|COOK|meal plan Monday - 30 June

Pretty much stuck to plan last week, the hubs is away for 2 nights this week so going freezer diving again!

My veggie versions in brackets if different! Italics indicate something from the freezer.

Monday - pizza (veggie chilli)
Tuesday - chip night, hubs home too.
Wednesday - nut cutlet, mash & brocolli
Thursday - pesto tortilini
Friday - Chicken curry & rice (mushroom curry)
Saturday - meatball sub casserole (quorn veggie version)
Sunday - chicken kiev, smashed potatoes & lemon and honey carrots recipe coming next week!

This post will be linked to Meal Plan Monday at athomewithmrsm.blogspot.com a lovely little community of homemakers and a fabulous resource for meal ideas.

|FUN|frozen water beads

So far we've been quite lucky with the weather in the UK this summer, we've had some lovely hot days and have even had the padding pool out a couple of times in the evenings.  I wanted a new ice activity for T and as a shelf in our freezer is currently empty, I thought I take the opportunity to use it to freeze water beads.

I started by making some water beads up as per the instructions.

I then spread them out of a tray and froze overnight.

When I took them out of the freezer they had slightly fused together, it only took a couple of minutes to break them apart (below) once they were separated I popped them in a plastic bag and refroze until we were ready to use.

Sadly the weather turned when we were ready to use them but we still got them out to play with, we gave the bag a good bang on the worktop and like magic all the beads were separated I was actually amazed by this!!

I put the frozen water beads in a stainless steel bowl for T to play with. They remained frozen for a good couple of hours and although defrosted obviously didn't melt.

Freezing water beads puts a new spin on water bead play and also is a good new ice play idea, we'll definitely be doing this again when the warm weather returns.

NOTE: water beads are not designed for child's play so make sure your children are past the mouthing stage before using.  The clear water beads did look just like ice, so to avoid any accidents or confusion it would be better to use coloured water beads, clear water beads can be coloured by adding food colouring to the water when soaking.
This post is linked up to Link & Learn from No time for flash cards.

Football and World Cup month round-up

So here's goodbye to our Football and World Cup theme month.

We loved spending time learning about flags, talking about pickles the dog finding the missing World Cup in 1966, doing some football activities from our activity pack and eating football themed food.

We've also enjoyed some toddler football training that daddy did, playing football at the park, collecting World Cup panini stickers, shaking our caxirola's, blowing Brazilian trumpets, face painting the St Georges cross and reading some football themed books.  Phew! It's been a busy one!

All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.

Good luck if your team made it through to the next round, Lx 

|COOK|fun food friday - winners dinner

This is the last of our football themed lunches and I'm happy to bring this one to a close ;) it's been hard as trying to find football bento accessories has been impossible so I've had to try and think outside the box a bit.  I'm also ready to move onto a new theme, although as the World Cup continues to 13 July, all of our football and World Cup activities and lunches are still current.

Not a particularly difficult lunch, T loved it, he loved dipping his veggies into the trophy from his sensory box! Half a small jacket potato with cheese topped it off. I added a cake decoration footballer, something I actually already had from either The Hubs or H's birthday one time and some cake decoration football boots. 

To make the boots into little picks I made a hole using a drawing pin and inserted a cocktail stick, then cut it down, simple as that.

Not really a lot to say about the things I used so I'll keep this short and sweet!

All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas. here for a while now, so there's loads of ideas.

Have a great day Lx

|CREATE|child's tattoo sleeve t-shirt DIY

Any one following me on insagram my have seen that I was trying to get a tattoo sleeve t-shirt for T, there are some lovely ones about and reasonably priced but the delivery from the USA was extortionate, just over £30.00. I don't mind paying that for quality but not for delivery charges which are more than the actual product. Moan over!

I decided to make own!  After a little time on eBay I ended up buying a fruit of the loom t-shirt for £2.00 and some tattoo sleeves from china £3.50 both with free delivery. 

I guess at this stage I should point out that I in no way condone tattoo's for minors and like most of you I'm sickened by the images on Facebook and in the papers of these idiots tattooing toddlers and small children. Tattoo's are a part of life these days and love them or hate them you have to accept that. I happen to love them and if I was 10 years younger I would have had a sleeve myself. For some children growing up with parents with tattoos is perfectly normal. I think these sleeves are really cute because they don't look real, that's the point, they are in no way supposed to look like you've had your toddler tattooed. For a child like T who's Daddy has a half sleeve and large leg piece having a tattoo t-shirt is being 'like daddy'.

Anyway onto the process, T tried on the sleeves and I pinned up the size I needed, I was really worried about cutting them as they are a bit like tights, I took the plunge and cut the top off, no laddering, no running - phew!   Rather than cut the side down now I ran it through the sewing machine, using a loose tension to accommodate for the stretchiness. Once sown, I cut off the excess, again no laddering!  I then oversewed the seam to make it nice and secure. 

I didn't bother sewing the top as it didn't need it. 

These sleeves cannot be washed and a white t-shirt and T will not last long without being able to wash, so I chose to attach the sleeves with press-studs. I sewed the flat one onto the sleeve rather than the t-shirt, in hindsight this was a big mistake and I should have done it the other way round, when I put the sleeveless t-shirt on T the press stud rubbed, I don't think the flat one would have. When the sleeves were attached it was fine. If T wears the T-shirt without the sleeves I'll just pop a flat press-stud on it to make it more comfortable!

So there you have it, a really cheap and easy DIY!
T was really impressed with it, he loved pointing at the pictures and saying 'look daddy I got tattoos too!'

|FUN|finger football game

Trying to come up with another football activity for T, I kept coming across pins in pinterest for printable finger football characters, now not one to reinvent the wheel I thought I'd go with that idea but make my own version.  I love taking an existing idea and making it my own and if that's really quick and easy then even better!

Our version of finger football uses a pom-pom ball, the pitch used for our blow football activity and real footballers!!!

I wanted 'proper' footballers, so I headed over to the FIFA website and saved some photos from the squad page, I've created a PDF showing exactly where to go if you want to use them too!

I imported the photos into word and sized them to approximately 3 inches x 4 inches then printed off in colour.

At this stage I better explain why I've chosen these footballers - well, Joe Hart is the England goalie and as I have Spain in my work sweepstake I chose the only 2 players I'd heard of, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres.

I stuck the photos onto cardboard, I used an old coke box and left overnight to dry.

The next day I cut around the photos and cut holes for our fingers, here's a template for the size hole I cut ⭐️ Even The Hubs can get his fingers through, I used a craft knife to cut the holes

So, our version of the game is penalty shoot out!! One player is in goal while the others try to score!  I'll make more footballers for when we have The Teens next and we can have even more fun!

All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.

NOTE: As both teams have not made it through I hope I didn't jinx them!!! ;)

|COOK|chilli & garlic spaghetti (Aglio e olio)

Aglio e olio spaghetti

This is a really simple and lovely pasta dish, I first had this at a very cute haunted pub in Newport, Isle of Wight.  I remember us laughing because the lovely Italian owner told me how to make it and that it's really simple, then charged us just under £12 for it! I did get some garlic bread though :)
Serves 2
120g Wholewheat spaghetti
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp Chilli flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cook spaghetti according to pack.
2. When cooked, drain, reserve 2 tbsp water from cooking.  Put water and drained pasta back into the empty saucepan.
3. Put on a low heat and add olive oil, crushed garlic, chilli flakes and salt and pepper to taste, heat through and serve.
I would recommend using the best olive oil you can get, you need something that tastes nice and fruity, otherwise you risk it tasting like an oil slick (oooh get me thinking I'm Nigella!)

Enjoy, preferably with a glass of wine but it is a weeknight so that's not mandatory!
Really yummy, cheap (ahem) and easy.

|COOK|meal planning Monday - 23 June

Good afternoon!  Hope you are having a good day and enjoying the sunshine if you are lucky enough not to be at work ;)
Last week didn't quite go to plan, but again no waste so I'm happy with that.
The changes we made were:
Wednesday - the freezer dive was much more fruitful than I expected so I made wedges and we had Chilli.
Friday - I had totally forgotten I was working and so I bought a ready meal curry for the hubs and I ate at lunch for a colleagues leaving do.
Sunday - we both fancied jacket potatoes so we had those with salad
On Saturday we found a great little burger restaurant in MK called Lone star grill I'll give you the link, just in case you are visiting the area (note: it's not in centre:mk!)
My veggie versions in brackets if different! Italics indicate something from the freezer.
And so on to this week...
Tuesday - chip night, the hubs is home for a change too, so he'll get a treat this week!
Wednesday - Chicken curry & rice (mushroom curry)
Thursday - Ham or cheese omelette and salad
Friday - Pepperoni Pizza (tortilla wrap pizza from the blog)
Saturday - 'Healthy chips' egg & sausage (just egg & chips for me)
Sunday - chilli & homemade tortilla chips, look out for the recipe on the blog next week!

So if you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen that I did actually get the freezer purged!  This is what it looked like before:

It wasn't quite as bad as I thought, I did throw out about 1/2 black bin bag of stuff, but there wasn't anything worth crying about and we were left with quite a bit of food we could actually use which was a nice surprise. In the end I was left with 1 1/2 drawers full.  I had intended on defrosting (it's actually a frost-free freezer!) and cleaning last week, but I never got the time so that still needs doing before we fill it. It actually gives me more time to use up some of the food.



I took a freezer inventory so I can start getting rid of the food before it needs throwing away, this is something I used to keep up religiously along with my meal plan but over the years the busier I've become the less I've done it - madness I know because it will save me so much grief but we do silly thinks like that don't we?


If you'd like a copy of the inventory I use in my household planner click here (link is fixed now!!).  I appreciate that it won't fit everyone's planning style but it might give you something to go on.  If you use it, I'd love you to tag me so I can see!!
I'm not going to go on too much about it, but if you'd like to know how I use it, drop me a comment and I'll write a post next week (even if there's only one!)

This post will be linked to Meal Plan Monday at athomewithmrsm.blogspot.com a lovely little community of homemakers and a fabulous resource for meal ideas.

|FUN|world cup flags matching game


I wanted to use the flags I made for our world cup sensory tray for another activity for T and decided that I'd do a little flag matching game, I got the tiny flags for the sensory tray from a google search, printed them, cut them out and then laminated them.
I looked around for a slightly larger printable world cup flag sheet and came across this fabulous one from activity village.
I'm actually really pleased with the results of using the 2 different printables because we've got 2 different sized flags.
I put the small flags in a pot and asked T to pick one out and put it on the right flag on the printable he did this for about 6 and then got bored!  A child with a slightly longer attention span or older child will probably be able to do all of them.  If T was a little older, I would have explained which flag is for which country but I think he's too young for that at the moment, although he is recognising the St Georges Cross at the England flag now.
I do plan to try this activity again but putting a treat on each flag which T can eat if he matches up the flag correctly, I think that will hold his attention span slightly longer!
All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.

This post is linked up to Link & Learn from No time for flash cards.


|COOK|fun food friday - three lions lunch

 Stretching the limits of my football themed lunch today and created a three lions bagel lunch!

The '3 lions' came from 3 lion picks which I used on cocktail sausages, I served T half a bagel with cream cheese and pepper hexagons to make it look like a football.  And the obligatory cucumber with the word 'goal' cut out.  I cut a star from yellow pepper and placed that instead of the O in goal - representing the one star on the England shirt!

Plate - sainsbury's
Pink lion pick - Eats amazing
Yellow lion picks - eBay (China)
Hexagon cutter - Eats amazing, but no longer available.
alphabet cuttters - amazon (ever-so slightly gutted as I paid £20 3 years ago!!!)
star cutter - amazon
All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.

Have a great day Lx

|FUN|football size sorting cards

At nursery we have 3 monthly parents evenings and an eyfs review, as part of the review we are given areas which T needs to start learning, in which both nursery and parents work together to achieve before the next review.
In all honesty most of these 'next steps' are achieved well before the next review, the hubs and I work really closely with Ts key person to achieve them, I think because we take an active interest in T's progression nursery staff are happy to follow it through their end too rather than just go through the motions.
One of the next steps for this review was sizes, so we have been working on size games at home.
Keeping topical with the football theme and trying to find something that would keep T's attention for more than 3 minutes, I created some different sized football cards.  The photo below shows 5 because we've misplaced one but there are actually 6!
I started off by taking the largest ball and the smallest and asking T which is the biggest, then asked, if that's the biggest, what does that make the other card?  He got each one right, every time. I was really proud of him.  We then introduced a third card and asked which is small, middle or big he got a little confused and kept referring to the middle one as the 'middleist'
I also tried giving T all the cards and asking him to put them in order - let's just say that he didn't quite grasp that one and we are still practising ;) by this point his mind wandered!
If you would like to make some cards for yourself I've created a .pdf here 
As with all of my printables and activities, there's no skill or design involved so don't expect factory quality, just a simple PDF file designed to be uncomplicated so that you can create the activity in minutes!
I have laminated mine but you don't have to.
To further the learning on this one, we'll perceviere on the size sorting and I plan to eventually use them with playdough and get T to create a similar sized playdough ball and match them up (hence I laminated them!) I'm also trying to find 6 respectively sized 'balls' so we can match those up to the right sized card, although that might just turn into 4 different sized pom-poms and 4 cards.

If you have any other ideas for how we could use these cards, please leave a comment, we love hearing new ideas direct from readers Lx
All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.


|COOK|tortilla wrap pizza

This is a cheeky little pizza with half the calories of a regular pizza.

Now, I don't like a thick crust anyway so this suits me down to the ground, if you like deep pan overloaded pizza, I'm not going to lie, this isn't going to cut it!

I love this pizza as if I'm going to eat calories, I'd rather they came from somewhere I really enjoyed rather than a meal I could give or take!  If I can save calories on the base it means that I can still enjoy cheese on the top!

Serves 1
tortilla wrap
tomato sauce I use my basic tomato sauce

Just assemble the pizza and bake for 10 mins 140oC


These also freeze really well, just pop in a large freezer bag and there you go!  Bake for 15 mins from frozen.

Hope you are having a good week - are you enjoying it football?  You could make these pizzas to enjoy whilst watching England play on Thursday night! :) Lx

|COOK|meal planning Monday - 16 June

Morning! Last week I thought that we had stuck to our plan quite well, however, looking back we only actually stuck to 3 days :) I actually don't mind though as we've had no waste from changed plans just a little extra cost on Thursday night.

The changes we made were:-
Wednesday - jacket potatoes
Thursday - pizza, I'd forgotten that The Hubs had a chiropractor appointment and I wanted to watch the World Cup opening ceremony (big waste of time!) so changed this last minute
Friday - freezer dive! Hash browns, large sausage roll, beans & egg (no sausage roll or beans for me!)
Saturday - bacon, lettuce & chicken club sandwich (I had cheese, lettuce & tomato) we ate out at lunch with The Hubs Mum and so didn't need a full meal

One thing I really want to concentrate on over the summer is healthy freezer meals, I used to use the 30 day gourmet method but now I've found once a month meals, this used to be free so I've loads of plans downloaded that I'd never used!  
In our house the freezer has become a bit of a bug-bare, mealtime conversations generally go like this:-
The Hubs - what for dinner?
Me - pasta? (I could eat pasta every day!!!)
The Hubs - ugh
Me - ok I'll look in the freezer
The Hubs - (big sigh!) is there actually anything in the freezer??

Now let me tell you, that freezer is stuffed full, if we were under house arrest we'd be able to eat for a month, in theory, yes it's stuffed full of food but not much which actually consitutes components of a meal. In desperate times we certainly wouldn't starve but some things have been in there far too long, like a tonne of baby food purée.  Once T went to nursery at 5m he just wasn't interested in eating all the purée's I'd loving made for him to get me through those first few months of going back to work, he wanted the 'proper' food he was eating at nursery - that was 2 years ago!!!!  I know I've got to get rid of them but its admitting to myself that he's all grown up now!  As for the rest... Well, I'm not really sure, I know that I can barely shut the drawers now but as to what exactly is in there is anyone's guess!  This week is definitely going to be purge the freezer week and also go back to using a freezer inventory.  So next week (w/c 24 June) look out for lots of freezer burnt or ice crusty food on my plan and if there's broad beans with frozen rice, sausage rolls and curry sauce in my meals you know why ;)

This weeks meal plan is 

Tuesday - Chip night!
Wednesday - Freezer dive, chicken goujons and wedges (me - veggie bake)
Thursday - tuna pasta (me - some sort of pasta!)
Friday - chicken & spinach curry from 3princessesand1dude's blog, this is a recipe I'm hoping to freeze  (photo above courtesy of Becky at 3pricessesand1dude)
Saturday - out for the day
Sunday - Mexican Chicken nacho's (just nacho's for me)
This post will be linked to Meal Plan Monday at athomewithmrsm.blogspot.com a lovely little community of homemakers and a fabulous resource for meal ideas!

|COOK|fun food friday - come on England lunch

Another little football lunch this week - this time to celebrate England's participation in the world cup.
I kept this one nice and simple, I cut a cross in a babybel cheese, and served it with some quorn sausages which I'd cut up, T loves sausages and I thought I'd try him on quorn ones as they are a little healthier and I've usually got some in the house for me anyway, they were a huge hit, I don't think he even noticed that they weren't meat.  I sat a little football player in the sausages, this one is Theo Walcott if you are interested ;)
To try and do something different with the carrots, I cut them using a crinkle cutter, something that I've probably had for 20 years and never used!!!  I added a football cupcake ring to some crisps. which I purchased from an ebay store.
Plate - sainsbury's
Mini footballer - topps, from Tesco's
football cupcake ring - ebay
All of our football and World Cup fun and activities can be found under our category Football activities or using #lbukfootball on twitter or Instagram

Have a look at our Football and World Cup Theme Pinterest Board for more ideas.

Have a great day Lx

|CREATE|wedding anniversary wooden serving platter

Last week I shared the sharpie plates that I made for our wedding anniversary and mentioned that rather than buy gifts for each other, we had decided to each make a gift for our house, something that we could use for many years to come.
The platter shown above is The Hubs project.

This project started a very long time ago (like last Autumn!) when I asked The Hubs if I could pinch one of the pallets he had earmarked for a compost bin, when I explained to him what I had in mind he said he would make it and that's how we came up with the plan for our wedding anniversary.  Suffice to say we still haven't made the compost bin!
I showed The Hubs the sort of size I wanted and about 5 months later he started work, he cut lengths and glued them together, after leaving it to dry for a couple of days, he drew the heart shape from a template I provided, then he reinforced the platter with metal plates, because of the size we knew it needed to be strong!  Once the outline was ready, out came the jigsaw, I must admit I was really impressed with how tidy the heart came out, if I'm really honest, I didn't think we'd be able to achieve what I had in my head, but The Hubs managed to create exactly what I was looking for.

At this point I'd like to apologise for the state of our patio table!  The Hubs jet washed it at Easter and half of the paint came off too, yes another project on the to-do list!
Anyway, once we had our platter, The Hubs gave it a really good scrub with wire wool to get rid of all the patenting, he then treated the wood with linseed oil.  We really need to apply a coat of varnish if we are to eat directly from our platter so far we've not done this.
The Hubs got so engrossed in this project that he has made a smaller version for my sister although she wanted a less rustic looking one, he's now got another order from a friend for a rustic small one!  He's loving it!

The final result totally exceeded my expectations, I love it so much and just know that we will use it time and time again, this one is definitely not just to be used on our wedding anniversary.

On our anniversary we used the platter to serve anti-pasti, I used baking parchment on the platter and put the food directly on that I felt that this added to the rustic look and so I'm in two minds now as to whether to varnish it or not!  We brought the platter into the living room and sat on the floor with some bubbles and ate from our new plates, it was a lovely new tradition, and we both soon started thinking of different ways we can use our platter, large family ploughman's, as a tray for bbq's or to serve pizza. 

I'm sure we'll think of loads of other uses!  I hope you've enjoyed seeing our little recycled project, any suggestions for future uses would be welcomed in the comments! Lx