Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Playing with food

We are playing with our food at the moment! Whether we are refining our fine motor skills by cutting, pressing and molding playdough into food shapes,

or having picnics with our teddies

or learning to share and perfecting our manners,

or having a BBQ with friends,

We have lots of food play happening in our house this week!

I am blessed with a child that loves to help and be involved in EVERYTHING that I am doing. When my husband walks into the kitchen Moo often beams with pride and tells him that she is 'helping mummy'. Sometimes it is great to have such an enthusiastic helper but at other times it is difficult to deal with a child that desperately wants to help when it is not safe to do so (like pulling things in and out of ovens, frying with hot oils etc.). I try as much as I can to give her small manageable tasks to help with food preparations. As you can see from the pictures above I am working on building on a repertoire of food related activities with her play food toys. I am hoping that this will mean that if I need her out from under my feet in the kitchen she can still still involved by turning to her food toys to mimic what I am doing.

Here are just a few food related ideas of toddler appropriate tasks that we have come up with to help around the kitchen:

  • Putting food scraps in the green waste bin
  • Placing chopped vegetables into steamers or pots ready for cooking
  • Wiping down surfaces
  • Drying off her plates and cutlery after washing up
  • Carrying small items to cupboards and putting them away
  • Getting out plates and cutlery and placing them on the dining table
  • Placing cutlery into the correct slots in draws
  • Packing the dishwasher or letting her stand at the sink filled with bubbles to help with washing up
  • Using the salt and pepper shakers or grinders to help season food (be watching closely with this one!)

Sometimes I might get out a few old saucepans, wooden spoons, a whisk and then some random dry ingredients like rice, pasta or cereal in a cup without any instructions. It's interesting to see what she does with them. Sometimes she starts pouring and stirring and sometimes she just likes to hear what sounds they all make by having a drum session.

How do you play with your food? What ideas do you have for getting your child involved in the kitchen.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Spring sensory box ideas

Here's a first attempt at a spring sensory box. I'm sure we'll add more to it in the coming months, but right now bees, butterflies and ladybirds are just right. I would have liked to have added some flowers as well but I didn't have any on hand for the photo. We'll be picking some up on our walk to add in.

The shapes are made out of wood and then painted and I think they are actually for crafting as they have small adhesive dots on the back. They are the perfect size for sorting and sifting!

We've been out in the backyard digging, planting and cleaning up. The weeds are gone and we've planted climbing beans and pumpkins in the garden bed. Next we'll be planting out some basil seeds in pots.

Today we visited the local Toys R Us so I could gauge what was going to be popular for Moo's upcoming 2nd birthday. I was quaking in my boots taking her into such a paradise, but surprisingly I got out of it pretty lightly. I overheard one boy begging his mother for a lego set ticketed at $145!  She's probably still in there trying to reason with him that it was too expensive and that he didn't really need it. It only took me one small pot of playdough and the promise of a box of sultanas in the car to get my daughter out of there! I felt lucky that I have child of such simple tastes (for now!).

I'd love to hear some ideas of things to add to our spring sensory box.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Order and chaos

Things have felt a little chaotic around here but I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on things again. Our schedule has slowed down to a nice pace now and I think I can breathe again!

So what have we been up to so far this week?

Indoors we have been painting and talking about spring, making cups of imaginary tea and eating imaginary biscuits.

I've tidied up our activity shelf, put somethings away to rotate through later and some other stuff was donated to the Salvation Army. Tidy shelves mean Moo can get to the activity she wants without knocking everything else over in between. She can also put it back. Theoretically. She mainly shows me where it needs to go!

Our cookie cutters have found a new home, as well as our Lego. I have picked up a few nice big baskets from the Salvation Army too. They are great for organising toys. I still feel cramped for space at times but I think I am slowly making some impact on the clutter!

Outside we have been spurned on by the arrival of the spring weather.We have been out in the garden pulling weeds and chopping back anything that looks dead or scraggly.

We've been sprucing up the garden beds with some instant colour.
Do you like my tin lizard sunning himself on a log in the far right of the picture below?!

I'm also trying out some more drought and frost tolerant plants to survive our hot dry summers and our frosty winters. These white daisies are everywhere in our neighbourhood and seem to thrive in our conditions.

I'm revving up to reinvent my veggie garden. It is a small space and is positioned in full sun which if you live in Australia isn't always good for vegetables as they can burn. The weeds are gone but I'll give it another week before I put anything in. I'm also thinking of orienting the rows vertically this year and not horizontally like last time so it is easier to get into.

 What have you been up to this week?

Thanks for reading

Monday, 10 September 2012

my favourite recipe books

some of my favourite recipe books
I love recipe books! I have a slowly growing collection of them. I love the pictures and I love knowing how each dish come together.

I have four'go to' books for home cooking recipes: 
1. Number one is my Margret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery. Margaret is an Australian icon of home cooking and I almost use this book weekly. There are recipes for everything and anything that you'll find in a home kitchen. 
2. Jamie Oliver. I really respect this man for what he does with fresh food and I appreciate his passion for freely educating people about cooking through his books, you tube video series and his foundations. I especially love his online home cooking skills series and his 30 minute meals book and series. So simple, so effective and so tasty!
3. Australian Good Food magazine. I received a 12 month subscription to this magazine for my birthday last year. I love receiving the latest magazine in the post every month and flipping through to mark what new recipes I want to try that month (or make my husband do it, as he's the hardest to please!).
4. Merle's Kitchen is a 'no-fail' book for baking Australian favourites. I love baking biscuits and every recipe that I have attempted from this book has been a success. The artwork is gorgeous and the recipes simple and straight forward. My favourite has to be the jam drops. They don't last long around here.

Today was lemon cordial day. I used up 12 lemons from the pile (no, it doesn't look any smaller!) to make 3 litres of lemon cordial. The lemons I used have an orange tinge to them so the cordial is not as yellow as you'd expect.
Lemon Cordial
And the taste? Delicious!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

when life gives you lemons

I currently have an overabundance of lemons and oranges sitting on my kitchen bench to use up! I think I'll need to make up some yummy lemon cordial and a lemon cheesecake or lemon meringue pie. I don't think I'll make a lemon and orange marmalade as I still have lot of jars of my orange marmalade to use up.

Last night I made a first attempt at some homemade lemon curd from my Margaret Fulton Encyclopedia - an essential text to have in the Australian kitchen! It has thickened beautifully overnight and the colour looks glorious. Next time I think I fill grate the rind a little more finely but other than that it is just right.
My first attempt at making lemon curd
Sometimes the easiest way to use up lemons is to make pancakes! Lots and lots of pancakes... with homemade cinnamon sugar of course. What do use lemons for?

This week I have been feeling a bit like a lemon. I little too sour :( So I've tried to try and sweeten life up a little, refocus my goals and give myself some new and modified challenges. I've had this quote from George Bernard Shaw on my mind as I think it sums up my approach to life and learning perfectly.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Spring is on the way

We've noticed a definite turn in the weather in the last week. The days are warmer and the nights aren't as chilly and the best bit was that my washing on the line super quick!

I've taken a step outside into my garden in the last few days and have realised that the weeds have started to take over! I hadn't noticed them in winter but with the warmer weather arriving the sour sobs and thistles are starting one last push.
It once was a veggie patch... it is now a weed patch :(

 I have my little helper on hand and so have been doing a spot of weeding when I can. Moo loves to help at every opportunity and has been ferrying the pulled weeds, digging in her big pot of dirt and helping Dad mow the weeds lawn.
Moo's 'lawn mower' - a salvaged toy cart/car.
It will soon be stinking hot here in the southern hemisphere as we move from winter into spring then into summer so I'll be trying to help Moo understand the change of seasons. I figure the best place to start with that is at home, in the garden tiding up and planting some new things!

My chickens 'free ranging' on the lawn. 
I'll be adding online resources as I find into my Spring resources list here on Diigo and also here on Pinterest.

This may be an whole other post, but before I had my daughter I was collecting online resources for my work and using Diigo nearly everyday to collect, organise and share what I had found. Since then I haven't done any further research into new or more powerful applications that bloggers/educators are now using? and I wonder if there any I should have a look at? Do you have any suggestions or experiences with online bookmarking applications?

Monday, 3 September 2012

What I am sewing

I have taught myself to sew in the last few years and really enjoy knowing that I took the effort to make something myself.

The first sewing project I ever attempted was a quilt when I was pregnant with my daughter. I used a pinwheel pattern in green, white and brown as I didn't know if the baby was going to be a boy or girl. At the time I started it I also didn't have a cot to measure if up to and so it is a little short and not quite wide enough to hang down the sides of the mattress. It currently morphs between a lap quilt and a blanket for 'Boo - the very large teddy'. When I was sewing the quilt I also learnt about basic sewing techniques as I went and that you need to be as precise as possible at all stages of quilting!

The second sewing project I attempted was another pinwheel quilt for my new nephew which matched my daughters quilt in white a blue. With that quilt came the extra pressure of knowing that the quilt was leaving my house and being examined/scrutinised by people I didn't know. Eeek!

I have since sewn a few other things including two dresses and a shirt for my daughter. Both the dresses were an Oliver + S Bubble dress which I absolutely adored making, and the shirt was the Oliver + S Sailboat Top. I was thankful that I decided to learn using Oliver + S patterns and I have since found them to be very clear and helpful for beginner sewists.

Birthday dress - an Oliver + S Bubble dress

What I am looking forward to sewing next:

1. I really want to make something for ME! I think the Sorbetto Top from Colette would be great. In fact I have already started. I tried it in the size that I thought I would have been but it turns out it is too small. So I'll call that the 'muslin' and now need to work out where I need to alter the pattern or if I should just go up a size.

2. I have started a single bed sized quilt for my daughters move from the cot to a bed. The squares have been cut and the rows have been sewn together, so now I just need to start piece the rows. I wanted it to be ready for her move to a bed, but as she has just started having day sleeps in the bed this week I am a little behind schedule!

3. I have several other adorable Oliver + S patterns waiting in the cue ready for summer!

4. A simple skirt and dress for ME!

5. What I actually really NEED to finish sewing is my costume for an Oompah performance with my brass band in October. The pattern I am using is a Dirndl using Burda 8448. So far I have done the shell for the bodice, got stuck on the facings and haven't picked it up again. I am somewhat put off by failure, but I've got another month right??

What's on your sewing list?

Thank for reading!
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