Cinema Trip | Cinderella

cinderella

(The cinema selfies I took of us are dire so here is Seren dressed as Cinderella at a friend’s house)

Seren and I had our first Saturday morning cinema trip together a couple of weeks ago. Strictly speaking it was her 4th cinema visit but: 1) 1st visit was when she was 4 months old and she slept through most of it; 2) 2nd trip was to a Frozen sing-a-long and 3) 3rd trip was for a party and I’m not sure how much sitting-down-watching-the-film was done judging by Andy’s reports!

I was optimistic though, I thought she would be enchanted enough by the film (Princesses! Castles! Dresses! Fairy godmothers!) to stay seated and reasonably quiet. It started well, she was very excited and perched on the edge of her seat, clutching her Munchbox (box of popcorn, Mini Stars and a drink). I was very impressed by being able to get into the cinema just with a QR code on my phone and not having to pick up actual tickets! It’s been years since I went to the cinema. I sank into my seat with a coffee feeling relaxed.

As you’ll probably know if you have young children, a Frozen short film, Frozen Fever, precedes the showing of Cinderella. This was quite sweet, Elsa is trying to plan perfect birthday celebrations for Anna but comes down with a cold with gets in her way. The princesses are wearing new dresses which you can now buy along with new dolls wearing these dresses. The sunflower theme for Anna’s birthday offers an alternative birthday party Frozen theme if you’ve already had a snowflake type one. So, the merchandise machine rumbles on! I think we’ve got away with it though, Seren hasn’t mentioned Frozen Fever since, though she was excited to watch it.

She enjoyed Cinderella too, though she did keep asking if it was finished from about half way through. I think with the Frozen bit at the beginning, plus the one trailer we caught and ads, it makes it a very long time for a 3.5 year old to sit still. I tried to keep her engaged by telling her to look out for the fairy godmother.

I enjoyed the film (bonus!). The plot needs no introduction and I thought they handled the difficult bits (Cinderella’s parents dying) quite gently. I don’t think Seren understands death yet, based on a conversation we had last week about a dead plant and the film didn’t prompt any questions. There are some cheesy romance bits and some funny bits too. Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham-Carter live up to expectations as the wicked stepmother and fairy godmother.

Cinderella is told by her mother to be kind and have courage and these values run through the film. Sometimes I thought Cinderella was a bit too kind to the mean stepmother / stepsisters and didn’t stand up for herself but I suppose it showed her making the best of the situation.

Seren and I had a big chat about kindness after the film as she upset her friend by saying two of the worst things you can say to a 3 year old girl: 1) “You’re a boy” and 2) “You can’t be Elsa”. We’ve been talking about courage as well this week as Seren picked up on Anna singing about having courage in Frozen too . I suggested Seren can be brave and try new things instead of automatically saying she can’t do them. She suggested I have courage and go up in the loft to get her Hello Kitty onsie when I said I couldn’t get it as it had been packed away with her winter clothes! I said I would go and get for her when it snows.

So apart from her getting twitchy after sitting down for an hour or so (understandable), I’d say the trip was a success and – as long as we pick the right film – I’m looking forward to more.

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4 Lunches 3 Ways

We’ve cut down on cafe trips lately and I’m trying to have lunch at home or take picnic lunches if we are going to be out.

I have to tailor most meals 3 different ways: 1) BLW style for Imogen, food she can pick up with her fingers and nothing that presents a choking risk; 2) to accommodate and entice an increasingly fussy Seren – no leaves, no garlic and not spicy are big things at the moment (what she considers as ‘spicy’ reaches far and wide); 3) No meat for me and I’m loosely following Slimming World.

It’s a struggle to think of different – and quick and easy – ideas but here are 4 lunches that worked really well for us lately:

Ploughman’s

lunch-3-ways

1) Cream cheese on low-salt rice cakes for Imogen with fingers of cheese and cut pears, tomatoes and grapes.
2) Cheese on crackers for Seren with cut pear and uncut tomatoes and grapes.
3) I have the same as Seren with added chutney (which was ‘too spicy’ for Seren).

Dippy Eggs

lunch-3-waysThis is Seren’s favourite lunch!
1) Hard boiled egg for Imogen with white toast fingers (white bread is best for under 1s) and cut tomatoes and grapes. It took a while for Imogen to eat eggs but she is showing more interest now.
2) Soft boiled egg for Seren with toast soldiers and crudités (a bit of a random mix of leftover veg).
3) I have the same as Seren but with crackers as trying to cut down on bread.

Mezze

lunch-3-ways

We use shop bought falafel and a mild homemade hummus (1 can of chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and half a clove of garlic – all whizzed together in a food processor).
1) Imogen has 1 falafel cut up, hummus, a breadstick, a bit of pitta, an Organix carrot stick, cucumber and tomatoes. I was trying to encourage her to ‘dip’ so stuck some bits into the hummus to give her the idea and gave her a variety of things to trying dipping.
2) Seren has 2 falafels (though she ate just 1 I think), hummus, pitta,cucumber and tomatoes.
3) I have the same as Seren but have added smoked paprika to my hummus to give it more flavour!

Prawn Cocktail 

lunch-3-ways

Seren’s second favourite lunch! I remembered how great prawns were for BLW when we had them at the new – and very good – Library Cafe in Enfield Town. Seren and I have a homemade Marie Rose sauce (equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup). After making it for the fist time, Seren then wanted to make ‘pink sauce’ to go with every meal for a week!
1) Imogen has prawns, white bread and butter, avocado, tomatoes and cucumber – all cut into bite size pieces.
2) Prawns and ‘pink sauce’ for Seren with tomatoes and cucumbers (she says she doesn’t like avocado) and bread hearts.
3) Prawn salad for me! Again I’ve added paprika to my sauce to spice things up a bit.

I’d love to hear some more ideas, let me know in the comments below.

You Baby Me Mummy
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Living Arrows 16/52

Living Arrows 16/52Living Arrows is the weekly portrait project run by www.shutterflies.co.uk which we take part in. It’s a lovely way of choosing my favourite photo or photos of the girls from the week before. I’ve chosen a photo of Imogen on a swing this week as I love the look of excitement on her face. She hasn’t taken well to swings actually, not like I remember her big sister being. So, it’s so nice to see her enjoy it!

Living Arrows 15/52

Living Arrows
Living Arrows | A Weekly Portrait Project
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On A Break

on a breakSo, I’m due back at work following my maternity leave in 2 weeks. But I’m not going. I’m officially on a career break. It wasn’t a simple decision between working and being at home, I had decided long ago that I didn’t want to return to my old job (which involved a huge commute and a feeling that I had grown as much as I could at that company). I’ve decided to take a gap in between finding something else to do. Perhaps another 6 months or a year or a bit longer, we shall see how we get on financially and what opportunities turn up!

We’ve have scaled back Seren’s nursery attendance down to the 15 hours per week during term time which she gets Government funding for and haven’t begun to think about childcare for Imogen yet. Seren was at nursery from 8 months old and seemed to really enjoy it then so I worry that Imogen is missing out! Especially as we don’t do a lot of baby-specific activities. But she seems confident and adventurous and has the benefit of an older sibling to entertain her and whack her over the head with a toy occasionally (re-creating the nursery toddler experience). Seren hasn’t been too keen on nursery as she’s got older so enjoys spending extra time with Imogen and I.

It does feel strange not to have a job, I’ve spent the last 22 years with one. Work has been so tied up with my identity, my feeling of self-worth and achievement. I certainly don’t feel much sense of achievement after a day at home with my pre-schoolers. I do feel lucky to have this time with them though. I genuinely enjoy it, well up until hair-pulling-out-time at around 4pm, OK sometimes that is more like 10am, but on the whole we have fun.

Reactions from friends have been mixed, some of them think it’s lovely for me to have more time at home, others think I’m crazy to want to spend so much time with the kids or that it’s risky taking a career break. One of Seren’s friends (then aged 2.5) even asked me if I would be bored without having a job! I must admit, I never really get the chance to feel bored, there is always so much going on. And blogging gives me an outlet to use my brain and I always have a cluster of projects on the go.

So, expect more posts on budget buys and how to entertain the kids for next to nothing and keep your sanity!

Linking this post up with Honest Mum’s Brilliant Blog Posts link up.

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First shoes!

clarks first shoesImogen took her first steps last month! She still just does one or two steps at a time then sits down but she’s building up her strength and confidence each day. It’s going to be so much easier when she can toddle round after Seren in the playground and garden and not just crawl through the mud. OK, who am I kidding, she’s going to be running off in all directions isn’t she!

first-steps

A couple of days after her first steps, we were up north in the Trafford Centre and I took advantage of the 3:2 adult to child ratio (I was with my sister and step-mum) to get Imogen’s first pair of shoes. This was a good idea as Seren pretty much just wanted to jump off of the seats and Imogen was intent on chewing every pair of shoes in there.

First-Shoes

I have a bit of love / hate relationship with Clarks: love how well made the shoes are (though the finishes can wear off very quickly, they seem to be well constructed to protect little feet); love the designs (a few too many pink shoes though); love the photo you get with baby’s first shoes; but hate how the measuring, advice and service is inconsistent in my local branches. So usually I go a local independent shoe shop that provides a high standard of service and actually sells Clarks’ shoes amongst other reputable brands. That said, I was very impressed with the service in the Trafford Centre branch. The sales assistant measured Seren’s feet using an iPad where she inputted her age by herself to start with. The assistant quickly identified Seren’s high arch and how that would limit her shoe choices. After saying that she definitely wanted a pink pair,  Seren chose a white pair of bunny sandals in the end, super cute!

Next she measured Imogen’s feet, taking care and measuring twice. Imogen has a high arch at the moment too. She bought out 3 pairs of shoes for us to choose from and we chose a pair of red Mary-Jane style cruising shoes. These were my sister’s favourite and also the pair that the assistant said fitted best. Imogen seems to like them, she tried to eat them and pull them off to start with but doesn’t even notice them now. We put them on when we go out but keep her in bare feet at home.

Another first year milestone ticked off!

I’m linking this post up with We’re Going On An Adventure’s Tried and Tested link up.

We're going on an adventure
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Springtime Surprise Project

#springtimesurpriseprojectLast month we took part in a Springtime Surprise Project run by Lucy from Capture by Lucy. Billed as a project for kind and creative souls, Lucy paired up all those taking part and we sent each other small parcels (suggested value of £5) full of lovely things to celebrate the beginning of spring. I LOVE getting (nice) surprises in the mail and have taken part in a couple of similar swaps before.

My partner was graphic designer Linda who designs under Dutches brand. Lucy also told me that she liked illustration, photography, flowers, white, minty green, DIY projects, upcycling, herbal teas and Scandinavian interiors.

#springtimesurpriseproject #springtimesurpriseproject

I put together a parcel comprising of: a couple of Linda’s Instagram photos that I had made into magnets via Stickygram, some beautiful looking Spring Jasmine herbal tea, a packet of seeds and some mini mint green washi tape bunting which I placed in a handmade mint green striped bag with a ‘L’ on the front. This was the first project on my new sewing machine, so was slightly rough around the edges, but fun to make. I put all of that into a papier mache egg (which then gave me the idea to make them for our Easter trail!). This is Linda’s photo from Instagram – I think she liked it!

 

The parcel she sent me was amazing, really thoughtful! It held beautiful bunting and postcards designed by Linda; a Yummy Mummy card; a sunshine yellow Pantone card; sunshine yellow striped straws; a craft bag with graphic print outs, twine, sticky notes and bird paperclips; tealights wrapped in washi tape with a ‘mummy time’ tag; herbal tea and a couple of my Instagram photos in little mint green magnets too (like minds!). So many lovely things! All beautifully wrapped too.

#springtimesurpriseproject

I managed to open it without little fingers becoming too interested though Seren soon made off with the straws. It was a really lovely parcel to open after a hectic week and completely cheered me up, just as the spring sunshine came out too.

Lucy is now organising a Summer Surprise Project, register here if you would like to take part. You can also see photos of more springtime parcels on the site too.

www.surpriseproject.com
#springtimesurpriseproject

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Living Arrows 15/52

Living Arrows 15/52Living Arrows 15/52Living Arrows 15/52Living Arrows 15/52Living Arrows is the weekly portrait project run by www.shutterflies.co.uk which we take part in. It’s a lovely way of choosing my favourite photo or photos of the girls from the week before. What beautiful weather we had last week! We’ve dug out the summer dresses, sunhats, sandals and suncream and have had a lot of fun playing outside. I got out a baby ball pit for Imogen to try but she wasn’t keen on being contained. Seren showed her what fun it could be and hid amongst the balls. Imogen tried to pull her out again by her hair! Here’s to many, many more days like this over the next couple of months.

Living Arrows 14/52

Living Arrows
Living Arrows | A Weekly Portrait Project
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8 Things To Do In April

Things To Do in AprilWell, Easter is out of the way, we have another week here before the summer term starts and the rest of April to fill! Here’s our To Do list:

1) Sort out our summer wardrobes. It might not be time to ditch the heavy coats just yet but I’m thinking it’s a good idea to find those sunhat and sandals, especially if the weather stays how it has been! Going to enlist Seren’s help in sorting through her summer clothes, figuring if she is in it from the beginning we can mitigate the getting-dressed-dramas.

2) Plant our seeds. We have baby tomato, pea and sunflower seeds to plant. Seren was very good last year at harvesting the tomatoes and peas and sunflowers look great don’t they.

3) Make a bug hotel like this one (well a smaller version). We spent a while looking for worms, ants and snails in the garden on Monday and I think a specific area to encourage them to settle would be fun.

4) Have a picnic. We’ve had a few in the playground so far and we’ve bought a new picnic blanket today that I’m hoping to use very soon. Seren is a big fan of picnics whatever the weather and likes helping me make and pack up the bits and pieces for it.

5) Enjoy spring showers. When the weather turns, I’m determined to make the most of it, Seren got an umbrella for Christmas and loves using it which surprisingly hasn’t been often yet.

6) Fly our kite. We’ve had this for ages and haven’t used it yet.

7) Read through our spring books. Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and Oh Dear by Rod Campbell are the current favourites with both girls.

8) Celebrate St George’s Day on April 23rd. A day of dragons, knights, princesses and castles I think!

What are your plans for April?

9 Things To Do in March

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Living Arrows 14/52

Living Arrows 14/52Living Arrows is the weekly portrait project run by www.shutterflies.co.uk which we take part in. It’s a lovely way of choosing my favourite photo or photos of the girls from the week before. We had a pretty rubbish week in some ways, lots of illness and cancelled plans. The worst being a 12 hour vomiting thing that Imogen had. On the upside, we did a LOT of Easter crafting, played in the garden and snuggled up on the sofa together. Clever Seren devised a way that Imogen could sit next to her on the sofa safely, with sofa cushions on the floor in case of falls. Imogen LOVED sitting next to big sis.

Living Arrows 13/52

Living Arrows
Living Arrows | A Weekly Portrait Project
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3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials

3-Easy-Flower-TutorialsWe’ve been stuck indoors most of these week with various illnesses. So we’ve been playing in the garden, watching Topsy and Tim and trying our hand at various Easter crafts, including the papier mache eggs I told you about yesterday.

Yesterday we made 3 different types of flowers, using materials we had at home, to decorate our Easter bonnets and baskets. All of them are easy!

Tissue Paper Pompom Flowers

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials

You will need: tissue paper (6 sheets of 25cmx35cm sized paper per large flower or 6 sheets of 12cmx20cm for smaller flowers); twine or string; green pipe cleaners to make stalks (optional) and scissors.

These flowers are inspired by the tissue paper pompom decorations that you often see at weddings and parties these days. I helped my friend Katy make a stack of them for her wedding in 2011 and I’ve been making them ever since. So easy and pretty! I use the Martha Stewart tutorial here, she explains the process far better than I could. For these flowers I used smaller sheets of tissue paper, 25cmx35cm for the big flowers and 12cmx20cm for the smaller flowers. Instead of wire I used bakers twine to tie the knot in the middle and inserted a green pipe cleaner to make a ‘stalk’.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower TutorialsI made these and Seren helped me glue and fasten them to the baskets and bonnets. An older child (6+) would be able to make these though would probably need help to separate the layers as it’s a bit fiddly!

Egg Carton Daffodils 

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials

You will need: empty egg box, 12cmx12cm pieces of card per flower (we used small paper plates as we had those in our craft box), yellow and orange paint, PVA glue, something sharp to make a hole (I used a skewer with a ball of play dough stuck behind), scissors, paintbrush and glue spreader.

1. Begin by painting your pieces of card yellow on each side, leaving to dry in between sides.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
2. You will only use the bottom half of your egg box (the bit where the eggs sit!) so discard the rest. Cut out the individual ‘cups’ from the egg box to make the daffodil’s ‘trumpet’ petals. I then cut 4 strips into these lengthways as mine seemed to look better that way but you don’t have to do this.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
3. Paint your ‘trumpets’ using a mix of yellow and orange paint. You need to do both sides and this can get quite messy! It progressed into hand and fingerprint painting in our house.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
4. When the first bits of card you painted are dry on both sides, draw a four leaf flower on (like the one shown below) and cut out.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
5. Stick the ‘trumpets’ onto the flower using PVA.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
6. If you are going to insert a pipe cleaner ‘stalk’ then first make a hole through the centre of the flower using a skewer with a blob of play dough (or similar) behind.
6. Tie a knot or two at the end of your pipe cleaner and thread this through. Tie another knot or two at the back to prevent slippage and you’re done!

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower TutorialsThese are easy enough for a child to do most of the work (bar cutting and hole making) but extra time is needed to let the paint dry in between stages.

Cupcake Case Flowers

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials

You will need: cupcake cases, ideally differing sizes and colours but that’s not essential, you will need 4 for each flower; pens; scissors; PVA and glue spreader and green pipe cleaners for making stalks.

1. Allow your little one to unleash their creativity by decorating some or all of the cupcake cases. We coloured them in with felt tips but they could be painted or covered in stickers or glitter.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
2. Fold the cases in half then half again, do this 4 times. Cut a tiny hole in the centre point to allow the pipe cleaner to pass through then cut the edges into a rounded or pointy shape to make petals.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
3. Unfold the cases then layer then into flowers, 4 cases per flower. Use case of different sizes starting with the largest (trim down to size if necessary).

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
4. Stick together using a tiny bit of glue around the centre of each case, making sure the holes in the middle are lined up.

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials
5. Tie a knot or two at the end of a pipe cleaner and thread through the cases. Tie a knot or two at the back too to secure and the flowers are ready!

3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials 3 Easy DIY Flower Tutorials

Seren decorated these, did a bit of the cutting and threaded the flowers onto the pipe cleaners. She also chose which cases to put together. Mummy tied the knots and oversaw the cutting!

We’ve added our flowers to a pot as well as using them to decorate our bonnets and baskets. We secured them using PVA or using the pipe cleaner stalk to wind around the basket’s handles or poke through a hole in the bonnet and back out again through another hole (making sure it’s not in a place that would rub against the child’s head).

Happy Easter!

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