|#thelist|31 October

Blog/social media

- great week for the blog, scheduled a weeks worth of posts last weekend and as I've been off with T this week now have another week already in the pipeline or schedulled including some future ones. Dead chuffed.

- launching our christmas sticker swap, if you'd like to take part this time, request to join our facebook group here and I'll send you the details.

- this weeks most popular post was our first community litter picking experience one.

- participated in a twitter chat on Wednesday, thoroughly enjoyed it.

- another opportunity has arisen which could turn out quite nice!


- T taken to hospital with suspected meningitis, it's not, it's a virus but was a worrying time.  Fine in himself, just spotty.

- The Hubs had lots of Daddy/Daughter time at the weekend with K for her birthday weekend, long overdue!


- feeling more positive, we've decided to book a holiday for April/May next year, something for us to look forward to.


- interview had to be postponed again...

Mums' Days

|FUN|firework playdough

We've started a few little firework activities in preparation for bonfire night next week, the first on the list is a little firework play dough invitation and play mat.

I made some play dough using the recipe on our hot cross bun play dough post.  I've been making quite a lot of play dough recently and have a couple of tips which do make for a much better play dough consistency.

1. Make sure that you add your water to your food colouring if using liquid colouring, don't add your 3/4 cup of water, then your food colouring as it will become too wet.  If using paste, dilute that in the 3/4 cup of water before adding to the dry ingredients, this will lead to better colour distribution.

2. Sieve your dry ingredients, it's much easier to create a smooth dough if your dry ingredients are not lumpy in the first place.

3. Mix your dry and wet ingredients before you add heat, if you see the picture above, you are looking for that kind of consistency.  I found that, it came together in a good dough without catching the bottom of the pan.

I made up some little paly dough boxes for a couple of my friends children.

Ok so back to the activity, we used a laminated 'rainbow mat' that I created, to make a night sky all ready for our fireworks!

If you'd like to print your own rainbow mat you can download ours here.

I rolled out the play dough onto the rainbow mat and trimmed around the edges.

I laid it out for T to play with, we used mini glitter pom-poms, small heart cutters, some pipecleaners and some star confetti.  We used some food picks to scratch shapes in the play dough.

We managed to cut out some star 'fireworks' with the cutters.

We also used the food picks to draw shapes in the play dough, T did struggle with this a bit because the play dough did give a bit of resistance and you needed to be a bit more precise than he was able to be, an older child would probably find this easier.

The pipecleaners made great sparklers and added to the stars made great shooting stars.

We loved our little firework play dough invitation.

|FAMILY|summer bucket list - round up

It seems so long ago now that I wasn't going to bother with a round up, but experience tells me that I'll regret that, so I'm doing it now.

We had a fabulous summer here in the UK and managed to get out and enjoy it more than ever,  T played out on the patio most days, he still would if I'd leave the doors open, but it's getting too chilly.

Our list was very ambitious but we managed to easily achieve 9 items crossed off the list and 3 more attempts!

1. Have a water fight
During our staycation week the boys had water fights every day!  T & J also had a water fight with these water balloons one day when we were looking after him, I was too busy avoiding them I didn't get any photo's!


2. Make elderflower champagne
The elderflower champagne was a fantastic success, I've still got a couple of bottles left.  It's a shame it's not a little more alcoholic, but it is really lovely and I will definitely make this again.

3. Have an outdoor movie night
This was a bit of an impromptu movie night, rather than the one I had planned, high wind put pay to my original plans.  As with most of our bucket list activities, I try to do them on the weekends we have The Teens so the whole family can enjoy it, however, this does cut our opportunities in half!  Really glad we got this one in, but next year it will be on the projector.

5. Paddle in the sea
This is one which we didn't quite achieve but we got close enough, sadly The Teens couldn't make this one with us, next year, though we will go rock pooling and they will come too.

11. Make fake tan tattoo's
Well, where do I start with this one, EPIC FAIL springs to mind!  I'd seen suntan tattoo's on pinterest and thought I could easily re-create similar effects using fake tan, after a quick search (to see if this was an original idea!) I found no pins for fake tan tattoo's, this is actually because it doesn't work, not because no-one else had thought of it! I tried 4 methods I could think of then gave up! 

On pinterest I'd seen pinners draw a heart on using suntan lotion obviously this wasn't going to work for my version.

First I stuck a craft outline sticker on and sprayed over it, not sure what happened but the fake tan got right underneath.

Then I tried drawing something which slightly resembled a henna tattoo using glossy accents glue, once dry I sprayed on some fake tan, I couldn't get a good enough contrast on this one.

Then I went back to the original pinterest idea and drew a heart using body lotion, then sprayed fake tan, nothing happened on this one!

Finally, I cut out some small hearts and using Vaseline attached them, then sprayed, this was the most successful, but it did just look like badly applied fake tan once dried.

So the moral of this tale is... if you have a fantastic idea and search pinterest for it's originality, don't automatically assume that no-one else has thought of it ;)


12. Make a bug hotel
This was my favourite create of the summer!  Loved making this, nothing has moved in yet - apart from a couple of spiders, but I'm hopeful and I think it looks really cute so I don't really mind if nothing moves in.

13. Go and pick our own fruit and make jam
Where did all the PYO's go???  I can't believe that over the past 10 years or so, there are absolutely none left in our area!  I am determined to find one for next year, even if we have to go on a bit of a road trip to find one.  As a plan B I thought we could go blackberry picking and make some blackberry jam, but sadly we were a bit late and the birds/insects got most of them!  We tried but failed on this one :(  Will remain on the list for next year.

15. Sit and read in the garden once a week
I'm not sure we actually managed once a week, but we certainly spent more time in the garden, in general, The Hubs and I got some good evenings spent out on the patio reading in peace, although I actually think he was checking the football results as apposed to reading in this picture.

16. Go Geocaching
Hmmmmm still working on this one, not entirely sure why every time I try we fail at this one, this was our 3rd attempt and still we didn't find the cache. 

17. Make a whole meal from the garden
This one bothers me the most, at our old house we grew loads, it was really sucessful and we really enjoyed it.  Although we've got more space to grow, now have a raised bed & greenhouse, we just can't seem to get our gardening mojo back. I think it's a combination of hating the garden (me) having less time, and obviously now having T to worry about with that bloody pond.  Anyway enough bleating, I did manage one meal from the garden, a herb omelette and no photo! 

We managed to get a trip to Milton Keynes Museum.
19. Attend a fete
This is one, we slammed out of the water!  We attended Daddy's football club's fun day, the Newport Pagnell Carnival, the local Fire Station fete & the Blisworth Canal Boat Festival.


20. Make Ice Cream
Wow - wow - wow we made ice-cream in a bag and it was awesome!  Really easy and lots of fun and it was delicious too!

So that was it for Summer 2014.  We've got a few things we didn't even try which we need to carry forward to our Summer 2015 bucket list, really need to get some Autumn items crossed off now. 

Summer Bucket List carry forward items
- pick your own fruit and make jam
- have an ice cream stand
- visit a butterfly farm (we might do this one in the Spring instead)
- go camping
- make a vodka watermelon
- host a tea party (again, might be a Spring activity)
- play boules
- make pebble pots for the garden

|CREATE|ghost bookmark

I had to make a homemade Halloween gift for a recent swap I participated in and being a bit if a ghost fanatic it just had to be something ghost related and something helpful rather than purely for decoration was preferable!  Of course I had to make an extra one - just for me, though I know I'll use mine all year round ;)

You will need
White felt
35cm Ribbon
A button a similar width to the ribbon
Googly eyes
Needle & Embroidery floss
Tiny bit of stuffing

I started off by cutting out my ghost shape, you can find my ghost template here. Unfortunately I didn't have any white embroidery floss so I used a colour which co-ordinated with my ribbon and I'm actually really pleased with the result, it's as though he has a 'aura' !

The method is simple, just sew around the edges leaving the head until last, stuff with a little stuffing and then sew in the ribbon.

Sew the button onto the other end of the ribbon, this should catch the pages at the bottom of your book and stop your bookmark from slipping out.

Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party

|#toddlerapprovedtuesday|week 4

Thanks again for your support last week for our new linky #toddlerapprovedtuesday hosted by Becky at 3princessesand1dude, we loved seeing all your toddler approved posts there were some really fantastic posts again and thanks to anyone reading who joined in by using the hashtag on twitter or instagram, please do join in again this week.

We would absolutely love it if you would join us, linking will open every Tuesday through to Thursdays and give us a good few days to see what your little ones have approved! We will share your posts on Twitter (make sure you follow me (@larabeeuk and Becky @3princess_1dude) and every week we will each pick our fave two for a #ToddlerAprrovedTuesday Showcase!


1. Link 1 post per week, Remember to paste the #ToddlerApprovedTuesday badge on each post you would like to link up (code above, paste it into the HTML option of your blogging platform).

2. Pop by and comment on two or three other posts...Its nice to share the love!

3. OPTIONAL: Share your post and the linky party (using the hashtag #ToddlerApprovedTuesday) on your social media, Becky and I will retweet all your posts via Twitter (make sure you mention us in your tweets @3princess_1dude/@larabeeuk) and also share on our #ToddlerApprovedTuesday Pinterest board.  Even if you don't have a blog, please do join in by using the hashtag for your toddler approved tweets & Instagram posts.

The Badge


My showcase
I loved Mummyoftwo's version of 'Mac and cheese' and just know that T is going to really enjoy it, this had to be on my showcase this week.

And these candles from singleparentpessimist are soooo cute, I love them and will be making them with T and J on Friday.

Head on over to Becky's blog 3princessesand1dude to see her showcase.

And now for your turn!  Link away, and thanks so much in advance, your support means such a lot.

|CREATE|halloween naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe)

Apart from the obvious, why do we call it Naughts & Crosses???  I think the name
Tic-Tac-Toe is far more appropriate especially for this version which contains no naughts and no crosses!

You will need:-
4 orange bottle tops
4 green bottle tops
1 green pipecleaner
8 small nuts
4 sets of googly eyes
1 black permanent marker

Blue tack
Glue gun
Washi tape

Draw faces on your bottle tops, don't draw eyes on the green ones.

Using the bradawl and blue tack or another sharp object make a hole in the orange lids and feed through a little bit of pipe cleaner to make a stalk, I used a blob of hot glue to keep in place.

Glue 2 nuts onto the green bottletops to resemble the bolts in Frankenstein's neck and googly eyes.

We had great fun playing this game, it's a completely new concept for T, he doesn't always get it right and he's struggling a bit with not winning every time, but I think we are making progress.  We've put these in a sandwich bag with a roll of washi so we can play anywhere, any time.

Those cute oscar the grouch ones are ones T made after seeing the ones I made for him, an older child would have no difficulty making this with a bit of help gluing from an adult.

This is my entry for our #toddlerapprovedtuesday linky.


|COOK|meal planning Monday 27 October

Had a great weekend of meal planning lots of extra portions made up and now in the freezer!  Love it when I know there are healthy homemade 'ready meals' in the freezer. 

There's nothing like the Winter to make me want to cook yummy meals!

This is this weeks meal plan. I'm very loosely following slimming world to try and loose half a stone for Christmas, I've got the mag and am looking for recipes online, apart from tonight's stroganoff  it's all pretty healthy... And I'm trying to refrain from chip night tomorrow... we'll see!

M - pork stroganoff & rice (mushroom)
T - jacket potato & salad
W - chilli & wedges
T - beef stew (vegetable)
F - chicken tarragon with rosemary potatoes (quorn version for me)
S - egg & chips
S - pasta bake

|COOK|beef stew & dumplings

Oooh I do love a good stew!  I thought I'd share with you my recipe for a simple slow cooker beef stew this week, although you could cook it in the oven if you prefer.

This is a simple, cheap dish which is great for families and if you take into account the fact that you basically throw it all into a slow cooker, the prep is pretty quick too!

This meal cost me approximately £1.30 per portion (£5.20 total) using value diced beef

1 large carrot, chopped with skin on
2 medium potatoes, chopped with skin on
1/4 swede, chopped
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 large leek, sliced
500g diced beef
500ml beef stock, I use 2 Knorr stock pots
1tbps cornflour

For the dumplings
50g suet
100g self raising flour
Pinch of salt

1. Chop vegetables.
2. Switch your slow cooker on to HIGH.
3. Add your meat and veg to the slow cooker.
4. Pour over your stock.

5. Preferably after 2 1/2 hours remove any foam that has started to form on the top of the pot, this is not necessary but does make for a better taste.

6. Cook for 5 hours.
7. Mix the cornflour with a little water and pour into the pot, stir thoroughly, the gravy should then start to thicken.

8. Mix the dumpling ingredients together and form 8 balls, place in the pot and cook for a further hour.

I never brown my beef, but I know some people like to, if you want to do that brown your meat in a frying pan before adding to the slow cooker.

If you are using fresh, good quality produce there should be no reason to peel your carrots and potatoes, just give them a good scrub before chopping!

I was given vouchers from The Orchard at Tesco to purchase the vegetables for this recipe, all ingredients can be found reasonably priced at Tesco.com/groceries

Can be frozen once cooked.

Throw in a glass of red wine for a richer flavour.

Add herbs to your dumplings.

Cut out the potatoes and serve with creamy mash.

Leave out the beef and use vegetable stock cubes for a delicious vegetarian version.