Collecting Blossom, Colour Wheels & Patisseries

Yesterday, the girls decided to change our walking route. It’s strange how quickly you can fall into new habits, although I do like the fact the Greenway is like a piece of the countryside in the middle of Belfast. On our new walk, the girls came across some blossom trees dropping petals and they pretended it was snowing. They gathered up as many petals as they could to take home. I’m still finding them all over the house ๐Ÿ™‚ They had insisted on wearing fancy dress headwear and I thought the blossom bouquet softened the look of my daughter’s zombie bride veil ๐Ÿ™‚

688F9381-9990-49D8-AE9B-860FD90A3AB1

When we got home, we started my daughter’s schoolwork and since she was learning about sea life, I got my younger daughter to draw pictures of sea creatures so she could be involved. Afterwards, we had some chocolate chip cookies and watched the Afternoon Club colour wheel episode. The girls love any excuse to paint and I was surprised by how long it kept them sitting in one place, working out how to mix the colours and where to place them on their wheels. I don’t think they even realised they were learning about tertiary colours in the process ๐Ÿ™‚

I was flipping through a cookery book, looking for inspiration for dinner and my daughter’s eyes landed upon a swiss roll she wanted to make. We had the ingredients, so I decided to make it with her. It was a budget recipe that used natural yogurt instead of cream, mixed with strawberry jam. It tasted better than Iโ€™d imagined it would ๐Ÿ™‚ My daughter insisted on wearing my polka dot apron while we baked ๐Ÿ™‚

My younger daughter helped me to make risotto and my older one washed the dishes afterwards. It seems like a good time to teach them how to cook and look after themselves a little, since there are usually too many excuses to rush through those things.

This morning, we went for another walk on the blossom-filled route. I’m enjoying spending time walking with the girls more now that we don’t have anywhere to be at a particular time. We get to have more detailed conversations and stop so they can collect leaves, petals and feathers. In that respect, I think it’s making me more patient (but definitely not in other respects!)

My daughter’s school had suggested doing a quiet family colouring session with relaxing music in the background. We listened to Bob Marley and my younger daughter completed two colouring pages. She normally does one squiggle and runs away, but it felt really calming and I did some colouring too, which I haven’t done in a long time. It reminded me that I have a pile of adult colouring books in the cupboard that I never get around to using, but I should more. I felt more able to deal with the day after it, so I might make it a daily practice.

113F2F76-CC7D-44D0-9748-6FCEE4881D2C

My older daughter had her turn at being the chef tonight. She made us some pesto chicken with tomatoes and rice. She even put lime wedges in our drinks and enjoyed serving everyone. My younger daughter was the eager dishwasher. It took a long time, but she did a good job for a four year old ๐Ÿ™‚

We sat down to play some board games together while my older daughter worked on her clay models. She made a little cake and then proceeded to make twenty more whilst talking my mum through the process on the phone. My mum reminded her of their birthday date for afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie and my daughter borrowed a china plate so she could recreate her own tea tier. The girls used the empty clay tubs as cake boxes and set up shops in the living room on an upturned box. I paid them for cakes in change and then they bought from each other’s businesses too ๐Ÿ™‚

2FDD4922-7E6F-4514-8082-479BD1459F41

I have a feeling I’ll be sold cakes before my eyes are fully open tomorrow morning, so I’ll enjoy the tranquility while it lasts. I love sitting in dimmed light with a glass of wine, writing. In contrast to the nonstop nature of a day at home with kids, it feels even sweeter.

 

Walks by the Sea and Water Bracelets

Today, the morning stood out in stark contrast to the world around us. It felt fresh and the skies seemed to open up. I love the fact in Springtime the sky seems to lift higher and it feels like we aren’t closed into a grey box anymore. We got up early and got ready to go for a walk. I’m finding that starting the day with a walk makes the girls’ energy levels far more manageable. Otherwise, they’d be dismantling everything in the house and fighting with each other and driving me crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

We drove to the seaside and went onto the beach. I was surprised by how few people were there. I’d expected everyone to have the same idea as a location for a “remote” walk. We walked along the shore and the girls threw rocks in the sea, built miniature sandcastles with their hands, decorated them with shells and filled the moat with water they’d scooped up with sea shells. I liked seeing what they came up with in the absence of a bucket and spade ๐Ÿ™‚ They also started jumping in the shallow water, and I just let them get on with it, even if it resulted in wet feet, because it feels like we all have so little freedom at the minute. The Stena Line passed by and it whipped up the waves and the girls pretended the tide was chasing them and ran away squealing ๐Ÿ™‚ There were a couple of dog walkers out, but other than that, it was deserted, and we had the beach to ourselves. We stayed for a while, just absorbing some sunlight and looking at the view.

Afterwards, we went to a local health food shop to get a few things. I’d forgotten how much I like going there. I’d got into a habit of convenience shopping instead of supporting local shops, and I’m trying to break that now. The girls loved going there too. The lady who owns it is so friendly and has a box of toys for kids. We got some spelt pasta, which I’ve never tried before, some biscuits, yeast, chai tea and oat milk, so I could make myself some Starbucks-style lattes ๐Ÿ™‚ The lady very kindly gave the girls a lolly each and they were so excited about them ๐Ÿ™‚ I have already noticed the girls becoming a bit less demanding, and I think the simpler lifestyle will do them no harm, apart from maybe missing the social side with others.

I picked up The Simple Things magazine and a couple of magazines for the girls. I know a lot of people think kids’ magazines are a waste of money, but I find that it settles them and it makes us sit down at the table together to work on them, and they’re educational too. For some reason the cheap toys in them provide more entertainment than any toys I’ve ever bought them. They’ve been playing pizza restaurants all day, in between other activities, with a pizza that slices into quarters and comes with a box, loyalty card, menu etc. You could recreate it with cardboard if you wanted to, for a cheap activity to do indoors, cutting out and colouring the different toppings they can add. It might keep them busy for a few hours creating the toppings ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls have been taking “phone orders” and set up a desk in the living room for their takeaway ๐Ÿ™‚

When we got home, we did some word games and I helped them with their magazines for a while. We had some coffee and snacks and I’ve set up a snack shop. I’d seen the idea for it on a friend’s social media ๐Ÿ™‚ We have a list of snacks and prices and they get a pound each in different change so they can practise counting out money and learn about budgeting for the day. Once their money is gone, they aren’t allowed any more. It’s a good way to ration snacks, and then when they run out of change, you can announce that the shop is closed for the day ๐Ÿ™‚

I dug out some stencils we had in the cupboard and the girls used them for a while. I also had a book we’d borrowed from the library about beating boredom for kids. It has some great ideas in it that don’t require materials. I find most kids’ activity books require you to make a special trip to the shop to source all the parts. The book has simple things like drawing a picture without lifting the pencil from the page, making paper cup telephones, taking fun photos, inventive ways of blowing bubbles. If anyone wants me to share some of the ideas for them while they’re indoors with their kids, message me and I’ll send you them ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls played on their bikes in the garden for a little while to get some fresh air and I hung out some laundry. I usually shove everything in the tumble drier because I don’t have time to hang out laundry and iron it all, etc, so it was nice to have the time to do that for a change. I find it quite a restful chore when I actually get around to doing it ๐Ÿ™‚ I made some fried rice for lunch with leftover rice from yesterday and the girls devoured it. They’ve been constantly hungry since they stopped school; maybe because they know that snacks are accessible at any hour of the day now ๐Ÿ™‚

After lunch, we made water bracelets with a set I had got my daughter for her birthday. You just put stoppers in a tube, fill it with sequins and beads and then fill it up with water, adding a charm before you seal it. One of my daughters wanted me to help with hers and I realised how therapeutic they are to make. They should make them for adults too. I think it would lower all our stress levels at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

I made myself a vanilla oat latte and got a chance to do some writing while the girls watched TV. I had already made bolognese for a handy dinner. I’m going to use some of my time in the house for batch cooking – not because I’m hoarding ๐Ÿ™‚ but just because I find cooking days relaxing. I lit my white chocolate candle and was bombarded with constant questions – which made me glad I’d prepared dinner in advance for once ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls have started a new game where they skate with one rollerskate on – like a mini skateboard. I’m half amused by it – half waiting for an accident to happen :/ Before bed, they wanted to play races in the living room. I started shouting ready, steady and something silly instead of go and it turned into a new game, like ready, steady, tiny baby chick poop (probably not the best game to discourage toilet humour) but they ended up lying on the floor laughing and I didn’t have to get up and got to drink my tea while it was warm ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know what we will do tomorrow yet, and usually I have everything somewhat planned out. But I’m actually happy to let the day unfold as it decides to do without my interference ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Term Adventures Part One

During the half-term holidays, I took the girls to Glasgow for a few days. I used to live there and itโ€™s my favourite place to visit with them. Itโ€™s a special place to me because itโ€™s where I spent my early adult years and I have a filtered version of living there in my mind that only captures the good times ๐Ÿ™‚

We started our trip with breakfast and magazines in the airport. Iโ€™ve decided kidsโ€™ magazines and activity books are a lifesaver when it comes to travelling or eating out. My kids donโ€™t have iPads so I need something to hold their attention and keep them in their seats during periods of waiting ๐Ÿ™‚

I love the fact that the flight to Glasgow only takes twenty-five minutes, so there isnโ€™t time for kids to get bored and torment other passengers ๐Ÿ™‚ We stayed in an Airbnb in the West End, near where I used to live.

On our first day there, we went for lunch in a pizza place. We discovered it on one of our visits and the pizzas are all under ten pounds ๐Ÿ™‚ We also visited an ice cream and churros shop. I love the churro bites with Biscoff ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls spotted a kidsโ€™ clothes shop they love. Sadly, one dress costs more than their entire wardrobe combined, so they just stare wistfully through the glass and make me feel like theyโ€™re deprived ๐Ÿ˜€ The exterior of the shop is decorated with little clear globes containing objects that look like toys, so the girls were mesmerised by them too.

E18933EF-B60B-41FE-A420-00D51B22246DF366972B-6AC7-4F55-9F9E-0451C757C631

We arrived the day of storm Dennis and some other flights had been cancelled so we were lucky to get there ๐Ÿ™‚ We did a lot of walking around. Itโ€™s strange how much a city can change in only a few years. The deli where I used to work had closed down and so many new businesses have opened up that the streets are barely recognisable in parts. For some reason, when we visit Glasgow, my kids are happy to walk for miles, but at home they arenโ€™t keen on even walking to school ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

We called into Waterstones and the girls loved looking at the cheap plastic toys… just the reason youโ€™d call into a bookshop! They got some dinosaur finger puppets and I got some vinyl coasters ๐Ÿ™‚ I donโ€™t know if itโ€™s because the girls are getting older, but they are suddenly interested in exploring cities and rummaging through items in shops. (Well, maybe they always enjoyed the second part.)

C6048C81-8D79-408A-951D-71FC7B26B245

I love the style of the buildings in Glasgow and the little lanes that are dotted around the place. I discovered a new Vietnamese restaurant Iโ€™d like to try in one of them ๐Ÿ™‚ย Apparently you can select an option where the chef serves you surprise dishes so you donโ€™t have to decide what to order.

When our feet were getting tired and we were still waiting to check in, we retreated to a tea house I used to spend a lot of time in. It was a different experience as a student to how it is with kids! But as long as I plan ahead and bring toys, the girls enjoy it too ๐Ÿ™‚ There is an area where you can sit in a little โ€œzen roomโ€ on cushions on the floor. I had some chai tea and the girls opted for apple juice. They tried my tea, but declared it โ€œtoo spicy.โ€ At least, for once, I didnโ€™t have to share ๐Ÿ™‚

On our second day there, I took the girls for a walk in the Kelvingrove park. Iโ€™m convinced their sense of direction is already better than mine (which wouldnโ€™t be hard.) They bounded ahead of me towards the playground, like they knew exactly where it was. I love the way the novelty of a new playground keeps kids occupied for so long. They were more taken by it than any tourist attractions I could have taken them to. There is a duck pond and they spent a long time watching the ducks and bemoaning the fact we didnโ€™t have food for them.


Afterwards, we walked to the museum and spent a long time there. We saw the famous bobbing heads and the elephant ๐Ÿ™‚ There are more interactive exhibits than Iโ€™d remembered there being. The girls enjoyed playing with the dressing up box and the bed. I think it was there so they could act out scenes of sleeping princesses ย (minus the sleeping :))

For once, I actually got a chance to read some of the descriptions on the paintings. There were a couple of games for kids to play in the art gallery too. They could assemble faces, changing the eyes, noses and mouths, and stick magnetic objects onto a background to recreate a painting in the gallery.

After our visit to the museum, we went to a vegan bar/restaurant for lunch. The fire was lit, along with pillar candles and it was a lovely contrast to the wild weather outside. I took advantage of the fact I didnโ€™t have to drive and had a flavoured cider ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls unknowingly ate vegetarian chicken nuggets ๐Ÿ™‚ They usually detect every small change to what they normally eat, so that felt like dietary progress ๐Ÿ™‚ We sat for a long time. The chill-out music definitely settles my kids and they coloured in pictures of flowers the waitress had brought them ๐Ÿ™‚ The pub used to be my local and they had jazz and dub nights I went to. Itโ€™s bittersweet visiting the city now that life is so different, but I think visiting it with my kids eases any sadness it might bring with it. Creating new memories with them, alongside seeing old friends makes the place all the more special.

I will continue the rest of what we did on our trip in another post ๐Ÿ™‚

Culture and Kids

Today I took my kids to Culture Day in Belfast. I decided to take the bus and my kids get excited at the mere mention of that – I guess we donโ€™t go into town too often so itโ€™s a bit of a novelty.ย I was surprised by the amount of events on for kids. We spent all day there and my kids loved it.

We arrived early at the City Hall and got to enjoy the morning sun with coffee and very early ice-cream/lollies for my kids ๐Ÿ™‚ No one was there yet and we got to sit on the deckchairs and watch martial arts. There was a mini rave that the kids enjoyed because they got to dance and run around on the grass. Not my music of choice, but Iโ€™m happy with any distraction I find for my kids.

8BCF8A03-F5FB-4171-92EA-D259478E1124

After that we went to a bazaar in St Anneโ€™s cathedral and saw some Indian dancers on the way. I had planned to have a no spend day and that didnโ€™t exactly go to plan once I found a vintage clothing stall. We found a lady who did face painting and she did really beautiful designs, so I decided to get mine done too ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to get it tattooed on my face now because itโ€™s so pretty! There were so many interesting stalls and if my kids hadnโ€™t had limited patience for looking around I would have spent far too much money, so it was lucky that they were there!

9917DD77-FDD0-490F-BD63-808669796997

Afterwards, we went to the library where there was story-telling from different cultures and puppets. It was well put together for kids with free juice and biscuits and donut-type cushions for them to sit on. The stories were really interactive and they enjoyed joining in.

3E8826C6-E51A-4312-AE31-A4D7AB6B1EFA

We followed that with an acoustic picnic in the Oh Yeah music centre. There was kid-friendly live music, crafts and games. We brought a picnic so we didnโ€™t have to buy any lunch or drinks then. My daughters enjoyed playing skittles and making maracas.

There was a free chocolate/sweets factory held in a pub. Kids got to make chocolate โ€œpizzasโ€ topped with their sweets of choice. It was held in an outdoor pub and had a holiday-type of atmosphere.

AAC667EE-93AC-4476-A7F5-11ADCCB8D90E

Afterwards, we went to a finger painting event in Lush. The kids had to smell a scent and then paint a picture based on the scent. They got to watch bath bombs dissolving and enjoyed making a mess.

There were some street performances. After that, we were all getting tired legs and we went back to the City Hall where they were making junk art with kids and dancing with pom poms and things. My kids described the day as wonderful and I thought it was too ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a budget for the day and managed to stick to it. I think some of the things that helped were taking the bus so I didnโ€™t have to pay for parking, bringing lunch, drinks and snacks and picking out mostly free events The only part of the day where we spent money was at the bazaar. I love looking out for free local events that provide artistic activities for my kids and educational things presented in a fun way.

3581E44B-12C1-4D9E-88BA-04CADDAA683B

Homemade Play Doh Recipe

This is such an easy recipe and you can customise it as you please ๐Ÿ™‚ My kids seem to play with it for longer than regular play doh. I think it is partly the novelty of getting such a large heap of dough instead of a few little pots.

Ingredients

1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 packet of cream of tartar (5g)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup salt

Method

Combine the dry ingredients and add to a pot. Add the wet ingredients and cook over a low heat, mixing continuously. Keep cooking it until it turns solid. What looks like a slight skin will start forming on it when it’s ready, but it will go away when you knead it. After it has formed one ball in the pot, I usually remove it and knead it for a few minutes to make sure it is the right consistency. If it is too runny add some more flour.

Ideas:

Separate the dough into bowls and add different food colourings to them/and/or glitter, sequins, etc.
Add lavender, cinnamon and nutmeg, oregano and rosemary, rose petals, fresh mint or any other herbs or scented oils you like.
Give your kids a baking tray so they can pretend to make cookies with it.
I save any disposable containers that are easy to clean and work as play cooking receptacles for the dough – eg, if i buy dough balls and they come in a tray with little holes to hold them, we save it as a muffin tin for play doh.
This is so easy to make and you can give it as a gift for kids if you wrap it in cellophane. I usually dispose of it after one use as it quickly goes mouldy since there are no preservatives in it.

b7c12c9f-c3bc-435d-9e24-e1da3b3bef70.png

Raspberry, Pineapple and Kale Smoothies

I should preface this by saying, in this smoothie, you can’t taste the kale. I can confirm based on the fact my children will drink it and one of them doesn’t like green vegetables; the other doesn’t like any vegetables. When my kids are asking for ice lollies constantly, it’s a good, healthy replacement. If you use lots of frozen fruit, it makes a slushy type of consistency that they can eat with a spoon. This recipe is more the consistency of juice. You can also freeze it in lolly moulds to make ice lollies.

Ingredients

1 frozen banana
handful of frozen raspberries
small handful of pineapple
handful of kale
apple/pineapple juice to just cover the fruit and veg.

Method

Add a frozen banana broken in two and a handful of frozen raspberries or other berries to the bottom of a blender. Place pineapple and kale on top and fill with juice until it just covers the ingredients. Blend until smooth.

A0EC178A-9770-4924-A999-59E3F54983BD