|DADDY TIME|karlos valderama's 5 last Pinterest pins, April

I love having a look at the random things the hubs pins in pinteret to put together this post for the end of the month. I love how sometimes (last month) the pins are so predicable, yet this month I never would have guessed these were his latest pins.  I approve of them all I'd like to point out!

NOTE: doesn't link directly to this picture!

NOTE: Link no longer there.  Great idea for our (his) ever increasing bottletop mountain!


Going to hold him to this one, he'll be doing this with T at christmas!

Well that's it for a look inside the mind of my hubs for another month!! 

|ORGANISE|ready mixed paint storage

Do you use ready mix paint with your little ones for their painting activities?  I do, but I do get a little frustrated bringing out the big bottles each time, then pouring some out onto a dish and washing quite a lot away after T's finished.

T and I did some painting this weekend, instead of pouring some paint onto a plastic dish I found some small square plastic containers that I'd bought at poundland (for the record - fast becoming my favourite shop!) these proved to be perfect for storing a small amount of paint and the small size means I can store all the large bottles out of the way and just keep our paint 'pots' handy. The lids proved to be a very good rest for the paint brushes too.

I'm so pleased that I looked in my 'tuppaware' cupboard for something to use as our paint is all nicely organised... now I've just got to find somewhere out of 'Ts reach to keep them!

I love finding little storage solutions, hope that this is useful Lx

Mami 2 Five

|REVIEW|avon childrens bath paint

I'm always on the look out for activities to do in the bath or out in the paddling pool in the summer, primarily because I don't like too much mess and I love that bath play can be slightly messy and I don't get anxious about it.  I don't often buy things from Avon as I prefer to buy more natural and cruelty free products but when I saw these bath paints I thought I'd get them for part of T's Easter gift.

I bought these bath paints at £1.50 each, but they are now down to £1.25 on the Avon website if you are interested. 

We started off by drawing 'tattoos' on T!  He has very sensitive skin but these paints didn't affect him at all, the colours are really deep and not at all wishy washy.  My only (slight) criticism was that I really struggled to squeeze out the paint, there's no way T could do it, which in all honesty wasn't a bad thing but I do think that this could lead to frustration after a few uses.

I then gave the paints a bit of a tile test, again the colours were bright and they smell fresh and fruity, it was difficult drawing with the bottle though. The green T above was actually drawn on a wet tile and as you can see the paint stuck really well, even after 5 minutes there werent too many more drips than were there initially.

Then the moment of truth came... would the bath paint stain the grout?  I always get a little nervous at this time because although it's only grout and can easily be refreshed it would be a pain in the backside to have to do it!   I'm really pleased to say that clean-up was a breeze, even though when we wanted it to stick, it did, when we wanted to wash it away, it came off effortlessly. Even T managed to clean the titles within minutes with no trace of the paint at all.

Overall I've been really pleased with this product and will definitely buy again and as you can imagine they were a huge hit my 2 year old T, we'd both highly recommend these.

I should point out that I have received no financial reward for this review, all opinions are my own and I am in no way affiliated to Avon.

Well, only 4 more sleeps for me before a nice long weekend!! Enjoy your week, hope you have lots planned going into May! Lx

|FAMILY|friday fun - St Geroge & Dragon finger puppets

23 March marked St Georges Day, one way I thought a nice way to celebrate our national day would be to play with finger puppets.
I've had an old pack of foam finger puppets from ELC (no longer available) to make for about 8 years, I originally bought them to make with Hayden (who's now 13!) so I've adapted these to make St George and the dragon.
I used prince charming as St George, losing his crown and creating a new St George's flag shield and I used the unicorn as a template to make a dragon from green creative foam.
I've created a downloadable template if you'd like to make a Knight and Dragon or even adapt to make any other finger puppets, I'm already wracking my brains to think of other puppets I can make from these basic templates.  If you'd like to use it, you can find it here.

All you've got to do is cut out on the relevant coloured foam and draw in the details.

I used heavy duty double sided sticky tape to fix together and after 3 days it's still holding together well.  I had everything cut out, coloured with sharpies and with the sticky tape on when I showed T, he then removed the backing from the sticky tape and we stuck them together between us.

We have had lots of fun with these finger puppets, T is now getting to the age where he is starting to put on voices for his characters and was making growling noises for the dragon, we didn't 'slay' our dragon we just asked him nicely to stop breathing fire on our village!  I'd just rather T's activities did not centre around any form of animal cruelty, some might think this is a bit weird but it's just how I personally feel.

We had a lovely time making and playing with his new puppets, in fact, he is at present playing with them again with his brother!

I hope that your St George's Day was good and that you have lots planned for this weekend. Lx

|COOK|quick and easy appetisers

This past Sunday we hosed easter lunch for the hubs family. Generally, if we are having a roast dinner, we don't usually have a starter but as we had guests I thought I'd better make an effort. 

When I cook a meal like this, it's planned to military precision and so if I say it's going to be on the table at 3.30pm, it's served pretty much within 10 mins (unless I have a major crisis eg no electricity or oven malfunction!). There's no secret to this, it's simple planning and executing that plan. I'm putting together a blog post on that subject which should be ready next week, now back to the starters.
Just for a plan B I like to have a back-up to save stress on the day and if dinner was half an hour late then my guests wouldn't be starving and my stress levels wouldn't be soaring!!
For this lunch I wanted a few canapés I could serve as an appitizer/starter but I wanted quick and simple but impressive as the hubs brother is a bit of a foodie. 

Caprese bruschetta
12 thin slices of french stick (I used tiger loaf stick)
2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
60g mozzarella pearls, cut in half
1tbsp pesto sauce (try and get some of the oil too)
1. Mix the diced tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto and put to one side (I did this about 5 hours in advance)
2. Lightly toast the  bread slices in a hot oven for 10 mins or until lightly golden.
3. Just before serving pile the bread with tomato mixture.
Parma ham crostini
 Box of crostini (I used olive crostini)
1 pack Parma ham
3 tbsp Creme fraiche
1 dsp pesto
1. Wrap ham around breadsticks about 1 hour before serving (the ham will go dry if done too far in advance)
2. Mix creme fraiche and pesto in asmall bowl and put to one side

Mini roast beef and horseradish Yorkshire puddings
Makes 24
1 egg
38g Plain flour
95ml Milk
Sunflower oil
2 slices rare beef
1 1/2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 1/2 tbsp ready prepared horseradish sauce
The yorkshires can be made in advance (I made mine 2 hours before needed) 1. Pour sunflower oil halfway up each cup of a mini muffin tin, place in a hot oven for 10mins.
 2. Meanwhile mix batter well, once oil is smoking, pour a tiny amount of batter into each cup.
3. Put in oven for 10mins (my oven is fan assisted and was on at 190oC)
4. The Yorkshire puddings should start to rise, some maybe a little bigger than others, place on kitchen paper to mop up the oil.
5. Mix the horseradish and creme fraiche together, put to one side.
6. Just before serving, put half a spoon on horseradish cream onto the Yorkshire and top with beef.
For a printer friendly version of these recipes click here
There you go, 3 nice and quick but impressive canapés, ours went down a treat. I'll certainly be making these again, maybe even for a light supper if we have friends round for drinks.
Hope you are having an enjoyable day, St George's activity planned for tomorrow.
See you soon Lx

|ORGANISE|planner form - freebies and offers waiting list

Things still haven't quite got back to normal for us here, this blooming flu bug is still lingering but we're trying our best to carry on regardless.  This Easter weekend we had a jam packed one planned but sadly something had to give and so we ended up cancelling everything but our Easter lunch yesterday, the good thing is that we are both feeling better because of it.

This lack of energy has had one up-side and it has meant I've been able to spend some time keeping on top of the blogs I follow and do a spot of planning.

One blog I always follow these days is 3princessesand1dude.blogspot.co.uk, Becky is incredibly witty and has a wonderful way of portraying parenthood in a hilarious manner, if you've not yet visited I'd highly recommend heading over there for a giggle!  One thing Becky has started to do, is to collate lots of freebies and offers she finds over the web, I've signed up to many of these offers and others I've found on the web.

Most of the time I forget that I've signed-up for freebies and I'm sure half of them never turn up!   Last week, after signing up for the lastest offers posted at 3princessesand1dude I decided I'd create a little form to record the offers and freebies I signed up for so that I can track when (if) I receive them.

I've uploaded a copy of my freebies and offers waiting list to my google.docs account in case you find it useful, it is A4 sized but I use it in my A5 planner (as shown in the picture!) click here if you'd like a copy.

Sadly the bank holiday weekend is almost over, I hope yours has been a good one and you are not too full up on Easter eggs x

|CREATE|easter mantle

This year I wanted a bit of a change for our Easter mantle, I decided a while ago that I wasn't going to use the twig 'tree' I used last year that hubs made me a few years ago and that I wanted our eggs piled in a vase.  This particular vase already had ribbon attached to it from another project so, just a bit of Easter ribbon round the top and I was good to go!

Rather than risking another accident with my gorgeous glass eggs, I put the blue ones on the candlesticks and threaded the lone pink one onto ribbon and hung that up, I'm not sure yet what I'll do with the green ones!

I put a small china brooch that my grandma gave me, onto some moss in a pretty china teacup, I love it and this will stay all spring.

The ceramic rabbits are back and the bunny plate is back, but this year I've put the blown quails eggs in a pressed glass jug for something a bit different.

I made a little garland with the fork pom-poms I made last month, I'd have liked more colours but I ran out of wool and time, so just went with what I had, I do hope to add more colours and re-do the garland soon.  My little flower led lights finished it all off nicely and make it all look pretty!

A lot of this mantle will stay after Easter and into spring, I love the simplicity so much.

Glad it's the end of the working week, hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather Lx 

|CREATE|spring led lights up-do

I needed a little something extra to go with my pom-pom garland on my Easter mantle.  I love fairy lights, and have many sets hanging around the house to bung up at a moments notice or put in a vase or glass on the dinner table, I wish they were all that lovely warm glow colour but sadly most of them are the bright blue/white colour. Anyway I digress, (note to self: search for new lights!!)

I wanted to put the lights on the mantle but as a string - not actually in anything and had the idea of adding some of the paper flowers I have hanging around in my craft stash.

The flowers I have, already have holes in, so it was just a case of poking each little bulb through, this took no longer than 10 minutes.

Really, this little project couldn't have gone any better, it was so simple and I absolutely LOVE the finished result.

Have you decorated for spring?  I love to decorate my mantle with the seasons and these lights will definitely be up all spring.  My full mantle display will be in tomorrow's blog post.

We're halfway through the week folks, the long weekend is in sight! Lx

|FAMILY| seed 'bombing' for the centenary poppy campaign

As one of our spring staycation activities, I wanted us to sow some seeds as a family for the British Legion's centenary poppy campaign.

We purchased our poppies from B&Q at £2 each, £1 from each pack going towards the British Legion.    

One of the roads leading out of our village is a bloom with daffodils at this time of year, this all started with one person planting some daffs years ago and has spread from there, I decided that I wanted to plant our poppies on the side of the road, I was going to create 'real' seed bombs but after reading the instructions which said that the soil really needs to be tilled and loosened I thought I was pushing my luck by doing a seed bomb!

So I decided we'd just park the car up and sprinkle the seeds, hoping that a few will come up a little later in the year and remind us of the 100th year anniversary of the start of WW1.

I hope that T will remember this in years to come if we are fortunate enough for the seeds to take and come up and I'll be really chuffed if they come up year after year.  I'm now going to go back to B&Q and get some more to plant in the garden 'properly'.

If our poppies come up I'll do a follow-up post showing how lovely they look.

Have a fabulous week in the run-up to a lovely long Easter weekend Lx.

|COOK|chicken nachos

This is one of the hubs favourite meals, it's not particularly healthy but it's quick, easy and scrumptious, I serve my veggie version without the chicken and with guacamole or avocado.

I keep this even simpler by using my storecupboard salsa and having a supply of the Mexican chicken in the freezer. 

Serves 2
1 bag tortilla chips
2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
Grated cheese
Soured cream

To make the Mexican chicken I sprinkle cooked chicken with 2 tbsp my fajita spice mix and a tbsp of olive oil, here I've used the breast from a whole chicken but you could use fresh chicken breasts, cooking them through first. 

Once the chicken is cooked, put a layer of tortilla's on a microwaveable plate, top with chicken, sprinkle with cheese and microwave until cheese has melted (800 watt 1 min) then add salsa and soured cream. And that's it!!!

Hope you are having a good week. Lx

|CREATE|'us' canvas art

We are slowly but surely filling our home with lots of homemade art or photo's in up-cycled picture frames.  We realised when we decided we wanted more pictures on the walls that we were going to have to be a bit creative and keep the costs down.

This small canvas is something that's been a long time in the thinking because I haven't been able to find the letters (that were in my head!) that I wanted to complete this project.  In the end I've compromised and whilst it's not 100% how I envisaged it, I am pleased with the results, although the photo's don't do it justice.

Materials used:
U & S papier mache letters from hobbycraft
blank canvas from dunelm
pearlised paint from hobbycraft

Using mog podge I attached the letters to the canvas, once it dried I painted the canvas with the paint and that really was it.

The wall that we have hung this on is eventually going to be a family wall on our stairs, we've painted it pavilion grey by farrow & ball.

Are you trying to fill your house with art without spending a fortune?  If so I'd love to see/hear what you've done. Lx

|FAMILY|spring bucket list - Easter play date

This Saturday we hosted an Easter play date for my niece and nephew, because I've been ill and the hubs is still hobbling we didn't quite go all out as we did for our valentines and Halloween play dates, but we still all had a great time.

We did 3 activities, and my fabulous sister put together some amazing Easter basket goodie bags which we used as the treasure hunt prizes!

First off we made Easter cards using some Easter foam stickers from hobbycraft, this saved lots of mess and proved to be quite a good, clean and easy activity.  As always M (girl aged 4) could have sat sticking all day but both boys (my T aged 2.3 & J aged 3.8) were bored after searching through, finding a few stickers and sticking them on, my sister stretched this activity with them by making them search for their initials in the letter stickers, which entertained them for about another 5 mins!!!!

Then the hubs made Easter egg pizzas with them using Easter egg shaped tortillas that I'd cut out, I really wish I'd have got more photos but I just didn't think to be honest, I'm blaming this still lingering post viral virus thingy!

Once lunch was over, they started asking for dessert - no surprises there as I usually have something for them, I told them that they had to do a treasure hunt to find Easter eggs hidden round the house and explained that there was a 'clue' with each egg, I set out 8 clues in all, round our small house to be honest the older 2 could quite easily have done more, they weren't really ready for the hunt to end until they were given their Easter baskets full of sweets and gifts.

I purchased the gotrovo mini treasure hunt kit from created4kids.com I cannot praise this product and the company enough and used the picture cards for this treasure hunt, I love how it can be used time and time again and can't wait to use the different stages as T grows up. It was also super simple to set-up and clear away.

This is the first activity to cross off of our spring bucket list.

NOTE: I have, received no payment or freebies in return for this endorsement. When I find a product that really think is worth shouting about I like to share that information, that's all!

Have a lovely day, Lx.

|COOK|storecupboard salsa

I'm not even sure if this could be classed as 'salsa' but it's what I use for whenever we have salsa!!! 

1 tin tomatoes, (I generally use value ones but higher quality ones are better)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tbsp lime juice (I use 'jif' if I don't have fresh)
1 tbsp frozen coriander
1 tsp dried chilli's

1. Drain tomatoes in a sieve, get rid of as much liquid as possible.
2. Mix together, drained tomatoes, lime juice, onion, coriander and chilli, leave for about 2 hours preferably for flavours to infuse, but can be served immediately.

Enjoy a relaxing Sunday, Lx.

|FAMILY|friday fun - hot cross bun play dough

I wanted to make easter play dough for T, as he's too young to understand the true meaning of easter, I thought that creating a hot cross bun play dough would be a nice way to acknowledge the religous aspect of Easter.  Leaving the pastels for our other seasonal celebrations which are geared more towards the commercial side of easter.

The recipe I use for play dough is here from @punquin on Instagram. I used this recipe for our glittery valentine play dough and it worked out great so I just used the same again, although I only used half the ingredients which produced 440g, a decent amount for 2 children.

The measurements I used were:-
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
Zest from 1 lemon

Mix the dry ingredients and spices together, then add the water, oil and lemon zest. Heat on the hob, stirring until it starts to form the familiar play dough texture. Remove from heat and tip onto a board, when cooled (just a couple of minutes) knead until smooth, keep covered in cling film when not in use.

@punquin has a great picture showing the different stages, I'd highly recommend looking at this before attempting to make the play dough.

I purposely wanted to keep this invitation to play quite natural and so have offered it with beans, cloves and spaghetti in a wooden box, I'm sure that it will be just as appealing as the brightly coloured set-ups that I usually give T.

Have fun this friday and enjoy the weekend. Lx

|COOK|fajita spice mix

Just a nice simple spice mix for you today.

Equal parts -
Dried chives
Garlic salt
Chili flakes

I use 2 tbsp of each then store it in an old spice jar.  I generally use about 1/2 tbsp of mix per person for mince and if making fajitas using chicken breast 1 would use 4tbsp instead of one of the packet mixes.

Use in place of fajita packets or sauces.  I'm using some this week to make some Mexican chicken for the freezer, to make chicken nachos - recipes for both will be up in the next couple of weeks.

There you have it, why not raid the spice rack and make some fajita mix to add to tonight's chicken???  If you do, please let me know what you think.

Enjoy your day. Lx