist around your hair easily rather than fiddling with a normal towel trying to get it to stay in place, as her friend has one.

I ended up buying a cheap one that I'd seen but unfortunately it's made of microfibre and I just can't touch it....I have the same feeling about nylon football socks...they make my skin crawl.

Then we received this 
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Not the child...just the hair wrap..

The Cuddletwist is made from silky soft bamboo, which is 60% more absorbent than cotton towels, and will never go rough and crunchy after a wash.

To use it you just need to put it on the childs head, twist at the back and then place the twisted end through the stretchy loop on top. It's easy enough for Hanna to use and stays in place until she gets home from swimming, by which point her hair is almost dry....and best of all I can touch it...which means I can also borrow it, as it's big enough for an adult head too.

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They're great after baths too and can be used on long or short hair from 18 months old.


You can buy the Cuddletwist for £8.99 from the cuddledry website.




I was sent the cuddletwist for the purpose of this review.

29th February 2012 - 60/366

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Found on the side of the fridge this morning......very interesting!

Breakfast Challenge - Day 3 - Fruit Salad

This morning, on day 3 of the Smarter Starter challenge I had a fruit salad made up from some of the available fruit in my fridge.


I used some strawberries, a handful of blueberries and segments of a fresh grapefruit, will a blob of Greek yoghurt on the top - lovely!


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The Gallery - Friends

I have lots of friends, scattered near and far but I don't have one best friend, although I do have lots of extremely good ones. I have lots of circles of friends, some of them cross, some of them don't - Mums from school and Pre-school, friends in the village where I now live, ex work colleagues, friends from school and friends from my single days back in my home town, and of course my blogging and twitter friends.


My group of friends back in my home town mean a lot to me, we have so much history together, we've laughed together, we've cried together, we've drank tea together and we've drank wine together, we've been to weddings, christenings and sadly funerals together. It was in fact at a funeral that I met a couple of my closest friends, a funeral of a mutual friend, and since that day our circles of friends have merged. I don't always get to see these friends as often as I would like as we all have families and busy lives now. I did get to meet up with some of them earlier this month, during half term, to discuss our upcoming girls holiday, and I'm hoping to get back there next month for a baby shower and memorial for a friend.


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1997 - me in the blue dress (yes a dress!)


 This photo was taken nearly 15 years ago and out of the 10 of us in that picture 7 of us were among the group that went away last year together when we looked like this


2011 - Me 5th from the left

And 2 years before that like this

2009 - Me in a pink wig-Little Miss-hap
What will this year have in store for us I wonder.......




I am linking this up to this weeks Gallery where the theme, if you haven't guessed already, is Friends.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

28th February 2012 - 59/366

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Sometimes tea just looks more interesting when it's made into a face..


Breakfast Challenge - Day 2 - Porridge

Day 2 in the Smarter Starter breakfast challenge and it's porridge on the menu today



I haven't had porridge for a while and I'm not sure why as I love it and it's so quick & easy to make. I was sent a box of Gingerbread Porridge before Christmas and a sachet of this only takes 2 minutes to warm up in the microwave with 150ml of milk.

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Monday, 27 February 2012

When Toilet Training Doesn't Go To Plan

If you're venturing out on the whole potty training experience I'm sure you're armed with lots of advice about decorating the potty, buying pretty pants and using reward charts. Whilst all this advice comes with well meaning it doesn't necessarily mean that what works for one will work for another - what if you have a little one that refuses to be in the same room as a potty or toilet training seat let alone decorate one, what if your little one screams the place down when you attempt to take their nappy off in the hope of putting a pair of pants on or leave them bare bottomed and what if your little gorgeous bundle of joy is not tempted in the slightest by receiving stickers to stick on a chart - my stubborn little man was one of these 'not like you read in the text books' kind of child.


Our potty training experience this time around started on January 3rd after one of our regular 'nappies are for babies' conversations - this time Jack agreed that he was no longer a baby and would like to wear pants and do all his poos and wees on the potty like a big boy. In the past we had struggled to even get Jack near a potty and he would never entertain the idea of wearing pants and would definitely never go without a nappy, or trousers for that matter, so this was a huge breakthrough. I had on more than one occasion taken him shopping for a toilet seat or potty but he wasn't tempted by the brightly coloured potties and seats adorned with Thomas or Iggle Piggle, and on one occasion kicked one across the shop.  We did, however, own 3 potties and a padded toilet seat so we were well prepared for that day, should it ever come.


I started off by sitting Jack on the potty every 30 minutes or so whilst watching tv or playing on the ipad but, despite drinking plenty, he still hadn't produced a wee by late afternoon so I knew he had the ability to hold it. For the next few days it was hit or miss whether he did a wee on the potty or it ended up on the floor. I got into a routine of sitting him on the potty every 2-3 hours and after a while he managed to relax enough to be able to produce a wee within seconds of sitting - once I knew he was able to do this I would get him off the potty if he didn't do one within the first 10 seconds or so, whereas before it had been taking 15-20 minutes for him to stop fidgeting enough to relax. 


Even though Jack was managing wee's on the potty he wasn't asking to go and if left would just wet himself.  We still had the issue of poo's to overcome and by the Friday of the first week I was feeling extremely stressed when, by 10am, I was dealing with the second pant poo of the day. I was ready to throw in the towel, admit defeat and go back to nappies but instead decided , against lots of advice out there, to give pull-ups a go. Over the next few days we concentrated on getting the wee's sorted and the pull-ups took the pressure off the risk of pant poo's and by the follow Wednesday we had a result....a poo, albeit a very small one, on the potty - problem was I hadn't realised Jack had done a poo until he sat on my knee and I wondered what the whiff was!


Two days later I posted this photo, which says it all really...we were ecstatic!


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Knowing that Jack was capable of doing poo's on the potty we went back to pants and the following week, on his first day at preschool for that week, I received a phone call from him to tell me that he had done his very first poo on the potty there.


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Even though things seemed to be going so well Jack still wasn't asking to go so we were still having accidents. Most of my afternoons with him were spent on 'poo watch', looking out for the signs that he needed to go, and if I let him out of my sight for 2 minutes I knew that I would find him in a corner looking sheepish with a bulge in his pants. I was at my wits end and I had no idea what to do. I had been through 18 months of 'accidents' with Hanna and I really didn't feel up to going through that again - we'd tried bribes rewards of stickers, chocolates and dinosaurs - he would get one whenever he produced a poo on the toilet, but it still seemed to be only happening by luck rather than judgement and however much Jack was saying that his next poo would be in the toilet and not in his pants it would only happen if we spotted the signs and whisked him onto the toilet in time. The week before last Jack finally asked to go for a poo on the toilet, and went - I was overjoyed and thought we had turned a huge corner. My joy was shortlived though as the next day he returned to doing it in the comfort of his pants...until Saturday when he asked to go, not just once, but twice...and produced each time. 


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showing us how many poos..


Yesterday and today have been the same and I am now all out of cars and people that I bought on Saturday morning, at Jack's request, as a reward. Today I have been so proud of him as he told me he needed a poo, climbed up onto the toilet by himself and called me when he'd finished. I'm hoping that we have now turned the final corner in our toilet training journey, tomorrow at Pre-school will be a big test.


I am linking this up Mummy Central's Parentonomy, where they say that potty training 'can be the most stressful experience of our lives' and they're not wrong there. In my experience of being a parent (11 years) I think it has been THE most stressful part so far, and the only useful piece of advice that I can offer is


 'use your nappy budget to buy wine instead, you're gonna need it'


Xia Xia Interactive Hermit Crabs

Xia Xia is a new cute collection of collectible Hermit Crabs which like to scurry around carrying their tiny friends on their backs and hang out in Confetti Cottage.


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Each crab comes with a detachable shell containing a tiny collectable friend. There are four Xia Xia in the initial collection with eight additional shells and friends to collect, each one being interchangeable.


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The battery operated Xia Xia are activated by a tap on the claw making them run around for 3-5 seconds. To make them run for longer just press and hold the claw for 1 second. The claws work as a bumper sensor and the  pet will back up when it meets an obstacle.


Confetti cottage is a cute brightly coloured house where your collection of Xia Xia pets can be stored and carried around.


The toys are recommended for children age 4+ and, although aimed at girls, I think will be a hit with little boys too - Jack loves small toys like this and he's kept busy for ages chatting to his new pets, and nine year old Hanna really enjoys this kind of toy too.


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Confetti Cottage and the Xia Xia pets retail around £9.99 each and the additional shells (with pet) retail around £4.99 each.


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we received the Xia Xia hermit crab & confetti cottage for the purpose of this review

Vodafone Guardian App - Review

Last week I wrote how Vodafone had sent us one of their mobile phones in order for us to review their new Vodafone Guardian app, which aims to help keep children safer when using Smartphones.


The app is downloadable from the Android Market, along with an add on app that protects the Guardian app from being uninstalled and sends a text message to the parent contact if settings are removed or changed.


Once we'd installed Guardian on the phone we were presented with pre-set settings to choose, depending on the age of the child.


7-8 years old
Blocks Web and camera, incoming and outgoing calls and SMS and MMS from people who are not in your child's address book.


9-10 years old
Blocks incoming calls from witheld numbers


11-12 years old
There are no restrictions in place until you set the controls.


You are then asked to enter a password enabling you to control the settings of the app.


Once you select the settings that you want you can easily change any of them.


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Main features of the app:


Set active hours for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Camera and Browser - for example, if you want your child to take their phone with them when they go out to play but you don't want them accessing the Internet you can set the access times or disable access completely.


Set active hours for incoming /outgoing calls or texts - for example if you want to make sure that your child isn't sending or receiving calls in the middle of the night you can choose the time that you will allow these. Each feature can have different settings.


Set active hours for phone apps - or disable them completely, this can include the adding and removing of apps. This can give you complete control over whether your child can gain access to Twitter and Facebook for example.


You can also restrict who they receive calls and messages from - you might want to give your child the security of having their phone for walking to and from school but if you want to make sure that they don't get distracted by calls or messages from friends you can set the app to make sure the phone can only receive calls and messages from set numbers, for example a home number and parents mobile numbers at this particular time.


In the week a friend of mine was telling me that her 9 year old daughter had been very upset when she received a text from a 'friend' saying some mean things. Unfortunately she wasn't on Vodafone so was unable to download the Guardian app but if she was she could've stopped her daughter from receiving any more of these nasty messages. It's definitely something that I would like to have installed on my childrens's phones to stop any unwanted calls and bullying from 'friends'.


There is also an Emergency Override function which deactivates Guardian for 15 minutes and an email is sent to the Parent Contact to advise them of the override. It's a useful function if restrictions are in place that only enable your child to phone certain numbers and they are in difficulty and unable to get a response from those numbers - the Emergency Override would allow them to call other contacts for a period of 15 minutes, but it would also be possible to access all of their restricted apps too. If you feel that this would be open to abuse it is possible to deactivate the Emergency Override.


In my opinion  it is a very useful app which gives me piece of mind knowing that I know what my children can have access to via their phones. It is a bit tedious having to enter the password each time a setting needs to be changed, especially as there are no days of the week settings, just times so if you want your child to have different restrictions at the weekend you would need to keep changing them.


It's well worth installing this app if your child is on the Vodafone network and you have any concerns about what they can gain access to via their smartphone.


You can find out more about Guardian in the Vodafone Parents Guide.




I was sent a mobile phone for the purpose of reviewing this app.

Breakfast Challenge - Day 1 - Fruit Smoothie

This week I have been challenged to give myself a healthy start to each day with a 'proper' breakfast - not just a cup of coffee which is quite often the case - often accompanied by a piece of toast or a crumpet, as it's quick and easy.


Make Mine Milk have launched the Smarter Starter challenge in conjunction with Kelly Osbourne.




All this week there will be video's with the daily breakfast challenge. Today it was a Fruit Smoothie :





I made mine with Strawberries, Melon, Blueberries and Kiwi, adding a tablespoon of porridge oats and a tablespoon of natural yoghurt to make it more filling.


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Next time I think I'll leave out the kiwi as there were too many seeds in it for my liking!



27th February 2012 - 58/366

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I've been trying to get a photo of Jack wearing his new t-shirt but he was having none of it ...then I managed to snap this one whilst he was too busy concentrating on his zip

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Football Fun

Jack loves playing football and he especially loves to go and watch his big brother playing a match at the weekend. Many of the games have been cancelled recently due to frozen or waterlogged pitches but hopefully, now the weather is picking up, there will be a match every week.


This weekend was the first leg in a semi-final cup match so we all went to cheer Sam on.


Jack spent most of the game with a football on the end of his foot, dribbling it around, kicking it to Mummy or Daddy and shooting at the 'goal'....he then collapsed in the chair for a well deserved rest.


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It was great to get out in the sunshine and get some fresh air....I have a feeling that Spring is just around the corner.


I am linking this up to Coombe Mill's Country Kids




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

26th February 2012 - 57/366

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A tender moment caught on camera at the end of the football match.

Silent Sunday - 26th February 2012

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Favourite 366 Photo - Week 8

For this week I have chosen the photo myself, but I suspect Hanna would have chosen the same one as she thought it was really funny


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This photo was taken yesterday on one of the very few occasions that Jack had asked to go to the toilet.

The conversation surrounding the event went something like this :

Daddy : Have you done a poo?
Jack : Yes I've done two poo's
Hanna : Mum, Mum Jack's swearing - he's sticking his fingers up
Me : *grabs camera* How many poo's have you done Jack? 
Jack : Two poo's *holds fingers up*
Me : *snap*
TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Byron Bay Cookies - Review & Giveaway

Last week I said I wasn't going to eat any cakes or biscuits for a while.....but when this box of cookies arrived I thought I should put that on hold....purely for research purposes of course!


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Byron Bay Cookies, as the name suggests, originated in Byron Bay in Australia when founders experimented with ingredients and came up with a white choc chunk & macadamia nut cookie and a triple choc fudge cookie, which are still among their top selling cookies these days.

There are 13 varieties of the single wrapped large cookies, including 5 Gluten free. The full range has been approved by the Vegetarian Society and the gluten free range is also registered with Coeliac UK. The company searched all over Europe to find a candy covered chocolate bean that was free from cochineal and gelatin resulting in the Dotty and Clowning around cookies being able to gain Vegetarian Society approval.

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My favourite so far has to be the Sticky Date, Walnut & Ginger - a moist cookie, packed full of flavour & perfect with a cuppa.


The cookies can be found sold from a glass jar and individually wrapped in selected cafes, coffee shops and health food stores and are free from artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and also made using free range eggs.

Two lucky people have a chance to win a box of these individually wrapped cookies, just by completing ALL compulsory sections of the Rafflecopter form below.
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You can Find Byron Bay Cookies on Facebook and on Twitter.

25th February 2012 - 56/366

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How very rude! 



Friday, 24 February 2012

24th February 2012 - 55/366

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I wonder if this is how 'Cooking With Your Toddler' will be in 8 years time....

Cooking With Your Toddler - Butternut Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Butternut squash cake does sound a bit odd but root vegetables lend themselves very nicely in cakes....beetroot worked really well in my chocolate cupcakes, keeping them lovely and moist. I spotted this recipe and pinned it until this week when myself and Jack made it with a few variations as below.

Butternut Squash Cake

440g Butternut squash, steamed & mashed
250ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
250g caster sugar
250g sultanas
250g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt


  • Beat the squash, oil and eggs together
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  • Stir all the dry ingredients together
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  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry 
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  • Mix well

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  • Pour into a large (lined) baking tin
  • Bake in a 180 degree (C) oven for approx 40 minutes - make sure it's cooked in the middle by inserting a skewer
  • Allow to cool in the tin - I then removed from the tin, took the baking paper off & then replaced into the tin ready for frosting

Frosting
I forgot to get cream cheese so I improvised with cottage cheese - shhhh don't tell my kids!

200g cottage cheese, blended until smooth
110g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
grated zest of 1/2 orange


  • Beat all the ingredients together until smooth
  • Spread over the cooled cake and allow to set in the fridge


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The cake was so moist and tasty that it didn't last long - next time I'm going to make it without the frosting so the kids can take it to school in their lunchboxes. It would be really nice with walnuts in but the kids wouldn't eat it then & I'd have to eat it all on my own....I'm sure I could manage it but my waistline wouldn't be too impressed.

Recipes that I've seen for root vegetable cakes use it grated but I think it's much easier to steam and then mash....it saves your knuckles!




The Crazy Kitchen

Do you have any child friendly recipes you would like to share, please feel free to add them to the Linkys - just click the badge above




Thursday, 23 February 2012

23rd February 2012 - 54/366

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On a school night!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Melissa & Doug High Sea Symphony

I've seen Melissa & Doug toys and heard good things about them, but we've never had any ourselves, although we have had their stickers and they've gone down well.


We have been sent the Melissa & Doug High Sea Symphony set by VUP Baby to play with; a set of easy to grasp wooden musical instruments for little ones aged 18 months and over. 


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Jack likes to make a lot of noise and he certainly did with this...even trapping a couple of fingers didn't stop him !




In the set there's a 'Soft Shell' bell, a 'Tentacle' tambourine, 'Double Clam' clacker and 'Sea Horse' shaker all painted in bright colours with smiley faces. All the pieces in the set seem very well made and survived a lot of bashing from Jack, although some of the paintwork has become a little chipped now.


The High Sea Symphony set is usually priced at £19.49 but is currently on offer for £15.99, and would make a lovely gift.


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VUP baby have a large range of Melissa and Doug toys  as well as other good quality non toxic baby and toddler products from around the World.

22nd February 2012 - 53/366

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New t-shirt has arrived!

The Gallery - Landscapes

I don't often get around to joining in with The Gallery and I was gutted last week that I never had chance to dig out old photos for 'Embarrassing Outfits'. This week I've made an extra special effort for 'Landscapes' as I knew straight away which landscape I would go for.


Niagara Falls is a beautiful place (if you ignore the street that resembles a mini Blackpool) and one that we've visited many times. When we lived in the US anyone that came to stay with us wanted to visit there so we often made the 4 hour trip for a weekend stay.


We've seen the Falls at various times of the year - in September when the cool breeze that it creates is a welcome relief to the heat, in January when a good part of the river & falls  are frozen over and your eyeballs feel like they're going to do the same, and then in April when the warmer weather has melted away all but a few stray pieces of ice.


Our first visit was in 2000 when I was 7 months pregnant - the photo isn't a great one as it's before I owned a digital camera and I can't find the original photo, just this black & white scanned copy.


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We've visited with various members of our family
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and when we went back for a visit in 2007 it was one of the places that we took Sam and Hanna to see...


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and it's definitely a place that we would love to go back to one day....

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