A Plate or Tray
Glue or Epoxy
I have not got round to grouting mine yet but I think even without it is a beautiful try.
I had a lovely stainless steel serving tray that was severely scratched and a little chipped. The edges were surprisingly intact so I realised it would be perfect for a mosaic. Lacking in tiles (or brightly coloured ones) and refusing to make a paper mosaic I found myself staring at the old stack of CDs.
You Will Need:
A Plate or Tray
Glue or Epoxy
The hardest part of this, is cutting the CD's. The damn things just crack and shatter constantly so you have to be very careful. If you have newer CD's and DVD's you can fold them in half and they will separate into a clear plastic layer and a shiny layer. This shiny layer is 100x easier to cut so I did this with a few of the newer ones. Try to use a range of CD's, some are silvery, others purpley or blue. This will give the mosaic more depth. Make sure you cut plenty of shapes, thin triangles, squat triangles, small and large squares and rectangles. You will probably end up trimming some pieces just to make them fit anyway.
After you have a large pile of CD trimmings (and probably sore fingers and lots of rage) the fun part begins! Take your first piece and glue it to the centre. Then start to arrange other pieces around it, leaving a small gap between them. Take care not to use too much glue as you want to leave space for grout. Try to randomize the colours and shapes.
I have not got round to grouting mine yet but I think even without it is a beautiful try.
I like having parties for no excuse, and yet with the 20 month mark fast approaching I had not had a single kids party! Can you imagine? Partly it was fear that I couldn't keep a hoarde of children entertained (we've already established that D is a strange child, what is all the other kids find me boring??) Needless to say my worries were not grounded, kids love me and my silly games.
So here we have a simple game guaranteed to keep kids (tested on 1-6 year olds) amused for 30-60 mins. And even better, made with objects around the house - recycling at its best.
You Will Need:
Scissors / Scalpel
So here we have a Lollipop All in One nappy (AIO) which happens to be one of my favorite nappies. The only problem is that it is completely flat. Anything that's not a prefold or a terry shouldn't be flat. The elastic on each leg gusset and on the back has completely gone, meaning this nappy is like a colander. However this can be fixed, easily in fact. In less than half an hour and with a needle and thread.
You will need:
Needle and Thread
1 cm or thinner elastic (1 foot will easily do one nappy)
Something long and thin (crotchet hook or skewer)
First locate the gusset, and find the very edge of the seam on both sides. About one centimeter from the edge (where it connects to the rest of the nappy) make a horizontal cut. Imagine the seam as a tube and you are making a cut into it, to get inside. Be careful not to cut into the stitches on either side, or to cut straight through.
Take your thin, pointy thing (I used a size 3 crotchet hook but a kebab skewer or knitting needle would work great) and push it through the first hole. Pass the stick the entire length on the seam until it comes out the second hole.
Take a little piece of tape and stick the end of your elastic to the stick. Pull the stick out of the seam, threading the elastic through the hole in the process. Remove tape. You should now have the new elastic threaded through the gusset.
Some nappies will have this style of knicker elastic already in them. With this method it is fine to ignore it and just insert your new elastic. However, nappies like Lollipop, particularly some of the older ones have a very small elastic thread which is stitched into the seam, so the typical methods of removing or tightening elastic will not work.
Pull the long end of the elastic so that only 1-2 centimeters are visible. Thread the needle and push through the bottom of the elastic and through the top layer of the gusset.
Repeat this several times, attaching the elastic to the top layer of the gusset. This ensures you will not accidentally puncture the PUL. Tuck the spare end of the elastic into the opposite end of the hole. Stitch the hole together. This can be messy as no one will see. You can see my war wound here where I accidentally stabbed myself.
Below you can see the new elasticated gusset (top) and the old flat one (bottom) you can see already that the new elastic is pulling the nappy into the shape it should be and it no longer lies flat.
We repeated the above steps and here we have two fully elasticated gussets. After finishing the second one, I realized I had done the first one looser than I wanted. If this is the case you can make a second cut into the seam, 1 cm inwards and pull the elastic out until correct tension is achieved. Then stitch the elastic to top later and tuck the remaining into opposite side.
Lastly the back of the nappy had lost its elastic. Here you have to feel for the edge of the previous elastic, it will feel like a small bump usually an inch or two from the fastenings. Make two cuts in the same manner as on the gusset, although take care not to cut right round or your cut will be visible from the outside. Thread the elastic through. Stitch as with the gussets (I tried to keep the stitches a bit neater here).
So now for the finished product! On the right we have the original, nappy with dead elastic. On the left we have the brand new elastic!
Now this old nappy will never win a beauty contest, but it works wonders for night times and it really would have been a shame to bin it. The whole idea of cloth nappies is to be ecologically friendly, so I think everyone should give repairing elastic a go, its easier than you think! I have a few more nappies to fix so if you want a video or skype to show you the ins and outs drop me a message, and if not, post me your nappies with a paid postage bag, I'll fix em up and post them back!
When I found out I was pregnant, my legs weren't as bad as they are now. But I knew that I would have a problem with the weight and maneuverability of most prams on the market. I cannot push a shopping trolley because the twisting action (on the knee) of pushing it round corners can pull my knee out of position. I drew up a list of what I needed:
After researching thoroughly I came across the Hauck Viper. And at £130 in most retailers (Tesco, Argos, etc) it was a steal of a price, anyone who has looked at Oysters and iCandys can see why a budget of £200 for a pram might seem restrictive! However a little internet browsing gives us £109.99 in Boots (also handy if you have any double point vouchers!). It is also available at Isme, Littlewoods, K&Co, Very & Woolworths in their catalogues, which is handy if you are short of funds because you can buy on credit (usually no interest for 3 - 12 months).
It seemed to tick all the boxes. Weighing in at 9kg; it had large, front swivel wheels (the three wheel set up was a bonus!) with excellent suspension, meaning that the pram is light, responsive and very easy to push, even up pavements.
It folds by pressing two buttons - one on each side of the central toddler handle - and the pram flops flat. The only downside I can see with this pram is it can be awkward to do this as you need to reach across the pram and sometimes it doesn't behave it self as it folds. A key feature is that you need to make sure you return the seat to the flat position before folding it (as this will rip the seat if done repeatedly!). I did not read the manual so was not aware of this, and even though the fault was mine, customer services sent out a new seat over a year after I purchased the pram, asking for no proof of purchase etc. Excellent.
The storage is generous and has a flap in the basket for easy removal of objects if the pram is in the reclined position. However if the basked is fully loaded this flap can pop open so it pays to be aware of small objects. I solved this by placing a bag for life in the basket and had no problems since. There is a small pocket on the back of the canopy. The canopy has three settings: closed, partial and full cover. In the picture above it is partial, it extends further to offer more cover and will keep baby in shade in almost all positions.
The foot brake is a bar between the two back wheels. It is very easy to push on and off (even with my delicate legs) and has never failed. The handle is large and can be adjusted to the parents height with a simple click button on each side. The handle is firm and can easily take weight of the parent - I put my full weight on the pram when pushing to ease the pressure on my legs.
Here you can see how the pram has not skipped a beat, from when my son was 6 days old, to 16 months. He is now nearly 2 and it is still as great as the day I bought it. I am almost dissapointed that the pram is perfect after two years constant use, because I wanted to buy the Viper set for my next child (pictured below).
I like how adjustable the pram is, almost every part can be moved to allow for a better fit. The large toddler bar across the middle cannot be removed, however when used with a coseytoe, the divider can be undone. The bar is covered in foam and is very soft. It is also resistant to teething children. I also like the 5 point harness which can be used as a three point harness (useful for stubborn toddlers who want to lean forward!)
Now, as much as I desired the travel system when I was pregnant, it was slightly out of my budget. At £225 on Amazon it was just over budget, and as I had already bought a Recaro 0+ Young Profi Plus car seat (at LSP's insistance; because Recaro are one of his favorite manufacturers and they are renowned for safety) I couldn't justify buying another one as part of the set.
Looking back it would have been so much easier to use an integrated car seat, the amount of times I woke a cranky baby transferring from pram to car seat. At one point I resorted to balancing the car seat on the pram, which worked considerably well but was definitely not the safest option.
Using Pricespy (a handy tool to check prices across hundreds of online stores) I've managed to find it for less than £200 so I will definitely be purchasing one for my next baby. Probably in Red, although there is a cute Winnie the Poo pattern. I would like to see more patterns like some of the Maxi Cosi prams etc, but I have accepted that form trumps function and would never buy a pretty pram over one that is as great at this. After all I can always dress it up with a pram blanket.
After buying the pram and being thoroughly impressed by it, I began to realize that Hauck is a under appreciated brand in the baby care world. Following my rave reviews my SIL bought a Hauck Malibu after having problems with her Mothercare pram and was similarly impressed. I went on to buy several more Hauck products which I will get round to writing reviews for. Including the Beta+ Wooden High Chair, the Dream and Play Travel Cot, the Squeeze Handle Safety Gate and the Racer Play Centre.
If you're like me, nothing is better than a hoodie. Its the perfect throw on layer when you're running about in and around the house. One of the few women's clothes with copious pockets and is not restrictive.
The problem is; in a big, baggy hoodie you tend to look . . . big and baggy. Particularly if like me you have large boobage, you get the boob-curtain effect, where the clothes hang off the boobs straight down and make the wearer look fat. A baggy hoodie rather than looking sporty says, cant be arsed wearing real clothes today. So I went on a mission to trim all my baggy hoodies into a more slim fit, sporty style.
As you can see, I didn't want to loose too much of the loose, comfy fit but did want a more feminine silhouette.
You Will Need:
Similar Colour Thread
Here's my super easy template for trimming hoodies. Firstly measure your waist (the central blue line in the picture). You will want to add 2-3 inches to your waist measurement to allow for layers. Take note of this. The red lines are where you will cut. I have put the measurements for myself in brackets to make it easier to understand.
No this isn't one of those scam posts that you see on the side of webpages, this is not an anti-wrinkle secret that your doctor doesn't want you to know.
Resistant starches. Are the key here. Now its really not as complicated as it sounds.
Most people know by now, that white pasta is not the healthiest of foods. Perhaps you look at the lonely bag of wholegrain pasta in the cupboard with guilt every time you cook dinner.
White pasta, because it is highly processed, breaks down into simple sugars very quickly in the gut, in much the same way that white bread does. Because of these simple sugars, your blood sugar and insulin will spike and then quickly drop. And when it drops you are likely to feel tired, grumpy, hungry and craving for more simple sugars.
So even though you are throwing in large handfuls of veggies and lean protein to help fight this sugar slump, all their appetite and insulin curbing powers are reduced.
However, what if I told you that a few simple steps were all it took to increase the fibre content of your white pasta, meaning it is almost as wholesome as wholegrain - without loosing its taste?
Recent research suggests that cooking the pasta and then cooling it, transforms its starches into resistant starches. These resistant starches are harder to digest, meaning it has some of the benefits of soluble & insoluble fibre, including:
- increases feeling of fullness
- decreases blood pressure
- lowers LDL cholesterol
- decreases chance of diabetes
- decreases chance of intestinal cancers
- decreases chance of constipation
I've found this method, while not only making your pasta dishes healthier also helps you save time!
Bring a pan to the boil and measure out your pasta. Now portion control is THE key to maintaining a healthy weight so all the lovely benefits of this pasta will be lost if you crack on like your getting your monies worth at an all you can eat!
One cup of pasta is an ideal measure for an adult. Now my appetite is a little smaller than average, and LSP's is a bit bigger, so two cups work perfectly for us, because he gets the extra from my measure.
Boil the pasta until fully cooked. Throw into a colander and run under cold water. OR if you are on a water meter, empty the cooked water and refill the pan of pasta with cold.
Once cold, place the pasta in a bowl, if you are serving cold you can either add your sauce now, or add a few drops of water to keep it moist. Cover with film and refrigerate. If you are serving hot, simply cover and reheat in boiling water or in sauce. Because your pasta is safely tucked into the fridge, it is either ready to eat or edible after a few minutes heating so it can save you so much time if youve just got in from work and cannot be bothered moving!
Health properties of Resistant Starches
Read this article from today's dietician
- Nugent A.P. (2005). "Health properties of resistant starch, British Nutrition Foundation". Nutrition Bulletin30 (1): 27–54.
- World Health Organization, Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation "Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases" 2003, WHO Technical Report Series 916.
This cake is rather famous in my house, it has a long lineage, coming from D's great grandmother. The paper copy I have is written on the back of a train-spotters typewriter copy of train times for December 1996
This sponge is rather different to the usual, you don't cream the fat and the sugar together. Shock horror!
Preheat oven to 200 / 400 / Gas Mark 6
9 oz Caster Sugar
4 oz Butter
1/4 Pint Milk
7 oz Self Raising Flour
Whisk the eggs and 8 oz of sugar together, until pale and creamy. When the beaters leave a trail it is ready.
Next pour the milk and butter into a pan and bring to the boil. Or you can use a microwave.
Pour the boiling milk mixture into the eggs and sugar. Yes you heard me, INTO THE EGGS. Do not fear, you will not end up with a horrid scrambled egg cake. Think meringues? The sugar stops the egg from turning out like scrambled egg. In my head I call it a egg base sponge, because I categorise sponges by the first ingredient, the majority being fat sponges.
Sieve the flour into the mixture. Now I am not a big advocate of sieving because I am lazy and most fats cakes do fine without it. But in this case, sieving is essential.
Fold the flour in carefully, and mind this will appear a very runny mixture. Resist the urge to add extra flour, but a spoon or two will make little difference if it makes you happy.
The cake mixture should now resemble a thick pancake batter.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined tin and arrange the apple on top in a circular pattern. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top.
Bake for around 30 minutes, although this cake can be a little sensitive, and can take up to 60 minutes to be fully cooked. Test every 5-10 minutes after the first 30 have passed. The cake will be largely domed, and because of the high moisture mix, getting a flat cake will be nigh impossible.
While this cake is nice cool, its best served hot and with custard.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake for friend of the family.
The green seems a little washed out on this photo, it was more toxic green irl.
And I can honestly say the brick effect icing did not drive me to madness and i'd love to use it again.
I have to offer a big thank you to Asia over at Fun At Home With The Kids. She invented this recipe in her endless quest for easy, fun, creative activities for parents to do with kids - which is preaching to my choir!
I love nothing more than getting messy with my little monster, watching him learn and experiment with paints really inspires me and I hope he gets as much pleasure embracing his creative side as I do.
So, No Bake, Edible, Gluten Free Playdough.
Playdough is awkward at the best of times, and D shares my problem of wanting to shove everything he sees in his mouth (even if its only once). This recipe is sooo much easier to make and tastes nice compared to the salty home made playdough we're used to.
1 cup Baby Rice Cereal (ground rice)
3 tbs Vegetable oil
1 cup Cornflour (gluten free if you need it)
1/2 cup Fruit Purée or Juice
Asia's recipe called for apple juice or water, but ive found that any fruit purée works, and a juice works better than water in that it tastes nicer. I use the little pots of baby fruit mush if I'm feeling lazy.
Combine the dry ingredients, making sure they are well mixed. Then add the vegetable oil and purée / juice. Mix enthusiastically for several minutes. If mixture appears too sticky add a sprinkle of Baby Rice and mix again. If mix is crumbly, lightly wet hands under the tap and continue working dough, this will lightly moisten it. Repeat until dough is that typically playdough texture.
This mix will keep for approx 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, although please bin if it gets all yucky from a trip rolling round the floor or is mouthed (you dont know what germy things you could accidentally grow!)
So after seeing the Ikea Kura bed I was struck with inspiration. As a child I longed for a canopy bed or even anything other than the boring bed I used to have. D's room is woodland theme so I though having a forest / tree house styles one.
The thing I loved most about the Kura is that it is convertable. It would last D through toddler hood into (hopefully) his tweens. In its canopy position the bed is very low so suitable as a first bed and as the cabin bed it is just too cool!!
A full canopy made from a two pairs green voile curtains, coming in at £12. The bed frame itself was painted using a grey-green emulsion (lots of our storage is bright green so wanted to tone it down) coming in at £9 a pot. The panels of the bed were covered in PVA and had feature wallpaper applied. It took me forever to decide whether to pick wood paneling wallpaper or the logs and I'm still not 100% with my decision but the great thing is, I can re-wallpaper it whenever I fancy! The wallpaper was a whopping £14 a roll but plenty to spare (hoarded for later).
I then made a little bunting with fabric scraps to act as tie-backs. I used a curtain wire kit (£1 from poundland!) for the curtains on the side of the bed, while the canopy was looped over the wood frame itself. I already had lots of woodland theme little blankies but needed new covers for my single duvet and pillows. Very had an offer for these stripey ones at £10 for a twin-pack (excellent for the toilet training I imagine!). I'm currently eyeing up the bring green fitted sheets in ikea as the plain white ones are boring.
And the biggest bargain? The bed itself was second hand. £20!
Grand total? £66.
Well worth it in my opinion. I cant wait until D is old enough to rotate the bed into its cabin bed position. Then I will leave the voile curtains on the bottom to create a Den (possible with some felt leaves on ribbon streamers?). I'm also liking the idea of cladding the top of the bed with real wood to make a treehouse - and possibly a slide. I also love the idea of glueing real branches to it with felt leaves and little birds. Too far?
Quailpower has worked as a Chef, Baker, Manager and is a classically trained Fine Artist. Currently battling with disability which has left her with reduced mobility. Unperturbed she carries on turning her hand to every skill she can get hold of, juggling being a new mum and soon to be attempting a degree in microbiology.