The Mama Story

The Mama StoryWhoa there! Little Star and Me is now The Mama Story! I’ve been feeling for a while that I’d outgrown the old name, chosen when my eldest daughter Seren (which means star) was a baby. So. I’ve bitten the bullet and gone with a change! You shouldn’t really notice much difference, the technical magic behind the scenes means all the old links still work (if you spot any gremlins lurking them please let me know!). I’m also keeping the branding consistent for the time being and I’m going to update my usernames across social media over the next day or so.

Why The Mama Story? Well, I’m a mama of course and this is very much still a parenting blog. A big reason that I like reading blogs is that I’m fascinated by people’s stories and reading about what makes them tick, what great ideas they have and what exciting things they get up to.

So welcome to my story, The Mama Story, I hope you continue to enjoy reading.

Sian
hello@themamastory.com

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The Dolls House Renovation Reveal!

dolls' houseSo before Christmas, I told you about the second hand dolls house that had been sat languishing in our garden room but was going to be the girls’ main Christmas present. Well, Andy and I managed to do it up in time for Christmas! It was a close thing though and still needs a bit of finishing (an ongoing project, like all period homes). Seren is thrilled with it! And has added some new decor to it herself in the form of Frozen stickers, leading Andy to grumble about how long he, sorry Father Christmas’s elves, had spent painting it.

Her’s what it looked like before:

Dolls House - Before Dolls House - Before

The first thing we did was try to alleviate the musty smell that we hadn’t initially realised was there. We washed it thoroughly using vinegar and water and left to dry. Then we painted it using leftover wall paint that we had. If it had been a chewable toy or suitable for Imogen to play with now, I would have used Certified Toy-Safe paint such as this one from Rustoleum. We painted the outside in two shades of grey (I wanted something that wouldn’t look too garish!), the front door in a plum colour. and the inside in grey and pale green. To add colour (and Seren pleasing-pink) we created ‘wallpaper’ feature walls at the back using thick wrapping paper. To make this easy to do, we measured the back walls then cut out bits of card to fit. Then we wrapped the card with the paper using Spray Mount, then stuck fixed the cards to the walls, again using Spray Mount. Some of the edging of the house didn’t look that great, so I covered that with washi tape as a short to medium term solution. Then we stuck in the windows and staircase that had come with the house. We tried to fix in the interior doors but couldn’t so left those out for now.

dolls' house dolls' house dolls house dolls house dolls house

The furniture is a mix of a wooden Asda set and an IKEA set which uses miniatures of their own furniture (what home is complete without a Billy bookcase?). They are different scale sizes but Seren doesn’t mind about that. The wooden dolls are part of the Asda set apart from the baby which came from babipur. All of the furniture and dolls are standing up to daily play so far.

Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014

I made some Christmas decorations, a wreath and presents out of fimo and bunting using washi tape. We also bought a Christmas tree from eBay. When we were taking down our Christmas decorations, Seren took down the ones from the doll’s house and added them to the box. We have some other smaller things like food bits to add eventually, they are too small to be out when Imogen is still putting everything in her mouth. But, I hope this is a toy that will be played with for years to come and will evolve as the girls get older.

Dolls House Renovation

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‘Hello’ Cross Stitch

helloI alleviated a bit of the study clearing boredom last weekend by getting stuck in to a little cross stitch craft project that I’d been meaning to do since September. I’ve half an idea about designing a cross stitch sampler for the girls but need to learn more about threads, backing fabric, design and patterns so decided to experiment! This ‘hello” piece is for the entrance hall, a room that needs more colour and texture and I’m going to hang it up in the embroidery hoop as it is.

I’ve already learned that the holes in the aida fabric aren’t big enough for the tapestry thread I chose so this piece only has half a cross in the stitches! I need more practice in getting neater stitches too (you can probably tell). I’m really pleased with it and love that it came together so quickly. I’ve got a mental list of small craft projects to tackle, both ready made kits that I’ve had for ages, half finished crafts or new ideas so I’ve decided to embark on a mission to complete 50 craft projects! Over no set time frame though, in 2015 would be nice but means doing something new each week which is a bit ambitious given everything else going on (decorating, baby books, mothering, life etc).

So, this is 1/50. I’ll share my progress from time to time, next up is a Kirstie Allsopp kit I got for Christmas (thanks, Laura!).

Getting My Christmas Craft On

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Weaning Adventures Part 2

adventures in weaning part 2It’s 8 weeks since I first wrote about weaning Imogen onto solids and the progress has felt 2 steps forward, 1 step back since then but I guess ultimately it’s moving forward. We did go through a brief phase in mid December whereby she would only eat food I fed her, not wanting to feed herself at all. Then things went back to the mix of finger and spoon-feeding we had been doing before. Until the beginning of January when she totally refused to be spoon-fed. After a couple of days of her refusing porridge, I tried to spoon-feed her mashed up fish pie (I didn’t think she would be able to pick it up with her fingers yet). Her mouth was firmly closed and I decided she didn’t like the fish pie (her sister was also refusing to eat it). I left the plate on the table and went to get a breadstick for her and she managed to pull the plate onto her highchair tray (I’m constantly amazed at how far she can reach) and ate the pie with her fingers!

adventures in weaning part 2

It’s been finger food all the way since then and mealtimes look a bit like this:

Breakfast is one of:
- Weetabix soaked in a little milk (formula or cow’s whatever is to hand) but still solid enough for her to pick up with her fingers
– Blueberry or banana American-style pancake cut into strips
– Toast and low-salt butter (if not having any other bread that day)

Usually with an added piece of fruit, her favourite is a banana and it would seem that ‘nana’ might be her third word (after mama and dada!).

Lunch is one of: 
– Sandwich made using one slice of bread usually of a scraping of cream cheese and low-salt peanut butter
Polenta fingers
– Sweet potato wedges with grated cheese on top
– A thick soup made with roast sweet potato or butternut squash and some low-salt baby stock. I soak bread fingers in this which she can pick up.

Lunch is usually served with some vegetables like baby tomatoes cut into halves, cucumber fingers or avocado pieces on the side.

Dinner is largely whatever we have which is great! Some recent meals have been:
- Pasta shapes (something easy to grip like fusilli) with tomato sauce and grated cheese
– Pasta with cream cheese and broccoli
– ‘Shepherds’ pie using red lentils
– Chicken roast dinner with everything cut into strips or chunks
– Sweet potato and bean bake
– Flaked salmon, potato wedges and roast vegetables

I try to make the meals and sauces from scratch so I know what goes into them, especially watching salt content.

adventures in weaning part 2

Snacks – rice cakes, baby biscuits or fruit. She loves bananas but also eats blueberries, grapes and satsuma pieces cut in half and pear fingers. She made a beeline for her sister’s whole pear the other day so I gave her one of her own and she devoured it, spitting out the skin as she went!

Milk – she starts the day with a breastfeed and breastfeeds when she wakes during the night. She has around 100-150ml of formula milk at around 11am, 3pm and 7pm. After her meals we offer her water in a sippy cup and she is getting quite good at picking up the cup and drinking a little out of it.

adventures in weaning part 2

At some mealtimes she eats a lot and there is very little mess and dropped food. Hurrah, we are getting somewhere! Then the next day she will mainly be interested in using food to test the theory of gravity and mush between her fingers. Which is a completely normal part of the process though I do find a little frustrating but I know we will get there in the end.

Weaning Adventures Part 1

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Cheesy Polenta Fingers

cheesy polenta fingersSince we got the chaos of Christmas out of the way, I’ve been trying to put more thought into Imogen’s diet. I figured she was probably tiring of roast sweet potato and toast fingers! We weaned her using a predominantly baby-led weaning (BLW) approach but with some added spoon-feeding. A couple of weeks ago she rejected spoon-feeding so it’s been 100% finger food and self feeding since then. I’m going to be sharing a weaning update and some meal plans later this week but for a little Monday afternoon post, following the ‘try a new recipe’ prompt from Florence Finds’ January Joy, I wanted to share a recipe that’s been going down well here. It’s based on the Polenta Chips recipe from the River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy (which is excellent by the way!).

Cheesy Polenta Fingers

Makes about 16 fingers and takes 1 hour (including 30 minutes of cooling time)

Ingredients
50g of polenta
200ml of low salt stock (I use Boots Baby Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes which only have a teeny, tiny amount of salt, they also do chicken and beef versions)
100g of frozen peas
100g of grated cheddar cheese

Method
1. Make up your stock then add it to a pan with the polenta.
2. Bring the mixture to the boil and stir for around 3-5 minutes until it becomes a thick, gooey mixture. Unfortunately, it is one of those things you have to stand and stir, otherwise it will stick to the pan and burn (I know from experience). It may spit a little so be careful!
3. Turn the heat off then mix the grated cheese and peas in.
4. Tip the polenta mixture onto a plate or flat surface (I use a chopping board) then form into a rectangle or square and pat down with a spatula until it’s about 2cm thick (as per the photo below, see, it doesn’t have to be neat!). Leave to cool for about 30 minutes or longer if that suits you.

cheesy polenta fingers5. When you are ready to bake your polenta, preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6) and cut the mixture (which will now be solid and rubbery) into fingers, about the size of fishfingers.

cheesy polenta fingers
6. Place on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake for around 15 minutes. The fingers should start to colour around the edges but not change colour too much in the middle, that way they are still soft enough for your baby to chew on. 7. Leave to cool and serve! I’ve kept them in the fridge for a couple of days too and they are handy for popping into lunch boxes.

P1130452 cheesy polenta fingers cheesy polenta fingers

Seren is happy to eat these as well as Imogen and I’ve been snacking on them myself. You could try variations with different vegetables and the recipe would work fine without cheese too. If you make them, let me know!

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Living Arrows 4/52

Baby bear | Living ArrowsBaby bear. Imogen and I enjoyed a moment of calmness watching ducks in the park whilst big sister practised on her scooter with daddy. As much as Imogen adores Seren, I think she enjoys a bit of quiet time when she isn’t being jumped on and screeched at too. She’s always thrilled to see her again though when they’ve been apart.

Living Arrows 3/52

Living Arrows
Living Arrows | A Weekly Portrait Project
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Kids and Valentine’s Day

valentines day craftI didn’t think kids and Valentine’s Day’s mixed until Seren started coming home from nursery with Valentine’s cards for us and we did heart shaped crafts at toddler groups.

valentines day craft valentines day craft

We were stuck inside earlier this week and spent a couple of hours making ‘stained glass’ hearts. We cut up tissue and crepe paper and sweet wrappers and stuck them down onto one side of a clear plastic wallet then added red glitter. When it had all dried I cut out heart shapes, peeled the clear plastic off and stuck them onto a window.

Last year we made some heart shaped jam biscuits.

Biscuit Love Jammie Dodgers by Jamie Oliver  www.littlestarandme.com Biscuit Love Jammie Dodgers by Jamie Oliver  www.littlestarandme.com

It’s a good prompt to talk about love in a broad sense too, we’ve been reading Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

We’ll have a trip out on the day itself as it’s also my birthday! I’ll be digging out red and heart themed clothes and accessories for the kids (and me!). There are some more ideas below – I’m in love with this heart shaped tea set from Emma Bridgewater and the Human Body game too, for helping kids to literally find out more about hearts!

kidsvalentinesideas1: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney 2: Heart Cookie Cutter from Lakeland 3: Play Tea Set by Emma Bridgewater 4: Heart T Shirt from Bob and Blossom 5: Magnetic Human Body from the Science Museum 6: Toddler Heart Jewellery Set from Jojo Maman Bebe 7: Balloons from the Pretty Little Party Shop 8: Heart Snowsuit from M&S 9: Red Fisherman’s Jacket from M&S 10: Heart Dungaree Dress from Boden

Wishing you a love filled Valentine’s Day!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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An Allotment Themed Cake

allotment themed cakeFollowing the ‘make something with your hands’ prompt from Florence Finds’ January Joy this morning, I was going to tell you about a craft project I did at the weekend but I’ve decided that needs a little tweaking and I remembered the cake I made too.

We celebrated my inlaws birthdays at the weekend and Seren and I wanted to make a cake for them. Seren was keen on a cat themed cake and I flicked through Fiona Cairns’ The Birthday Cake Book to see if there was such a cake in there. I didn’t find one but came across a design called ‘A Gardeners Delight’ and felt inspired!

allotment themed cake allotment themed cake

I actually made the cake and icing using BBC Good Food recipes I had the ingredients for, not the recipe from the Fiona Cairns book. Then I made the vegetable patch using chocolate buttons for a fence, crumbled Cadbury’s Flake for soil and added carrots, parsnips, broccoli, butternut squash, cabbage, pumpkins and tomatoes that I made out of coloured icing. I haven’t done that sort of thing before and it was much easier that I thought it would be! After I mixed the icing colours, I sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of wine and got busy making the shapes. It took an hour or so and it was a great way to unwind too. I also cut out flowers and a ‘happy birthday’ sign using plunge cutters. The next morning, Seren helped me assemble the decorations and her little fingers were ideal for getting the flowers on.

I think nana and grandad liked it!

allotment themed cakeThis is the kind of thing that would usually fall into a ‘too much effort’ category for me but I think I’m feeling brave and creative at the moment! I’ve even picked out a carousel cake I’d like to make for Imogen’s 1st birthday… I hope the creative feeling lasts!

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Imogen at 8 months

imogen8months imogen8months imogen8monthsSince she learned to crawl, she’s been scurrying all over the place, pulling herself up to a standing position, trying the stairs (hello stairgate!), trying to get into her baby chair and pulling things off tables. She likes it when we walk round with her holding her hands. She also follows me around and tries to climb up my leg too. I don’t think I mentioned it last time, but she has been going through the separation anxiety phase and if I left the room for even half a minute she would burst into tears. Now she can just follow me! Though sometimes she doesn’t, she sits upright and flaps her arm like she is trying to take off and shouts to get my attention. She sort of does this when she is excited too, bouncing up and down on her bottom. She isn’t quite lifting her arms to signal she wants to be picked up or waving yet. She is still babbling away with “mama” and “dada” though dada went away for a while but has made a re-appearance this weekend.

imogen8months

She is sitting up so well that we’ve removed the bath support and, in and out of the bath, sitting up means she’s showing much more interest in toys too. Her favourite at the moment is a pull-along pop-up train. I have to take toys out with me now to keep her entertained when she is watching big sis do her various activities. We have just started a baby music group too, she is the youngest by far but seemed fascinated with the first class and slept for two hours afterwards! We’re struggling to get to our swimming lessons what with illnesses and other things but hopefully we’ll get back into those soon.

imogen8months

Sleep-wise, I definitely jinxed things last time by saying sleep was improving! She had quite a bad cold and high temperature over Christmas and sleep went very pear-shaped. She is back to waking up for a feed twice in the night at the moment. We try to re-settle her and get her back into her cot as we all sleep better that way. During the day things are perhaps getting more structured, with definite meal and milk times and, if I’m lucky, a nap in the morning then again mid-afternoon. Quite often she just has one nap though. I think it’s harder with number 2 as she has to fit in with Seren’s schedule and quite often falls asleep in the car then wakes up again 10 minutes later when we arrive at our destination and doesn’t go back to sleep.

imogen8months

She’s been teething but no more teeth through yet. Eating is going well, though we have better meal times than others and she is now sworn off spoon-feeding, so it’s finger food all the way! I’m going to do a seperate post on that soon.

Month on month photos:

2weeks+1month imogen-2+-3-months imogen-4-+-5-months imogen-7-monthsImogen at 7 months

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Living Arrows 3/52

Living Arrows 3/52

Sisters. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I take a photo of Imogen wearing this stripy vest (bought in 3 different sizes!) each month on or around her ‘birthday’. Big sis decided she wanted to get in on the act this time (wearing her bridesmaid dress!) so I got some cute sibling photos too.

Living Arrows 2/52

Living Arrows
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