|INSPRIRATION|veg - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I love the river cottage series, I find Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's ethos really inspiring, I'd love to be self sufficient, trading those things that I can't provide for myself for things I have too much of.  That way of life is really appealing to me, particularly as a vegetarian as my animals wouldn't be eaten!

This is the latest book I have of his and although I've had it for 18 months I have only started to use it in the last month or so.  I've only recently found my cooking mojo after having Thomas I'm really enjoying cooking nice, healthy home cooked meals.  We are also trying to shop more locally and soon some of our garden produce will be ready to eat so I can see this book being pulled off of the bookshelf more and more!

I've only tried 2 recipes so far, DIY pot noodle and melazane parmigiana (aubergine parmesan bake).

Last month I made the DIY pot noodle for one of my lunches and last week I made the melazane parmigiana, this was awesome, I portion it up with the intention of putting it in the freezer for a nice and speedy meal but instead I ate it for lunch for 3 days!!

I appreciate that mine doesn't look particularly appealing but it was absolutely delicious ( I am aware that I need to work on my presentation and photography skills 😊)

See the other books I plan to share for my 'on my bookshelf' series here.

|FAMILY|summer bucket list 2013

One thing you will find on this blog is honesty, if an activity, menu or project just doesn't work out for whatever reason I will say!

This leads me to a confession, I've blogged in the past about my seasons activities and the big list.  My main goal Isidore us to enjoy 'family time' (as opposed to work & chore time) and make the most of every minute, I've tried to do this by setting tasks and activities with the seasons activities and the big list but something just isn't working.  I seem to be spending more time actually thinking about the tasks and stressing about when we'll fit them in so I can record/project life/blog about them than actually spending time with my family and doing the things that make the most out of our time together. 

So... I've made a decision I'm stopping the fads and trying to think of a way to reinvent the wheel and I'm jumping on the 'bucket list' bandwagon.  It's something that I've only come across recently and love the idea that we can all just add things to the list and if they are no achieved, so what??  I will probably keep our bucket lists seasonal as obviously there are things that we can't do out of season but I won't stress that everything has to be completed or that I need to create an album specifically to record that season. 

I'm sure that some of the things that are on our 'summer bucket list' can be transferred over to autumn or beyond or even adapted to make them more fun.  One example is that 12 yo Hayden would like to cook a BBQ for us in the summer, I think it might be fun for him to cook sausages in the autumn around bonfire night so I've set up a list in listmaster and have added it to that, when the time comes for autumns bucket list if he wants to do it - great, if not - no worries!

I feel so much more relaxed about our family activities now the pressure is off and I'm not beating myself up about not sticking to another project. I now see it as a learning curve and that I have learned to let go of the tight structure that I was trying to inforce on myself and moving on with a plan that is nice and relaxed.

I probably wont bore everyone and share everything here.  If an activity was a huge sucess and I think others could gain inspiration from it then I will document it and share our experience, but those won't be built into my blog schedule until after we've done it.

Our family focus for 2013 is 'fun' so that's the first thing on our priority list right now...

|FRIDAY FUN|toddler activity - coloured rice sensory box

I thought it was about time I introduced some sensory box play into our Friday fun activities. I have some large plastic containers and thought I'd make 2 similar boxes one red and one blue and encourage the little fella to put the right coloured objects into the right box.

Earlier in the week I'd bought a few things for our 'fun box' some crayons from the party bag section of the supermarket 49p and some Pom poms and foam smiley faces from the craft section £1.20 each.

Starting with the crayons, Pom poms and smaller smiley faces (which I'd stuck back to back) I placed small objects at the bottom of each box, some other small objects I used were; large buttons, beads, feathers and some ribbon.  I then poured on the rice, I coloured the rice with food colouring although I didn't use rubbing alcohol which most instructions on pinterest tell you to do, I also didn't leave mine to dry and it seemed absolutely fine overnight in a plastic bag.  

Another thing I'd bought for the fun box was a value shower curtain to use on the floor for messy play.   I let Thomas at the boxes, I COMPLETELY under-estimated how he would react!  At nursery he plays with sensory boxes all the time but this was the first time we had one at home, he grabbed handfuls of the rice, throwing it on the floor squealing with delight. I realised there and then that if I wanted to keep the red and blue rice separate I needed to let him play with one at a time!

I added in the larger objects and used another large container for Thomas to scoop up rice using a jelly mould and transfer from one to the other, he seemed to really enjoy that.  He was not in the slightest bit interested in the objects I'd put in other than the jelly 'scoop' and kept taking them out.  We played for a good hour and a half and Thomas would have carried on for longer but I wanted to clean up for dinner.

I was so thankful for the shower curtain, when we'd finished and I poured all the rice back into the box, this was all that had escaped (can't believe the dirt, I did sweep before we played - honest!)

This is definitely on our list of things to do again although I think I'd hold off on trying to incorporate colour matching for a while.

NOTE: Thomas is 17 months and very rarely puts anything in his mouth now, I wouldn't have used the smaller items or rice if he was still very oral.

|ORGANISING|organising our seeds

I usually store our seeds in the greenhouse or shed in an old chocolate tin. I always have problems, the tin rusts and rots or mice get in and eat them!  Generally I just throw them away and buy more the next year. This year I'm trying to be more frugal, and I realised what a waste this was!  I did buy some more seeds as they were being sold half price and I am determined that these will not end up having the same fate as my seeds of the past.

To try and protect my seeds this year, I've used plastic storage boxes for vegetables and a small metal tin for flowers.  I used envelopes to store the seeds in and discarded everything from the original packaging except for the sowing instructions.  I have ordered each pack in date order by month, some of the vegetables still need successional sowings over the summer so I've marked dates in my personal diary to remind me to sow.

I haven't decided yet if I will add monthly markers or if I will develop this process further.  I do know that although I've grown vegetables and flowers for 20 years my method is still very haphazard and I am very aware I could be far more successful if my plans were more effective. I seem to spend so much time over-planning that I run out of time to 'do', this is something I'm working on in all areas of my life.

These will be stored in the shed or garage.

On anther note, the first roses flowered this weekend, just in time to take a couple to Tony's plaque at the crem for Father's Day.

|FAMILY|toddler activity - coloured rice

I still had some out off date food colouring left. I knew I wanted to do some sensory bins for the little fella so I thought I would use rice and use up some of the colouring.

I put a basics bag of rice in a large plastic bag and poured the colouring in, I then closed the bag and threw, squished and played with the rice to try and get an even colouring. Not all of the rice got completely covered but there was certainly enough food colouring left to get a decent coverage, the hubs and little fella also had a go at shaking the bag, it almost became an activity in its own right!  I did 2 bags; blue and red I'll use this rice for sensory bins, find it game and for a collage with the little fella. I'm also on the lookout for other activities where I can use it.

In total each colour bag cost me 40p for the rice another great budget toddler activity. 

Do you use food colouring in your toddler activities?  I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

|LIFE BALANCE|where did those three weeks go?

Well I can't believe that three weeks have passed. I've had numerous posts planned but life just got in the way! Nothing specific,  just busy at work, 50 wedding invites to make, trying to get the little fella to sleep in his own bed, our anniversary, a few DIY projects round the house and my guilty pleasure springwatch!

I have realised though that my aim to have a weeks worth of posts drafted and scheduled would have helped!

Never mind, I'll be back tomorrow, no excuses just wanted to explain!

Happy Friday, have a lovely weekend filled with lots of good food & wine, friends, family and love.